Today I have my friend Margareta Osborn visiting. I’ll let you in on a secret. If it wasn’t for Margareta dragging me along to the RWA Conference last year, I wouldn’t have pitched Brumby’s Run to Penguin. That pitch led directly to a book deal, so I have a lot to thank her for. Margareta is a passionate rural story-teller, and her debut novel, Bella’s Run has become a best-seller. Now, over to Margareta …
Thanks Jen, for inviting me to be a guest on your blog. For those that don’t know, Jennifer and I are members of the same writing group, the fabulously talented and totally awesome Little Lonsdale Group (the LLG’s). The group is aptly named for the street situated outside where we met at the Wheeler Centre, Melbourne (a six hour round trip for me) a couple of years ago. We were all in Andrea Goldsmith’s Advanced Year of the Novel class. What a wonderful time we had and the group continues to meet (and excel) with four published authors and the rest hard on their heels.
Tell us about your call story – or how you received your first offer of publication. (That’s what I always love hearing!)
Oh dear, I’m way off the track. What was I supposed to be talking about, Jen? My call story? Right. Well, it went like this. After being knocked back by one mainstream publisher with a ‘very positive’ rejection (yes, I kid you not, they can be positive) I managed to obtain a literary agent using that self same positive rejection (see, I told you). My agent then submitted the manuscript of my debut novel BELLA’S RUN to three major publishing houses. The day she rang me to tell me she had done this I was driving a truck laden with cattle down the hill from a dry paddock to the family homestead property. I was going over the cattle underpass when she rang to tell me BELLA’S RUN was sitting on the commissioning editors desks of three of the ‘Big Six’, which made me nearly put that poor rattly truck into the underpass.
Within days we had a two book publishing contract on the table. The day she rang to tell me that, it was my birthday and I was in the supermarket shopping. I screamed into the nearest grocery stack, which just happened to be the toilet rolls. Needless to say, the shopping consisted of all things celebratory (and a few mushed up toilet rolls)
What inspired you to write Bella’s Run?
Inspiration for people to do things beyond what they would normally do comes from a variety of different sources. For me, the inspiration to write – to weave stories about the bush – comes from my surroundings. From the environment in which I live – the mountains and farming in particular – because that is what I truly love and am passionate about. As a child I rode my horse through the hills surrounding our farm every weekend. And now we, as a family, spend a lot of time in the high country above our home. A very rugged and beautiful place where we track and watch brumbies, ride motorbikes and horses in the bush. Nearly four years and what seems like a lifetime ago, this landscape proved to be my inspiration for BELLA’S RUN.
What things in life are most important to you?
The themes of BELLA’S RUN are friendship, the search for love and the place you can call home. These are all portrayed within the evocative setting of the Australian bush giving you (I hope), a vivid sense of place with authentic characters that you the reader ‘know’. I tell you this because personally, these themes are very important to me.
My family – an amazing husband, three beautiful children plus my wonderful father, brother, sister and their families, aunts, uncles and cousins – along with my fantastic and supportive friends, are my world. I would not survive without them all. They give me the love, strength and energy to live, love and write.
The Osborn family has also been on the same property here for 150 years, giving me a very strong sense of place. Our roots sink deeply into the soil. This grounds a person, gives the feeling of belonging and community.
Country life is me. I see it, I hear it, I work it and breathe it everyday. I have lived and worked on properties all my life. Throw me into suburbia and I am like a floundering fish. All I long for is my work-boots, the scent of cow-shit, sunshine on the breeze, musky soil and tangy eucalyptus. Ridiculous I know, but to take me from the land – from the bush – would starve my soul.
Thank you Margareta, for sharing your story with us. Margareta’s new novel, Hope’s Road will be released in March 2013.