About jenniferscoullar

Author of Australian Rural and Environmental Fiction

Meet, well … me!

I’ve been on a mission to showcase the marvellous home-grown Australian and New Zealand fiction available to readers worldwide. My series on local authors will continue next month, however today I’m taking time out to announce my own new release – THE MEMORY TREE, out now!

THE MEMORY TREE  is the third book in my Tasmanian Tales series. To celebrate its release, the eBook of the first in the series, FORTUNE’S SON, is FREE for a limited time! Due to copyright reasons, the free edition of Fortune’s Son is unavailable in the local marketplace. But don’t worry, Australian and New Zealand readers may still get it for FREE by clicking on this link – Fortune’s Son for free!  

When I publish titles with Penguin Random House, book launches are grand affairs, followed by celebratory dinners. I do love meeting readers, but as an introvert I find talking in public stressful. I’m happiest at home in the mountains. Pilyara Press understands this, so my launch of THE MEMORY TREE today is wholly online.


Here is a short Q&A with Jennie Jones, a terrific Aussie author who I hope to feature in the future. I have also included an excerpt from THE MEMORY TREE. Thanks for visiting and I hope you buy my book 🙂 !

  1. How long did it take you to write the book?

The Memory Tree took a year to write, but had been brewing for much longer than that. Although it’s  a standalone novel, it’s also the third book in my Tasmanian Tales series, and the story had been swirling around my mind since 2016. These books are inspired by my fascination with Tasmanian flora and fauna ‒ in particular the Tasmanian devil and its extinct cousin, the thylacine.

  1. What was the most difficult or complex aspect of writing your book?

Researching the fascinating but complicated science underpinning the fight to save Tasmanian devils from Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) This cruel cancer is threatening devils with extinction, and the race is on to find a cure.

 

 

  1. What gave you the most pleasure when writing your book?

I loved my research trips to the magnificent Tasmanian wilderness. I also enjoyed crafting the relationship between Matt and Penny, my two main characters. I quite liked torturing them 😊

 

  1. Are you nervous when a new release comes out?

Always! I never know whether people will like a new book. Waiting for the first reviews to roll in is nerve-racking, as is the thought of disappointing my readers.

  1. What’s the best thing a reader could do if they enjoyed your book?

If readers enjoy my book I’d love them to tell somebody. Word of mouth is the best way for other readers to find out about new books. Also, leave a review somewhere online. Amazon, Booktopia, Goodreads, Facebook, iTunes ‒ it really doesn’t matter where. Authors only have a few months to make a splash before the next shiny thing comes along, and reviews are so important. Ask your library to get it in, as well. If the subject matter of The Memory Tree moves you, please consider making a donation to the Devils In Danger Foundation. You can even adopt a Tasmanian devil there!

Excerpt from The Memory Tree

Chapter 2 

Penny watched the black Audi sweep into the car park. That had to be her. Its driver, slim, dark-haired and stylish, walked over and introduced herself with a broad American accent. ‘Dr Sarah Deville, UCLA.’ She smiled and shook Penny’s hand a little too hard. ‘I’ve never seen a live devil. Really looking forward to this.’

Penny began the seminar, standing beneath a banner strung above the whiteboard ‒ Slow Down Between Dusk and Dawn. It was more than a little overwhelming to have the renowned geneticist in the audience. If she pretended Dr Deville wasn’t there it might help. She cast her eye over the crowd. About thirty. A good number. Dr Deville sat at the back. Penny tried to concentrate.

‘Welcome to Binburra Wildlife Park, thirty thousand hectares of World Heritage wilderness high on the rim of Tuggerah Valley. The property originally belonged to a founding member of Tasmania’s environmental movement, Daniel Campbell. His family later bequeathed it to the state, to be gazetted as a national park.’ Penny wet her lips. ‘Binburra pioneered the captive management and breeding of Tasmanian devils. They’re a lonely species ‒ their close relatives already gone ‒ and for the past two decades we’ve been fighting to save the devils themselves from extinction, because a bizarre and mysterious disease is set to wipe them out.’

Penny winced. How stupid she sounded, going through her little spiel when the world expert on the devil genome sat right there in front of her. She tried not to look at Dr Deville and ended up staring slightly to the side, as if there was some sort of fascinating patch on the wall. Two women in the front row were looking sideways now too. For goodness sake, get a grip.

‘A virulent contagious cancer known as Devil Facial Tumour Disease ‒ DFTD for short ‒ causes suppurating tumours in the animals. Those affected die agonising deaths within months, starving as disfiguring growths eat away their jaws and choke their throats.’ Penny cleared her own throat. ‘Binburra provides healthy animals to mainland and overseas zoos. These Project Ark founders are breeding safe from the threat of disease, but our wild devils could soon face extinction.’ She was talking too fast, rushing it. She took a deep, steadying breath. ‘And if we let that happen, nobody will understand, and nobody will forgive us.’

Penny reached into the box at her feet. She pulled out a squat black creature the size of a small bulldog, with round furry ears – cute like a teddy bear. It sniffed the air. She set the animal on the desk in front of her and it shuffled around to face the audience. With a collective gasp, people shrank back. The devil looked as if a hunk of raw, rotting meat had been slapped along the entire side of its head. Its jaw was disfigured by ulcerating growths that forced its lips apart and protruded through its mouth. A fleshy, bleeding tumour mushroomed from one eye.

‘Meet Angel,’ said Penny. ‘A motorist killed her mother three years ago and thankfully stopped to check for pouch young. She found two dead babies and Angel here, barely clinging to life. I nursed her round the clock, took her with me everywhere.’ Penny paused to fondle Angel’s misshapen head. ‘Angel stayed with me  at the sanctuary until she was eighteen months old. I never met a sweeter, cleverer little devil. In winter she dragged logs to the fireplace, hinting for us to light it. She loved curling up by that fire. And she mothered the younger orphans, carrying them in her mouth if she thought they were in danger, putting them back in their baskets. She really is special. Last year I released her into what we hoped was a safe area of the park. We trapped her in the course of our regular monitoring program two weeks ago … like this.’

A question came from the crowd. ‘How did you know it was her?’

‘All our animals are microchipped. But I’d know her anywhere, and she recognised me too, knew I was trying to help.’ Penny kissed Angel’s forehead and stretched out her hind legs, exposing an emaciated abdomen. More gasps from the audience. Three joeys clung to Angel’s belly. ‘Afflicted she-devils are extraordinarily devoted, never abandoning their young. Instead a mother steadfastly feeds and protects her joeys until the very last moments of her life. We’re just waiting for Angel’s babies to be a few weeks older, closer to weaning. Then we’ll euthanise her.’ Penny tucked Angel’s legs back in as comfortably as she could. ‘You won’t suffer anymore then, sweetheart.’ The devil laid her poor, mutilated head in the crook of Penny’s arm.

After the seminar, Penny sold a few souvenirs as people left. Sarah Deville stood by, watching a volunteer carry Angel out in a crate. ‘Can you show me a healthy one?’

‘Of course. Just let me lock up.’

****

Penny entered the shady enclosure where Bonny and her babies snored in a hollow log. She beckoned for Sarah to follow.

Sarah hesitated. ‘Won’t they bite?’

‘Our devils are used to handling,’ said Penny. ‘And Bonny here, in particular, is a complete pushover.’ As promised, sleepy Bonny let Penny pull her from the log to show off her four babies.

‘Is it true they eat anything?’ asked Sarah.

‘Pretty much,’ said Penny. ‘We’ve found all sorts of things in their scat. Boot leather, bottle tops, cigarette butts. Even echidna quills. Their stomach acids have a bone-dissolving enzyme.’ Sarah squealed as one little devil ran up Penny’s arm and sat on her shoulder. Penny tickled the baby’s tummy. ‘These joeys really should be independent by now, but little Zoe here is a persistent late suckler, so they’ll stay with mum a bit longer.’ Penny placed Zoe in Sarah’s arms. ‘Some people call baby devils imps,’ she said. ‘For very good reason.’

Meet Elisabeth Rose

Elisabeth has been an avid reader all her life. She dabbled in writing as a teenager, but gave it away to study music which has also been a lifelong passion. It is why musicians are often, but not always, her main characters. She plays clarinet in a community orchestra and loves getting back into regular practice and music making. Tai Chi is a part of Elisabeth’s life and has been since 1987. She and her husband travel a lot and she also plays tennis on a regular basis.


Thanks for the invitation, Jennifer. I enjoyed going down memory lane for this post.

I grew up in the 1950’s on a small farm near Canberra. Dad started out with poultry, but switched to apples when I was about ten or eleven. It was an idyllic childhood, looking back. My brother and I, when not at the small primary school down the road, did pretty much what we pleased. We played tennis, rode our ponies or bikes, played in the creek and generally mucked about with the other kids in the small community of five and ten acre rural blocks. Nobody’s parents seemed worried where we were or what we got up to.

We lived next door to Monty, a race horse trainer, and I spent many happy hours hanging around the stables and probably annoying him.  He taught me to ride and loaned me a pony called Midge, short for Midget, who I rode bareback everywhere. Later, as a teenager, I had a chestnut mare called Del, the result of a swap Dad did with Monty for a jersey cow. I’d ride her after school, and on weekends head off with a friend to explore the area or attend a pony club meet which involved our horses being floated across town. All those quiet dirt country roads we travelled on horseback, singing Beatle’s songs, laughing and gossiping about boys, are now long gone — tarred and filled with fast moving traffic.

My latest release, Where There Is Smoke, draws on my experience with horses but I did have to hone my knowledge through chats with a horse owning friend and a very obliging breeder of Arabians. The story revolves around a thoroughbred mare called Calypso Sun and a look-alike called Arch Rival. Which one is the beautiful animal in the above picture, I wonder?

is the second in my Taylor’s Bend romantic suspense series. I chose the beautiful area around Batlow and Tumbarumba as the setting for the town because a cousin owned an orchard there. My fictitious stud farm, The Grange, is a twenty minute drive away—far enough to be isolated but close enough to be the subject of gossip about the wealthy owners. And far enough for my heroine Krista’s hair raising drive to safety when a bushfire threatens.

I’m fortunate in that I’ve never been in the path of a raging fire although Canberra lost 503 homes, and four people died in the terrifying fires of January 2003. I’ll never forget the weird light, the smell, the smoke and the wind bringing charred leaves and twigs from kilometres away before the fire hit the suburbs on the far side of town from us. My suburb backs on to natural bushland and every summer we know the possibility is there.

My heroine Krista, although frightened and knowing she has to drive four horses to safety can’t leave without her little dog Lola, who has disappeared. Lola, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel, has quite a role to play in the book.

I haven’t owned a horse for many years, but riding is a great way to enjoy the Australian countryside and the ways less travelled. Now, when we’re travelling overseas, my husband and I sometimes go horse riding and explore different landscapes.  Here I am riding Carlos  on Maui, which, on the south western coast inland behind Kaanapali is surprisingly scrubby, rocky and dry and very like parts of Australia. Carlos resembles Calypso Sun. He liked going backwards, however, and needed stern words to make him behave, whereas she would never do that.

Where There Is Smoke is available HERE

Come visit me on my website. www.elisabethrose.com.au


Discover more about Australasian rural authors at our Australian & NZ Rural Fiction website!

Meet S M (Sandy) Spencer

S M (Sandy) Spencer writes romance, with just a touch of spice, set mainly in the Australian state of Victoria. She grew up reading the romantic suspense works of incredible authors such as Daphne du Maurier and Mary Stewart. Their books stirred in her a passion that would last a lifetime — a passion to write stories that would stay with readers long after they’d finished the books.


I grew up in a small Californian coastal town, dreaming about riding horses and becoming a writer. After a long career in the corporate world, one that landed me in Australia in the 1980s, I found myself in a position to realise that dream!

Now retired, I write from the semi-rural home I share with my husband, horses, cats and dogs, as well as the kangaroos that pass through the paddocks on nearly a daily basis. But it isn’t just kangaroos that visit our semi-rural property. We see echidnas,  blue-tongue lizards, rabbits, ducks, and every sort of parrot you can imagine. Recently we had a pair of Gang-Gang Cockatoos that I had to go onto the internet to identify. But the biggest surprise was the day a koala arrived in the front paddock and stayed the night! He was no doubt lost, perhaps pushed down to escape the bushfires in the nearby State Park, and by morning he was gone.

 

Just like my lovely hostess, Jennifer, I’m not only an animal lover, but also a keen horse-rider. I bought my first horse shortly after getting my first job at the age of sixteen, and haven’t looked back. I’ve traded California’s beaches and rolling coastal hills for country lanes and backroads, and I’ve become pretty much a fair weather rider, but my beautiful Arabian mare continues to allow me to ride her even though I’m sure she wonders why it’s always her that gets ridden (and not her two paddock partners, a retired buckskin and a rescue horse with permanent leg damage).

So, does all this make its way into my books? Short answer; sometimes. My Copperhead Creek Australian Romance series is set in a made up town called Willows, situated in Victoria’s Golden Triangle area.  Most of the books in the series feature heroines who do what I always wanted to do—move to the country to have horses, and end up finding true love.

Each book in the series can be read as a stand-alone with respect to the romance, as each has its own couple who find their happy for now ending. However, if you read them in order you’ll see characters from earlier books making appearances throughout, as the lives of the characters in the small town overlap and tangle.


 

A Chance To Come True

Caity Jones wasted a lot of years waiting for the “two kids, a dog and a white picket fence” dream to come true, but she’s ready to move on now. Letting go of society’s idea of the perfect life, she’s purchased a five-acre property in the small rural town of Willows. She’s determined to live a solitary life and become a writer. And that means staying away from men altogether.

Tom Murray owns and runs the local feed store in Willows. His marriage was a failure but his family is strong, and he can’t imagine a world that didn’t include his three young children. He’s an uncomplicated man, living an uncomplicated life—and he has every intention of keeping it that way.
Both are mature … both have baggage … and both have agendas that don’t include romance.
And then they meet.

 

Discover more about Australasian rural authors at our Australian & NZ Rural Fiction website!

Meet Penelope Janu

Penelope Janu writes about clever and adventurous women who don’t mean to fall in love, but do. After a long career in law, Penelope now enjoys more creative forms of writing. In the past few years, she has completed four novels. All are set on the coast or in the country, and celebrate Australian communities. Her 2018 novel, On the Right Track, won the Romantic Book of the Year award (contemporary). You can find out more about Penelope at her website.

 


I grew up in the northern beaches peninsular district of Sydney. It was well after horse and cart days—but was a time when, if there was a vacant block of land down the road, it was perfectly acceptable to keep your horse there. I sometimes rode my pony to school, tethered him next to the oval and rode him home again. When I was fourteen, my family moved to Victoria and we lived in a semi-rural district with a goat, a cat, two dogs and a number of horses. My teenage friend Rina (and our horses), were inseparable for many years and we showed and competed together. Rina still competes in dressage, and has had a great deal of success with thoroughbred ex-racehorses. I always look forward to visiting her property and spending time in her stables!

The natural environment has played an important part in all of my novels. It was when I was working as a legal academic and teaching in a course, ‘The International Legal Regulation of Climate Change,’ that an idea formed for In at the Deep End. Antarctica had always been of interest, and I wanted to portray how important this unique and pristine environment is, and how rising water temperatures threaten not only Antarctica, but the rest of the world. My challenge as a writer was tackling these concepts in an accessible way. What would happen if a climate scientist and an environmentalist, with a similar agenda but very different ways of seeing things, fell in love? In at the Deep End not only explored climate change and relationships, but also charted the challenges faced by the 1900s explorers Robert Falcon Scott and Roald Amundsen’s ‘race to the South Pole.’ Amundsen was successful, but Scott and his team died in their attempt. Scott’s diaries provide a fascinating account of his journey.

In On the Right Track, the lead character is named Golden by her grandfather—an amateur botanist—after acacia pycnantha (golden wattle). I researched and learned a great deal about native flora while writing this novel, and exchanged many emails with a CSIRO scientist who was a specialist in eucalypt propagation. I’d written a ghost gum into my story, set in a rural district in the South West of NSW, and while I knew ghost gums were uncommon in my home state, I didn’t realise exactly how uncommon! The planting of a ghost gum, and its early care, has to be carefully considered for it to have any real chance of survival, but, once my scientist worked out that I had my heart set on this species of gum, he did all that he could to tell me what I had to do to                                                          ensure the fictional version survived!

Mistletoe

A plant I learnt a lot about while researching my Christmas novella, The Six Rules of Christmas (part of the HarperCollins Our Country Christmas anthology), is mistletoe. Unlike England, which has only one variety of this mistletoe, Australia has many varieties, many of which mimic the look of the host tree through leaf size and shape (spot the mistletoe in the eucalypt in the photo!). As a parasitic plant, mistletoe is often thought to be harmful to the host plant, but it rarely harms a healthy tree, attracts bird life and can be an important source of nutrients.

 

My November release, Up on Horseshoe Hill, is set in the Central West of NSW, and tells the story of a farrier, and a geneticist vet who specialises in wild animal conservation. I learnt a great deal about the hoof treatment of wild animals while researching this novel. Many animals kept in zoos as part of conservation programs have to be anaesthetised when they require treatment, but keepers and handlers increasingly use cooperative reinforcement (not involving force or compulsion, but incentives in the form of reward) in order to avoid anaesthetic. In this way, for example, a giraffe or elephant will place their feet into positions that allow farriers and vets to work on them safely. I can’t wait for the release of this book, which is available for pre-order now at a discounted price on Amazon, ITunes, Kobo, Booktopia and all good bookstores.

My next title will focus on the Macquarie Marshes, a wetlands region in the north of NSW. I’m doing a lot of reading on the environmental importance of wetlands, and planning a road trip (my favourite part of research), in the next couple of months!


Discover more about Australasian rural authors at our Australian & NZ Rural Fiction website!

Meet Pamela Cook

Pamela Cook writes page-turning women’s fiction set in escape-worthy places. Her novels feature tangled family relationships, the ups and downs of friendship and explore life issues like grief, belonging and love. Her novels include Blackwattle Lake (2012) Essie’s Way (2013), Close To Home (2015) and The Crossroads (2016). Her September 2019 release is Cross My Heart. Pamela is the co-host of the exciting new podcasts Writes4Women and Writes4Festivals, and Assistant Program Director for the Storyfest Literary Festival which takes place in Milton, on the south coast of NSW, Australia in June each year. Pamela is proud to be a Writer Ambassador for Room To Read, a not-for-profit organisation that promotes literacy and gender equality in developing countries. When she’s not writing, podcasting or festival planning she wastes as much time as possible riding her handsome quarter horses, Morocco and Rio.


More Than Research: Re-connecting Through Equine Assisted Learning.

Like my lovely host Jennifer Scoullar, I’m an animal-lover and horse rider. I only came to riding as an adult – apart from a few trail rides when I was in my teens – but have always had a sense of the power and sensitivity of horses.

Back when I was researching the Black Saturday bush fires for my first novel, Blackwattle Lake, I came across an article about horses being used as a unique form of therapy. Overcoming trauma by spending time with horses in a supervised, supportive environment was helping some of the victims of the fires come to terms with their experiences.

Intrigued, I kept that article from The Good Weekend and always knew I’d write about it someday. So when it came to finding a form of therapy to help a traumatised child in my latest story, the idea appeared instantly. I read quite a few pieces on the various forms of therapy, watched some you-tube videos and checked out websites but it was spending a day actually working with horses at Horsanity that really helped me to understand how life-changing working with horses can be.

I’d gone to the centre purely to research the process for my book but in a very short time found myself immersed in the sessions in a much more personal way.  The small group session included a combination of talking to the practitioners, spending time purely in the presence of the horses – in this case, a small herd of magnificent Friesians – and then grooming and doing groundwork with a particular horse. This was followed by deep reflection on the process and the emotions it triggered. A huge part of the process – this form being equine-assisted learning rather than actual therapy – was to slow down, listen to both the horse and your own reaction and to take the time to truly connect in the moment. Dealing with my own grief after losing my closest friend wasn’t something I anticipated but those feelings decided they wanted out and while this sort of loss isn’t something you ever really recover from, working with the horses was a hugely cathartic, helpful experience

I came away with invaluable information for my book but also feeling refreshed, grounded and more at peace. I’m hoping that the information I’ve included in my plot for Cross My Heart will intrigue readers, even those who are (weirdly!) not horse lovers.

While Equine Therapy and Equine Assisted Learning remain quite left field, they are being used more and more to help both children and adults overcome trauma, including returned soldiers and victims of domestic violence. Tapping into the primal wisdom of these beautiful creatures for my novel was such a joy and it’s an experience I hope to repeat some time in the future.


                     CROSS MY HEART
When a promise kept means a life is broken …
Tessa De Santis’s child-free marriage in inner-city Sydney is ordered and comfortable, and she likes it that way.
Leaving her husband and successful career behind, Tess travels to an isolated property where the realities of her friend’s life – and death – hit hard. The idyllic landscape and an unexpected form of therapy ease her fears, and her relationship with Grace begins to blossom.
          Cross My Heart is a haunting story of guilt, redemption and friendship set in the beautiful central west of New South Wales.
            * Universal Buy Link – click here


Discover more about Australasian rural authors at our Australian & NZ Rural Fiction website!

Meet Susanne Bellamy

Today we welcome Susanne Bellamy to the blog. Born and raised in Toowoomba, Susanne is an Aussie author of rural romance set in Australia. She also writes contemporary and suspense romances set in exciting and often exotic locations. She adores travel with her husband, both at home and overseas, and weaves stories around the settings and people she encounters. Mentoring aspiring writers, and working as a freelance editor keeps Susanne off the street!


Our country has stunning landscapes, which often become characters in their own right. Sometimes, so too do animals, especially in rural-set fiction.

Back in the dark ages when I was a child, we had budgies and a small bitsa dog my mother named Tiger. My husband is a dog lover with a particular fondness for German Shepherds. Cats send my husband into a sneezing frenzy and are to be avoided at all costs so we have always been a ‘dog family’.

We’ve had several Shepherds, starting with Ricky (Houdini hound extraordinaire) through to our current queen of the house, Freya. Then there was Clyde, the Welsh Springer spaniel with a talent for escaping so he could go scrub-bashing through the bush at the bottom of our property. He had such flexible paws that he actually climbed the fence!

Our string of dogs is a large part of why I often grant my characters the joy of a canine companion.

After the passing of our lovely Anna (Freya’s great-aunt), I wrote a short story in which she was the star who brought the protagonists together. Anna had such a beautiful nature and giving her a story of her own was a way of dealing with the grief of losing her. Second Chance Café.

Anna also inspired scenes between Paul, the hero of Starting Over, and his elderly collie, Jack. I still cry when I read those scenes, drawn from my grief in losing Anna.

In my newly released In the Heat of the Night (Bindarra Creek A Town Reborn), my heroine’s brother, Nico, is the dog lover. Thalia’s Greek migrant family owns the Cyprus Café in the heart of town, and Zeus is lost and lonely when his master ends up in hospital.

Zeus, Nico’s German Shepherd, trotted behind her, dropped and rested his head on Thalia’s feet. He whimpered, the sound echoing Thalia’s sense of Nico’s absence.

She bent down and stroked his head. “You’re missing him too, aren’t you, boy? I’ll take you for a walk later.”

Most of my stories are set in small town Australia, rural settings where animals are part of the life of the community. From the poddy calf in Hard Road Home, and the horses of Sarah, the endurance rider in Long Way Home to pets like Zeus and Anna, animals are special characters that enrich the lives of their owners and entertain readers.

Here’s a snippet of Hughie, the poddy calf:

Geilis shooed the poddy calf back through the broken fence and looked for a simple means to keep the fallen picket upright while she walked all the way to the work shed, retrieved tools and came back—on the quad bike next time. “I really don’t have time for this, little fella, so please, just stay there while I—” She grabbed a branch and rammed it into the hard dirt before angling it towards the picket. It held . . . for all of three seconds before the inquisitive calf nosed at her work. She jumped backwards as both branch and picket fell with dull thuds. “Drat and double drat.”

“Is that worse than a single damn?” Rick’s amused voice sounded nearby.
          Slapping her hands on her hips she faced him, embarrassment warring with mild relief. If she left the calf while she walked back to the shed, he’d be goodness knew where by the time she got back to the fence. In amongst the vines most likely. “See if you can do better—or, better still, why don’t you go back and get tools to fix this while I spend some time explaining to Hughie here why he isn’t allowed this side of the fence.”
          The calf nudged her in the backside and she turned and shooed him back into his paddock. Picking up the fallen picket she tried to hold it in place as the calf mooed in complaint.
          “Hughie?” Rick tipped his head and eyed off the calf determinedly pushing against her hand.
          “Yeah, like Hugh Hefner. The grass is always greener and all that.”
          Rick turned his attention to the fallen fence, picked up the branch and threaded it through the wires. He thrust the end of the branch into the picket hole with a thud. Eyeing off the calf, he fixed it with a stern look. “No touching that, Hughie-boy, unless you want to find out what prairie oysters mean. Got it?”
          The calf mooed as though it understood and trotted away.
Hard Road Home

If you like what you’ve read, please check out my books HERE.


Discover more about Australasian rural authors at our Australian & NZ Rural Fiction website!

 

Meet Wendy Lee Davies

Today I’d like you to meet Wendy Lee Davies, a relative newcomer to our Aussie rural fiction family. She began writing romances as a lark after leaving her communications and editing job of many years. 

Wendy won the Romance Writers of Australia Emerald Award in 2017 with her small-town contemporary romance, The Drover’s Rest. The same story (renamed Good Enough For Love prior to publication), was also a finalist in the 2017 Mid-American Romance Writer’s Fiction from the Heartland competition. So, over to you Wendy …


Landscapes are strange things I reckon. They evoke such a wide range of emotions, from deep longing all the way to abject fear. I think that’s why painters and photographers endeavour to capture them in their art. And writers do too.

My Cousin’s Farm

I’ve been roaming around Australian landscapes my entire life. One of my first memories is of piling into the family car and going for long drives into the countryside. We also visited my cousins often. They lived on a wheat and sheep farm in the northern part of Victoria, so shearing sheep, harvesting wheat and cooking over a wood stove all formed a part my growing up. It’s why my story – Good Enough For Love – is set in a fictional town right in the middle of the sheep and wheat growing area of Victoria. A landscape I know well.

From the time I was a teenager, I’ve loved bushwalking. I “discovered” this activity basically because a girlfriend demanded I join her on a walk. But I soon fell in love with it, not the least because we were always outnumbered by the guys on these great adventures – like two females (my girlfriend and me) to at least six guys. I walked the mountains and along some incredible rivers and vast, deserted beaches carrying everything we needed on our backs. And bushwalking led to cross country skiing. And then I got into cycling, especially cycle touring. (I’m about to boast, so forgive me.) I’ve ridden my bicycle from Brisbane to Sydney, from Sydney to Melbourne and from Launceston to Hobart. It is a wonderful way of immersing yourself in the landscape you are riding through. The hills, the scents, and the environment are up close and personal, I can tell you.

I love our landscapes. I adore vast mountain ranges disappearing off into the clouds. The vast forests of gum trees, where the light and shade play peek-a-boo while the scent of eucalypt permeates the air. And the rolling hills around Gippsland. Then there’s the red sand and huge vast vistas of the outback. I’ve done my best to capture it all in photographs, but it’s never as good as being there.

Being out in the ’great outdoors’ feeds my soul. Always has. Probably always will.

Iceland

Just a few weeks ago I was sitting by a bubbling river, in the middle of nowhere on the other side of the world (Iceland). I was sitting in the sun, completely alone, with snow-capped mountains in the background and no trees in sight, just enjoying the peace and solitude. (see picture left)

Then I got to thinking about all the emotions I’d experienced while travelling around this far-off land. Exhausted. Worried. Laughter. Annoyed and disgusted at my inability to do what I used to find so easy – walk up steep hills without huffing and puffing – in my younger years. Awestruck and gobsmacked by the sheer beauty before me. The sheer joy of being there capturing all this fascinating and wonderful scenery. And here I was, sitting there feeling so at ease, so at peace, that I never wanted to leave.

All that emotion… It’s not the first time I’ve felt those things. But this time I finally understood.

Landscapes are why I write small-town, country romances. The environment, the scenery, the whole landscape becomes a character, a presence that goes mostly unnoticed, but significant. It isn’t the landscape itself that makes my heroes and heroines react, but it reflects their deepest fears and their greatest joys. If done well, our Australian landscape can make any character feel insignificant, immaterial … or able to step up and overcome their own issues.

You see what I mean? Landscapes are strange. But where would we be without them?


Good Enough For Love
Moving to the country challenges everything she
knows…

When Amber Hutchinson inherits a country hotel, she plans to do it up, sell it, and move on. After all, living in the country never featured in her plans. That is until she comes across a handsome local sheep farmer.

He always tries to do the right thing…
When Zach Wentworth comes cross a gorgeous, blond-haired woman stuck in his hometown’s hotel window, trying to break in, naturally he tries to find out what’s going on.

Without the hotel, Willow’s Bend is likely to die a slow death. So, Zach does whatever he can to secure his town’s future. But doing the right thing means risking his heart. Again. Amber’s determined to make the hotel into a thriving business once more. On her own. She has little time for her growing attraction to Zach. Something she’s desperately trying to ignore because she knows it won’t last.

While the town gossips eagerly discuss every interaction between them, Amber and Zach must choose between protecting their hearts and taking a chance on love.

Get in touch with Wendy via her website, Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, Instagram and Bookbub.


Discover more about Australasian rural authors at our Australian & NZ Rural Fiction website!

Meet Fiona McArthur

This week, international best-selling Aussie author Fiona McArthur joins me on the blog. In her non-writing life she has worked as a midwife – hence the medical themes that recur in her books. The power and strength in women of all ages is a constant theme in Fiona’s books. To find out more, read on!


Hello Jennifer and readers.

Thanks for this fab series of blogs. There’s so much joy to be had with all the different books from Australian authors. One of the standouts for me is imagining the vast variety of vibrant landscapes described in our rural and outback books and the way each author portrays their connection to the land they write about. I think the scenery is so important that I like to think of that landscape as another character in my books.

The other really exciting part is sharing the strengths, the challenges and the joys of the characters who live in the more remote areas of Australia. I love writing about small rural townspeople, adventures in great outback landscapes, inhabitants of remote islands, and the station owners on far reaches of our great country.

I’ve had the most wonderful time with my outback books and of course there is always a birth, a baby or a medical emergency to be had. Think Call The Midwife meets Country Practice. As a retired midwife I can’t help myself.

So babies or medical emergencies in outback Queensland, Western Queensland, remote New South Wales like Broken Hill, and all that land that stretches away down to Victoria across to Northern Territory and up towards Queensland.

At the moment, I’m writing about the far north, and loving it, but my first book for Penguin was set in a town very similar to Windora in Western Queensland. I called the town and the book Red Sand Sunrise and I can still see in my mind’s eye that huge red sand hill outside the town. I just love that feeling of solitude sitting on top of that rolling sea of beautiful big crystals of bright orange sand at sunrise. I really wanted to share that and other beautiful aspects of Australia in each new setting with my readers.

When I wrote The Homestead Girls and Heart Of The Sky they were set around Broken Hill, in New South Wales. We stayed at a station twenty miles out of town called Mount Gipps Station, which used to be a million acres, and was the original station where the ‘line of load’ that body or ore that was discovered at Broken Hill. Mount Gipps Station holds the most incredible variety of rocks, crystals and stones in rows like skeletal ridges and the paddocks roll away with small scrubby bushes and hidden hollows. There are sandy curves of the creek beds with huge white-trunked gums in the middle and gully’s that close in as you drive down them. It’s an arid but magical place.

The station couple I met there were the epitome of down-to-earth, brave, hard-working, laid-back heroes and were just all-out inspirational with their ability to take the tough times with the good times and turn their hands to anything that needed to be done.

I have this memory of Kym driving off with her dogs on this quad bike up to the sheep yards. She makes me smile just thinking about her. You might have seen her mailbox that I posted to my Homestead Girls Facebook page. I love it so much I actually added it to two books.

Which brings me to my new release, The Desert Midwife. The Mount Gipps mailbox is in there too. Such fun.

The Desert Midwife is set in central Australia. Uluru has a starring role and there’s a hospital in Alice Springs and a medical centre near Uluru to have emergencies in. My heroine, Ava, is part of a long-standing station family whittled down to three generations of women. Ava’s younger brother, Jock, is being destroyed by the drought and his feelings of failure to secure the futures of all the women he loves.

Our hero, fly in fly out Dr Zach, is a widower, who has come to Alice Springs to briefly escape the memories of the prolonged and tragic death of his wife in Sydney and his own guilt as the driver of the car she was so badly injured in.

Zac meets Ava, with instant attraction on both sides. But how can there be any future when he’s definitely a city guy and she is the Desert Midwife? Pop in another nasty car accident, and Zac’s amnesia really puts a hold on their relationship.

The Desert Midwife is about families pulling together in tough times, about the beauty and magic of Uluru which I hope inspires readers who haven’t seen its majesty to venture the distance out there, and about having faith and trust that things will work out if we have the belief. I hope you will pick up the book, lose yourself in the desert, and smile at the end when you put it down. With warmest wishes for happy reading
Xx Fi


Discover more about Australasian rural authors at our Australian & NZ Rural Fiction website!

Meet Juanita Kees

Today I’d like you to meet well-known Aussie author Juanita Kees. She creates emotionally engaging worlds steeped in romance, suspense, mystery and intrigue, set in dusty, rural outback Australia and also on the NASCAR racetracks of America.

Her small town and Australian rural romances have made the Amazon bestseller and top 100 lists. Juanita writes mostly contemporary and Australian rural romantic suspense but also likes to dabble in the ponds of fantasy and paranormal with Greek gods brought to life in the 21st century. When she’s not writing, Juanita is mother to three grown boys and has a passion for fast cars and country living. Now it’s over to Juanita!


Finding love and hope in small towns with dark secrets …

Thank you for hosting me on your blog, Jennifer.

Born and raised in Africa, I always thought the Serengeti was the coolest place in the world, and that wildlife didn’t exist outside of elephants, rhino, lions and giraffe. But from the early age of six, I developed a love affair with Australia, kangaroos, kookaburras and koalas, most likely thanks to Skippy the Bush Kangaroo. In the late nineties, my dreams were realised when we emigrated to Western Australia and here, I discovered a whole new world. I remember leaving Perth airport and there were kangaroos in the fields on the way out. Sadly, they’re all gone now as the airport has grown and expanded.

Valley of the Giants

Western Australia has some of the wildest, prettiest coastline. Inland is filled with treasures too, like Karajini National Park to the north-west with its breathtaking gorges, land of the Banyjima, Kurrama and Innawonga people. Down to the south-east, Albany boasts blow-holes that shoot fountains of water up through the rocks, driven by the sheer force of nature and the sea. And in Walpole, you can walk through the treetops in the Valley of the Giants amid the amazing Karri trees. What I love most about the walk is the smell of the earth, the trees and the incredible peaceful silence when you’re deep in the forest.

Closer to home is my favourite place, hidden deep in the Perth hills, Araluen Botanical Park. This is where I set my very first series, Under the Law. Given the park’s history, it seemed like the perfect location for a group of troubled youths, and the woman set on helping them, to turn their lives around.

Kookaburra

In 1929, Australian businessman, politician and founder of the Young Australia League, J.J. Simons, built a holiday camp for his youth organisation on 59 hectares in a misty valley in Roleystone. The name he gave it was Araluen, an Eastern States Aboriginal word meaning “singing waters,” “running waters” or “place of lilies.” The buildings and structures throughout Araluen were built using local stone and timber, all constructed by league members and volunteers. An attractive centrepiece in the park is The Grove of the Unforgotten built in memory of eighty-eight Young Australia League members killed in World War I. Constructed in a series of terraces, water cascades into the pool of reflection. Every year, on Remembrance Day, the park is full of red poppies.

In the early 2000’s, a change in employment found me travelling inland to the (then) small gold mining town of Boddington, snuggled in the wheatbelt. My weekly drive was filled with rolling landscapes, canola fields, vineyards, cattle and sheep farms, and a long road into a world you’d never guess existed buried deep behind nature. In contrast, the mine was a huge, arid red scar on the landscape. I was very happy to learn that the land is steadily being rehabilitated in keeping with land-owner agreements. That got me thinking about the dwindling farms that gave way to those seeking more secure employment with the mine and wondering how farmers and miners got along. And so, the Wongan Creek series was born.

Alaska & my handsome son

In all my Australian Rural stories, I try to write in a special animal or two. Home to Bindarra Creek stars Muttley, the orphaned kangaroo, and a cheeky cockatoo named Curly. In Whispers at Wongan Creek, Travis owns a very sexy horse named Fantasia, old man Harry’s sheep love to wander and his trusty dog, Robbie, never leaves his side. Robbie becomes a life-saving hero in both Whispers and Shadows over Wongan Creek. In Secrets at Wongan Creek, hero Harley has a Catahoula Leopard Dog named Loki whose character was inspired by my crazy grandfurbaby, Alaska. And last but not least, is Lucky, Fen’s three-legged bearded dragon who also becomes a hero in Shadows Over Wongan Creek.

I love this wonderful, inspiring, vibrant land. There are stories to tell everywhere.

Secrets abound in the small Western Australian farming community of Wongan Creek. Old secrets resurface and new ones come to town, drawing the community together as gold fever threatens to tear their town apart.

Rural romance at its dusty best ~ Bree (Goodreads)

Shadows over Wongan Creek (Book 3 – Wongan Creek Stories)

When the shadows ride in Wongan Creek…Fenella Rose-Waterman is happy running The Cranky Lizard winery until a broken relationship lifts the lid on the Pandora’s Box of her past. After years of repressed memories haunting her dreams, she is forced to face the truth to find justice. But with truth comes a danger that puts everyone she loves at risk.

Kieran Murphy left Wongan Creek a newly-wed and returned a widower. He believes he and his young son will find healing in the town that healed him once before. Instead, he finds the woman he loved running scared, her life in turmoil and her business under threat.

As the shadows of the past gather on the horizon, will they lose their chance of happiness or will they find healing together?

Kobo ~ Amazon AU ~ Amazon UK ~ Amazon US ~ iTunes ~ Google Books ~ Harper Collins ~ Romance.com.au
Juanita loves to hear from fans and enjoys sharing her writing journey: Join her at her website, on Twitter, on Facebook or follow her on BookBub


Discover more about Australasian rural authors at our Australian & NZ Rural Fiction website!

Meet Leisl Leighton

Today I’d like to introduce you to Aussie author Leisl Leighton, a fellow horse lover! Leisl is a tall red head with an overly large imagination.

A voracious reader and born performer, she has had a career as an actor, singer and dancer, as well as script writer, stage manager and musical director for cabaret and theatre restaurants. She writes rural romatic suspense and paranormal romance. President of Romance Writers of Australia from 2014-2017.


ROMANTIC SUSPENSE, VICTORIAN ALPS & HORSE RIDING

All my published novels so far have rural settings, mostly in mountainous or farmland regions, and the only explanation I can give is that I feel so at home where there are hills and mountains and, if I’m very lucky, snow.

When I was younger, my family holidays were mostly to the snow or going down to Merricks, near Red Hill, or up to Marysville, but some of my most memorable holidays have been ones where there have been trips into mountainous regions, and even better, if there is horse riding involved.

When I was nine, I started having horse riding lessons. I was by no means a natural, but I loved horses and I desperately wanted to be able to ride proficiently, with the hope I might have a horse one day. That particular dream never eventuated, but the horse-riding lessons led into some of my most memorable holidays.

It started when a family friend who also loved horses, the bush and horse riding, took me on a 5-day horse riding trek from Omeo through the Victorian Alpine region when I was thirteen. We rode along the high plains and down into the valleys, across rivers and back up again, staying in stockman’s huts and old woolsheds. I skinned rabbits, avoided snakes, survived sleeping in a shed with spiders as big as my face, and it was amazing and exhilarating and tiring and so much fun I still remember it vividly to this day. My sister was always a little jealous she didn’t get to come with me and our family friend, so mum and dad decided to enrol us in a horse riding camp down near Anglesea where we got to ride through the state forest and learn to look after the horses. We rode through heat and torrential rain, cold so profound that it snowed and we loved every moment. We did this every year through high school, and it had such a profound effect on me, that my husband thought it the perfect place to propose to me. He sneakily organised a special ride with just us and a stop in a lovely scenic place so he could pop the question. So romantic!

But I digress. Years after we finished high school and stopped going to the camps, my sister and I wanted to experience horse riding through the bush again. She particularly wanted to do a ride through the Victorian Alps and the family friend who had taken me all those years ago was keen to come with us too.

We found a place near Merrijig up near Mt Buller that took people on different length horse treks. Riding up Mt Stirling to Craig’s Hut and then down into the Howqua Valley and around Mt Buller. Staying in some of the famous old sheep yard flats and camping every night. It was a four day trek and we had the time of our lives. Out of touch with civilization – no phone signal for most of the time, which was really very relaxing. Riding hard all day through gorgeous mountain country. Setting up a tent every night with every muscle aching. Falling asleep in the cold autumn nights to wake to the kind of fresh you don’t get anywhere else. We are keen to go again.

Walhalla

It was on this trek that I started having an idea about a suspense novel set in an alpine region on a horse-riding stud. The idea bloomed and grew and before I knew it, I was writing a coming home novel with growing suspense and a hot and feisty romance. That book turned into Climbing Fear. It’s set near the small ex-goldmining town of Walhalla at the southern end of the Victorian Alps – a charming place I visited years ago when tour managing a theatre restaurant show around the La Trobe Valley.  I poured all my love of the alpine region and the knowledge gained from my horse riding treks into the story. I hope the reader gets an amazing sense of the beauty of the Victorian Alps and the joy I feel when I leave civilisation behind on the back of a horse, seeing our gorgeous bush in a way that our early settlers did (although obviously not as hard as they had it!) I also hope they find Nat and Reid’s journeys home to discover themselves and each other, as fascinating and visceral as the setting.

Climbing Fear

A Coalcliff Stud novel—His beloved home is under threat, and with it the beautiful, haunted woman he’s never been able to forget …

X-Treme TV sports star Reid Stratton has everything—until his best friend falls to his death on a climb while shooting their show. In the fierce media fallout, Reid begins to question everything about himself. Crippled by a new fear of climbing, Reid returns to CoalCliff Stud, his family’s horse farm, to recover.

Single mother Natalia Robinson is determined to start afresh, away from the shadow of her past. A job at CoalCliff Stud where she lived as a child is the perfect opportunity to live the quiet life she always wanted. But she is unprepared to see Reid, and is even more unprepared for the passion that still burns between them.

But after a series of menacing events threaten the new home she is trying to build, Nat realises that Reid is the only person she can rely on to keep her and her daughter safe. Together, Reid and Nat must face the pasts that haunt them if they are to survive the present and forge a future of hope.

Climbing Fear is available at iTunes, AmazonKobo and Google Play

Dangerous Echoes: Book 1 of the Echo Springs Series
iBooks, Google Play, Kobo, Amazon

Or you can buy the four book series, Echo Springs in paperback at Big W, Kmart and online at Angus&Robertson, Booktopia, The Nile, Boomerang Books, Dymocks

If you’d like to know more about Leisl, her books, or connect with her online, you can visit her webpage, follow her on twitter @LeislLeighton or like her Facebook page.


 

Discover more about Australasian rural authors at our Australian & NZ Rural Fiction website!