About 3 years ago Adam and I were wandering around Victoria looking for where we wanted to live, having decided after 20 years that life in the Dandenongs was no longer for us.
One cold, damp, miserable day we headed for the Central Goldfields. I'll be honest. This was not the part of the world I was particularly keen to move to. Growing up outside Ballarat, been there, done that, burnt the t-shirt many many years before.
That was before we lobbed into Talbot and found an open bookshop. Being pre-programmed to stop immediately at bookshops, we pulled over, went in and started browsing in this beautiful, old, building with a lovely warm fire, and a wonderful combination of new and old books. Slightly Bent Books was a joy from the moment we walked in the door.
Many years ago, already a very dedicated Crime Fiction fan I was carefully working my way through every crime book I could get my hands on, when I lucked on something that for me, was pretty significant. PINK WATER DAWN by Bill Green wasn't by any means the first local book I'd read. But it was one that triggered something. And made me long for a lot more, and made me start to really seek out local stories by local authors. Alas books by Bill Green were never that easy to find (or at least I never noticed them despite him being a name on my "must buy" list since that day in 1996).
So you can imagine my surprise when in 2008 I suddenly find myself surrounded by Bill Green books in a bookshop in Talbot of all places! Picking out some of the most yearned for titles, I was even more startled when the bookshop owner turned around and said something to the effect "would you like them signed... Bill's out the back cooking toast...".
Hard to remain cool, calm and collected in those circumstances and I've no idea if I ever did manage to pull that off - but I cannot begin to tell you how thrilled I was. Bill was charming, a twinkle in the eye, and a story for every occasion. Helen (bookshop owner and Bill's wife) was equally lovely and we ended up in a long chat about our desire to more somewhere more conducive to living the good life.
On that day, and in a subsequent few chats, we knew that the Central Goldfields was the starting point for where we would live. Sure we ended up about 3/4s of an hour away - further out and in a wine growing district, but we used Talbot and that area as the starting point for our search, and every month, we try very hard to return to the Talbot Farmers Market, which just about always involves a browse through the bookshop, and on a couple of lucky occasions since that first buy up - some more of Bill's books to continue to build my treasured collection.
And then the very sad news that Bill has died. The saddest thing of all is that it's taken his death for some of the fabulous stories to be told.
The book that's particularly alluded to in the stories of Bill is one of the books I've been cherry picking for a while now - Compulsively Murdering Mao. The last book I picked up in Talbot and the last time I was lucky enough to have Bill sign a book, tell a few great stories, and head back to his desk in that beautiful shop to work a bit and chat a bit with passers-by. He will be much much missed by this reader.