Bryce Courtenay's late-life love affair with Canberra was so resolute that he chose to be buried within its borders, at the Hall cemetery where rare orchids grow among the gum trees.
"He just wandered through the grass and he saw this big gum tree and he said, 'There'," his widow Christine said of him choosing his final resting place.
"At his burial, an Aboriginal elder came and did a lovely ceremony and it was just this soft rain and some of his South African friends and family were there and they said, 'You know, this is so like the Eastern Transvaal', where he grew up. Isn't that amazing? It feels very peaceful when you go out there."
Christine Courtenay is remembering her late husband in a quiet reading room of the National Library of Australia, one of his favourite places in Canberra, as she also contemplates 30 years since his blockbuster novel, The Power of One, was published, selling more than 8 million copies and being made into a film.
The South African-born former advertising executive and Christine, nee Gee, moved to Canberra in 2011 and enjoyed all the city had to offer until his death in November 2012, aged 79. He died at their home in Reid.
They moved, in part, because Christine knew the city, studying at the Australian National University in the early 1970s and starting her business, Australian Himalayan Expeditions, in the national capital. Canberra also had top-notch medical facilities for Courtenay, who was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2010.
The couple had previously lived in the Yarramalong Valley and Bowral before settling in Canberra.
"He loved it and said, 'I should never have gone to Yarramalong or Bowral, we should have come straight to Canberra," Christine said.
"He loved the nature, the bush, the gardens, the people.
"He felt he could be himself. He would just go to the supermarket or go to a film and people would just smile but they were very respectful of his privacy and it was just so fantastic.
"It's just such a beautiful place. He loved nature. I mean where else in the world can you walk outside your front garden and see a kangaroo? He would walk up Mount Ainslie as well with the dog.
"For a writer, too, who wants tranquility, it's perfect. Also, when he wasn't well, the medical facilities were world-class. So, it's a special place."
Courtenay, who wrote his books in a well-worn promotional jumper from The Canberra Times, would often return to The Power of One, the rollicking thriller of a boy from South Africa who comes to understand the power of one, the power of self-belief.
"He'd open a page and go, 'Mmm, it's not bad'," Christine said, with a laugh.
But Courtenay never took the success of the book for granted.
"Firstly, it was very unexpected that it would be successful. He always thought he'd have to write four practice books before he wrote a good one. So, he could never have dreamt of the success that he had with it,"Christine said.
"And secondly, it was for him, in part, autobiographical, because he never wrote a memoir and never wanted to write one. He was a hard worker and very disciplined but he also recognised there were many writers and many books that were never published. He felt incredibly fortunate because he left advertising, he had to earn a living.
"I said to him, 'What would you have done if your hadn't made it?' And he said, 'You know me, I would have brushed myself off, got up and started a little business'. He had this idea of starting a soup cart with all these beautiful soups and breads. He was going to call it Bryce's Soup Kitchen. He was always full of ideas. He felt lucky that he made it.
"He always said, 'The reader is right' and he was always nervous that the next book they wouldn't like.
"When he wrote Sylvia, which was a great departure, a very difficult book to write, he started writing a second Sylvia and he was really not enjoying it, hating it. He stopped and he said, 'I don't think they'll forgive me if I don't write another Sylvia. [which was about a teenage girl in the 13th century].
"He was never arrogant about how each book would be received."
The Power of One was made into a film in 1992, starring John Gieglud, Morgan Freeman, Stephen Dorff and Daniel Craig.
"He did like the film," Christine said. "He was involved with the screenplay. Again, he was very humbled by the stature of the actors engaged with it. Any writer would probably do it a bit differently, but he thought it was very good and very good for the book."
Courtenay also had no illusions he was a writer of popular fiction that might not go down well with the literati. Christine said he used to say he was "under the Christmas tree with the socks and the chocolates", well aware his books were favourite Christmas presents.
More than 60,000 people still follow a Facebook page dedicated to Courtenay's legacy, and many will say they miss getting his latest book for Christmas and ask if there is another lost book somewhere.
"There isn't," Christine said.
Christine, his second wife, and their friends toasted Courtenay and The Power of One on the anniversary of its publication on February 21, 1989, with a glass of his favourite tipple, a French chablis by William Fevre. He would sip a glass or two of the wine every afternoon at five.
"Penguin Random House are very excited about the anniversary and I think what they'd like to do is introduce The Power of One to the next generation of readers. When you've got a classic book, you'd hope that it's not consigned to the annals of history," Christine said.
When he was in Canberra, Courtenay did much of his writing and research at the National Library and the Australian War Memorial. His last writing class was at the National Library, which keeps not only a first edition of The Power of One but editions in Mandarin and Japanese.
Courtenay also loved the Brumbies, and couldn't be persuaded to support a South African team in the rugby. "People said I was a writing widow, but I was really a rugby widow," Christine said, with a laugh.
I just so miss his passion for life, his kindness. He was so generous. He was a lot older than me but he was so much fun. He filled a room.Christine Courtenay
In his final days, Courtenay was not afraid of death.
"He said, 'I know exactly what is going to happen. I'm going to become humus and return to the earth and things will grow from the remains of my body, as it should be'. And he said, 'It's all going to be wonderful'. He did believe that," Christine said.
"I just so miss his passion for life, his kindness. He was so generous. He was a lot older than me but he was so much fun. He filled a room. We were both sorry we didn't have more time together but it was seven-and-a-half years that were life-changing and wild. Like a of creative people, he was quite complex. There were layers and layers.
"He lived so much for today. He wasn't a worrier. We wished he'd travelled more and spent more time with his grandchildren. He worked too hard for too long."