The Prologue is set in 1989 when a Vietnamese refugee boat takes to the waters.Â The story then flashes back to the Sydney Moratorium march of April 1970. Books 1 and 2 take place in the first half of the 1970s, where Maxineâ€™s hippie road-trip from Sydney to Bali, London, Morocco and Venice is juxtaposed against Tommoâ€™s war set in Vietnam. Book 3 takes place in Queensland in 2005, when the reader meets Summer, Maxineâ€™s grown-up daughter. The reader finds out what has happened to Maxine and Tommo, discovers the identity of Summerâ€™s father, and in the Epilogue, re-meets the Vietnamese refugee, Mai Thi.
Tommoâ€™s role in the war is based on interviews with a Vietnam vet. Because of the confronting nature of the work he undertook while attached to a US platoon, he wishes to remain anonymous. However, I should stress that Tommo in Loaded Hearts is a completely fictional character, even although some of the events depicted are based on information told to me.
Maxineâ€™s character is based on several women I knew during the 1970s. Her early work at the markets, especially the blue jeans conversions, is based on the experience of a friend of mine. Jenny Keeâ€™s recollections also informed my account of those times. For the London scenes I returned to Finsbury Park in 2006, and, to give veracity to Maxineâ€™s later career, I travelled to Bali, where I interviewed an Australian ex-patriot involved in the clothing scene there.
The stories of Tommo and Maxine intertwine over 30 years, with a cast of minor characters and different settings, covering themes of love and loss, freedom and responsibility, hurt and healing; and ultimately, belonging.