Neo-noirotica writer Michael Forman is set to launch his third novel. His book will likely include historic monuments from the infamous St Helena Convict Settlement.
Forman, who is no stranger to the darker side of writing, is currently researching some details of the two cemeteries located on the western side of St Helena island. St Helena’s graveyard will become the site of a murder.
“I’ve visited St Helena several times and have taken many photographs of it. I’m most interested in measuring the distance between the two cemetery sites and the area above it.
What makes St Helena’s graveyard so different to many others I’ve looked at is its proximity to mainland Australia. The space above it is treeless and this will play an important part too.
Graveyard stories often have overbearing trees, vines and all manner of growth leaning into their scenes. For my new novel, I wanted my scene open so my characters could have an unimpeded visual of the sky. I’m going through online images (as well as those I’ve taken) to see if St Helena’s graveyard has the right sky for the book.”
St Helena’s Graveyard (History)
The St Helena penal settlement opened in 1867 and closed in 1932. Approximately fifty convicts and five civilians were buried during this time.
Convict’s tombstones don’t display names on them. Only numbers were stamped on these crucifixes. Civilian tombstones included dates, names and a brief cause-of-death. Their headstones were ‘normal-looking’ befitting the period.
St Helena’s Graveyard (Today)
Both grave sites were originally unfenced. For security reasons, they are now surrounded with white picket fences and gates for access. The areas are regularly mowed and cleaned for day visitors and those who attend the ghost tours at night.
A park ranger has kept watch over the site since 1981.