What research do you do when brainstorming a book?
Once I’ve come up with a new story idea, I read lots of non-fiction books around the theme and subject matter. With Fortune’s Son, for example, I literally read every text ever written about Thylacines! With this being my first historical saga, I also did a lot of internet research about turn-of-the-century Australia, and Tasmania in particular.
But no amount of research beats spending time in the landscape of your proposed novel. Reference books can’t buy you drinks at the bar and tell you stories. Statistics can’t show you the beauty of an ancient huon pine tree, framed by a pink sunset. For this reason, I spent quite a bit of time in Tasmania. When you travel to the heart of your story, maps turn into places, population figures turn into people and mountains become metaphors for our connection to country.
What was the first book the made you cry?
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Believe that you can earn money writing what you love. It takes hard work, but don’t give up. Ten years ago I was told nobody would publish adult novels with animal point of view in Australia. Fortune’s Son has passages written from the point of view of both a dog and a thylacine.
Can you tell us a scene that did not make the cut while writing Fortune’s Son?
This makes me smile. Although Fortune’s Son has animal point of view, my editor did suggest I cut the dog honeymoon. ‘The fact that Sasha has puppies will indicate to readers that the dogs mated,’ she said. How unromantic! I had an entire chapter about how Sasha became Bear’s mate. It took me ages to write. Perhaps I’ll put it up on-line as a stand-alone piece
How many hours a day do you write?
I try to write for four hours a day. This increases when I’m nearing a deadline.
What projects are you currently working on?
I’m busy writing another historical saga, a sequel to Fortune’s Son. It begins in 1929, at the start of the great depression, and follows the lives of Belle Campbell’s twin grandsons.
About Fortune’s Son by Jennifer Scoullar
Can one man’s revenge become his redemption?
Young Luke Tyler has everything going for him: brains, looks and a larrikin charm that turns heads. The future appears bright, until he defends his sister from the powerful Sir Henry Abbot. His reward is fifteen years hard labour on a prison farm in Tasmania’s remote highlands.
Luke escapes, finding sanctuary with a local philanthropist, Daniel Campbell, and starting a forbidden relationship with Daniel’s daughter, Belle. But when Luke is betrayed, he must flee or be hanged.
With all seeming lost, Luke sails to South Africa to start afresh. Yet he remains haunted by the past, and by Belle, the woman he can’t forget. When he returns to seek revenge and reclaim his life, his actions will have shattering consequences – for the innocent as well as the guilty.
Set against a backdrop of wild Tasmania, Australian gold and African diamonds, Fortune’s Son is an epic story of betrayal, love and one man’s struggle to triumph over adversity and find his way home.
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*Author photo received from Penguin Random House Australia for this feature post*
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