Welcome! Please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about who you are.
Hello everyone and thanks for having me, Jess! I’ve been writing rural romance (spasmodically!) for over thirty years so I’m thrilled that at last it has come into vogue.
I grew up in Central Queensland on the family cattle property, which consisted of 47,000 acres before the coal mines started chipping away at it. It was very isolated in those days and trips to town only occurred every six weeks or so. I did my primary schooling by correspondence and loved horses, books and the bush. These are still passions of mine. I self-published my first novel at the age of twenty-four and published two rural historicals in 2007. In between times I’ve contributed to several local historical publications and a couple of anthologies of short stories.
I currently live with my husband on a farm in Central Queensland where we grow grain and raise beef cattle. My daughter is married and lives in South Australia and my son has an engineering business which he operates from a shed on our farm.
I’ve been a member of RWA for about 14 years and thoroughly recommend it as a wonderful source of information and support for writers.
Please tell us a bit about your book.
Breakaway Creek is my new release from Clan Destine Press. It is a dual timeline novel set in Central Queensland. It was a finalist in the 2010 QWC/Hachette Manuscript Development Award.
Two love stories; two parallel lives; two destinies.
Two city women, a century apart, find love and adventure in the Queensland outback.
Set in the 19th and 21st centuries, Breakaway Creek is a passionate rural romance of love and its consequences.
Shelley and Emma might be separated by time but they’re bound by a dark secret to a place called Breakaway Creek.
Distraught at her boyfriend’s betrayal, Shelley Blake flees the city to seek refuge with her parents. Her interest in an old family photograph is piqued by their unusual reticence. A search for answers takes her to the cattle station Breakaway Creek.
Here she meets Luke Sherman, a man embroiled in the bitter ending of his marriage and a heart-breaking separation from his two small boys.
Neither of them is ready for a new relationship. Luke's twenty-first century struggle to reclaim his children unravels as Shelley uncovers the truth about her ancestors, Alex and Emma. Their story of racial bigotry and a love that transcends all obstacles takes the reader back to the pioneering days of the 1890s.
What was the motivation/idea behind this book/these characters?
When I was a teenager I read a book from my mother’s bookcase about a young woman who visited a cattle station. She fell in love with one of the stockmen, only to later discover he was of mixed heritage. This story was set many years ago, probably in the 1950s, when the racial divide was very pronounced. It fascinated me and always stayed with me. Many years later it became the premise behind Breakaway Creek.
Another thread from the modern-day story was partly inspired by marriage break-ups I had witnessed among family and close friends, along with subsequent custody battles of the children involved.
Did you enjoy writing this book, or did you have some tough times with it?
The historical section of this story fascinated me and was consequently easier, in some ways, to write. My modern-day heroine, and her motivations, seemed to require more work.
When / Where / How do you write?
I write at a desktop computer in my office. When? That is harder to answer. I don’t have a regular schedule – I just fit it in around my other work/activities. As to how? I’ve always been more of a pantser than a plotter, but sometimes plotting is necessary.
Do you have some other qualification/interest/something else you do besides being a writer?
I love helping with the cattle work here on the farm. I work part-time at the local library and I’m also involved with a few voluntary organisations, in particular helping to compile a monthly newsletter of the happenings around my local area.
What book/s are you reading at the moment?
I’ve just finished Kimberley Freeman’s Lighthouse Bay, which I loved. Now I’m reading Hope’s Road by Margareta Osborn.
Do you have any authors who were your inspiration/hero?
So many romance writers of my generation give the same answer to that question –Georgette Heyer. As a teenager I read all, or almost all, of her books and she must rate as one of my strongest inspirations. As a child I loved Mary Grant Bruce’s Billabong series and Mary O’Hara’s My Friend Flicka series. Anything which featured horses! An Australian classic which I still adore is Darcy Niland’s The Shirlaee.
What are you working on right now?
I’m writing a sequel to my two earlier publications, The Cornstalk and A Hidden Legacy. I felt a certain down-trodden woman, a secondary character in these novels, deserved her own story and a possible happy ending.
Do you have any other books out you'd like to mention?
The two I’ve mentioned, The Cornstalk and A Hidden Legacy. They’re available from Amazon or their publisher, Wings ePress. Both received excellent reviews and The Cornstalk was a finalist in the Bookseller’s Best Award in the US.
Last year, along with other members of my writers’ group, we released a compilation if oral histories/reminiscences, called Pot Luck: Stories from the Central Highlands.
Is there something I haven't asked that you'd like to tell us?
I can thoroughly recommend the QWC/Hachette Manuscript Development Award for writers targeting the mainstream Australian publishers. Even though it didn’t directly result in publication for my manuscript, I appreciated and enjoyed the experience.
Link to buy Breakaway Creek: