Blame it on the Rain – Life around Byron Bay was always going to have rain somewhere in the title. After a long stint in California’s Mojave Desert, one of the driest places on earth, author and film maker Valerie Morton was unprepared for the battering rain that greeted her arrival in the Northern Rivers more than 12 years ago.
Flooded in on a property with the forecast promising more rain to come, she began a blog for friends back in the parched Californian desert, and the blog eventually morphed into a book. But it wasn’t until she saw a cane toad breaststroking beside her in the pool that the title finally came to her.
From a goat farmer whose untraditional needlework wins first prize at the Sydney Easter Show, to the lady who did time in the Bangalow lockup, Blame it on the Rain is a medley of short stories and photos that offer a snapshot of what it’s like to live up here all year round. The stories are quirky and full of local information, although not the type you would get from a typical travel guide. And as cover girl, local mermaid Kazzie Mahina suggests, they are foremost a celebration of the whimsical nature of our region.
‘When locals heard I was going to write a Byron book,’ Valerie says, ‘they were worried that it would encourage more people into the already glutted tourist area. I assured them it wasn’t that type of book, and then when it was finished, others were worried that it was going to scare people away. Actually, I never intended it to do either. Just to tell stories through the eyes of a local.
Mates, some of them professional photographers like Irina Tennant and Asa Mark, provided photos, and everyone jumped in with a story. The book could have been twice the length, and maybe there will be a second volume.
Meanwhile, the author is delighted to learn that friends in New York are reading snippets at dinner parties, and that it’s also being enjoyed at Café Byron Bay, Tokyo.
Available in local bookshops, nationwide and online.