Q&A With Author Rachael Herron!

Today’s feature post is my Q&A with author Rachael Herron! In celebration of Rachael’s newly released novel The Songbird’s Call as part of the Songbird’s Of Darling Day series. Welcome to Talking Books Blog Rachael!


What was the most difficult aspect to write in the series so far?

Strangely (and this is SO weird), this series has been a joy to write. Usually I struggle like crazy with first drafts, and I wander around the house cussing and moaning like a mad woman, but these books are just so fun to write. I love these women, three strong, country-singing sisters whose band broke up a long time ago. In the process of finding their way back to each other, they each find love along the way. The hardest part is that all three of them are songwriters, so I’ve had to add songwriting as a skill to my toolbox. And while that’s difficult, I’m intrigued by how interesting songwriting is as a genre. Bonus!


Which character was the most challenging to write about in The Songbird’s Call?

The sheriff was easy. I spent many years working in a police department, so I know how cops work and think. The hard part was writing Molly. I wanted to make sure I got her right. She’s a zaftig woman, with very real curves. And in fact, during her entire professional singing career, she got a lot of bad press about her weight. In the book, she’s still not a slim girl, and in fact, that’s one of the things the sheriff loves best about her. But I wanted to make sure I got it all right – it was important to me that she loved herself first, before she could love anyone else.


What are you favourite stand out reads and why?

My own books are contemporary, but they are set on the western coast of California. I’m a big Western buff, and right now I’m enjoying a book called Sawbones, by Melissa Lenhardt, about a female doctor in the Old West. It’s raw and very lovely. I also devour anything Sherry Thomas, Eloisa James, or Kristan Higgins writes. They’re my auto-buys.


What inspires you to write fiction?

For 17 years, I was a 911 dispatcher (while writing books at the same time). I think that hearing the beginning of so many awful stories made me want to fix them, fictionally. By taking emergency calls, I also learned that love always sounds the same, no matter what language is spoken. In every culture, love is the most important thing of all, and that’s a beautiful thing. I love bringing that background to my books, not only in the tale of romance, but the story of family, too.


What can readers expect next in the series?

Right now, I’m working on Lana’s story. She’s the youngest daughter, the prodigal one, and she’s reluctantly come home to her sisters. She has an attitude and I’m really enjoying the way she’s landing on the page. Lana makes me laugh with her sheer stubborn streak. She keeps surprising me, and in return I like surprising her with her hero, Taft Hill, who brooks none of her nonsense, nosiree. He comes to town to buy some more songs from her, but ends up changing her tune, instead. I love it when characters go head-to-head, when each of their flaws become visible, when all of their strengths complement each other and make each other stronger.


About The Songbird’s Call by Rachael Herron

The story of the three Darling sisters continues in this sparkling romantic comedy of love, courage and finding your own voice.

Once Adele, Molly and Lana were the Darling Songbirds, a world-famous country TheSongbirdsCallRachaelHerronband. Now they are just three sisters who barely speak. But that is about to change. Because their uncle has bequeathed them his business, the Golden Spike – a struggling bar, a rundown cafe and a near derelict hotel in Darling Bay.

With Adele settled as proprietor of the bar, middle sister Molly arrives in town, and is immediately drawn to the neglected little cafU where she worked as a teenager. Could she – dare she – bring it back to life?

As lead singer, Molly had always been the ‘voice’ of the band. Yet, caught between controlling big sis Adele and demanding baby sister Lana, she never felt she was being heard. If she’s going to reopen the cafU, she’ll do it on her own terms. She won’t be bossed around again.

So the last person she should fall for is the handsome Sheriff Colin McMurty – the man whose job it is to tell people exactly what to do . . .”

Release Date:  August 29, 2016
Imprint:  Bantam Australia
RRP:  $32.99

Purchase Links

Penguin Random House Books Australia  *  Booktopia  *  Amazon


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The Songbird’s Of Darling Day Series

TheDarlingSongbirds_RachaelHerron_RandomHouseAus  TheSongbirdsCallRachaelHerron


About Rachael Herron

Working full time from a fire station in the San Francisco Bay area, Rachael has been a 911 fire/medical dispatcher for 15 years now. Working on a two-day-on, four-day-off roster, it’s a job she loves, as it gives her plenty of downtime to pursue what she describes as her ‘career and calling’, writing.

You may think a job such as hers would expose Rachael to a world of despair; instead she finds it inspiring. ‘I get a window into the human condition every time I answer the phone! I’ve learned that grief sounds the same in every language, and more, that love does, too. I’ve heard people do extreme, amazing things in the name of love, and that love spreads to strangers, often. It’s truly incredible, what people will do to help others. I can go from giving CPR instructions to a husband working on his elderly wife right into coaching a dad into catching his new son as he’s born.’

Author Social Media Links

Website  *  Twitter  *  Facebook


Q&A With Author Lexi Landsman!

Today’s top post is a Q&A feature with author Lexi Landsman! Lexi discusses her debut novel The Ties That Bind,  available now!

What was the most difficult aspect to write in the story?

LexiLandsman_RandomHouseAustraliaThe most challenging part of writing this story was the research. The novel covers a broad range of topics including Australian bushfires, childhood cancer, adoption and olive growing. All of these subjects needed copious amounts of research, interviews and fact checking with experts.

In the course of my research into bushfires, I read the Black Saturday witness statements from the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission. Their accounts helped me comprehend the full tragedy of these natural disasters that are an unfortunate part of Australian life. Within their harrowing accounts, I was comforted by the stories of bravery, camaraderie and community togetherness – hallmarks of the Australian spirit. I drew from their stories in describing the fictional bushfires depicted in The Ties That Bind in the made-up town of Somerset.

I spent time researching olive growing on Ambrosia Olive Farm, which is nestled in the hills of Silverdale. The owners, Stavros and Avgi Skarmoutsos, were incredibly warm and welcoming. They walked me through the process of olive growing, taught me some Greek words and even trusted me enough to hand over their tractor keys!

The research into leukaemia and stem cell transplants was the most daunting part of writing the book. I read endless research papers and was fortunate that Associate Professor Lourens Bester, an inspiring interventional radiologist and oncologist, answeredTheTiesThatBind_LexiLandsman_RandomHousePenguin_bookcover my endless questions and was kind enough to read over sections of the manuscript to check the medical details for accuracy. Anthony Montague and Doctor Hung Yang from the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry gave me their time to explain the complexities that go into stem-cell matching.


Which character was the most challenging to write about?

Writing any character has its own set of challenges. Of all the characters, it was Jade that went through the most transformations in the editing process. I initially wrote the voice of Jade in present tense and in first person to give her story a sense of immediacy – particularly for the opening scenes when she is battling to survive the raging inferno that engulfs her home and town. It was a difficult decision to rework her voice into third person but I’m really glad I did, as the novel was better for it. It was only after reading the Black Saturday witness testimonies that I developed a much clearer picture of the emotional turmoil Jade would be experiencing in the aftermath of bushfires.


What are you favourite stand out reads and why?

The Blind Assassin’ by Margaret Atwood was a real stand out read for me. I was just captivated by the way her words hold you to the page, her ability to create a layered narrative, her exceptional storytelling skills and dynamic characters.
Alice Hoffman is one of my favourite authors and I particularly admire her novels like ‘The Dovekeepers’ and ‘The Marriage of Opposites’ that follow strong female characters. History comes alive through her exceptional storytelling craft, well-developed narrative voices and lyrical prose.

I’ve been reading Jodi Picoult novels for as long as I can remember. What I find remarkable is that she is able to produce a book a year and always manages to create thought-provoking narratives, with compelling characters, intriguing plots and plenty of unexpected twists. She writes beautifully and her characters are always fully formed with distinct voices. Among her novels, my favourite reads include ‘The Storyteller’ and ‘Handle With Care’.
Some of my other stand-out reads include ‘People of the Book’ by Geraldine Brooks, ‘Nocturne’ by Diane Armstrong and ‘The Book Thief’ by Markus Zusak.


What inspired you to become an author?

I’ve always loved the creative outlet of writing and disappearing into an imaginative world. As a child, I would write poetry on our family farm while wandering through the cornfields and sitting atop fruit trees. This love of writing continued throughout my schooling, particularly in performing arts, where I enjoyed writing monologues and creating backstories for the characters I played.

It was only after studying abroad at the University of Miami, where I completed the final semester of my undergraduate degree, that I looked into writing more seriously. I had three months off before starting a Masters degree in journalism at the University of Sydney. I picked an elective subject in novel writing, taught by author Delia Falconer, and the prerequisite was to have written 30,000 words of a novel. I spent the gap between courses developing a short story into a novel-in-progress and from then on, I was hooked on writing. It became an addiction, a passion – something I couldn’t not do.


What projects are you currently working on?

I am currently juggling working full time in television and writing my second book. My upcoming novel is set on an archaeological dig site in Italy and is full of mystery, secrets and suspense, with a family drama at its core.


About The Ties That Bind

The Ties That Bind is an emotionally riveting debut novel about the power of a mother’s love and the bonds among family that, though severed, can never be fully broken.

On opposite sides of the world, two lives are changed forever. One by the smallest bruise. TheTiesThatBind_LexiLandsman_RandomHousePenguin_bookcoverThe other by a devastating bushfire. And both by a shocking secret . . .

Miami art curator Courtney Hamilton and her husband David live the perfect life until their ten-year-old son Matthew is diagnosed with leukaemia. He needs a bone-marrow transplant but, with Courtney being adopted, the chances of finding a match within his family are slim.

Desperate to find a donor, Courtney tracks the scattered details of her birth 15,000 kilometres away, to the remote town of Somerset in the Victorian bush.

Meanwhile Jade Taylor wakes up in hospital in Somerset having survived the deadly bushfire that destroyed the family home and their beloved olive groves. Gone too are the landmarks that remind her of her mother, Asha, a woman whose repeated absences scarred her childhood.

As Jade rallies her fractured family to rebuild their lives, Courtney arrives in the burnt countryside to search for her lost parents – but discovers far more . . .

Title: The Ties That Bind
Author: Lexi Landsman
Release Date: 30/05/2016
Imprint: Bantam Australia

Purchase Links

Random House Books Australia  *  Booktopia  *  Amazon Australia  *  Kobo  *  iBooks


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About Lexi Landsman

Lexi Landsman is an Australian television producer and journalist. She has worked on a range of award-winning documentary series for the Seven Network that have aired in Australia and internationally. Some of these include Border Security, Australia’s Deadliest, Surveillance Oz and Marie Claire: Under the Cover. She recently spent time in the US producing World’s Richest Dogs.

Prior to working in commercial television, she was a newspaper editor of arts, books and lifestyle. She has degrees in Media Arts and Production, Drama Teaching and a Masters in Journalism. During her undergraduate degree, she spent time studying abroad at the University of Miami.

She lives in Sydney with her husband and their dog. This is her first book.

Author Social Media Links

Facebook  *  Twitter  *  Random House Books Australia Author Page


The Soldier’s Curse by Meg Keneally & Tom Keneally

A fast-paced, witty and gripping historical crime series from Tom Keneally and his eldest daughter Meg.

In the Port Macquarie penal settlement for second offenders, at the edge of the known
TheSoldiersCurse_MegandTomKeneally_RandomHouseAusworld, gentleman convict Hugh Monsarrat hungers for freedom. Originally transported for forging documents passing himself off as a lawyer, he is now the trusted clerk of the settlement’s commandant.

His position has certain advantages, such as being able to spend time in the Government House kitchen, being supplied with outstanding cups of tea by housekeeper Hannah Mulrooney, who, despite being illiterate, is his most intelligent companion.

Not long after the commandant heads off in search of a rumoured river, his beautiful wife, Honora, falls ill with a sickness the doctor is unable to identify. When Honora dies, it becomes clear she has been slowly poisoned.

Monsarrat and Mrs Mulrooney suspect the commandant’s second-in-command, Captain Diamond, a cruel man who shares history with Honora. Then Diamond has Mrs Mulrooney arrested for the murder. Knowing his friend will hang if she is tried, Monsarrat knows he must find the real killer. And so begins The Monsarrat Series, a fast-paced, witty and gripping series from Tom Keneally and his eldest daughter, Meg.

Purchase Links

Random House Australia  *  Booktopia  *  Kobo  *  Amazon Australia


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A slower more detailed read – a who done it, bit of a mystery with the two main characters, Hugh Monsarrat and Mrs Mulrooney . The Soldier’s Curse by Meg & Tom Keneally is the first book in the Monsarrat series.
Review copy received from Random House Australia for an honest rating