A FARM accident sparked this author's creativity, writes SARAH HUDSON
It was one of those freak, split-second farming accidents, with life-long ramifications.
After shopping, Honey Brown had returned to the Callignee beef farm she shared with her husband, John, and two children when disaster struck.
"One of our cattle had grass tetany and was giving birth. She was aggressive and unsteady on her feet," Honey says.
"I got into the yard to try to help John and the vet, and she turned and charged me.
"She knocked me down, fell on me and broke my back."
In that moment, which "changed my life forever", Honey became a paraplegic.
After only two weeks in hospital and a month in rehabilitation, she returned to the farm.
"One of the nurses told me it would take five years to regain a sense of myself," she says.
"I was stubborn and I thought it would never happen.
"I was not necessarily angry, but I just thought, 'There's no way I'll get over this'.
"So it was quite a revelation to find myself, almost against my will, being stronger about five years later."
Aside from the support of family and friends - and moving to a new farm, a sheep stud in Warragul - Honey, 40, says her recovery was helped by writing.
Now, 12 years on from the accident, she is establishing herself as a renowned Australian author of thrillers, with her third book, After the Darkness, released this year and a fourth due in 2013.
She says the accident brought out her innate talent.
"I think writing is intrinsically within me. I was born with it," says Honey, who is wheelchair-bound but can walk slowly in calipers.
"But what the accident did was to fast-forward me.
"Generally women start writing at the age of 50 or 60, because it feels like a hobby.
"I would have always come to writing - it's a burning desire, but the accident put me in a place where everything fell away.
"It's often in the darkest times you find your creativity."
Growing up in Tasmania, Honey says she was a day-dreamer and would see "images and movies" in her mind, "which I now know is a common part of the creative process".
But it was after the accident she was able to dedicate time to devouring the classics, taking note of style and plot, absorbing the craft and toying with her own novels before Red Queen, her first, was published in 2009. That book is now being made into a movie.
After the Darkness is set on the Great Ocean Road in an eerie, stark art gallery and has the same menacing theme that is a signature of her novels.
"It just happens naturally. I can't stop it. I just start writing and a few pages in and dark elements start to emerge.
"I promise I'm a normal person," she says with a laugh.
"I think all people have good and bad in them. Multi-faceted characters are more interesting. Even some of my characters who do bad things . . I like to find some goodness in them."
Honey, who before the accident was a keen bushwalker, says while writing emerged from the accident, she sees the two as separate. "If I was cured tomorrow I would still write.
"I might be so excited I could walk again that I'd run around like crazy for some time. But writing is a way I filter my life."