Dear Banjo by Sasha Wasley

Newly released,
a debut rural fiction novel by Sasha Wasley
Dear Banjo

Read a few words from Sasha
Read an excerpt

They were best friends who were never meant to fall in love – but for one of them, it was already way too late.

Willow ‘Banjo’ Paterson and Tom Forrest were raised on neighbouring cattle stations in the heart of the Kimberley. As young adults, sharing the same life dreams, something came between them that Willow cannot forget. Now ten years have passed since she’s even spoken to Tom.

When her father falls ill, Willow is called home to take over the running of the family property, Paterson Downs. Her vision for a sustainable, organic cattle station is proving hard to achieve. She needs Tom’s help, but is it too late, and all too complicated, to make amends?

Tom’s heartfelt, decade-old letters remain unopened and unmentioned between them, and Willow must find the courage to finally read them. Their tattered pages reveal a love story like no other – and one you’ll never forget.

Dear Banjo is a wildly romantic and utterly captivating story about first love and second chances from an exciting new Australian author.

A few words from the author

Thank you to the amazing people at the ARR website for inviting me to post a message and excerpt to celebrate the release of Dear Banjo!

This is a huge moment for me. I must confess I have always wanted to be a Penguin author and it was an absolute dream come true when it happened. I’m really pleased it was Willow and Tom whose story got me there – because they practically dropped their love story on me like a ton of bricks (or maybe like a herd of cattle). Once I started it, I could not stop writing. The story is set in the present day but starts with a brief flashback to Willow and Tom, 15 years old, neighbours and best friends. We find them hiding out in the feed shed to do something in secret.

What exactly is it that they do? Read the excerpt below to find out!

Excerpt from Dear Banjo by Sasha Wasley

‘Ow! That hurt, Banjo!’

‘Well, keep your hand still and it won’t.’

‘Why do I have to be the one who bleeds?’

‘I’m going to bleed too, you idiot.’

Crouched beside him, her face bent over his hand, Willow lined up with the needle again and jabbed.

‘Ow!’

‘Keep your voice down.’ Willow glanced at the open feed shed door but the only movement was from a couple of horses at the bale feeder. She brought her gaze back to Tom’s finger. ‘Look, it worked. Squeeze it to get a drop of blood.’

‘You know, for a vegan you’re pretty bloodthirsty.’

She jabbed her own finger next and pinched the end until a bright drop appeared. Tom looked on, impressed. ‘Didn’t that hurt?’

‘Not really.’

‘You’re tougher than you look, that’s for sure.’

‘Give me your finger.’ She squished hers onto his, rubbing them together for good measure. ‘Now, the pact. Repeat after me.’ Willow looked into Tom’s eyes. ‘For the sake of our future . . .’

‘For the sake of our future,’ he repeated, openly puzzled.

‘I solemnly swear that I will never . . .’

‘I solemnly swear that I will never. Never, ever, ever,’ he added, to make her laugh.

Tom! Never screw up our friendship.’

He completed the pact and she nodded with grim satisfaction before wiping her finger on her shirt. Willow pocketed the needle and sat back against a grain barrel to contemplate the clear blue sky outside the shed. The sweet scent of hay was heavy in the air. Tom watched her from his spot seated against the shed’s tin wall.

‘Or what?’ he asked.

‘Or what what?’

‘What if I do screw it up? Do I hope to die or stick that needle in my eye, or what?’

‘You just don’t screw it up. Full stop.’

‘So there’s no actual consequence?’

Exasperated, she gave his boot a kick. ‘The consequence is a messed-up future, dummy. That’s why we have to make the pact now, before we even get started. If we want in on the dream, we stick to the rules. Don’t screw up the friendship.’ She stood.

Tom shrugged and sucked his finger as he got to his feet. ‘Weird pact. I can’t believe I bled for that.’

They headed back towards the house and he sneaked a mischievous look at Willow’s face. ‘My first blood pact. Does this mean we’re engaged?’

She shot him a warning glance. ‘That’s not even funny, Tom Forrest.’

Next time you meet Willow and Tom, they are 29. Did they keep the pact? Well, I cannot possibly say!

Sasha

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(available in paperback and eBook)

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