David Allan-Petale Locust Summer

An excerpt from Locust Summer


The phone chimed and I woke in my work clothes on the couch. The digital clock on the oven glowed five am. A month before summer, just before sunrise, faithful to the timetable. I picked up the receiver, and after some chalky pleasantries, Mum’s voice carried clear.

‘Harvest,’ she said, and got straight to it. ‘Can you come?’
I breathed slowly, tiredly, buying time. Imagined her in the kitchen at the homestead, watching the sun over the paddocks.

Maybe she had a coffee on the go, one for Dad as well, the old man slipping his workboots on at the veranda where the dogs were worshipping at his side.

‘There’s a lot on,’ I said. Mum cleared her throat, held her silence, making me wait for a response. Something was up. Usually she let me off the hook easy after I refused, saying they’d handle it without me before changing the subject to the weather, the price of grain, who was cheating on who in town. The call was a courtesy, prodding the ashes of my farming connection.

‘I’m selling,’ she said, and I sat up straight, groggily awake, sharpening to her words. ‘Your father’s in no shape to lead this one.’

‘Dad wants to sell?’

Mum fired back quick. ‘He can’t make that decision anymore.’

Perhaps we were all pretending the day would never come when Dad couldn’t keep going. Time was up the moment the power cut out at Albert’s wake. On the land the earth spins steady, the moon rises, and all crops grow: wheat, sheep, dementia.

About the author

David is a writer from Perth, Western Australia, whose debut novel Locust Summer is coming soon from Fremantle Press, an acclaimed independent publisher. He’s worked for all the good acronyms, from the ABC in Australia, to BBC World News in London. These days he runs the writing agency Red Platypus, working from home with his razor-sharp wife Carmen.

David is a father, a sailor, a traveller; a man who has a yarn with everyone and likes to share whisky over good conversation. He always reads several books at once and loves to cook with his family. He is a supporter of Classroom of Hope, a not-for-profit devoted to providing access to quality education in developing countries.

Selected for Varuna National Writer's House fellowship
Fremantle Press
Published by Fremantle Press
Shortlisted for The Australian / Vogel Literary Award
Locust Summer book

Read Locust Summer from Fremantle Press