Today’s Q&A post features author Barbara Hannay! Ms Hannay’s latest novel The Country Wedding is available now and is published by Penguin Random House, RRP $32.99.
What was your hardest scene to write in The Country Wedding?
This would probably be the scene near the end of the novel where Flora makes an important decision that will impact the rest of her life. Until I reached that point, I still wasn’t sure what she was going to do. (grin)
Who was the most challenging character and why?
Writing about a classical musician brought challenges, because I don’t play a musical instrument. Luckily I have a daughter, Emma, who’s a violinist, so I was able to call on her for help.
If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
I would teach writing and run writing retreats, no doubt here in our lovely hillside home, just has my husband and friends have often urged me to do.
What is the first book that made you cry?
I have the clearest memory of this. It was early on a Sunday morning and I was seven or eight years old, reading in bed before the rest of my family woke up, and I got to the scene in Seven Little Australians when Judy dies.
I was devastated. I ran to my parents’ room sobbing and they wondered what on earth had happened.
‘J-Judy’s d-dead,’ I sobbed.
They were quite worried until Mum, who had also read the book, twigged. They were so relieved to know I was just being soppy about a book.
What’s your favourite under-appreciated novel?
This is a very difficult question to answer as I know of many, many wonderful romance novels that aren’t recognised in the literary world in the way they deserve to be. I recently read Anne Gracie’s Marry in Haste, a fabulous regency-set romance that has done very well in America, but would not be widely known in Australia.
What research do you do when you are trying to brainstorm for a book?
For The Country Wedding, I travelled to Shanghai. Even though the Shanghai sections aren’t huge, I found it really helpful to be able to walk the streets of the French Concession where my characters lived. We had a wonderful helpful guide who was happy to answer my hundreds of questions and she took us to a coffee shop (an unusual find in China where they mostly drink tea). The shop also sold secondhand books and I found a book in English that I’d been searching for all over the internet, so that was a double bonus.
I do spend a lot of time searching for the right reference books, especially for my historical research.
What can reader’s expect next from your writing?
I’ve given my work in progress an interim title of New Girl in Town. It’s set around a small country newspaper and returning readers will recognise Finn Latimer, the editor of The Burralea Bugle. Finn has a dark past, and the young city journalist who comes to work with him is trying to escape her own troubles. And there’s another secondary character readers will recognise from The Country Wedding who has gone missing.
About The Country Wedding by Barbara Hannay
Two country weddings, fifty years apart … and the miracle of second chances In the tiny Tablelands township of Burralea, Flora Drummond is preparing to play in a string quartet for the wedding of a very close friend. The trouble is, she can’t quite forget the embarrassing teenage crush she once had on the handsome groom.
All is as it should be on the big day. The little church is filled with flowers, the expectant guests are arriving, and Mitch is nervously waiting – but his bride has had a sudden change of heart.
Decades earlier, another wedding in the same church led to a similar story of betrayal and devastation. Hattie missed out on marrying her childhood sweetheart the first time around, but now she has returned to the scene of her greatest heartache.
As Flora is drawn into both romantic dramas, she must also confront a relationship crisis of her own. But the past and the present offer promise for the future and there’s a chance for friends, old and new, to help each other to heal.
From the rolling green hills of Far North Queensland to the crowded streets of Shanghai on the eve of the Second World War, this is a beautiful romantic saga that tells of two loves lost and found and asks the questions – do we ever get over our first love, and is it ever too late to make amends?
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