Lockdown - Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions

  1. Rowan is a strong character who has had a lot of emergency preparation training. How does her training help her make choices when the earthquake hits? Do you agree with all her choices?

  2. Jake has been fairly protected for most of his life. How does this influence his ability to deal with the earthquake? How does he change over the next week?

  3. To Rowan, it’s really important to see her father in the hospital. If you were in her situation, do you think you would leave the compound to try to see someone you loved? What do you think Rowan should have done?

  4. It’s revealed in a couple of places that Michael is gay. Some readers thought the theme of his gender identity should have been more fully explored. Did it make sense to you that his sexuality was just part of his character, like having brown hair and hazel eyes? Or did this fact needed greater investigation?

  5. Rowan’s mother, Dixie, is determined to get back to her family as soon as she can. Is Rowan like Dixie? In what ways?

  6. Linda has not told Jake who his real father is for sixteen years. Do you think she should have told Jake sooner? If not, then when? Should she have told him at all?

  7. Did Greg / Ray have any right to approach Jake without first contacting Linda for permission? How did the earthquake change his timing?

  8. It’s important to prepare for emergencies but do you think it’s possible to be too prepared? Was Tony too prepared? Do you think his house, with its chain-link fence made people curious about what was inside?

  9. Before the earthquake Tony boasted to neighbours about how prepared he was. Do you think this influenced the fact that the house was targeted by crowds?

  10. If you were preparing for an emergency today, what do you think you would put in your backpack? It is recommended that you pack something for entertainment (cards, books etc) and a little bit of comfort food. What would your choices be there?

  11. Stories don’t really end. How do you think Rowan and her family would be living in one week’s time? One month? One year? 

Outback Promise - what people think

While I’ve been busily working on new projects, many lovely readers have left more reviews of Outback Promise on Amazon and GoodReads:

Engy Neville Loved Every Beautiful Word:

I was hooked from the first few lines. Ms Bolitho has crafted a touching story that tugs at every single emotion from the best to the absolute heartbreaking. It's been an amazing adventure reading this book and somehow I feel like I too have traveled through the outback. I loved this week.

L. Jenkins said: […] The writer’s lyrical descriptions of the landscape were haunting and beautiful. This read kept me solidly in its grip as I turned each page in anticipation of unraveling the underlying causes of the friction within Ros and Grady’s soured relationship.

From Irene A: With crystalline prose and the sure hand of a novelist, Maggie Bolitho sculpts a story of loss, grief, forgiveness, and love. The territory travelled by the characters is as suffocating as their pain yet as expansive as the Australian outback. And we feel it all. This is a beautiful, harsh, and ultimately redemptive story from a talented writer.

Read it! It’s a real winner said Mary Ann R. […] this book is a very well written, emotional and psychological adventure of a long married couple who have descended into the pits of distrust and denial; drawn apart mainly by circumstances beyond their control. […] Tender, emotional and sensual.

Rowena Holloway gave it 4/5 stars on GoodReads. […]This is a story that tackles a married relationship in a mature and realistic way. Ros’s predicament will speak to many of us and though Outback Promise is told only through her eyes and Grady’s motives and emotions stay somewhat opaque for much of their trip, he does get to say his piece. And it is here that we see his true vulnerability.

If you enjoy realistic characters dealing with real problems set against what for some will be an exotic background, Outback Promise is definitely for you.

Judith Hornby said This compelling story is a MUST READ.

I was really drawn into this well written and moving story. Maggie has developed her characters well, capturing the grief, pain and confusion that Ros and Grady had to endure when they lost their only child. I felt I was right there with them as they travelled the Australian Outback in the hopes of finding peace and happiness with each other again. This book is an emotional, sad and happy read and I found it very hard to put down.

Sheri A Wilkinson found it to be A dramatic, emotionally charged read.

A well written intense original story. Ros and Grady lose their only son, in a devastating car accident. It is traumatic for both and they each handle their grief in their own ways. The plot is rich with intense moments, fantastic dialog, and alternating chapters from the past to present. I really got a feel of what Ros was going through losing her son and her marital problems.

Thank you, readers & reviewers

Here are the highlights of some of the recent reviews for Outback Promise:

 March 3, 2016 – 5/5 stars from Cai on the blog:



[…] This book was so well written. It was one hell of an emotional rollercoaster, switching between the events surrounding the accident and the present. I felt Ros’ pain throughout the entire book. There was not one moment when she didn’t seem real. I could relate to both Grady and Ros and see why they made the choices they did.

Outback Promises teaches a lesson in cherishing what you have now, in this moment. It teaches you not to take your loved ones for granted. It shows that everyone has different ways of processing things and that communication really is key. The issues the couple face, are caused by both of them and I find that refreshing and realistic. Too many books these days bash men with all the blame falling on the male antagonist.

Bolitho does such a good job at demonstrating the reality of it all. Grief, love, relationships. I love that the trip isn’t all smooth sailing and that they meet so many obstacles and continue to overcome them.

I really wanted to rate this book 3 or 4 stars purely because of how emotionally draining it is. But it is not fair to blame a wonderful piece of writing for my vulnerabilities. It is definitely a 5 star read. There is absolutely nothing to warrant anything less than 5 stars.

March 1, 2016 – Kathryn gave it 4/5 stars on the Novel Escapes blog:


This one took me by surprise, I didn’t read the blurb very carefully and I’m sort of glad I didn’t. It’s a challenging read emotionally but so full of promise in moments that I was engrossed and riveted until the very end.

The novel focusses on Ros and husband Grady. There are other characters but they’re there to move scenes or give a bit of background. Usually bit players without much focus make me question their relevance and cause me frustration but in Outback Promise, though they hover in the background, Bolitho had them be supportive to the main plot. This is the first novel of Maggie Bolitho’s that I’ve read and I really enjoyed her writing. There wasn’t a moment where I was questioning anything which is always a great treat when you’ve picked up something new.  I loved the plot lines of the novel, the past and present chapters were perfectly placed and paced the novel with the right information at the times when you needed it and I also loved reading about the places on the road trip and the intricacies of the caravan/camping parks along their route.

I wish we’d had a bit more history for Ros and her mother- there were things hinted at and explained but I wish we’d had a bit more information there. It obviously greatly influenced the way Ros saw herself.

The story line is tragic, it’s hard to read and, at times, it’s emotionally draining. There are scenes of such anguish that I found myself reading through tears and many a moment I carried with me into the next day- when I looked at my kids and when I thought about those I’ve lost. Though heart-wrenching Outback Promise also manages to live up to its’ title- the promise to another person and the promise of a fresh start became uplifting and they sorrow somehow forces you to take stock and not take for granted what’s right in front of your nose.


Feb 23, 2016 Jina Howell-Forbes rated it 4/5 stars on Goodreads

Reading this book was an emotional roller-coaster. Two people, married to each other, find they have completely different responses to extreme trauma. These divergent responses push the couple father and farther apart. Their marriage is on very rocky ground when the husband decides to try something desperate to bring them back together. So begins a three month odyssey through the Australian Outback. They camp they have adventures and they survive dangerous situations with only each other to depend on. The story moves between the trip, the traumatic event that occurred six years earlier, and some of the events that caused the crumbling of the marriage.

This story is extremely well written. The things that happened to both of these people were excruciatingly painful, and were described with exceptional skill. Equally gripping were the compelling descriptions of the Outback, including the flora and fauna, the storms, and the people they met along the way.

This is not an easy read. As you prepare for a journey through the Outback, prepare for a journey through your own emotions, and be open to looking at a troubled marriage from both sides. The relationship issues that the story raises may keep you thinking, questioning and rethinking for a long time. You might want to convince a friend to read it, since it can be helpful to have someone to bounce ideas around with.


Feb 10, 2016 Lily Malone rated it 4/5 stars on Amazon & GoodReads

[…] The feeling of anonymity of […] camping life, and the coming and going of campers who can bare their souls over an evening meal and drink and feel like life-long friends, then disappear next day never to be seen again, felt very familiar.
If I call the 'ending' the scenes in Darwin - then this is where the book became brilliant for me. This is where the two characters really unload all the emotion that has been buried between them for six years, since the death of their son. That includes the husband's betrayal, but also the wife's betrayal (as her husband saw it).
The emotional context of Outback Promise is excellent. I could feel for all the characters involved and understand all the perspectives put forward.
It was only at the end that I cried, during description of the video trailer Grady had put together. This is where the empathy in me as a mother of young boys came to the fore.
I thought Outback Promise was brilliantly written. Very well edited - I can turn a blind eye to mistakes in e-books but you won't have to with this one - it's really well done.


February 5, 2016 - Christine rated it  5/5 stars on Amazon

If I could, I would give this book 6 stars! It was so well written with such raw emotion, I could feel the mother’s pain. It’s a situation that is a mother’s worse nightmare, and although the death of a child is something that you can never get over, the parents’ emotionally journey through this nightmare was so interesting and heart-breaking and the physical journey through the harsh outback so fitting. I loved this book and congrats to the author :)


February 2, 2016 - Brenda Telford gave it 5/5 stars on Amazon and GoodReads

[...] I thoroughly enjoyed Outback Promise by Aussie author Maggie Bolitho. This is my first by this author and I was very impressed. Deeply emotional, heart wrenchingly sad at times, it was also filled with hope and love. Well-crafted characters, flawed and never perfect make this novel an excellent read, and one I have no hesitation in recommending highly.


How does she do it?

I'm thrilled that Outback Promise is featured on Tess Woods' recommended reading list:


Besides being an amazing author, Tess is a human dynamo who works tirelessly to help other writers and the wider community. In fact I suspect she may have an identical twin because it seems impossible that one woman could do all that she does!

Check out Tess’s book Love at First Flight here:  


Hello from Australia - via Europe

Today I have a guest spot on the lovely Suze Lavender’s blog. It features many photos from my 2015 trek around Australia as well as my thoughts about returning to the country that I love dearly.


Suze also read my book, Outback Promise, and posted a review of it here:



One more spin around the dance floor?

This week I’m doing a guest blog on the Romance University site. You can find me here, talking about my writing process when it comes time to edit and revise.


Photo from Wikimedia Commons: Royal Typewriter by Britt Reints

What's love got to do with it?

Do you love love? Then may want to check out the BFI LoveFest from November 20-22, 2015.

As a HarperCollins author I’ve been invited to participate. So even though I have Canadian-Australian citizenship, I’m going to be a very small part of this annual British event. My English ancestors would approve.

HarperCollins UK and the BFI will be celebrating all things romance. If you’re lucky enough to be in London, you’ll find all the films being screened here: http://bfi.powio.com/gb/bfi-love-season/

There is also a virtual program between now and the end of November to explore the intersection between romantic literature and film. The themes that the BFI are exploring are:

  • Fatal Attractions

  • The Power of Love

  • Fools for Love

Join me on the November 20-22nd weekend, where I’ll answer questions about my favourite romantic books and movies as well as that timeless question of love at first sight. I’ve written a blog for it called When is a Romance Not a Romance?

Go to http://www.bfi.org.uk/love for more information.

November 2-13, 2015 Virtual Book Tour!

The fine folks at HarperCollins and Goddess Fish Promotions have joined forces to send me on a virtual book tour. This is where to find me:

November 2: Louise Lyndon Romance Author Hear Me Roar!

November 3: Jbiggarblog

November 4: BooksChatter - Books Chatter have also done an excellent compilation of the Outback Promise playlist.

November 5: Queen of the Night Reviews

November 6: Welcome to my World of Dreams

November 9: Rogue’s Angels

November 10: Room With Books:

November 10: Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews

November 11: Where the Story Comes First

November 12: Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews

November 13: Long and Short Reviews