Living the Writing Life in the Illawarra

by Pamela Cook

For just over twelve months now I’ve been living the writing life – a life I’d previously only written (and dreamt) about – in beautiful Stanwell Tops. When I first started publishing Rural Fiction five years ago, I was living in the suburbs, escaping to my getaway house in Milton whenever I could and hanging out with my horse at Darkes Forest in between writing sprints. Now I’m living in the Illawarra with my four legged friends right outside the door, surrounded by bush – the perfect environment for writing.

Here’s how it happened …

I’ve always been a huge believer in serendipity – those moments when the universe seems to come to your rescue. And making the move to our new home happened in just that way. After living in Sylvania for almost twenty five years, but spending increasing amounts of time on the south coast, we’d started to very vaguely discuss making a move. Two problems: a daughter still in high school and my husband’s job, which is very much city based. Maybe somewhere close would allow us to commute and live the lifestyle we craved?

Cook Books

Cook's books, contrary to popular misconception, have nothing to do with the culinary arts.

On a whim, I called a friend who worked in real estate in The Shire, wondering if it would be a good idea to register with an agent in Helensburgh on the off chance that something might come up.  She knew someone and offered to give him a call. When she phoned back ten minutes later, describing a property that hadn’t yet gone on the market, my skin started to tingle. She could arrange for me to see it the following day. Wary of getting our hopes up – we’d been disappointed once before – we decided not to tell the family just yet. But when I drove down the gravel driveway the following day it was hard keeping the smile off my face: a colonial style house with a wrap around veranda and plenty of land to keep our horses and ever growing menagerie of animals. And the interior was equally perfect. After a few more visits, weeks of nail-biting bank negotiations and a great deal of biting my tongue before the deal was finalised, we were ready to make the move.

Leaving the place we had lived in for a quarter of a century, the house we had made a home, renovating it ourselves and raising our family of three girls, was hard. I still sometimes pine for the old timber fireplace we left behind, the beautiful country kitchen we installed. Moving created a kind of grief that I didn’t expect.

And yet I love the space where we live now, waking to the raucous laughter of our resident kookaburras, the days sitting on the veranda writing as the horses pull at tufts of grass. I’m living the life I’ve been writing about for years. So lucky to be living the dream.

More on the Author

Pam Cook

Photo by April Boughton

Pamela Cook is a city girl with a country lifestyle and too many horses. Her rural fiction novels feature feisty women, tangled family relationships and a healthy dose of romance. Her first novel, Blackwattle Lake, was published in 2012 after being selected for the Queensland Writer’s Centre/Hachette Manuscript Development Program. Her following novels were Essie’s Way (2013) and Close To Home (2015) and her fourth book, The Crossroads was released in December 2016. An eclectic reader, Pamela also enjoys writing poetry, memoir pieces and literary fiction and is proud to be a Writer Ambassador for Room To Read, a not-for-profit organisation that promotes literacy and gender equality in developing countries. When she’s not writing she wastes as much time as possible riding her handsome quarter horses, Morocco and Rio.

Pamela teaches writing courses and workshops through her business, Justwrite.

She is running a one week retreat in Fiji this May, sharing what she has learnt about writing and publishing commercial fiction. Click here to find out more:

You can connect with Pamela in one of these places:


Written by SCWC

Posted on March 03, 2017