Judy Hinz, writing as J Mary Masters, with debut novel House of Secrets.
Judy Hinz, writing as J Mary Masters, with debut novel House of Secrets. Contributed Rokauthor

Historic photos, stories inspire Judy to write debut novel

HEARING old stories and going through family albums proved the perfect inspiration for Judy Hinz to write her debut novel.

Writing as J Mary Masters, The House of Secrets is a romantic family saga set around Rockhampton in 1942.

The novel, which is the first in a series, follows the Belleville family, who live on a property an hour from town, as one of the children falls in love with an American officer stationed nearby.

While Rockhampton isn't specifically named, Judy said local readers would find many familiar settings, including the Criterion Hotel, St Paul's Anglican Cathedral and Gracemere.

While the story is fictional, Judy said it was grounded in the stories her parents told about Rockhampton of the 1940s, as well as her own experiences as a child in the 1950s.

ELEGANT OUTING: Vera and George Hinz at the Rockhampton Show in 1939.
ELEGANT OUTING: Vera and George Hinz at the Rockhampton Show in 1939. Contributed

"My father didn't serve in World War Two because he was a dairy farmer," Judy said.

"But he told a story about selling milk and cream to the American soldiers who were based here.

"Somehow that just gelled into an idea of writing a novel."

Writing the novel, Judy also took inspiration from her mother's family photos.

"That's an interesting era to capture because in some ways we've become a very casual society, but people don't realise that back then… how formal everybody was," she said.

"There's photos of my mother at the races, or the Rockhampton Show dressed up in a fur wrap and all that sort of stuff.

Vera Hinz, Kathleen Priddle, Beverley and Judy Hinz at the Rockhampton Show, 1954.
Vera Hinz, Kathleen Priddle, Beverley and Judy Hinz at the Rockhampton Show, 1954. Contributed

"I wanted to use that setting but I didn't want to be constrained by real people. The historical aspects of it are very accurate."

The Morning Bulletin's archives formed part of the book's background research, as well as an extensive database of Australian Defence Magazine, which Judy works as publisher on.

Writing the book gave Judy a chance to reflect on her own childhood on properties at Struck Oil and Walmul near Dululu.

"I just thought it would be a nice era to replicate in the book," Judy said.

The book is available online at Booktopia and Amazon, or through the Rockhampton Angus and Robertson store.

Louis Priddle, Vera Hinz and Kathleen Priddle at the Callaghan Park races in about 1954.
Louis Priddle, Vera Hinz and Kathleen Priddle at the Callaghan Park races in about 1954. Contributed


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