Q&A With Author Nicole Alexander

Today’s Q&A post features Nicole Alexander, author of the newly released novel Stone Country. Stone Country is published by Penguin Random House. Ms Alexander discusses aspects of her book, her writing process and future writing endeavours. Welcome to Talking Books Blog Ms Alexander!

 

Congratulations on your latest novel Stone Country. Can you tell us a scene that did not make it into the finished story?

Thankyou. I haven’t had a novel out for a couple of years now so it’s very exciting that Stone Country has hit the National Top Ten Bestseller list. Every scene made it into the novel and I added a couple of extra scenes during the editing process. The duality of human nature lies at the heart of Stone Country and some of the questions I asked myself during its creation included such things as, what sets us apart from our friends and family? Why do we make certain choices during a lifetime? Ones that can just as easily mean our triumph or our downfall. Delving into particular character traits in Stone Country, required lots of redrafting, hence the extra scenes.

How many hours a day do you set aside for writing?

I work on a weekly word count of five thousand words which means that some days I might be glued to the desk for ten hours and others, less. And writing on weekends and during evenings is often a given. It depends if the writing gods are feeling generous and also, what’s happening on our property. We downsized a few years ago and now concentrate on breeding beef cattle, but my day job (farming) can still be very intensive at times, especially with the ongoing drought.

Did you always aspire to become an author?

In my teens I began to think about writing and the art of storytelling, both written and oral. I dabbled with writing at school and university and then, when I finished my studies, I began to write as a hobby and my career grew from that. Initially I wrote travel and genealogy articles, and short stories. An apprenticeship that lead me to try my hand at a longer piece of fiction that became my first novel, The Bark Cutters. It was short-listed for an Australian Book Industry Award and it was that recognition that gave me the confidence to continue with my writing.

How many books have you written in your career? Which one was the most challenging to write?

My published works include poetry and inclusions in both fiction and non-fiction anthologies. Stone Country is my ninth novel. Every work has its unique challenges and as I mature as a writer, each novel inevitably represents both a personal and professional milestone. As for the most challenging I would have to say it was most definitely Stone Country. It required a huge amount of research. Stone Country spans the period 1901 to 1940 and is set in Adelaide and the mid-north of South Australia, and the Northern Territory. I spent considerable time in both locations, researching the history of these regions, and tracing the steps my characters would take on the page. The away-from-the-desk research component of my work definitely feeds my inner Indiana Jones and ensures that the story is completely authentic in terms of time and place.

What can readers expect in your writing endeavours?

Big stories that celebrate our extraordinary history and magnificent landscapes. Drama, adventure and passion with strong, flawed characters that drive the narrative onwards. I treat the land as a character in all of my works. It is a living breathing entity after all.

 


About Stone Country

From nineteenth-century Adelaide and the red dirt of mid-north South Australia, to the cattle stations and buffalo plains of the far north Ross Grant’s journey is one of desire, adventure and determination, to the heart of stone country and beyond.

South Australia, 1919. Ross Grant has always felt like the black sheep of his wealthy Scottish family. An explorer at heart, he dreams of life on Waybell, their remote cattle station in Australia’s last remaining wilderness, the Northern Territory.

Then his brother Alastair is branded a deserter after going missing during the Great War. To help restore the Grants’ damaged reputation, Ross is coerced into marrying Darcey Thomas, a woman he has never met.

Disgusted by his manipulative family, he turns his back on his unwanted wife just hours after the ceremony, and heads to Waybell with no plans to return. He carries with him the hope of carving his own empire in the far north.

But Ross has not counted on Darcey’s determination to be his wife in more than just name. Nor did he anticipate meeting Maria, a young, part-Chinese woman who will capture his heart. And he certainly wasn’t prepared for how this beautiful yet savage land will both captivate and destroy his soul . . .

Purchase Links

Penguin Random House  *  Booktopia  *  Amazon Australia  *  Google Play

 

Add to your reading list on

Goodreads

 

Social Media Links for Ms Alexander

Website  *  Facebook

 

*The pictures featured in this Q&A post are courtesy of Penguin Random House.

Q&A With Fleur McDonald – Author of Where The River Runs

Today’s post features author Fleur McDonald, discussing her latest novel Where The River Runs. Where The River Runs is published by Allen & Unwin, RRP $29.99.

 

Detective Burrows has been a recurring character in some of your previous novels. Can you tell us a bit about his character?

Dave Burrows is a detective who is tenacious, has great integrity and loves his work. The modern day (2018) he’s married to Kim and lives in Barker, South Australia. In the Dave Burrows series, which is set back in the early 2000s, he’s married to Melinda and is a new Dad to Bec. He’s driven and rarely lets anything stop him from achieving the result needed to solve the crime.

What were some of the challenges in the writing process when writing this book?

I had spinal surgery in January and the due date for this book was the 1st of March. It was really difficult to write while I was on heavy pain relief which tended to addle my brain! I spent a lot of time writing while lying on my bed, with the electric blanket on my back and the fan blowing on me. It was a challenging time, but between the amazing people at Allen and Unwin and I, we got the novel finished! And now, here it is!

What is your favourite quote in your book?

‘The healing rain didn’t seem like it was about to let up for the night and for that she was grateful. She pulled up a chair and sat with her legs tucked up underneath her, enjoying the sounds of nature’s music.’

Can you tell us something about your book that is not already revealed in the synopsis?

Dave’s brother is critically injured in a farming accident and he has to work out whether he wants to go back and see Dean or stay in Barker.

Describe your perfect book heroine/hero?

Harry Bosch from Michael Connelly’s books. I’ve been a little in love with him for many, many years!

What can readers expect next from your writing endeavours?

A young Dave Burrows novel, which is lot more hard core, than previous ones. In fact in the words of my editor: “Without A Doubt is tougher and more hard-bitten than your other Dave Burrows novels and I think that suits the pair of you! The storytelling feels strong and assured and we see Dave at his most rugged and his most vulnerable.”

I loved writing this novel and hope to write many more like this.

 


 

About Where The River Runs

Ten years ago, thirty-year-old Chelsea Taylor left the small country town of Barker and her family’s property to rise to the top as a concert pianist. With talent, ambition and a determination to show them all at home, Chelsea thought she had it made.

Yet here she was, back in Barker, with her four-year-old daughter, Aria, readying herself to face her father, Tom. The father who’d shouted down the phone ten years ago never to come home again.

With an uneasy truce developing, Chelsea and Aria settle into the rhythm of life on the land with Tom and Cal, the farmhand, who seems already to have judged Chelsea badly. Until a shocking discovery is made on the riverbed and Detective Dave Burrows, the local copper, has to tear back generations of family stories to reveal the secrets of the past.

Chelsea just wants a relationship with her dad but will he ever want that too? Or will his memory lapses mean they’ll never get that opportunity?

Purchase Links

Allen & Unwin  *  Booktopia  *  Google Play  *  Amazon Australia

 

Add to your reading list on

Goodreads

 

More novels by author Fleur McDonald

 

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

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

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