Millthorpe-based author Kim Kelly is in every way a history tragic.
Show her a war medal, a newspaper clipping or really any item that has a story, and there's a good chance that her imagination and desire to discover more will lead her on to write a story.
Sometimes though those stories take their sweet time incubating, as is the case with her most recent tale, Walking.
"When I was researching for my very first novel Black Diamond 15 years ago the hero of that story goes off to the first world war and is very badly injured," she said.
"As the main character I couldn't let him die, so I had to research early twentieth century orthopaedic surgery and during that I came across a small biography on Max Herz."
Max Herz was a Jewish-German orthopaedic surgeon who passed through Melbourne in 1903, married an Australian woman in 1905, became a naturalised Australian just as World War I commenced, and was then interred as an enemy alien throughout the conflict.
That tale of bigotry and persecution was also the story of an extraordinary doctor whose life was just too big to include in her first novel.
For years Max Herz's story lingered in the background as Ms Kelly forged her career as a professional writer, penning another seven titles between Black Diamond and Walking.
Dr Herz's professional life was marred by professional jealousies and religious bigotry as his techniques at the time were seen as completely unorthodox.
In order to fully flesh out his history and character Ms Kelly used two literary devices to finally bring his story to life.
One was to develop a completely fictional character in the role of Lucy, a former patient and medical protege who on his death discovers within his papers his life story.
The other was to work on the character of the doctor.
"To be able to create a fully fleshed out character I had to fictionalise my doctor and call him Hugo Winter," she said.
"But everything that happened to Max Herz happens to Hugo Winter."
Writing stories based on historical events in many ways frees the author up from having to develop a plot line.
It's a technique of writing that absolutely suits Ms Kelly's mode of writing.
"The facts shape the narrative," she said.
That method of an evolving story rather than a structured story line means that Ms Kelly gets to take herself along for the journey just as much as she does the reader.
"I like my story to surprise me because I think that if it surprises me then there's a chance that it will surprise whoever is reading it," she said.
Just as readers can become immersed in the lives of the characters, so does Ms Kelly when she's researching and writing.
"I often write from the male perspective and that's really interesting because I feel more masculine in myself when I'm writing in that voice," she said. "I get to do things in my mind that I would never do in real life."
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