Author Nicole Alexander is a fourth generation grazier who now marries her roles as a farmer/grazier and novelist with seamless ease.

Tucked away in the back blocks of small New South Wales country town of Boomi (population 75), 100 kilometres south of Goondiwindi is a generational property called ‘Murki’, childhood home of successful Australian author Nicole Alexander.

Nicole is just as comfortable on a quad bike mustering a mob of cattle as she is behind a computer nutting out the twists and turns of her latest novel. Nicole’s passion for Australian storytelling stems not only from her own experiences of growing up in the bush and choosing to continue this lifestyle into adulthood, but also from her rural heritage. This year is the 120th anniversary since Nicole’s great grandfather selected the property ‘Murki’.

Nicole’s authenticity is apparent, which makes her storytelling so realistic. Having been educated through correspondence at home for her early schooling, the cattle yards and shearing shed became her playground. Her adult life saw her living in Singapore and Sydney in diverse professions including marketing and fashion. In the mid 90s, Nicole came home to ‘Murki’ for a years break from the hustle and bustle of the big smoke. She never left, and today Nicole is a working partner and business manager of ‘Murki’ with her parents, Ian and Marita.

On returning home, Nicole became intrigued by the emotional attachment farmers had with their land and found it was how she herself felt. This, coupled with her love of genealogy and history, formed the idea for her first multigenerational novel, ‘The Bark Cutters’. Surrounded by her own family archives and using the internet, Nicole fulfils her commitment to historical accuracy within the bounds of a fictional storyline. She describes the writing process as, “exhausting, intense and at times difficult, but also hugely rewarding”. Nicole is grateful for the patience of her partner David, who she often erroneously addresses by the name of her latest heroine.

‘The Bark Cutters’ was Nicole’s first novel in the emerging genre of ‘outback romance’. This generational saga covers the life of the Gordon family and starts in the 1850s, concluding in the contemporary setting of the 1990s. Published by Random House in 2010, the book was the highest selling novel of a debut author, and saw Nicole shortlisted for the Australian Book Industry Awards Debut Author of the Year. The sequel, ‘A Changing Land’, was published in 2011 and made it into the National Top 10 Bestsellers List. The presence of a dedicated readership lead to an earlier release of her latest novel, in 2012, `Absolution Creek’ which has been Random House’s Highly Recommended Book of the Month. 2012 also saw Nicole receive The NSW 2012 Barwon Woman of the Year award in recognition of her literary talent and for promoting the Australian outback.

Nicole is busy writing her fourth novel for Random House, ‘Sunset Ridge’, which is set for release in time for Christmas. Nicole’s website, www.nicolealexander.com.au, gives a glimpse of her intriguing life as a writer and farmer.

Words and Images by Mandie O’Shea