Ruth Bonetti will be hosting the Sunshine Coast launch of her novel, Burn My Letters: Tyranny to refuge, at our festival’s Smorgasbord of Authors venue on Saturday. Ruth grew up in the arid Queensland outback, intrigued by the strange-accented relatives she met on holidays near Byron Bay. She preferred Mozart to hillbilly music, books to horses. Ruth’s gift for music became a passport to the world. Destiny led her to live in Sweden, directly across the Gulf of Bothnia from her grandfather’s birthplace in Finland, where she researched the story of her ‘black sheep’ great-uncle - the result is her latest book.
Ruth is author/editor of a dozen publications about music, education and performance, five through Words and Music and two with Oxford Uni. Press. She is a Fellow of the Migration Institute of Finland who published her articles and paper. In November, she will launch Book 2 of the Saga Midnight Sun to Southern Cross: Those who go, those who stay.
Burn My Letters: Tyranny to refuge takes place at the end of the 19th century when Finland is a dark and repressive place. Pacifist and political dissenter Karl Johan Back is conscripted to fight for the Russian despots that occupy his country. In 1899 he flees to an untamed land on the far side of the world. Finding refuge on ridges overlooking the Byron Bay lighthouse in northern New South Wales, he grows orchids and lush tropical fruit.
Intrigued by her ‘black sheep’ uncle, Ruth pieces together the motives that propelled his flight. Finnish relatives share a treasure-trove of letters that provide answers to the many questions raised by Karl Johan’s quest for freedom. Why did Russian military police pursue him as far as Suez? Why did he publish under a pen-name? And, most intriguing of all, why did he implore his family to burn his letters?
Ruth will be speaking at the Smorgasbord of Authors venue at Coolum Bowls Club’s outdoor entertainment venue on Saturday. She will also offer tips to aspiring authors starting the indie publishing path, such as crowdfunding to cover editing and printing costs.