Q&A With Author Barbara Hannay

Today’s post features author Barbara Hannay in a short Q&A discussing her newest novel, The Summer Of SecretsThe Summer Of Secrets is published by Penguin Random House and is available now from retailers.

 

There are many twists and turns in a your latest novel The Summer Of Secrets that had merging stories. How did you brainstorm in your writing process this novel?

Fitting the many strands of a story together smoothly can be tricky and I have quite a few deleted scenes from The Summer of Secrets, where I took wrong turns when I first started. I even had to resurrect a character I’d originally killed off.
For me, brainstorming often involves long chats with my husband who is also a writer (yeah, I’m lucky). Alternatively, it involves longish stints in the garden pulling weeds. I’m always amazed how ideas for my stories pop up when I’m doing something totally unrelated to writing.

Which character was the most challenging to write?

Izzie was both the easiest and the hardest character to develop. In some ways, because she’s such a strong, independent matriarch, I had a very clear picture of her personality. However, her history as a pilot ferrying gigantic bombers from factories to airfields during WW2 took a great deal of research, so that was a challenge, but one I enjoyed.

What book have you read recently that you thought was a stand out?

The book that made the biggest impact in recent months was Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. I loved the characters and when I got to the end I wanted to start all over again. It was so refreshingly different and it managed to make a tragic story ultimately uplifting. Brilliant.

What is your favourite  breakaway activity from writing?

Singing in an a Capella choir. I love blending my voice with others. And learning parts for songs in different languages is great for the ‘little grey cells”.

What can readers expect next in your writing?

The book I’m currently writing is about a family scattered all over the globe, so it’s a bit different from my recent small town stories. I’m really enjoying writing it, so I hope readers will enjoy it too.

 


 

About The Summer Of Secrets by Barbara Hannay

Sydney journalist Chloe Brown is painfully aware that her biological clock isn’t just ticking, it’s booming. When her long term boyfriend finally admits he never wants children, Chloe is devastated. Impulsively, she moves as far from disappointment as she can – to a job on a small country newspaper in Queensland’s far north.

The little town seems idyllic, a cosy nest, and Chloe plans to regroup and, possibly, to embark on single motherhood via IVF. But she soon realises that no place is free from trouble or heartache. The grouchy news editor, Finn Latimer, is a former foreign correspondent who has retreated after a family tragedy. Emily, the paper’s elegant, sixty-something owner, is battling with her husband’s desertion. Meanwhile, the whole town is worried when their popular young baker disappears.

As lives across generations become more deeply entwined, the lessons are clear. Secrets and silence harbour pain, while honesty and openness bring healing and hope. And love. All that’s needed now is courage…

Purchase Links

Penguin Random House  *  Google Play  *  Amazon Australia  *  Booktopia

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Q&A With Author Karly Lane

Today’s Q&A post features author Karly Lane, discussing Someone Like You, Ms Lane’s newest novel. Someone Like You is available from retailers and is published by Allen & Unwin.

Can you tell us about your latest release, Someone Like You?

It’s a story about a woman who needs a change of scenery and somewhere to start a new chapter of her life. She makes a tree change and soon discovers that fate seems to be leading her towards something.

Which character was the most challenging to write?

In this book it’s more the back story that I found challenging, but was very worth while. I love Australian history and I really enjoyed researching this story.

How did you brainstorm in the writing process for this novel?

As usual with my writing process, I don’t have a lot of planning initially. It usually starts with either a character, or a place or sometimes just a conversation I hear a character having. So I never know where a story is going to go. This time I started with a place. I’d been invited to St Albans for a writing festival a while ago and fell in love with the history that surrounded the little village. The characters, backstory and plot all had to grow around that.

What is the latest book you have read and enjoyed?

I’ve been re-reading the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. I just love them.

What can readers expect next in your writing?

I have a three book series coming out next. Book one will be out in December. They’ll be stand alone books but will have recurring characters in all three books.

 


 

About Someone Like You

When bestselling author, twenty-nine year old Hayley Stevens, walked in on her husband, Paul, and her best friend in bed together, she knew her life would never be the same again.

One year later, Hayley stowed her last bag in her much-loved Audi Coupe and said goodbye to the city. She was excited to be heading west to Lochway, a small colonial village sitting on the beautiful Macdonald River. Wanting peace and quiet, Hayley had impulsively bought a cosy sandstone cottage there surrounded by lush rose gardens, with a small overseer’s cottage – ideal for a writer’s retreat.

What she didn’t expect was the almost immediate ‘gift’ of a very noisy donkey named Errol. Nor did Hayley expect to meet her handsome new neighbour, Luke Mason, when she was covered in mud trying to drag Errol out of Luke’s dam. The strange thing was though that Luke seemed very familiar to her.

As Hayley slowly gains acceptance into her small community and starts writing again she becomes almost afraid of the inexplicable visions she sees. What does it all mean? And why does Luke refuse to listen to her?

Written with warmth and humour, Someone Like You is an intriguing, funny and romantic story about past lives and new beginnings.

*Someone Like You is published by Allen & Unwin, RRP $29.99.

Purchase Links

Allen & Unwin  *  Booktopia  *  Amazon Australia  *  Google Play

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Q&A With Author Sasha Wasley!

Today’s Q&A post features author author Sasha Wasley!  Ms Wasley discusses her latest novel True Blue. True Blood is published by Penguin Random House, RRP $32.99.

 

In your words can you tell us a bit about your new book .

Freya (known as Free) is the youngest Paterson woman, born and raised on her family’s Kimberley cattle station. She is known as the family’s idealistic daydreamer – and she’s also known as a runner, taking off overseas whenever things get too complicated. She’s 27 now and is proud to have won a contract to help local high school students create a public artwork. For Free, this artwork is an opportunity to celebrate the diversity of her hometown and show the world how important it is to protect the culture and environment of her magical Kimberley region.

Free settles into what is turning out to be her dream job, simultaneously meeting someone who seems to be her dream guy. The new constable in town is both handsome and incredibly sweet. But Finn holds her at arm’s length and Free can’t work out why. His honest face shows exactly how he feels about her – so why won’t he respond to any of her moves?

Her passion for saving the local watercourse – the Herne River – from a new dam lands her in trouble more than once, especially with a colleague whose values are as unpleasant to Free as his advances are. But Free is all about integrity and being true to herself, and she’s not compromising her beliefs for anyone. Repeatedly thrown into Finn’s path, Free has to face the very real complications that come from caring deeply about someone when you’re unsure of what’s in their heart.

And this time, she can’t run away.

 

What was your inspiration for writing this book?

I love Free’s character in Book 1, Dear Banjo. She makes me laugh and a lot of other people said they loved her too, so that was inspiration enough! I also loved the idea of an artist working with students to create a public artwork – this was something that popped up in Book 1 and it gave me the perfect premise for Free to think about settling down in one place after years of wandering the world. Lastly, I’m passionate about acceptance and multiculturalism so bringing in that theme gave the story extra meaning for me.

 

Which of your characters in the story was the most difficult to write?

Although I love Free, she was incredibly difficult to write. Her personality is not at all like mine. She has a lot of passion and integrity (that’s something I do have in common with her) but she’s extroverted, trusting and wonderfully sure that everyone is as goodhearted as her. I’m not like that. I’m a bit of an introvert and quite cynical! As a result, I struggled at times to work out what Free would do when faced with certain situations. I had to do a bit of rewriting to build in more intrigue because Free’s such an open book that it was hard to imagine her having any patience with duplicity. But she’s so lovable that I forgave her for giving me a hard time!

 

What inspired you to become an author?

My love of storytelling! I have always loved writing and building stories. I adore reading and writing both mystery and romance so all of my books have a bit of both. Getting a contract with Penguin was a dream come true and I’m so grateful that I can do something I love every day.

 

What projects are you currently working on?

I have written Book 3 in the Paterson sisters series but it needs some extra research so I’m trying to organise a trip north. I’ve just finished writing another book set in a small town about an actress whose career goes spectacularly wrong. I’m excited about that but I’m holding it close for further editing at the moment. My current work in progress is a mystery with an amateur detective. She’s an archaeologist who specialises in rather odd artefacts!

Thank you for having me on the wonderful Talking Books Blog!

 

About True Blue by Sasha Wasley

Love is random. Accidental. You just live your life and then one day it’ll hit you with the right person.

Wandering soul Freya ‘Free’ Paterson has finally come back home. Idealistic and trusting, she’s landed the job of her dreams working on an art project with the local school, but she hadn’t planned on meeting the man of her dreams as well.

With his irresistible Irish accent, Constable Finn Kelly is everything Free wants – genuine, kind . . . and handsome as hell. He’s also everything Free isn’t – stable and dependable. Yet despite the passion simmering between them, he just wants to be friends. What is he trying to hide?

As Free throws herself into the challenges of her new job, fending off the unwelcome advances of a colleague and helping to save her beloved Herne River, Finn won’t stay out of her way, or out of her heart.

But just when she needs him the most, will Finn reveal his true colours?

Purchase Links

Penguin Random House  *  Booktopia  *  iBooks  *  Amazon Australia

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Q&A With Author Julian Leatherdale!

Today’s Q&A post features Julian Leatherdale, author of the newly released The Opal Dragonfly, published by Allen & Unwin Australia, RRP $29.99.

 

In your words can you tell us a bit about your new book.

It is the story of the rise and fall of an ambitious family living in the finest house in 1850s colonial Sydney told from the point of view of the youngest daughter Isobel. From her mother, Isobel inherits a beautiful opal dragonfly brooch which brings her frightening visions in dreams. Plunged into social disgrace, Isobel seeks freedom in her forbidden love for an artist and hopes to find her true self.

Which character was the most challenging to write about?

Young women in 19thC Australia, especially those from middle class families, were expected to be pious, modest, cultured and educated (but never clever or high-achieving), obedient and subordinate (to their father and future husband). So it was challenging to write a main character who was credible as a 19thC dutiful daughter and charitable doer of good works but also someone modern readers could identify (or at least sympathise) with. Isobel is, in fact, talented, clever and strong-willed and does risk breaking social conventions. It was also important that in the face of many trials and tragedies, Isobel’s spirit not be crushed; as readers, we must be convinced by her strength of character and her self-transformation as she is exiled from her childhood world of privilege and her hero-worship of her father.

What are you favourite stand out reads and why?

This is such a hard question to answer because I like to read widely and am always being surprised and delighted by new authors and books. Recently, I was deeply impressed by Eleanor Dark’s The Timeless Land for the boldness and breadth of its vision, the rigour of its research, the beauty of its writing and the inner lives of its characters. For dark, witty humour and clever dialogue-driven story-telling, I loved Madeleine St John’s The Essence of The Thing; if you liked her Women in Black, this is worth a look. Among current day historical fiction writers, I loved Tom Keneally’s Shame and the Captives (a compelling narrative of the Cowra breakout told from both sides) and have thoroughly enjoyed two Kim Kelly novels ‘The Blue Mile’ and her latest ‘Lady & the Fox’, both so well researched with such vivid characters and authentic voices. For the sheer mastery of words and story, it is of course hard to go past Thomas Hardy (Woodlanders is a personal favourite) and Jane Austen (Mansfield Park), both of whom I re-read to ‘warm up’ for writing my own two novels.

What inspired you to become an author?

I have written in some form or another ever since I was a teenager – plays, musicals, poetry, song lyrics, film and TV scripts and several novels in the bottom drawer – and enjoyed all those experiences, collaborating with others as well as working alone. My wife, Claire Corbett, is a novelist and – not that I needed convincing – reminded me of the great pleasure she took in creating worlds. I cannot imagine my life without books and reading: in that sense I have been inspired by writers all my life. But taking the big step to becoming a published author took the inspired support of my wonderful agent and my brilliant publisher at A&U.

What projects are you currently working on?

I have gone back to writing for theatre over the last year. My two-act black comedy The Man Who Became Santa was selected for a play competition by Weatherboard Theatre Inc and is being developed for a performed reading by professional actors in May. I have also started research for my third novel set in King’s Cross in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

 


 

About The Opal Dragonfly by Julian Leatherdale

Miss Isobel Clara Macleod, youngest of the seven children of Major Sir Angus Hutton Macleod, Surveyor-General of the colony of New South Wales, had the singular misfortune to know that at seven o’clock that morning her father was going to die.

September, 1851. Sydney, city of secrets and gossip. Seventeen-year-old Isobel Macleod is determined to save her father because she loves him. But when she dares to trespass in a forbidden male world, she will be plunged into social disgrace. A wave of ill fortune threatens to swallow up her family and their stately home, Rosemount Hall, ‘the finest house in the colony’ on the foreshores of Sydney Harbour.

Is Isobel to blame for her family’s fate or does the cause lie further in the past? When Isobel was four, Major Macleod returned from an expedition with two ‘souvenirs’: an Aboriginal girl who became her friend and two opals fashioned into a dragonfly brooch for her mother.

When Isobel inherits this ‘unlucky’ heirloom, she wonders if the terrible dreams it summons are a curse or a gift. Now Isobel’s hopes for her future depend on a charming bohemian who encourages her hidden passion to become an artist. Will she now be permanently exiled from her family home? Or will she be transformed into a new self, like a magnificent dragonfly emerging into the sunlight?

A daughter sacrifices her reputation, two men bid for the love of a woman, freedom is found in the heart of a dust storm, a father’s legacy reveals past crimes.

Inspired by Elizabeth Bay House and the other grand villas of Sydney’s Woolloomooloo Hill, The Opal Dragonfly tells the bittersweet story of an ambitious family’s fall from grace and a brave young woman’s struggle to find her true self.

Purchase Links

Allen & Unwin  *  Amazon Australia  *  Google Play

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Q&A With Author Roxane Dhand

Today’s Q&A feature post is with Roxane Dhand, author of the newly released novel The Pearler’s Wife, published by Penguin Books Australia, RRP $32.99.

 

Can you tell us a bit about your new book?

Background

The Pearler’s Wife is based on a true story. I stumbled upon it (the story that is) on Western Australia’s far north-west coast in July 2013. To be honest, it was more of a bash of my foot on a great big rock because the year before, Broome had celebrated a 100 years’ anniversary.
Of what? I asked.
Broome, the pearling town turned tourist destination, I discovered, had a big past. It also had a secret. In its heyday, in the late 19th century, Broome had built a reputation not only as the centre of the mother of pearl industry, but also as a rough, remote trading outpost. The massively profitable pearl shell industry drew migrants from across Asia…Hard hat divers from Japan and Malaysia jumped on steam boats to Broome joined by other nationalities – the Chinese, and Filipinos – who signed on as tenders and deckhands. They were dirt cheap to employ and queuing up to come.

In 1911 though, the town’s prosperity came under serious threat.
Broome was a settlement made up of an almost exclusively Asiatic community. It was viewed with distaste by a Federal Government deeply entrenched in the “White Australia” policy. The idea of a coloured workforce on Australian soil was so offensive to the Australian Parliament that the Minister of External Affairs declared that from January 1913, only white divers would be permitted to collect pearl shell off the ocean floor.
The master pearlers (bosses) were horrified at what this would mean to the industry. They protested they could never afford a white man’s wage nor were they convinced that a white man would be able to stand the conditions on board a pearl lugger for any length of time.

Government would not listen and to prove that the pearl shell industry was, of course, suitable for whites, twelve ex-navy divers, experienced in hard hat deep-sea diving were brought out from England in 1912. The venture became known as the White Experiment.
The Pearler’s Wife grew out of their story.

The Pearler’s Wife is set in 1912 in the corrupt, claustrophobic new world of Australia. It tells the story of Maisie Porter, sent from England by her dismissive parents to marry a pearl-fishing captain (and distant cousin) she has never met. On the ship to Buccaneer Bay, she meets a charismatic Royal Navy Diver, William Cooper, who is being manipulated by the perilous pearl shell industry.

A wild, ungoverned frontier town is no place for a young lady just out from England. Her new husband proves aggressively disinterested in her. His main concern is sabotaging an Australian government initiative to force pearling captains to employ expensive Europeans. He is unscrupulous and Maisie soon finds herself embroiled in his world of murder, brutality and treachery. It will take all her courage, honesty and determination to protect the man she loves from the fierce and toxic secrets of her husband.

Which character was the most challenging to write about?

Probably Jane Wallace – Maisie’s new friend in Buccaneer Bay. She grew out of a woman I learned of called Daisy Bates who in real life spent years studying and caring for the Aborigines in the far outback of Western Australia. To make her plausible in the The Pearler’s Wife , I had to read all I could about her and gradually Daisy morphed into the character Jane I created for the book

What inspired you to become an author?

I’ve always had stories in my head since I was a little girl. Apparently I used to tell my sisters stories on long car journeys about a ladybird that lived in a toadstool – but if I did, I wish my mother had written them down! The desire to write was always there, I think, but sometimes you need a little push to get your started. The trip to Broome was more of a shove, really, and within three days I had the story down in outline.

What are some of your favourite reads?

The books I tend to favour (though not exclusively) are an interweaving of fact and fiction and have a root in history. So in no particular order, here oyare ten of my best:
1. Jamaica Inn – Daphne du Maurier. One of the most perfectly crafted books, I think. Atmosphere, characterisation and brilliant story-telling – this book does it for me
2. The Woodlanders – Thomas Hardy. On the syllabus for A level English, I learned the term pathetic fallacy through reading this book which is the fifth of Hardy’s Novels of Character and Environment. “Woods that murmur and trees that sigh…” Just yummy!
3. Eve Green – Susan Fletcher. I love this book on so many levels. Feisty heroine, romance and great story telling. It won the 2004 Whitbread First Novel Award.
4. The Narrow road to the Deep North – Richard Flanagan. A powerful beautifully written novel set in a Japanese POW camp in Burma. This won the Man Booker in 2014.
5. A Town Like Alice – Neville Shute. Another Australian writer. This strikes a chord because, as with my book, Shute stumbled on a little known (true) incident and drew on it to create this outstanding novel.
6. The Pursuit of Love – Nancy Mitford. This book is a delightful romp. Just one of the funniest and intensely observed portrayals of love and growing up in a dysfunctional family at about the time my own book is set.
7. Persuasion – Jane Austen. The bitter-sweet character of this novel earns its place on this list. Love lost and love recaptured, how we are sometimes “persuaded” along a course of action when deep in our hearts we know it is not the right one. Delicious!
8. Trail of Feathers – Tahir Shah. This book was inspired by a line from the chronicle of a sixteenth century monk which stated that the Incas ‘flew like birds over the jungle’. The author takes us on his personal journey to Peru and discovers that this ‘flying’ was inspired by a powerful hallucinogen and gives it a go! An A* read.
9. Katherine – Anya Seaton. One of the first historical (romantic) novels I ever read, thus a favourite which kick started a life-long affair.
10. Cross Stich – Diana Gabaldon. The book keeps reappearing on the shelves with different titles and is now televised as Outlander. I read it when it first came out in 1991 and devoured it in practically one sitting. Another historical romance, it is one of the best.

What projects are you currently working on?

The next book is down on paper and is set in 1190 at the time of Richard 1st and the Third Crusade. A couple of years back, I read Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe and because I found it such a difficult read, I decided I would try to bring the period to life and, hopefully, make it more accessible. When I’m done with that, there’s another story I’m dying to write…..

 


About The Pearler’s Wife

A distant land. A dangerous husband. A forbidden love.

It is 1912, and Maisie Porter stands on the deck of the SS Oceanic as England fades from view. Her destination is Buccaneer Bay in Australia’s far north-west. Her purpose: marriage to her cousin Maitland, a wealthy pearling magnate – and a man she has never met.

Also on board is William Cooper, the Royal Navy’s top man. Following a directive from the Australian government, he and eleven other ‘white’ divers have been hired to replace the predominantly Asian pearling crews. However, Maitland and his fellow merchants have no intention of employing the costly Englishmen for long . . .

Maisie arrives in her new country to a surprisingly cool reception. Already confused by her hastily arranged marriage, she is shocked at Maitland’s callous behaviour towards her – while finding herself increasingly drawn to the intriguing Cooper.

But Maisie’s new husband is harbouring secrets – deadly secrets. And when Cooper and the divers sail out to harvest the pearl shell, they are in great danger – and not just from the unpredictable and perilous ocean . . .

Purchase Links

Penguin Random House Books Australia  *  Amazon Australia  *  iBooks  *  Google Play

 

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