Raising teenagers is hard, no doubt about it. The challenges they face in the modern world can so easily lead them down the wrong path. Temptation surrounds them: drugs, alcohol, nightclubs, parties, driving a car, peer pressure. I dragged mine through those dark times, sometimes kicking and screaming. Luckily, he came out the other side relatively unscathed.
I’ve worked with teenagers and children from all backgrounds, broken homes, alcoholic or drug- addicted parents, first as a volunteer for the Salvation Army and then in the Motor Industry with apprentices. One of their biggest concerns was there was nowhere for teenagers to ‘hang out’ and that was why they got into trouble. They were bored.
It got me thinking. What if there was somewhere they could go? What if there was a magical place, filled with love and a family atmosphere where they could just ‘be’. Where they could find themselves, express themselves, all under the watchful eye of someone on their side, a champion.
My inspiration for Under the Hood came from Australian businessman and politician JJ Simons who founded the Young Australia League and established a holiday camp deep in the shaded Roleystone valley in 1929.
Simons called his camp Araluen, an Eastern States Aboriginal word meaning ‘singing waters,’ or ‘place of lilies’. Using local timber and stone, League members and volunteers built a number of cottages designed by Perth architect WG Bennett. They created a park filled with native and imported plants, shady pathways, stone steps and water terraces that flow all year round. Now owned by the government, Araluen Botanical Park attracts tourists all year round. The Grove of the Unforgotten still remains, as magical as ever, built in memory of Young Australia League members killed in World War I.
How wonderful it would be if young people could return to this peaceful place while they search for themselves through the trials of growing up, a place that would keep them off the streets and out of trouble. JJ Simons provided the perfect place to teach young Australians life skills, gave them stability and taught them respect for the land and their peers. It seemed a fitting background for Under the Hood, the story of an extraordinary woman who has her own goals, commitments that know no boundaries, and a man by her side who shares her dream of saving the world, one teenager at a time.
About the book: When Scott Devin buys a struggling car dealership in semi-rural Western Australia, the last person he expects to see in charge is a stilletto-wearing, mini-skirted foreperson. Exactly the distraction a struggling, male-dominated workshop doesn’t need! But there’s more to TJ Stevens than meets the eye.
TJ Stevens has two major goals in life: to preserve her grandfather’s heritage and protect her teenage rehabilitation program — and she’ll go to any lengths to do it. Scott Devin’s presence is a threat to everything she’s worked hard to achieve, so keeping him at arms length shouldn’t be a problem…or will it?
Under the Hood is nominated for a Romance Writers of Australia Romantic Book of the Year (R*BY) award. The sequel, Under Cover of Dark is available now.