Behind the Scenes: Inspiration for Climbing Fear

Climbing Fear came out in stores on the 7th October – very exciting – and I’ve been answering lots of questions about it, so I thought I’d wrap them all up here with a post about what inspired me to write Nat and Reid’s story.

Horsey Inspiration

When I was a young girl, I was horse mad. I wanted my own horse but mum and dad knew the time needed to spend on a horse wasn’t practical for us, so they fed my need in other ways.

Cantering outside Craig’s Hut

They gave me horse riding lessons from the age of 9 – which I loved but had to work really hard at to be any good because I have no natural sense of balance. My older brother joined me in my lessons after a couple of months when he showed an interest and the moment he got on a horse, he was already a better rider than me! Not fair, but it didn’t stop me. I tried all the harder.

Unfortunately, after a year and a half of lessons, the lady who owned the horse riding school fell ill and closed it down and though we tried a number of other places, we never found one as good as this one.

Horseriding Trek

Kirrily, Uncle Richard and me on our Mt Stirling/Mt Buller Trek.

Then when I was 13 they sent me on a 5 day horseriding trek across the Victorian Alps with my Uncle Richard who is an exceptional horseman. It was a seminal experience and made me a better rider and gave me an appreciation for these beautiful animals that I didn’t get out of riding around a coral.

Me and my sis on Mt Stirling

After that, I wanted to do more, so they found a horse riding camp that my sister and I attended during school holidays once or twice a year.


Seamist Palomino Stud was a home away from home for both of us where we got to ride every day through the beautiful Australian bush, were shown how to care for the horse we rode, and had other farm experiences while we made new friends.

Seamist Palomino Stud

When I finished school, I went down there to work through horse riding camps and look after the kids who attended – an amazing experience for an 18/19 year old to go through.

Seamist was so special to me that my husband organised to propose to me there on a ride through one of my favourite areas of bushland – it was so romantic and special and all the Seamist family were thrilled to be in on the secret proposal event.

Of course life happened and I ended up owning a theatre restaurant after finishing University and so visits to Seamist and horseriding faded into happy memories.

Buckle Up Bushrides

Then, in 2014, my sister, who’d always been jealous of my horse riding trek experience with Uncle Richard, suggested we go on one together with him. She found a place near Mt Buller – Buckle Up Bushrides – and we went on a 4 day trek, riding and camping on Mt Stirling and down around the base of Mt Buller and into the Howqua Valley. It was extraordinary and we talk about doing it again.

It was all these experiences that played in my mind and began to coalesce into the idea for a romantic suspense series set in the Victorian Alps at a horse stud/camp/ranch – and the idea for Climbing Fear and the CoalCliff Stud series was born.

Inspiration for CoalCliff Stud

CoalCliff is very much like Seamist but with little bits of memories from Buckle Up Bushrides and the original Victorian Alp trek. The characters are from my imagination, but there are little bits of inspiration drawn from real life, and in a nod to the Reid family who ran Seamist and who meant so much to me through my teens and early twenties, I named my hero Reid.

When my sister read Climbing Fear, she called me to say she was smiling ear-to-ear because it brought back such wonderful memories and made her feel like she was back there again, with the smell and sounds of the horses around her and the warmth of the country people who opened their hearths and hearts to us and allowed us a little peek into their remarkable lives.

Climbing Fear, while dedicated to my best friend, is also dedicated to all those people who fed my love of horses and inspired me to write a story that explored some of the most wonderful memories of my life.

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