The debut novel from writer Mike Musgrave Cry Quietly takes readers on a journey of life in Australia during the wartime 1940s and is the first of several titles set to be released by the new author.
Released in Australia and internationally, the part fiction, part autobiographical story is inspired by the trials and tribulations of the writer’s own life, but he hopes it will serve as some comfort for young people today.
A retired engineer, Mike Musgrave, says he hopes Cry Quietly will help those going through a difficult time know that there’s light at the end of the tunnel for them.
“I wanted to write an inspirational book to show people that by using their faith in themselves and whatever religion they have, they can overcome any adversity thrown at them. In the media, there’s all these perceived serious problems with young people and young mothers in particular. And quite a few young fellows unsure of themselves seem to be somewhat lost,” he says. “I thought if I wrote an inspirational book, giving the example of true stories, slightly fictionalised [it might help].”
The story follows main character Rita Cosgrove, who is the mother of five children. Her husband leaves the Air Force to become a pharmacist and gets addicted to prescription drugs.
Through his addiction, he becomes abusive and is arrested in 1956 leaving Rita to survive with five children under nine.
“The main problem being that the former husband wouldn’t pay maintenance and would only make mortgage payments when he was forced to and that left the family struggling without much for three years,” Mike says. “The sub-character Errol was the fourth child; conditions were so bad he developed malnutrition to go with his severe asthma. So that’s how the story is structured and it shows how the two main characters, Rita and Errol, overcome all the problems that are thrown at them and all the traumas, getting through life and becoming, later on, successful and settled.”
Covering themes and issues of family violence, bigotry, betrayal and revenge, Cry Quietly aims to capture the essence of mid-century Australia dealing with issues that are still relevant today.
Mike was inspired to write the book when he retired from his engineering business and started exploring his family history, most importantly, his mother’s.
Dedicating the book to his mother and using her as inspiration for Rita in the story, Mike successfully creates a family dynamic and household which readers can not only empathise with, but also relate to.
Taking four years to write to novel, Mike said he used the time to get the facts straight and to make sure he honoured all of the people the characters are based upon.
“Because people being people, they change over time from when they’re young and later in life they may take exception to being included as part of a story to which they were not really part of,” he says. “But also it took time waiting for people to get back to me,” he laughs. “And research. The first book went through eight rewrites. And even then when I got the books from the publisher, I read through it and I picked up four errors. I went back through the editing process three times on top of the eight rewrites.”
And now it’s finished and out there in the world for readers to devour, Mike is almost ready to launch his next title, Chrysalis.
“But the book was, to me, a fair old accomplishment. But the second book is now at the publishers and it sort of follows on from the first book. It has a strong plot regarding the Queensland and New South Wales police, and political corruption in Queensland and New South Wales during the seventies and eighties. So it’s a stronger book. And will it raise a few hackles. But once again it’s being fictionalised, but all based on true events,” he says.
“Chrysalis will be released early February, but Cry Quietly is a great introduction. It’s an inspirational novel not to be missed. And I think younger people, and particularly young mothers, would find it quite awe-inspiring, in particular the performance of Rita Cosgrove.
Cry Quietly is published by Pegasus Publishers can be found at all good bookstores and online.