My Books

The Crossing

Genre: Fiction – Historical realism

When young novice Sister Anthony is assigned to St Cuthbert’s orphanage, she is ill-prepared for the shocking revelations that will challenge everything she believes and bring her into conflict with her superiors, her family and her church.

The Crossing is based on true events. Sarah Norton, an idealistic but naïve young woman, becomes “Sister Anthony”. Against a background of the Vietnam War, the sixties civil rights movement and the 1967 referendum, the story traces Sarah’s radicalisation as she becomes aware of the Church’s role in institutionalising Aboriginal children.

The fight to get justice for one family in particular dominates Sarah’s life. At the same time, she struggles with what her Mother Superior calls her “improper feelings” for Mick, the irreverent and atheistic editor of the local newspaper. Mick challenges Sarah’s beliefs and is a catalyst to her enlightenment.

The Crossing covers a broad sweep of Australian social history and marries social issues and historical accuracy with a page-turning plot and interesting characters. It is a compelling read recommended by Professor Mick Dodson, co-author of The Bringing Them Home Report, the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families, in these words:

“Characters in this book are real. I have met them in my lifetime. They are part of the story of the Stolen Generations, an integral part of the shared history of our country. Every Australian should read this book.”

You can find The Crossing on Amazon, in Collins Booksellers on Lydiard or at the Ginninderra Press website at https://www.ginninderrapress.com.au/store.php?product/page/2172/M.M.+Riches+%2F+The+Crossing

The Greek Campaign – a soldier’s story

Genre: Non-fiction Australian military history.

The best memories of my childhood are the exciting stories that kept me wide-eyed and wanting more. The story-teller was my father. I am still fascinated by his account of the events of April 1941 involving Australia’s legendary 6th Division.

The first version of this story was written as a college project when I was sixteen years old. I called it The Lost Battalion in reference to the one thousand men who disappeared into the snows of Mt Olympus.

Later, when I studied professional writing, I interviewed more formally my father, his ex-army mates and his brother who was taken prisoner by the German army on Crete. I took my research to the archives of the Australian War Memorial in Canberra and I was impressed with the accuracy of the men’s memories. Each one was able to add more detail and I learned to trust the original information I was privileged to receive, as I saw that in all aspects of the campaign, their memories matched official records precisely and their testimonies, given in different times and places, supported each other. I travelled to Greece and met with Apostolos Kalogiannis, Mayor of Larissa the town at the centre of the story.

The story follows Australian and New Zealand troops, in the first revival of the ANZAC alliance since Gallipoli as they battle against heavy odds and a much better equipped German army in the defence of Greece and Crete during World War II. It tells of their extraordinary feat in crossing Mt Olympus, becoming lost on the mountain, and pays homage to the people of Larissa who rescued and cared for our troops.

My father always insisted that he was by no means a hero. He told his story with self-effacing, genuine and touching humility as if he wondered what all the fuss was about. He was quick to point out the he was just one of many who simply did their duty.

The Greek Campaign then, is one soldier’s story of an event in which many were heroes.

Maureen meeting with Apostolos Kalogiannis, the Mayor of Larissa
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