Beaufort author Nicole Kelly has released her debut novel, Lament, after being inspired by the Kelly Gang story and her career as a teacher.
Ms Kelly, no relation, taught in Ballarat for 10 years and grew up in north-east Victoria near Wangaratta and Glenrowan, surrounded by the legends of the Kelly Gang.
Through her career as a teacher and interest in history, Ms Kelly, pictured, said she was fascinated by the story of Glenrowan teacher Thomas Curnow, who was a key figure at The Last Stand.
"In the real story, Ned let the teacher out of the inn which got them captured in the end, so my premise is if he didn't let the teacher out, what would've happened and it went from there," she said.
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"It's been a long time in the making, it's taken seven years to get published. I started it while I was on maternity leave with my first child and got the idea for the book then it took a bit longer than that."
In 2019, Ms Kelly's story finished second in the Hawkeye Manuscript Development Prize, narrowly missing out on a publishing contract, but shortly after she was contacted by the Queensland publisher who wanted to release the book.
"There was a lot of drafting and editing involved because I have no degree in creative writing or anything, it really was from a love of writing and being a prolific reader so there was a lot of drafting to get it right," she said.
"The whole thing has been a massive learning experience, I started tinkering around with writing but in the last two years, I thought it was time to get serious about it because otherwise it doesn't happen.
"Over the last two years, I've published some short stories and won competitions and now have had the book published so it makes you know you're on the right track.
"It's great to have that feedback because writing is a solitary passion and you can overanalyse it, so getting that feedback that other people like what you're writing is really positive."
Ms Kelly, who is also a Ballarat Writers committee member, said it was important to connect with other regional writers and support regional bookshops.
"There's a really supportive writing community on Twitter as well with people going through the same trials and tribulations. Ballarat Writers is great for sending out their newsletters to give you a pump up about competitions or events so it's nice to know that you're not so alone," she said.
"It's incredibly difficult to get into bookshops so I wanted to make really positive relationships with the bookshops I was in.
"Being in regional bookshops means I can also support them, I've done signings and plan to do some in Beaufort and at Collins in Ballarat so for them to support me and for me to support them is really important and has been really lovely."