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Aussie Author’s Love Letter to the Australian Outback

Hunt for the Virgin Rainbow

By Natalie Jenkins

A suspenseful jewel heist

As the main setting for a suspenseful jewel heist, Coober Pedy is not usually the destination that springs to mind. But for Australian author K.M. Steele, this small town smack-bang in the centre of South Australia was the perfect place to set her new book, Hunt for the Virgin Rainbow.

Deserts, thieves and rainbows

As the title suggests, Coober Pedy’s own famous Virgin Rainbow opal is the centrepiece for the story, as protagonist Mallory, and a slew of other jewel thieves and interesting characters converge on the outback in an attempt to get their hands on the prized opal.

For Mallory, stealing the opal was the easy part, it’s what comes next that will keep readers turning every action-packed page. The ensuing chase zigzags through the Australian desert, across the sea to an icy Canada before racing back to a heart-stopping conclusion in the Whitsunday region.

The town becomes the character

However, it is the small town of Coober Pedy that steals the show. It’s a place so unique and full of life that it almost feels like a character itself. For K.M. Steele, there was nowhere else she could set her story. This is her love letter to the Australian Outback.

“I wanted to begin the novel in Coober Pedy, because like the famous opal, the town where it was discovered is rather unique. And as you can imagine, a name like Virgin Rainbow invites wordplay.”

An Outback Gem

Australia has the world’s largest supply of opals, between 95-97%, with most of them found in Southern Australia.

First discovered in Coober Pedy by miner John Dunstan, the incredible Virgin Rainbow opal, known for its beauty and ability to seemingly glow in the dark, is said to be worth over one million dollars, and was formed and found inside the skeleton of an ancient cuttlefish.

Having grown up in Western NSW, K.M Steele was keen to showcase the beauty that Australia has to offer to her readers around the world.

“I grew up in the Pilliga. That country is quite different to the desert country in the centre.”

Showcasing Australia’s exotic heart

K.M. Steele firmly believes that there is a market for more stories to be set in authors’ own backyards.

“I lived overseas for five years, and in that time, I realised that Australia is seen as an exotic location to people who have never visited.

I believe there will always be a market for novels with a great plot, engaging characters and a memorable setting.”

For anyone interested in seeing the infamous Virgin Rainbow for themselves, it is currently on display in the South Australian Museum in Adelaide, hopefully behind some very sturdy glass and stringent security measures.

Hunt for the Virgin Rainbow is the first in a 3-book series that will engross and entertain readers, with a story that is truly a love letter to the Australian outback. It is currently available in all good bookstores and on the Hawkeye Books website.

Learn more about K. M. Steele here.

You can find more reviews on Goodreads and the Hunt for the Virgin Rainbow page.

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