A book written in London and Madagascar and influenced by the ancient rainforests of Indonesia has been finalised in north-east Victoria.
Chiltern resident and Wodonga teacher Gavin Hickey was due to launch his first book, The New Land, at the Telegraph Hotel on Sunday.
"It is a shame we had to cancel; there were quite a few people coming to the launch and hopefully we can find another date," he said.
"It has been 15 years in the making - I had the first idea when I was living in London."
The work of historical fiction reads like a fantasy epic, focusing on a tribe's struggle for survival and "one of the greatest achievements of humanity" (revealed later to be the peopling of Australia).
"I was wanting to see that process of discovery happen for people," Hickey said.
"The first half of the novel is push factors on the island of Timor.
"As far as we know, it's the first time that humans would have crossed a sea, without being able to see the other side.
"When they arrive on the other side ... there were a lot of big, dangerous animals.
"And of course, there are internal stories - all novels really are human stories."
A degree in history from the University of Melbourne helped Hickey base events for his self-published novel off archaeological research.
"Part of the reason why I chose this story ahead of others was because I didn't think anyone had really done this before," he said.
"There is a lot about that period where things aren't known.
"New sites have been found recently, like Homo floresiensis - the 'Hobbits of Flores'.
"They appear to have existed about 15,000 years ago.
"There are still stories of little people in the forests amongst the locals there."
The father of two, who lived in France after meeting his wife, Geraldine, on the Isle Saint Marie off the coast of Madagascar, said of all the places he'd been, Indonesia had the biggest influence on the book.
"Some of the names have an Indonesian sound to them ... I first went to Indonesia in 1993," Hickey said.
"I had the forests of Timor in my mind while writing.
"I was already aware of the big animals of Australia, but there's been a lot of examination in Timor pretty recently.
"There is a cave next to the village of Tutuala right on the end of East Timor I've been to, and the bones of large lizards have been found all through those Eastern islands and even in Australia.
"This giant lizard is featured in the book ... thought to be a predecessor of the Komodo dragon.
"So why did they continue to live there, and had disappeared everywhere else?
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"The theory is that, because you had these versions of humanoids there before, that gave them a chance to adapt to human hunting techniques.
"I love history and stories."