Q&A With Author Christine Wells!

Today’s Q&A post features author Christine Wells. Ms Wells new release book, The Traitor’s Girl, published by Penguin Random House, is available now, RRP $32.99.


If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

This is what you were meant to do so stop trying to prove yourself by getting published—people won’t take you seriously as a writer, published or not, unless you make writing a priority and treat it like a job. Slow down, take risks and believe in yourself. And for the love of God, develop a better process or you’ll regret it later!

What research do you do when you are trying to brainstorm for writing a book?

Brainstorming a book isn’t something I do consciously. I usually become obsessed with a fascinating part of history and want to know all I can about it. I read everything I can get my hands on, and somewhere in this process, the idea for a book comes to me. I tend to read biographies and general texts in this phase, then delve deeper into original sources as I write the first draft.

Can you tell us a scene that didn’t make the cut while writing The Traitor’s Girl?

I wrote a gorgeous scene where the three friends, Vi, Steph and Annabel, go through the amazing couture gowns stored in Annabel’s grandmother’s attic. I had so much fun researching iconic dresses of the 1920s and 1930s for this scene, but in the end, it had to go because it didn’t do much to advance the story. I can never let anything go completely, though, and I find it easier to cut if I keep cut scenes in a separate file. My ‘snippets’ file for this book was 20,000 words long!

How many hours a day do you write?

This varies greatly. When not on deadline it might be two hours a day of actual writing. Three months out from deadline it is often much more than that. However, it is not at all good for the body to be sitting typing for so long at a time so I don’t recommend long stints at the computer if it can be avoided. RSI is a huge problem for writers.

What can readers expect next from your writing?

I hope readers can expect strong, memorable characters facing great challenges during a fascinating time in history. A bit of humour, a bit of mystery, a love story. All those good things!


About The Traitor’s Girl by Christine Wells

‘I think I’m in danger. It’s a matter of some urgency. You must please come at once.’

After receiving a mysterious summons from her long-lost grandmother, Australian teacher Annabel Logan agrees to visit her home in the Cotswolds. But when she arrives at the magnificent Beechwood Hall, it appears abandoned and the local villagers have no idea where the reclusive Caroline Banks might be.

The one person who might know something is enigmatic journalist Simon Culpepper. He reveals that Caroline Banks was once known as Carrie Granger. A socialite’s daughter, Carrie became a spy and agent provocateur for MI5 during the Second World War. But when British intelligence failed to investigate a dangerous traitor, she decided to take matters into her own hands …

Concerned that her grandmother’s secret past has caught up with her, Annabel stays on to investigate. But the more she uncovers, the more difficult it becomes to know who to trust. There are strange incidents occurring at Beechwood and Annabel must use all her ingenuity and daring to find Carrie before it’s too late.

From the streets of Seville, Paris and London in the thirties and forties, to the modern English countryside The Traitor’s Girl is a captivating story of passion, intrigue and betrayal.

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Penguin Random House Australia * Booktopia * Amazon Australia * iBooks



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Q&A With Margareta Osborn!

Today’s Q&A post features author Margareta Osborn. Ms Osborn’s newest book release novel, Lake Hill, is available now and is published by Penguin Australia RRP $32.99.


What was the hardest scene to write?

I always find it difficult to write sex scenes and there are a couple in LAKE HILL. To combat this I find a good song or piece of music for each sex scene, plug in my headphones and simply write to the flow of the music. It’s like the key words at the most passionate points, hit the keynotes in a crescendo and I find, because of the music, I know instantly if the words jar.

Can you tell us a scene that didn’t make the cut while writing Lake Hill?

How about the whole second half of the book? Yes. You heard that right. I re-wrote the whole second half as I’d concentrated on the periphery characters too much. I allowed them to take the focus in this tree-change storyline from Julia, a widowed woman of thirty six, who’s hiding a passionate secret from her long, lost love, Rick. Those secondary characters, whilst at times, hilarious, had to be reined in! But hopefully I’ve managed to keep the best comedic parts.

What was the first book that made you cry?

The Silver Brumby books by Elyne Mitchell. I howled many times through this whole series.

What’s you favourite underappreciated novel?

Dinner at Rose’s by Danielle Hawkins. It’s brilliant. Well written, engaging, warm, funny, and heartbreaking in turns. It’s one of my all-time favourite books.

What research do you do when you are trying to brainstorm or researching a book?

Ahem … well, I guess you can say I go all out.
A character needs to drive a truck? I go and get my heavy rigid truck licence in a 550HP Prime Mover.
A character needs to make a Bargello quilt? I learn how to quilt.
A character needs to catch wild dogs? I follow a wild dog trapper around the bush learning how to set traps.
A character needs to fight a bushfire? I join the CFA.

You get the picture …

In LAKE HILL there is a character that runs a working dog school, so to do that I had to go to a school, and learn how to train a working dog – two schools in fact. I got so intrigued I ended up with my own Kelpie and as I’m a farmer as well as an author, I’m now passionate about learning more about low stress livestock handling using my dog. It’s crazy where books take you.

We’ve also travelled all over with the kids and incorporated research for my novels into those trips. For my next novel – working title TRUE NORTH – my husband and I packed up two kids, four swags, two motorbikes and one Kelpie dog and trekked across and half-way up Australia to WA’s Pilbara and worked the mustering season (four months) on a remote half-million acre cattle station, five hours from the nearest major town.
It was a tad radical. Fun and exhilarating. Tough and eye-opening.
But all excellent research. We all learnt a lot.

What can reader’s expect next in your writing project?

A book set in the remote W.A. Pilbara – working title TRUE NORTH. It’s about three women on a station … I can’t tell you much more than that, as I’m an organic writer. I’m pretty excited to see what arrives next on the page myself!


About Lake Hill by Margareta Osborn

All her life Julia Gunn has been weighed down – first by a controlling father, then by a staid older husband, and always by a long-buried secret from her teenage years.

Now, widowed at just thirty-six, she’s going to do something for herself.

Except en route to a new life on the coast at Lakes Entrance she finds herself – courtesy of a rockslide – stuck in the remote mountain town of Lake Grace.

Yet maybe fate is on her side. Because Lake Grace is home to Rick Halloran – ex-rodeo king, sculptor and grazier – and the man with whom she enjoyed a brief, unforgettable romance twenty years ago.

Not only that, but Julia has dreamed of running her own café, and she’s just spotted a For Sale sign outside the prettiest little tea-room by the lake . . .

Julia is finally on the verge of the life she’s always wanted.

Then her long-buried secret knocks at the door . . .

Purchase Links

Penguin Australia * Booktopia * iBooks * Amazon Australia * QBD


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Q&A With Author Karly Lane!

Happy new release to author Karly Lane! Ms Lane chats about her newest novel If Wishes Were Horses and what projects she is currently working on. If Wishes Were Horses is published by Allen & Unwin Australia, RRP $29.99.


What was your hardest scene to write?

There were a few scenes in this book that were a little difficult to write. The WW1 diary entries were emotional. The things these men endured are hard to imagine. The human spirit and what it can endure, is truely an amazing thing. However, probably the most difficult for me, personally to write, was the scene that revealed the fate of the 120,000 horses shipped overseas during WW1. As a horse lover, its difficult for me to wrap my head around the fact that after everything these horses did for the war effort and the bond they developed with their riders–the government refused to bring them home and they were either sold to be used as farm animals or destroyed.

Can you tell us a scene that didn’t make the cut while writing If Wishes Were Horses?

I can’t think of anything we cut.

What is the first book that made you cry?

I think it would have to be Black Beauty.

What’s your favourite under-appreciated novel?

I remember finding a dog-eared book in a second hand store once and it just jumped out at me. It was called The Showgirl and the Brumby by Lucy Lehmann. It was before rural fiction had kicked off and it had so much gritty, rural earthiness, humour about it. I really loved that book.

How many hours a day do you write?

I usually work to a 9-3 schedule fitting in with school hours for the kids. Some days I write most of that time, other days I might get sidetracked from actual writing by emails and other writing related chores, researching or edits arriving for other books.

What can reader’s expect next in your writing projects?

In December I have another book due, so there’ll be 2 books out again this year. It has some really relevant issues that effect not only rural, but all communities in Australia. The publisher hasn’t settled on a title at this point, but hopefully we’ll have one soon.


About If Wishes Were Horses by Karly Lane

Already struggling to come to terms with the tragic death of her husband, Sophie Bryant nearly loses her own life while attending a domestic dispute as a paramedic. Diagnosed with a mild form of post-traumatic stress disorder, Sophie decides to accept a posting to the remote township of Hilsons Ridge.

Soon after her arrival, Sophie decides on a whim to buy an old house on the outskirts of town. There, she discovers the diary of a light horse trooper from the First World War, which she finds fascinating.

Local vet, Zac Conway, is also struggling in the wake of losing his life partner. So when Sophie brings an abandoned horse to him for treatment and they get to know each other, Zac is surprised to feel emotions he never hoped to experience again.

The peace and tranquillity of living in her new community sees Sophie gradually recovering from her trauma and grief. As she discovers more about her farm’s history, she realises that the past and the present are irrevocably connected and, just like love, it waits for the right person to come along to unlock its secrets.

If Wishes Were Horses is a totally captivating novel combining romance and history with a dash of suspense.

Purchase Links

Allen & Unwin Australia  *  Amazon Australia  *  Booktopia  *  Angus & Robertson  *  Kobo


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Q&A With Author Kirsty Manning!

kirstymanning_author_allenandunwinausToday’s feature post is my Q&A with author Kirsty Manning! Kirsty discusses her
book The Midsummer Garden, published by Allen & Unwin Australia and available now. Welcome to Talking Books Blog Kirsty!


How long have you been an author?

I started writing fiction about two years ago through an online writing course. I co-published a cookbook in 2010 (We Love Food), and had academic work published, but no fiction. Not even a short story!
But I have worked as a lifestyle features writers for about a decade. So I have lots of experience with writing place, food, design and capturing the essence of dialogue. You have to write pretty fast, and clean.
It’s funny, even though I’d been a jobbing writers for years, I couldn’t call myself a writer or author until I finished the fifth draft! Somewhere in among all the words I realised I just had to start believing in my story, and myself. Lo and behold, I became an author and wrote the book!


What is the most difficult aspect of your artistic process?

Finishing! On a more serious note, I find tweaking the plot, making both eras work as their own entity, then tie in with the other plot line quite a challenge. Somehow the book needs to find it’s own rhythm across both eras. I adore doing the research, but the challenge is to make sure that does not dictate the story. So you have to research the history in, then write so it feels natural. Or write a bit of plot, then find what history you need in there to make it believable. It’s give and take the whole way.
It’s a bit like putting together a jigsaw where you don’t know what shape the pieces are yet! But it’s an amazing feeling when it comes together.


Can you tell us a scene that didn’t make the cut while writing The Midsummer Garden?

Oh so many! There was a scene where Pip’s parents died in the very first unfinished draft. themidsummergarden_kirstymanningBut I decided that I loved them too much, so they had to stay!
There were a couple of other wonderful characters with subplots that went nowhere (in different countries) . But I think I’m keeping said characters for another book as they are still in my mind, willing me to write a story around them. Just goes to show you should never press ‘delete’. Save the bits you cut, you never know when they’ll inspire something very different.


On average, how long does it take you to write a book?

Hmmm, well I’m writing my second book and I have given myself just under twelve months. I’m close to finishing the first draft, so should be fine. That’s where the fun starts, for me anyway. With historical fiction, there’s lots of facts to check and bits to be filled in. There’s always a surprise, and that is the delight of writing. It’s a wonderful way to fill the day.


What can readers expect next from your writing?

I want to give the reader a really sensual experience so there will be lots of travel. I am studying a different era (WWII) in different countries! I even managed a research trip.
I hope look forward to curling up and transporting themselves to other worlds. I love the beauty, symbolism and nostalgia of food-the way we connect it to place, family and friends. I’m interested in history of herbs and herbalism, and how plants can be used to heal. Gardens are also my happy place. You can tell a lot about a person, or a place/city/town/ by their gardens. And of course, the symbolism and metaphors around gardening are endless inspiration.
Readers who love those elements in my work can expect to find that in my next one.



About The Midsummer Garden by Kirsty Manning

themidsummergarden_kirstymanningTravelling between lush gardens in France, windswept coastlines of Tasmania, to Tuscan hillsides and beyond, The Midsummer Garden lures the reader on an unforgettable culinary and botanical journey.

1487 Artemisia is young to be in charge of the kitchens at Chateau de Boschaud but, having been taught the herbalists’ lore, her knowledge of how food can delight the senses is unsurpassed. All of her concentration and flair is needed as she oversees the final preparations for the sumptuous wedding feast of Lord Boschaud and his bride while concealing her own secret dream. For after the celebrations are over, she dares to believe that her future lies outside the Chateau. But who will she trust?

2014 Pip Arnet is an expert in predicting threats to healthy ecosystems. Trouble is, she doesn’t seem to recognise these signs in her own life. What Pip holds dearest right now is her potential to make a real difference in the marine biology of her beloved Tasmanian coastline. She’d thought that her fiance Jack understood this, believed that he knew she couldn’t make any plans until her studies were complete. But lately, since she’s finally moved in with him, Jack appears to have forgotten everything they’d discussed.

When a gift of several dusty, beautiful old copper pots arrives in Pip’s kitchen, the two stories come together in a rich and sensuous celebration of family and love, passion and sacrifice.

Published by Allen & Unwin Australia RRP $29.99, and available now.

Purchase Links

Allen & Unwin Australia * Booktopia * Angus & Robertson  *  Amazon Australia



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Kirsty Manning grew up in northern New South Wales. She has degrees in literature and communications and worked as an editor and publishing manager in book publishing for over a decade. A country girl with wanderlust, her travels and studies have taken her through most of Europe, the east and west coasts of the United States and pockets of Asia. Kirsty’s journalism and photography specialising in lifestyle and travel regularly appear in magazines, newspapers and online. In 2007, Kirsty and her husband, with two toddlers and a baby in tow, built a house in an old chestnut grove in the Macedon Ranges. Together, they planted an orchard and veggie patch, created large herbal ‘walks’ brimming with sage and rosemary, wove borders from chestnut branches and constructed far too many stone walls by hand. Kirsty loves cooking with her kids and has several large heirloom copper pots that do not fit anywhere easily, but are perfect for making (and occasionally burning) jams, chutneys and soups. With husband Alex Wilcox, Kirsty is a partner in the award-winning Melbourne wine bar Bellota, and the Prince Wine Store in Sydney and Melbourne.


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New Release! The Last McAdam by Holly Ford

Welcome to the book review post for The Last McAdam by Holly Ford as part of the Virtual Blog Tour.

The Last McAdam by author Holly Ford was breathtaking reading. I loved the story from the first chapter. So many notable scenes that stirred many sentiments. Hilarity, awkwardness, heartfelt and tense moments that were entertaining from one page to the next. Tess from the start was a firecracker – likeable and endearing. Nate – cheeky and likeable also. Stan’s character was beautifully portrayed and often pulled at the heartstrings. Even the secondary characters of Mitch and Harry were equally as entertaining as the main characters of Tess and Nate. As the pages turned and the story unfolded, it just kept getting better and better. Simply stunning reading.
Review copy received from Allen & Unwin Australia


About The Last McAdam by Holly Ford

Can Nate McAdam win the heart of the woman who’s taken over his farm? The Last TheLastMcadam_hollyford_allenandunwinausMcAdam combines an unforgettable cast of characters with an irresistibly entertaining tale of romance, suspense and the unbreakable bonds of friendship.

Passed down through the same family for over a century, the remote sheep and cattle station of Broken Creek has recently been taken over by global agribusiness company Carnarvon Holdings. Now Carnarvon has sent its best troubleshooting manager, Tess Drummond, to turn the property’s failing fortunes around – fast.

When Tess arrives to take the reins of Broken Creek she’s faced with a couple of nasty surprises. For starters, her head stockman, Nate McAdam, happens to be the same gorgeous stranger she hooked up with – and ran out on – a few weeks before.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Nate was supposed to inherit Broken Creek until his stepfather ran it into the ground. Now the last McAdam on the station leads a team of men whose bonds have been forged through hell and high water and whose mission is to see off Carnarvon and Tess so he can take his rightful place.

A genius with farm work – and women – but a disaster in the office, Nate is everything Tess believes a farmer shouldn’t be. Determined not to give in to her growing attraction to him, Tess sets out to do her job, but she soon finds herself caught up in the battle of her career.

The Last McAdam by Holly Ford is published by Allen & Unwin, RRP $29.99, available now.

Purchase Links

Allen & Unwin Australia  *  Booktopia  *  iBooks Australia  *  Amazon Australia



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About The Author

Holly Ford grew up in a farming community in the Hokonui Hills in the South Island of New Zealand. Having lived and worked on three continents, she returned to her own patch of land in rural New Zealand, which she now shares with her family, an ever-increasing population of magpies and hares, and the occasional vacationing dairy cow. Her bestselling novels, packed with gutsy women who aren’t afraid to take what they want and men who are worth their trouble, celebrate life and love in some of the world’s most rugged country: the vast, spectacular mountain farms that form the backbone of New Zealand.

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