‘THE ARTISAN HEART‘
Hayden Luschcombe is a brilliant paediatrician living in Adelaide with his wife Bernadette, an ambitious event planner. His life consists of soul-wrenching days at the hospital and tedious evenings attending the lavish parties organised by Bernadette.
When an act of betrayal coincides with a traumatic confrontation, Hayden flees Adelaide, his life in ruins. His destination is Walhalla, nestled in Australia’s southern mountains, where he finds his childhood home falling apart. With nothing to return to, he stays, and begins to pick up the pieces of his life by fixing up the house his parents left behind.
A chance encounter with a precocious and deaf young girl introduces Hayden to Isabelle Sampi, a struggling artisan baker. While single-handedly raising her daughter, Genevieve, and trying to resurrect a bakery, Isabelle has no time for matters of the heart. Yet the presence of the handsome doctor challenges her resolve. Likewise, Hayden, protective of his own fractured heart, finds something in Isabelle that awakens dormant feelings of his own.
As their attraction grows, and the past threatens their chance at happiness, both Hayden and Isabelle will have to confront long-buried truths if they are ever to embrace a future.
Hi! I’m DEAN MAYES
When I emerged in 2010, an Adelaide based Intensive Care Nurse and author, I had almost given up on the prospect of ever being published. By then in my 30’s, with several abortive writing attempts under my belt, I believed I had missed my opportunity. But I had an idea for one last story I wanted to tell and, rather than allow it to wither and die in my imagination, I decided to blog it instead.
Quite unexpectedly, my blog took off and after a chance encounter with Canadian based publisher Central Avenue in mid 2009, my dream like tale about a young man who discovers he has taken on the memories and dreams of a complete stranger, became my first novel. I was signed to an initial two year contract and in 2010 The Hambledown Dream was published. The novel has since gone on to receive global attention and critical acclaim.
I set about penning a follow up novel that was not merely a repeat performance and in 2012 Gifts of the Peramangk, a powerful Australian family saga chronicling a dysfunctional Aboriginal family in the struggle streets of Adelaide’s suburban fringe, was published. Gifts of the Peramangk has been described as significant literary achievement. In October 2013, it was nominated as a finalist in the prestigious EPIC Awards for contemporary fiction.
My third feature length novel, a psychological thriller set in Melbourne called The Recipient, showcased my ability to cross genres and deliver a taut and gripping tome about a heart transplant patient who discovers her organ donor was a murder victim – and that the murder remains unsolved.
My fourth novel, The Artisan Heart, is a return to my romantic roots.
I live in Adelaide, Australia with my partner Emily and our two children, Xavier and Lucy. An Intensive Care Nurse with over 15 years of clinical experience in adult, paediatric and neonatal medicine, I can often be found lying on a hospital gurney at 3am in the morning with a notebook in hand, madly scribbling ideas while on my break.
I am represented by Michelle Halket and published by Central Avenue Publishing of Vancouver, Canada.
‘WALHALLA – MY ARTISAN HEART‘
“The former gold mining town of Walhalla in Australia’s Great Dividing Ranges has become renowned as a town that has survived despite numerous close calls with being swept away entirely.
In my new novel The Artisan Heart, Walhalla is the setting for a romantic story about healing and second chances but, more than that, Walhalla becomes a character in itself – one that I hope readers come to adore as I much as I do.”
From its gold rush hey-day in the 1860’s, the town – often described as the Switzerland of Australia – was characterized as a small city – resplendent with romanticism, ingenuity and prosperity. Indeed, Walhalla became so populace, it was declared its own municipality. Its population swelled to well over 4000 at the peak of the gold rush and boasted a commercial center to rival that of any bustling metropolis of the time. Butchers, Bakers, Hoteliers, Haberdashers, Furniture Makers, Cafes. You could lose yourself in the wonderment of it all.
Walhalla’s first train, 1910
By the time of World War 1, Walhalla was a town in decline. Yields from the gold mines had dropped sharply. A railway line, that had been fought for over decades, finally arrived in the township – only to serve as the catalyst for a mass exodus from the township. Brown coal had been discovered further south and with the advent of electricity generation, many former miners jumped at the opportunities this new industry afforded.
By the 1950’s, Walhalla was very nearly dead. Fire and flood and general decay had seen many of its former buildings swept away, while the march of the mountain forests took back the ground it had conceded during the gold rush. One could argue that Walhalla existed in a state of suspended animation. The population, that had once numbered in the thousands, had been reduced to a few dozen. They continued to live in this “Valley Of The Gods” among the tall trees, the lush tree ferns and the wildlife of the Australian bush. It was a romanticism of another kind.
My father first took me to the town of Walhalla, when I was around four years old. In the late 70’s, Walhalla remained this sleepy mountain village with a gold mining past only a few cared to recall. The narrow guage railway had long since sucumbed to the bush, although there was a hobby railway that took kids back and forth along a stretch of line, maybe 100 meters long in the old rail yard. The hillside cemetary where, so the urban legend goes, many were buried standing up (so steep it is), peeked out from the thick bushland, its century old grave stones standing like rotted teeth. There was just a smattering of original buildings, situated at various points along the babbling Stringers Creek, dignified monuments to a forgotten age. And the breeze – that mountain breeze.
Even then, as a precocious child, the magic of Walhalla seeped into me. It captured me, like no other place on earth has. There is something indomitable about it. It has refused to die even though nature and time have tried their best. Every time I have visited Walhalla, I feel as though I am returning to an old and dear friend. We commune together and I update this place with my own goings own and I commit each new experience there to my memory. Walhalla has become a part of my soul.
Now, in this era when Walhalla is undergoing something of a renaissance as a tourist destination, the town feels as though it has been reborn. There has been renewed interest in the town. New buildings, holiday homes, a revamped commercial centre, a steady stream of tourists. It’s as though Walhalla has been rediscovered and is experiencing a new gold rush – of a different kind.
When I conceived the story of The Artisan Heart, I envisioned a small town as the setting for a story of healing. It quickly became apparent to me, given my life long love affair with the town, Walhalla would be that perfect setting. Not only does it inherently possess a sense of romanticism, Walhalla has been a place where I’ve gone to recoup during some difficult times in my life. A few days in this place has been like a balm for my soul and its helped me to face the world again. You could say that, in a way, The Artisan Heart is my thank you to Walhalla. A love letter if you will.
Walhalla is indomitable. It is a little sliver of paradise in the mountains that has survived and endured despite pretty much every effort to sweep it away. For me, Walhalla is perhaps my oldest and life long friend.
I enjoy the use of metaphors in my story telling. In weaving them into the narrative structure of my works, I hope coax an active reading experience and to stimulate further discussion among readers as to what they might mean. How those metaphors affect the trajectory of the characters and how they contribute to an engaging experience overall are important markers for a successful story.