Hills of Gold
In a story based on fact, it is 1912 in the booming New Zealand gold mining town of Waihi. The mine at Martha Hill is the second largest gold mine in the world, yet two teenagers are struggling to keep their family from disaster. Their mother is recently dead under mysterious circumstances, their gold miner father is seriously ill and in trouble with the law, while an industrial conflict is looming that will tear the town apart. Fourteen year old Russell hopes to be a mining engineer, but is forced to leave school to work in the Martha Mine to help his family survive, and one miner –the violent father of the girl he likes, has it in for him. His seventeen year old sister, Irene, is acting as surrogate mother to the two younger children, but she is showing signs of beginning to crack under the stress. To make matters even worse, some people are saying that their father killed their mother. Their hopes of rescue lie mainly with their uncle, John Anderson, a brilliant gold mining engineer working temporarily for the Russian government in Siberia. But Anderson is unwittingly caught up in political intrigue – the discontent and violence that will lead to the Russian Revolution. He has been lucky to survive the sinking of the Titanic, but now the Czar’s dreaded secret police force, the Okhrana, is out to kill him. Will Anderson even make it back to New Zealand alive?
Brent Leslie is an Auckland journalist, magazine editor and writer. He gained an arts degree from the University of Auckland and began his career in journalism at the New Zealand Herald before working in television for more than 20 years as a journalist, director and dramatist. The television work that gave him the most satisfaction was as a writer/director in the fledgling Maori Programmes Department of Television New Zealand. Among many programmes he made were several explaining the loss of Maori land and a TV comedy series. In more recent years, Brent has edited several business magazines and the NZSA (PEN NZ Inc) publication, New Zealand Author. He has written several books for younger children and this is his second novel for young adults. His first, Jock Logan and the Sea Devil, was published in 2012 and was one of only 40 books selected by the NZ Society of Authors for their stand at the prestigious Frankfurt Book Fair. It is a fictionalized adventure story of a boy caught up in the real life escape of Count Felix von Luckner, aka the Sea Devil, from Motuihe Island during World War One. Ashton Wylie children’s competition judges in 2012 described it as:…”a cleverly written blend of fact and fiction…fun…easy to read.” Brent has two adult children – a son and a daughter – both lawyers. His favourite recreation is playing tennis.