The previous posts have seen my protagonist escape the famine in Ireland and sink into the squalor of Liverpool's Irish slums. And we know she died in New Zealand. In between, she spent time in Australia.
So here I had a problem. I've spent just three weeks in Eastern Australia, and - at the time - was more interested in learning about aboriginal history than the early European settlers. Which left me no choice but to wallow in books.
I learned about the challenges faced by the early deportees - and what impressed me most was the way they soon established a rule of law. At home they were labelled at criminals, but most were driven to theft by poverty. With the opportunity to co-operate, in order to provide a safe space to provide for their basic needs, they flourished. There was the odd vagabond, of course, and some (like Ned Kelly) have achieved cult status; but most settled into respectability.
However, I know we cannot ignore their deplorable treatment of indigenous peoples. The ripples of these early years still ruffle Australia today. History provides reasons (ignorance, the tendency of one group to look down on another) but that can never make it right.
Then came the gold rush. Which brought a whole new influx of people, driven by the lure of adventure and the prospect of riches. And it transformed the lives of many of those early settlers.
So, that, I thought, gave me all the background I needed. Until I checked the dates of the deportations ... And discovered that by the time my protagonist must have left Liverpool the only place in Australia that still accepted felons was on the west coast - thousands of miles across the desert. I've not been there, nor had I read about it. It was the biggest of my 'oh shit' moments. Could I wing it, and hope nobody checked the dates? Or go back to my storyline and rework it completely?
What would you have done?