GROWING up on a farm between Orange and Bathurst, Petronella McGovern used to write stories about talking animals.
Fast forward to 2019 and the now-married mother-of-two is getting ready for the launch of her first work of fiction, Six Minutes, a psychological thriller about a missing child.
And is she apprehensive?
"I'm a little nervous, but, because it's taken so long, I'm excited to be talking about it, rather than sitting in my room typing away," she said.
"Writing a book is such a lonely process."
"Taken so long" is no understatement.
Ms McGovern said the book probably only took her six months to write in total, but the process was spread over six years.
"I had small children and I was working full-time and juggling all those things," she said.
"There was a lot of time not doing anything; when it just had to be put aside for everyday life."
Six Minutes begins with a mother's terror when her child disappears from a playgroup in a village on the outskirts of Canberra.
It's a terror that Ms McGovern has felt herself - though only briefly.
Eventually a security guard found him [her son] on the top floor looking at rockets and spaceships and having a great timePetronella McGovern
When she was living in Canberra - she and her family now live on Sydney's Northern Beaches - she took her then three-year-old son to Questacon and they were about to leave when "he just disappeared".
The fear was overwhelming, she said.
"Eventually a security guard found him [her son] on the top floor looking at rockets and spaceships and having a great time," she said.
"But terrible things go through your mind."
At the same time, Ms McGovern was part of a playgroup, and she said the beginning of the book was putting two thoughts together: what would happen if a terrible thing happened in a safe environment?
The book examines social media - which Ms McGovern says can quickly spread urgent messages, but "also allows people to comment and criticise on situations that they don't know about".
It also looks at life in the strange zone that is the edge of the bush and the edge of the city.
Her father Terry was an obstetrician and her mother Ingrid a former GP.
Ms McGovern is the co-writer of two non-fiction books, one of which tells the story of the first Australian Olympic equestrian team.
Ms McGovern will launch Six Minutes at BooksPlus in Bathurst next Thursday, July 11 at 6pm. Tickets are $5 and bookings are essential. Phone 6331 5994.
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