1. Are you inspired most by places, people or experiences and how do these work their way into your writing?
I believe I’m mostly inspired by people and their stories, for example, on a recent trip to the US I picked up stories from three different people which I now intend to weave into one person for a future novel.
2. Please share one of your favourite moments of inspiration with us.
When my husband and I were visiting my mother-in-law in Oregon one year we had coffee with an old school friend of his in a lovely old house at Seal Rock. When we were driving away I knew I had to use it in a book. The idea for The Sand Dollar – to be published later this year – had been floating around for some time and I just knew this house would be in it. I drew a quick diagram while still in the car and, by the time we arrived back in Australia it had become Jenny’s godmother’s house and the whole story had fallen into place.
3. How did you come up with the idea of Band of Gold?
Several years ago I heard of a woman whose husband placed his wedding ring on the kitchen table on Christmas morning. It stuck in my mind and I started to think what if? And what would happen next? Then Anna and Marcus appeared and Anna’s story began to take shape.
4. How do you come up with your characters’ names?
As my characters appear to me their names come with them.
5. Who would you cast for a movie/TV series as your main characters if given the chance?
Meg Ryan or Annette Benning would make a great Anna.
6. Do you read reviews of your books? What do you do when you read a not-so-nice one?
Fortunately I haven’t had one of these yet J
7. How many times were you turned down before you finally got published?
I’m not sure – I don’t keep rejection letters. I prefer to focus on the positive.
8. What reason(s) did the publishers give for their rejection of your manuscript?
My book didn’t fit their list, this shouldn’t be seen as negative, and they wished me well. I presume it was the standard rejection letter. I received one positive response from an agent who told me she liked the idea of The Sand Dollar a lot and requested a partial, but didn’t want anything which had been sent to others, then I never heard from her again! I assume my more mature heroine may have been the reason for my rejections, so then I decided to self-publish J
9. Who is your literary hero?
Liz Byrski. I love her books and am full of admiration for the way she writes about the issues and challenges of the older woman.
10. What do you need to set the mood for you to write?
I check my emails and Facebook, read what I’ve written the day before and set my goals for the day.
11. How many blurbs did you have to write before the final one?
My final blurb for Band of Gold is number 6.
14. If you could bring one of your characters to life, who would it be? And why?
I’d bring my heroes to life – either Marcus (Band of Gold) or Mike (The Sand Dollar). I think I fall a little in love with each of my heroes as I write them. They all have a little of my husband in them.
I can relate to that! :)
15. What are you working on now?
I’m finishing a book called The Dreamcatcher set on the Oregon Coast. It’s the second book in my Oregon Cost series.
The first, The Sand Dollar will be released in October/November. It tells the story of Jenny who, stunned by news of an impending redundancy, and impelled by the magic of a long forgotten sand dollar, visits her godmother in Oregon to consider her future. What she doesn’t bargain for is to uncover the secret surrounding her birth. The revelation sees her embark on a journey of self-discovery such as she’d never envisaged. The Sand Dollar is a story of new beginnings, of a woman whose life is suddenly turned upside down and the reclusive man who helps her solve the puzzle of her past.
The Dreamcatcher follows Ellen, a minor character in The Sand Dollar. Ellen is a Native American bookshop owner who has the gift of being able to foretell the future, but is at a loss to explain her recent nightmares and the uncanny premonition she experiences one morning outside her shop when a dark cloud obscured the sun and she shivers with a sense of foreboding. When this is followed by the arrival in her life of an old friend of her brother, she links the two. However, there are other surprises in store and Ellen has a difficult journey ahead of her before all is resolved.
16. Would you like to share an excerpt from your writing?
This comes from the end of Chap 1 of Band of Gold:
I need fresh air. It’s five o’clock on a glorious summer’s afternoon. All over Australia everyone and his dog is celebrating Christmas, and I’m standing here relieved that my family has gone. I don my running gear and take out the car.
When I reach Manly beach I can see that most of the celebrating groups are winding up for the day. Parents are gathering up children, chairs and blankets. Fathers in shorts, their naked chests bronzed by the sun, are dumping the remains of Christmas lunch into the overflowing bins. Some are desultorily playing a game of beach cricket while others have succumbed to post prandial lethargy and are lying prone while squawking seagulls demolish the remains of their food.
I walk slowly to the edge of the water, my shoes making deep imprints in the packed wet sand. I look out at the vastness of the Pacific Ocean and stretch my arms up high. I wish I could sail away, away from having to explain to everyone and be the subject of their pity. I stand, oblivious to the waves lapping against my favourite running shoes, and gaze up at the buildings etched against the skyline on top of the cliff. Northern Beaches Girls Grammar School is where I spend every day during term time, teaching English to a combination of eager and reluctant young girls. It’s going to become my lifeline now.
Turning, I begin to run. If I can run fast enough maybe I can forget, forget that my husband has abandoned me, that, at the ripe old age of forty-seven, I’ve become a statistic, an abandoned wife, a single mother.
By the time I stop, the beach has become deserted. It’s too early for the evening parties and too late for the family gatherings. I gaze along the sand, deploring the debris my fellow humans have left behind and begin the run back. Halfway there, the memory of Sean’s face at the breakfast table rears up again and I slow to a halt and drop to my knees in despair, tears once again streaming down my cheeks.
‘Are you all right?’ The voice comes from somewhere above my head. I look up into a pair of concerned brown eyes framed by black-rimmed spectacles. Floppy brown hair is falling over the lenses and, as I look, a hand pushes back an errant lock.
‘Are you all right?’ the voice repeats. ‘Is there anything I can do?’
I rise slowly, gulping back the tears, embarrassed to have been caught in such a state. ‘I’ll be right, thanks.’ I brush the sand from my knees and I wish I could brush away his presence as easily. ‘Really,’ I assure my prospective rescuer, and run on, feeling his eyes boring into my back as the distance between us lengthens.
17. Please share your favourite cocktail, recipe or celebration photo.
The photo was taken at the launch of Band of Gold and shows me with Annie from Annie’s Books at Peregian, my local bookshop. Annie has been amazingly supportive of me throughout my journey to publication.