Mastodon The Writing Desk: Guest Post ~ The Pacifist, by Mehreen Ahmed

11 April 2017

Guest Post ~ The Pacifist, by Mehreen Ahmed

Available on Amazon UK, Amazon US 

In 1866, Peter Baxter’s misfortune ends the day he leaves Badgerys Creek orphanage. Unsure of what to do next, Peter finds himself on a farm run by Mr. Brown. An aging man, Brown needs help and is happy to give Peter a place to live in exchange for his labor. Unbeknownst to Peter, Brown’s past is riddled with dark secrets tied to the same orphanage. Fate changes when Peter joins the search for gold in Hill End, New South Wales. Striking it rich, he returns to Rose a wealthy man. Peter is changed by his new found affluence, heading towards the mire of greed. Will Rose regret her relationship with Peter? Meanwhile, Rose has her own troubled history. One that is deeply entwined with Brown’s past and Peter’s future.

The Cape Byron Lighthouse 

Originally Cavvanbah, the area was renamed Cape Byron by Captain Cook. When Cook landed at Cavvanbah in 1770, he named it after his favorite naval officer, John Byron – grandfather of the famous British poet, Lord Byron.

Cape Byron’s lighthouse is the most powerful one in Australia. It is located in New South Wales in the town of Byron Bay. A much needed lighthouse, this building saved many ships from getting wrecked in the bay’s tumultuous waters. The previous, weaker structure did not provide the necessary light to warn ships. Now, every fifteen seconds, a revolving light flashes day and night.

Anyone visiting this lighthouse will notice a cedar doorway, above which a Latin phrase reads, Olim periculum-nunc salus, meaning “once a danger, now safe.” Moving inside, the lantern of the lighthouse was initially operated by a concentric six-wick kerosene burner. This was replaced by a vaporized kerosene mantle burner, which emits far more light. The original concentric six wick burner was 145,000 cd but when the replacement burner was installed in 1922, the lighthouse emitted an illumination of 500,000 cd. This changed again in 1956 when the light was converted to electricity. A halogen lamp was installed, shooting the light’s intensity to 2,200,000 cd, which is its current output. When this upgrade took place, the clock mechanism and auxiliary red lights were also added. 

In the days when oil lamps and clockwork mechanisms were used, a keeper was appointed to manually operate the lighthouse. But with the invention of automation, the number of keepers was reduced. The duties of the lighthouse keepers involved trimming the wicks, replenishing fuel, winding clockworks, and cleaning lenses and windows, through which the light reflected. In those days, the dimmer lights must have looked lonesome under a star pitted sky over the dark roaring waves. Ships unable to see the beam sometimes went adrift. Thankfully, with the updated, more powerful lights, ships are in the hands of much safer lamps. They may still wrestle over swelling waves at night but with the aid of a more powerful beam.

The sunset over the bay is a melancholy sight. With the gradual change in sky color from bright orange and pink to a dull silver and black, the tapered tower high up on the cliff looks distant from the meandering pathway. Overlooking the ocean below, the waves lap against the cliffs at night. The incisive light shines through the peak, cutting some of the darkness away. On a stormy night lightning may touch the tower while the winds pick up to lacerate and howl over the fury of the ocean below.

This lighthouse was the point of inspiration for my novel, The Pacifist.

Mehreen Ahmed
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About the Author

Queensland writer, Mehreen Ahmed has been publishing since 1987. Her writing career began with journalism and academic reviews and articles. Her books have made their way into COPAC, WORLDCAT, TROVE sites through the gateways of Cambridge university library, Bodleian and fryer Library at the university of Queensland, Australia. Jacaranda Blues and Moirae have been heritage listed by the State Library of Victoria, Australia. She has earned two MA degrees. One in English and the other in Computer Assisted Language Learning (Applied Linguistics) from Dhaka university and the university of Queensland, Brisbane Australia respectively. At the moment, her historical fiction based on the 19th century Australian Gold Rush period is under consideration by Cosmic Teapot Publishing. You can find Mehreen on Facebook and Twitter @MehreenAhmed2

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