Amanda Giorgis

March Newsletter

News from Applecross

March 2021

The latest update from Amanda Giorgis, best-selling author of the Applecross Saga.
Home news

There is much progress to report on the new kitchen at Applecross headquarters. Normal catering services have resumed with a fully functioning oven and hob. Things were slightly delayed by the late arrival of the drawer and cupboard handles (stuck on a ship, apparently), but otherwise we are, as they say, ‘cooking on gas’. Mr Applecross is much relieved that baking has resumed – he was getting quite grumpy with the lack of homemade cakes and biscuits!We have neglected the garden this year, although it has been so dry that nothing much has grown lately. Grapes have been harvested and frozen for wine making later on. We have more green beans than we can possibly eat and a glut of tomatoes, just when they are cheap in the shops too! But the big news is the arrival of Daisy, Rosie and Ivy, new additions to the flock. By the next newsletter we should be collecting their eggs.
Talking of birds, I couldn’t resist sharing a photo of our resident fantails, or piwakawaka, to use the Māori word for them. We seem to have a family of 9 of these little treasures who love nothing more than to flit around you whenever you venture outside. It is sheer ‘cupboard love’ though, they are after the tiny bugs flushed out by your walking. Tricky little blighters to photograph as they never sit still.

A busy month of book editing has left me with limited reading time, but I bought and devoured ‘The Tally Stick’ by Carl Nixon. Goodness, it is one of those storylines that stays with you, a confronting but gripping tale. Not for the faint hearted, but I do recommend it. Other reviews suggest that it leaves too many things unanswered, but I rather think that’s the point of the story. There were indeed many loose ends, and it is up to the reader to work out what else may have happened.I often take a month or so away from writing at this time of year, although I have to keep telling the fictional people of Applecross to stop bombarding my brain with ideas for the next book. During this time I am doing my best to read more, to actively seek out New Zealand authors and to buy real books (you know, the ones printed on paper!) from my local independent bookstore. If you have a local bookshop, please do try to use it. They, like other small businesses, have done it tough during the pandemic and would appreciate your support, and generally they are run by really nice people who have time to stop and talk.

It may be Autumn down here below the equator, but those of you in the Northern Hemisphere may be looking for a Spring read. Here are a couple of special offers for Historical Fiction running throughout April which may be of interest – and who cares what season it is, if the books are good?

Enjoy Spring Reading and Spring into Historical Fiction

An Applecross Companion

I have made some progress on providing a companion to the Applecross books. It is taking the form of a webpage accessible only to you, dear readers and subscribers. It is very much a work in progress at the moment, with the beginnings of a list of characters, but I hope to add more detail soon, including a map of the Basin and a glossary of Māori words and phrases.You are welcome to dive on in there and take a look. Go to – use the password ‘Applecross’ to get access.

What do you think? Any ideas of other things to include? Please do email me at with any thoughts and suggestions. I do love hearing from my readers with feedback (good and bad, of course).

Three Cedar Trees
Now, the observant among you may spot the addition of two little letters to the title of the latest book in The Applecross Saga! The Cedar Trees became Three Cedar Trees. A last minute change, but one which I think reflects the storyline better.Three Cedar Trees is now available as an ebook on all the usual platforms, a paperback on Amazon or direct from me in New Zealand (with the special kiwi cover design!) You can even buy a hardback version from Amazon!

 Buy the Applecross Saga

February Newsletter

Staying at home

We have been fitting a new kitchen at Applecross HQ so there has not been time for much travelling around this month. Once everything is finished (and I can’t wait for that), we are planning to follow the NZ tourism advice to ‘Do something new, New Zealand’ with a trip to Reefton and Hamner Springs before Easter.

In the meantime, and closer to home, our field has been cut for 11 bales of hay, the hedges have been trimmed by a giant James Bond like machine, our new chick babes are growing fast (three of these cuties will be joining our flock soon) and the tall Viper’s Bugloss weeds are very tempting for all sorts of birds, especially the greenfinches.


I have been busy putting the last few chapters of ‘The Cedar Trees’ together (see below) so there hasn’t been much time for reading. I’m ploughing on with Michael King’s ‘The Penguin History of New Zealand’, but can only manage a few pages at a time as there’s so much to learn about in every paragraph. I am so pleased to hear that New Zealand history is going to be compulsory in NZ schools soon, including the sometimes controversial early days of European occupation and the effect it had on the first Maori settlers. I am often horrified at kiwis’ lack of knowledge of their own past. I don’t understand why it has taken so long for those in power to realise our children need to know our story? Being aware of the past is the only way to make sense of the present and influence the future.

In between, I enjoyed ‘A Splendid Ruin’, by Megan Chan, a new author to me and a surprise find on Amazon. I am just about to start re-reading the first 6 books of Lucinda Riley’s Seven Sisters in readiness for number 7. Who can fail to be excited by the prospect of finding the elusive 7th sister and solving the mystery of Pa Salt?

There’s far too many books on my ‘want to read’ list at the moment. Those with a New Zealand theme include Auē by Becky Manawatu, State Highway One by Sam Coley and The Tally Stick by Carl Nixon – hmm, there’s a bit of a crime/mystery theme going on there too, it seems!


Do you remember James, Edmund and Samuel reading the first edition of The Press and the Otago Daily Times in ‘Shepherd’s Delight’? It was an article in one of these publications that set Samuel on his fateful journey to the goldfields.

That was in 1861. The Press (based in Christchurch), is celebrating 160 years of publication this year. Each day up to the actual anniversary in May they are reprinting articles of interest year-by-year. Fascinating stuff, especially for an author who likes to include some true-life events in her stories.

Books 3 and 4, ‘Guy Pender’ and ‘The Cedar Trees’ are set around 1867. So here is the reprinted article for 1867. Imagine that dreadful man, Basil Drummond’s excitement at hearing of a real, live moa. Mind you, he would probably want to shoot it and mount its stuffed body in a museum!

An Applecross Companion

The trouble with a family saga spanning a long period of time is that you end up with a lot of characters. Add to that the propensity for the victorians to have large families, and it is all to easy to lose track of who is who.

A while ago, I began to write myself a list of all my characters, with a little description about each person. I wonder, dear readers, if you would appreciate having access to the document, perhaps as a page on my website accessible only to my subscribers?

I also think I should include a glossary of the Maori words and phrases I have used, and perhaps a rough map of the areas included in the books.

What do you think? Any ideas of other things to include? Please do email me at with any thoughts and suggestions. I do love hearing from my readers with feedback (good and bad, of course).

The Cedar Trees

I typed the very last sentence of Book 4, ‘The Cedar Trees’ a week or so ago, and my goodness, it is a bit of a cliffhanger!

The hard work of proof reading and editing begins now, but we are aiming at a release date by Easter 2021. You will be able to pre-order the e-book version very soon.

If you are really quick, you are welcome to receive a free author review copy (ARC) in .epub format. But be quick – only the first 5 email requests will receive a free copy, on the condition that you will write an honest review on your chosen platform as soon as the book goes live. Emails to

In the meantime, it may be a good moment to catch up on the books 1-3. Visit the website to find out where to buy copies –

December 2020 Newsletter

Season’s Greetings from James and Sophia Mackenzie, Edmund and Nancy Lawton, Samuel Morling, Guy Pender and his new wife Amelie, Lucy, Lizzy, Job, James senior, Betsy and Edgar Franks, Jane and Percy, Joshua and all the children of the basin, plus some characters you are yet to meet in the next book in the series (due out early 2021).

And, of course, a Happy Christmas for me too, Amanda Giorgis, the person who tries very hard to keep all those characters on the straight and narrow, falling in (and out) of love, following their dreams and getting into all sorts of adventures along the way. 

The Applecross folk celebrate the Christmas of  1867 in Book 4, The Cedar Trees. My gift to you all for the festive season is a little taste of the next book, including a few hints of what is to come. I hope you enjoy it………..

The Cedar Trees, Christmas 1867

Back in the real world, I am tempted to say good riddance to 2020. It has not been a good year for  most of us, although here in New Zealand we count our blessings for the freedom we have to move around and celebrate with our families and  friends. There are signs of hope that 2021 will lead to better times.

In my part of the world, the days are long at this time of year, with temperatures rising by the day. Having grown up in the Northern Hemisphere, I will never get used to a sunny Christmas, although I can’t say I mind yummy new potatoes, fresh garden peas and scrumptious strawberries straight from the garden on my Christmas dinner table. 

Wherever you are this year, stay safe and well, and here’s to a better year to come!

Doggy excerpts

Anyone who knows me will not be in the least surprised that dogs feature in all my books. The true story of Friday, the famous sheepdog, was one of the reasons I first became interested in the legend of James Mackenzie. Friday features in The Wideawake Hat and Shepherd’s Delight, along with her mate Roy and pups Ruby and Blue. Friday’s legacy lives on in the wee pup, May in Shepherd’s Delight and in Leda, Jakob’s puppy in ‘The Cedar Trees’ (to be published soon).

For all you dog lovers, I give you an occasional dog-related excerpt. The first is from The Wideawake Hat, and just a warning – you may need tissues for some of these……

Some of you may recognise the ‘real’ dog in this image. Our Skye – the digital collie – never an easy dog to own, but much loved anyway, despite the remaining scars!

The Great Storm – Day 6

August 3rd 1867

In one small miracle, two ewes had taken shelter behind one of the rocks Samuel had pushed into place. Both were dead, but their bodies had fallen in such a way that it  provided a dry and warm space for their two tiny lambs. James tucked a shivering wee body under each arm and strode away back to the farmhouse before the other men could see his tears. Heather and Vicky would love to feed these hungry orphans, he was sure, and with the luck that had kept them alive, they deserved to be given the best chance.

That night James sat down after supper to take stock. The lake had been a disaster he could have avoided and he would never forgive himself for being the cause of so many unpleasant deaths. On the whole, though, things could have been worse. The barn and yard were crowded with all the survivors and he rather suspected it would be a noisy night as ewes sought out their offspring and lambs bleated for their mothers. The two little orphan lambs had been given a bed in a wooden crate by the fire tonight. Heather and Vicky had, as he suspected, jumped at the chance to nurse them. They girls had spent much of the afternoon coming up with names while they passed a feeding bottle backwards and forwards between their two patients. In the end they had chosen Snowflake and Raindrop for their new pets. He never ceased to be amazed at his children’s capacity for naming things. He chuckled to himself when he remembered Heather and Adey Rose once calling one of the new pups Stick. What kind of a name was that for a working dog?

“What are you laughing about?” asked Sophia as she came back into the kitchen having been to make sure the children were all in bed.

“I was wondering at the girls’ ability to name every living creature. Do you remember Bud and Blossom and Stick?” replied James. “Heather and Adey Rose are just like their mothers, who both wasted a good deal of time on choosing names for their children.”

“Well, you can talk,” said Sophia with a smile. “You are the one who named a dog after a day of the week, after all. Friday is not a dog’s name really.”

Aye, but you must remember the old girl’s name meant ‘far sighted’, which made perfect sense in my mother tongue. It is only you English speaking folk who misunderstood it,” replied James. He loved reminding Sophia that she was not a true Scot, having been born in the north of England, even though she had been very young when her family had moved over the border.