GROWING up on a farm on the western side of 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."
IN OTHER NEWS AROUND BATHURST:
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.
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" - and life in the strange zone that is the edge of the bush and the edge of the city.
The author, who lived as a child on George Street before her parents moved to a farm, retains connections to the city.
"I was born on the night of the Bathurst Show and I come back every year for the Bathurst Show," she said.
Her father Terry was a well-known local obstetrician and her mother Ingrid, a former GP, still lives in Bathurst.
Ms McGovern is the co-writer of two non-fiction books, one of which tells the story of the first Australian Olympic equestrian team.
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