The Making of Fleur McDonald’s Fools Gold
When I created Detective Dave Burrows back in my first book, RED DUST, I didn’t expect him to end up having such a following! I get so many emails and comments from readers who tell me he is their favourite character, I got to thinking… Maybe he should have his own series.
So, while sitting around a camp fire one night in the middle of the WA goldfields, I started to dream up, Detective Dave’s first book. FOOL’S GOLD.
I love crime stories, forensics and mysteries, and I had a detective. I figured I was set. But as I started writing, I realised I didn’t know enough about the investigation work the police do when trying to solve crimes.
Picking up the phone, I called the “real Dave Burrows” who lives in Perth. I met the “real Dave” when he was heading up the now defunct Rural Stock Squad for WA. He’s helped every time the other Dave Burrows has had a starring role in my novels. We chatted for a bit then suggested he do some introductions to the Major Organised Crime Squad (Rural) in Queensland.
Through that one phone call, I ended up flying to Brisbane to spend three days with Detective Inspector Mick Dowie out in Toowoomba. I sat alongside him in his ute as we drove the highways, visited police stations, looked at the software and computer programs used in solving crimes.
I listened to his endless stories and I have to say, it’s probably been the highlight of my career as an author.
Mick has equipped Detective Dave to be able to solve any crime that I throw at him.
But in researching Fool’s Gold, I needed to know about, not only the investigation techniques, but about the goldfields in the present day and in early pioneering days. This included a brothel tour.
Yep, you read that right. A brothel tour.
The story you’ll read in Fool’s Gold in an actual story that the madam told us on the tour plus a little bit of poetic licence… – However, the Madam did say at the beginning that she was prone to embellishing stories too, so how true it actually is, I can’t be certain. But as writers we should never let the truth get in the way of a good story!
I spent days wandering through the museums, learning all the correct terminology for mining equipment and old camping gear.
Then I spent weekends camped in the middle of the bush with two prospectors and a camp fire for company. (Hard life, I know!)
While I was doing all of this, I came to the conclusion that while you’re out in the middle of the bush it would be very easy to think you’re the only person who has ever set foot in that area. Why? Because in that beautiful rich red dirt, your footprint will only stay for as long as the wind doesn’t blow.
Once the print is covered up, it’s like no one has ever been there.
And that’s what rogues and murders rely on.
‘To Dave, the posting to Barrabine was exactly what he’d wanted – it was a town on the edge, the wild west. There would be excitement, mystery and intrigue here. Everything a detective looked for.’
Detective Dave Burrows’ first posting to the far west goldfields town of Barrabine in 1997 holds everything he’s looking for, but Melinda, his wife of two weeks, is devastated at leaving behind her family, friends and career. More comfortable in heels than RM Williams, Melinda walked away from her much-loved job in the city as a paediatric nurse to follow Dave into the bush.
Dave settles in easily to the plain-speaking toughness of his new town, determined to do well, knowing that Barrabine could be his stepping stone into the elite stock squad. But will his marriage last the distance? As Dave investigates reports of mysterious late-night trespassing, a missing person, and guns being drawn on strangers, a local prospector phones in with horrific news that could hold the key to everything.