Erina Reddan with her new book Deep in the Forest

Cults, power, and secrets explored by Sunbury author

Sunbury author and journalist Erina Reddan (pictured) has released her latest book, Deep in the Forest.

Reddan, a member of one of the oldest families in the district (having grown up on a farm between Diggers Rest and Bulla), thought she’d had a pretty ordinary childhood. However, when she started writing her latest book – which explores the power of religion and cults – she realised she had grown up in a kind of cult.

“I lived on an isolated farm in a Catholic community with rules about what you ate, and when, and I never met or interacted with anybody who wasn’t Catholic,” she says.

Reddan, a former ABC journalist, says her first love was writing fiction, “…it was easier to become a journalist and so that’s where I went”.

“However, fiction tells a different and even deeper kind of truth than writing news,” she says. “There are facts in the plot, but it also takes you deep underneath the surface.

“When I am writing as a journalist I am writing the first record of things, you get it out there as best you can to report the news as quickly and as accurately as possible. You are writing to a formula.

Book cover - Deep in he Forest by Erina Reddan.

“But when you are writing fiction you are writing in so many different layers. Journalism has a couple of layers, in fiction the words have to do more than tell the plot.”

Reddan says that as a writer she hopes to create an experience for the reader “…where they feel nourished”.

“So they are reading along – because it is a page-turner – but they also get to feel very satisfied at the end,” she says.

Deep in the Forest tells the story of Charli Trenthan, a bookbinder accused of a crime she did not commit. On her way to leave Stone Lake – located deep in the highlands of Victoria – she is handed a cryptic message and has a tough choice to make.

“Charli is an outcast, blamed for starting a devastating bush fire,” says Reddan.

“She’s torn between getting on the plane to Venice, or acting on the note she’s been handed. She decides to stay and that leads to something ghastly – deep in the forest.

“Then we are off to the races… She has to figure out what’s happened in order to defend her innocence, because the local copper is out to get her.

“Charlie has to fight a fate much worse than jail because there is a massive twist in this story.”

Deep in the Forest is out now, $32.99.