Wonboyn-based author Susie Sarah is releasing her eighteenth book, titled Finding Aqua Pura in which the main themes are drought, family life in regional areas and the importance of hope.
The book was to be launched at Booktown in Clunes in May this year and Ms Sarah had begun to plan her tour of Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia with schools and book shops, when COVID-19 hit.
"We had hoped to start travelling again when the second wave broke over us like a tsunami and now I realise this year with the fires, the drought and the virus it's a real test of survival," Ms Sarah said.
Finding Aqua Pura, written for late primary - young adult age bracket, tells the story of a swagman with a divining rod who arrives on an outback property where for seven years the family have been buying water and hay and receiving food parcels.
Ms Sarah spent time in Western NSW in 2019 on a book tour doing school visits in places such as Narromine, Girilambone, Nyngan, Bourke and Trangie and began talking to students about the effects of drought, researching how people were surviving and keeping farms going.
"It's flat country with not a blade of grass, the land there is red dirt and salt bush, it's been destocked because of the drought and some children growing up there have never seen or heard the rain."
In Ms Sarah's story, the main character was welcomed by a family in the NSW outback who housed, clothed and fed him and his philosophy was, 'one good turn deserves another'.
Keenly aware water was a terrible problem for them, he uses his divining rod to source a spring on their property.
"What's this man all about? About giving people in the bush some hope... I wanted to get across that even in the hardest times, maybe something can come along which makes it better.
"I know the story Finding Aqua Pura will give us all some hope - this country is amazing, we get back on our feet during times of adversity and hardship, this is what life is about.
"I will wait until next year to tour and do signings. We're all wondering what will happen next, this is such a difficult and introverted time.
"It's a good uplifting read at a time when things are so upsetting.
"It also speaks of the rich and meaningful relationship between children and their grandparents," Ms Sarah said.
You can pick up a copy of Finding Aqua Pura on shelves at Eden Killer Whale Museum, Eden Visitor Information Centre and The Bega Valley Market Place in Bega.