Richard Anderson novel Retribution launches, based on local horse theft

Richard Anderson 180718GGE004
Richard Anderson 180718GGE004

MANY people would dream of having a novel to their name and sadly not ever realise that dream.

But one man from the region has let nothing get in his way – not even a 400-tonne dump truck.

Richard Anderson’s latest novel, Retribution, has hit shelves in Australia this month, and will be launched in the UK next month and the US in spring.

Based on a real incident from the district, the work of fiction centres on a group of aggrieved people and the theft of a valuable horse.

‘Late in the day’

Mr Anderson also runs a cattle property in the Pine Ridge area, but it wasn’t until he had not only that but also another full-time job on his plate that he also finally started seriously writing fiction.

“I’m the guy who always wanted to write books and stories,” he said.

“But I never really got there, never got ’round to it … It got to a point, probably in my 40s, where I thought, ‘Well, I better come up with the goods – it’s getting late in the day’.”

Mr Anderson said that an opportunity came up for some off-farm income, working in the mines, about eight years ago.

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“I found myself in the cab of a 400-tonne dump truck for 10, 12 hours a day on my own,” he said.

“The radio didn’t work very well, there wasn’t that much on the two-way, and so you’re almost in an isolation chamber. And I thought, ‘Well, here’s the moment – don’t waste it daydreaming’.”

He started composing books in his head, and “scribbled bits down” when the truck was being loaded or unloaded. 

The first to be published was Spon Com Vermillion; then The Good Teacher; now Retribution.

‘Wouldn’t let go’

“It’s about a group of people who feel like they’ve been dealt a bad hand, a rough hand,” he said.

“They feel like they’d like to get back at society … When the revenge doesn’t work out for them, things get pretty messy.”

Mr Anderson said the theft plot point was based on when an Australian stock horse was stolen at Willow Tree some time ago. The thought “wouldn’t let me go”.

“I don’t know the people and I’m not in the horse world, so I hasten to add I don’t know what really happened, but it caught my imagination,” he said.

“This mare that they loved so much had been stolen … and also, when you steal a horse like that, there’s nothing you can do with it: you can’t breed from it, because you need pedigrees … you can’t go in events or campdrafts or anything.

“So the question is: what do you do ... once you’ve stolen this very expensive animal?”

Years in the making

Mr Anderson said the novel had been “a few years in the making” and it was “absolutely fabulous” to see it come to fruition.

But it was a feeling tempered by many factors: the work in getting an agent and publisher, the grind of many rewrites; the fear that no one will buy the book; and the fear that they will – and hate it.

“And I suppose it’s hard to celebrate it when you’re having such a dry period. It takes some of the gloss off it,” he said.

“It is a dream come true, I suppose, but like other people have said, there’s never really a podium moment in publishing.”


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