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Talking about books and writing

 

In this Q&A, I talk about the inspiration behind my first novel JULIA'S STORY and the Belleville family saga. To ask more questions, please go to the Contact page.

Q. You’ve waited quite a while to launch your writing career?

A. That’s true. I guess there is a time and a place for everything but when I was younger I was easily discouraged. And then launching Australian Defence Magazine in 1993 kept me very busy until I retired from the full time publishing role. It’s hard to find the headspace to dedicate to writing when you have a full time career that saps your intellectual energy. 

 

Q. Who do you think your Belleville family series will appeal to?

A. I believe there are readers who are being ignored now by the major publishers - mature women readers. Even though I put the target audience for my first book at 35+, I think my books appeal to readers who enjoy being transported back into the fairly recent past but most of all, I strive for an authenticity in my characters, an authenticity in their responses to circumstances and historical accuracy in depicting real historical events. 

 

Q. These novels have an international flavour. Was that intentional?

A. Ideas for the story spring from many sources, but especially from my father telling me about the American Army camps based in Queensland during the Second World War. Obviously I wasn’t around then but I was intrigued by the idea of the ‘foreign’ presence in our country. And I know many Australian men joined the RAF in Britain during the war. It was a period of great change in society as a whole but it had enormous impact on individual relationships and people formed relationships they would otherwise never have had the opportunity to do.

 

Q. Spoiler alert: without giving too much away, what are the major themes of your novel?

A. Indeed, spoiler alert it is. I’ve always believed that seemingly successful families may hide beneath their polished façades secrets and lies they would give anything not to reveal publicly. I won’t go into too much detail but suffice to say two big issues in particular are at the heart of the first two novels and I think many women - readers of a certain age - will identify with one particular issue. You’ll have to read the books to find out more. But it is not hard to imagine the issues that a wealthy family with three children coming to adulthood just as World War II takes hold will face. The world as they know it and as they expect it to continue is turned upside down.

 

Q. So the action takes place across the three countries?

A. Yes, it’s mainly based in Australia but the action moves to England and to the United States at various times. I was keen to only use places I’ve been to. I’ve visited England a number of times, most recently in 2023, and also the United States, most recently in 2003. My husband and I lived in Washington DC for a year during his time at the Australian Embassy too.

Q. So which authors inspire you or have inspired you?

A. Top of the list is the late Winston Graham who wrote the Poldark series. I was inspired too by the late Bryce Courtenay, a very successful Australian author and of course the late Colleen McCullough of The Thorn Birds fame. I saw both of these authors at author events and I found them both so inspiring. And I have recently discovered Australian author Sulari Gentill and her Rowland Sinclair series. (I just love it!).

Q. What is your ultimate ambition as a writer?

A. My ultimate ambition as a writer is to tell a good story and to entertain the reader. I like to make sure that the historical background is accurate. I want readers to enjoy my books. I would be delighted to answer any readers’ questions. I have been asked if the plot is preplanned and my response is that it is - it is to a degree - but given the characters and their situations, they dictate their responses.

 

I've become very emotionally engaged myself with the Belleville family, even though they are fictional characters. They are alive to me. I want my readers to feel the same emotional response I do.

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