Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Lady Beauchamp's Proposal: Amy Rose Bennett

It is always a pleasure to give a shout out to for a good friend and its a very happy release day for the lovely Amy Rose Bennett and her Regency Noir Romance LADY BEAUCHAMP'S PROPOSAL... a runaway countess and the Scottish highlands... does it get any better?

Yes it does -- leave a comment and go in the draw to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card - Just enter this Rafflecopter contest!


 A runaway countess finds love when she least expects it…but she can’t hide from her past forever.

Elizabeth, Lady Beauchamp, fears for her life. When she discovers her dissolute and long-estranged husband has syphilis—and he wants to beget an heir no matter the cost—she flees to a remote part of Scotland to begin a new life as the widowed governess, Mrs. Beth Eliott at Eilean Tor Castle.

When Mrs. Eliott unexpectedly arrives on his doorstep, the reclusive and recently widowed Marquess of Rothsburgh is both irritated and intrigued. No longer in need of a governess—his young daughter now resides with his sister’s family in Edinburgh—he proposes the beautiful widow fill a position of a different kind…

Torn between staying true to her marriage vows and her wanton attraction to the devilishly handsome marquess, Elizabeth struggles against the temptation to become his mistress. But living a lie is not easy when you have fallen in love. And secrets always have a way of coming out…


Set-up: Elizabeth, Lady Beauchamp—after leaving her husband and now in disguise as the widowed governess, Mrs. Eliott—arrives at Eilean Tor Castle, where she hopes to gain employment within the household of James Huntly, the Marquess of Rothsburgh.

At last, she heard the unmistakable sound of bolts being pulled back, and then the door was thrown wide. A bright lantern was thrust toward her face, blinding her. She raised a hand to her eyes in a futile attempt to shield them and squinted upwards. An extremely tall man was holding the lantern aloft; she could discern little else about him as the intense light in her eyes obscured her vision.

“What do you want, woman?” The man’s voice was a low growl.

Elizabeth drew a deep breath and summoned her most imperious voice. She had come so far and she would not be cowed by an obnoxious servant. “I seek an audience with Lord Rothsburgh. Is your master at home?”

“What the deuce for?”

She immediately bristled at the insolence in the man’s tone. “I’d have a care to mind your tongue, sir. And lower that lantern. You’re hurting my eyes.”

The light was immediately lowered, and Elizabeth was able to see a little more of the man who seemed to be filling up the whole doorway. He must have been at least six foot four, with black hair that fell across one eye. She also noted that he was informally dressed in a loose, white cambric shirt that was open at the neck, black breeches and boots. The marquess obviously had low standards when it came to fitting out his staff in proper livery.

“Well, aren’t you going to invite me in?” she demanded.

The man—she assumed he was some sort of sloppy butler or footman—let out a snort of laughter. “What on earth for?”

She scowled and drew herself up, raising her chin. She would not be laughed at by the hired help. “I understand there is a vacancy for a governess. I’ve come to offer my services to Lord Rothsburgh.”

“Have you indeed?” There was still an annoying undercurrent of laughter in the man’s voice. Nevertheless, he stepped aside and made a grand sweeping gesture with his free hand. “Then by all means, come in.”

Elizabeth picked up her skirts and started to step forward when the toe of her boot caught on an unevenly laid flagstone on the threshold. With an unlady-like squeal she pitched forward toward the floor—until she was deftly caught about the waist by the vulgar butler. With a gasp of half-shock, half-embarrassment she found her midriff was bent across his muscular forearm, whilst her side was crushed roughly against his wide chest. One of her hands had involuntarily fisted into the linen sleeve of his shirt where underneath she could detect the bulk of a sizeable, iron-hard bicep.

The scent of the man flooded her senses; warm male, whisky and the tantalizing scent of exotically rich soap; it reminded her of sandalwood, leather and a spicy note she couldn’t quite place—perhaps it was cloves. She took all of this in within the instant that she was suspended above the floor before the man righted her. She took a step away, her cheeks flaming. “I’m so sorry, sir. How clumsy of me. And I’ve made you all wet…Mr.…”

The man’s arm lingered across her waist. Perhaps he thought she would fall again. She noticed he had dark eyes; his gaze travelled over her face, studying her. She must look a sight.

“James,” he said, his eyes holding hers. In the dim light she couldn’t work out if they were dark brown or black.


Amy Rose Bennett has always wanted to be a writer for as long as she can remember. An avid reader with a particular love for historical romance, it seemed only natural to write stories in her favorite genre.  She has a passion for creating emotion-packed—and sometimes a little racy—stories set in the Georgian and Regency periods. Of course, her strong-willed heroines and rakish heroes always find their happily ever after.

As an unpublished author, Amy has been a finalist in contests in both Romance Writers of Australia and Romance Writers of America.  In 2013 and 2014, she has achieved a place in the top three of Romance Writers of Australia’s Emerald Award, and her debut Regency romance novel—‘Lady Beauchamp’s Proposal’—was the winning entry in the historical section of two Romance Writers of America Chapter Contests in 2013—the Chicago North Fire and Ice Contest and the San Francisco Heart to Heart Contest.

Amy is happily married to her own Alpha male hero, has two beautiful daughters, a rather loopy Rhodesian Ridgeback and a Devonshire Rex cat with attitude. She is a Speech Pathologist, but is currently devoting her time to her one other true calling—writing romance.

CONNECT WITH AMY:  Website, Facebook and Twitter

BUY LADY BEAUCHAMP'S PROPOSAL on Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, All Romance Ebooks and Secret Cravings


Friday, August 15, 2014

Friday Fun Facts: Just call me John (with guest Lisa Ireland)

As I indicated last week, I am asking my Friday guest posters to share a tidbit of research  that they discovered in the course of writing their book - that may or may not have made it into the final product. It just seems a shame to waste it!

So here is my inaugural guest, my fellow "Escape Artist", Lisa Ireland. 

Although born and bred in the city of Melbourne, Australia, Lisa has always been a country girl at heart. After graduating from university, her love of horses, cattle dogs and tumbling-down farmhouses led her to accept a teaching position at a small school in rural Victoria. A flood, a bushfire, and countless snakes taught her there was more to life on the land than fluffy sheep and home baked scones! Lisa hopes her stories reflect the deep admiration she has for rural communities. She will never forget the hospitality she was shown as a wide-eyed city slicker, new to life in the bush.
Lisa now lives in a small coastal town and spends her days dreaming up stories as she walks along the beach. (Don’t tell her husband — he thinks she’s there to watch him catching waves.) When not writing, reading or conducting conversations with characters in her head, Lisa is busy being mum to her three boys and trying her best to train her impossible but adorable Labrador.
Over to Lisa...

When Alison asked me to write a post on a fun research

fact I was stumped. I write contemporary fiction. Whilst I do research, much of it isn’t very exciting. For example in my first book, Breaking The Drought, I spent an awful lot of time researching soil types and tree species in various parts of Victoria. Not that you’d know that if you read the book, because it was all for the sake of one tree in one paddock!

I was about to email Alison and tell her I couldn’t do it, when I realised there is one topic I research over and over again: character names.

As a reader, character names are very important to me. If a name seems incongruous for some reason I’m pulled out of the story. It’s important that the name is appropriate to the age, culture, nationality and social circumstances of the character. If not I need a plausible reason for this.

When it comes to naming my characters I spend a lot of time choosing and I’m not just talking about my main characters here. Every person appearing in my books will have had their name thoroughly researched! I spend hours trawling through popular baby names of various time periods before I make my choice.

Just in case you were wondering, here are some popular choices for Australian born babies over the past century.

Year               Boy                             Girl
2014              Oliver                          Charlotte
2010              Jack                             Ruby
2000              Joshua                          Emily
1990              Matthew                     Jessica
1980              Michael                       Rebecca
1970              David                          Michelle
1960              Peter                           Jennifer
1950              John                            Margaret
1940              John                            Margaret
1930              John                            Margaret (yes, seriously!)
1920              John*                          Betty

*We’re an imaginative lot Down Under, aren’t we?

This list has ben compiled using the records from Births, Deaths and Marriages in Victoria. 1920s records are from Births, Deaths and Marriages, NSW.

When a smooth-talking, sophisticated city girl comes striding into town on her stiletto heels, he's the last person who wants to notice...
When Jenna McLean gets roped into attending a matchmaking ball in a small country town, she holds no illusions of meeting the man of her dreams.  A no-nonsense magazine editor, Jenna doesn’t believe in leaving love to chance, which is why she’s developed Marriage Material – a fool-proof framework for husband hunting. Shearers and farmhands need not apply.
Sheep grazier Luke Tanner has met women like Jenna before, and knows not to waste his time. With the drought dragging on and bushfire season around the corner, the last thing he needs is a spoiled city girl like Jenna adding to his problems. He'll help out with the ball because it's good for the community, but he won't dance, he won't flirt, and he definitely won't be matched.
It's been a long dry season, but everyone knows when it rains, it pours.  

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Introducing: Friday Fun Facts

For the last twelve months, I have very much enjoyed "Taking Tea" on Friday with a wide range of guests, all with a fascinating story to tell.

But it is time for a bit of a change and from this Friday 8 August, I will be introducing "Friday Fun Facts" with my first guest, Ashley York.

In the course of researching our stories, every author comes across a fascinating bit of trivia/history that may or may not make it into our stories. In fact really good research should be unobtrusive, just fade into the background of the main action.

How many books have you read where you are given a history lesson by the author or told everything you never needed to know about the rigging of a sailing ship because the author spent hours researching it and absolutely HAS to let you know all about it.

So on Fridays from now on, I am asking my guests to share a bit of research trivia with you with the added bonus of showing how they wove into their stories.

I hope this is not too onerous a task for my guests... but I am very much looking forward to reading their posts.

And I suppose in the interests of fairness I should share a fact with you. Here's a short one from my researches into CLAIMING THE REBEL'S HEART...

"Hoist with his own petard"... means to be hurt or damaged by an instrument of your own making.

It derives from an explosive device called a "petard" that was nailed to the door of a besieged house/castle and detonated to allow the besiegers ingress. Of course the poor sod who had the job of nailing the petard to the door did not enjoy a long life span. Firstly he had to get close enough to install the bomb and if he survived the rain of gunfire from the besieged, the bomb itself was inherently unstable and liable to blow up. 
It was, of course, Shakespeare who first coined the phrase (Hamlet). 

And how did I use it?
... (Luke) turned away from her and glanced over the battlements. He turned to Melchior and said, “Blakelocke, bring fire to bear on that party of men. They are carrying petards.”
“What's a petard?” Deliverance asked, cautiously rising to her feet again.
“If you'd read your books, you would know it is a metal object shaped a bit like a hat, that is full of powder. Our friends would like to nail it to the gate. They will then light the fuse and duck as the gate is blown in. Here they come in force.” He raised his voice so it could be heard along the length of the wall. “Fire at will!”

Friday, August 1, 2014

From Horse Mad child to Rural Romance writer - Cathryn Hein (and giveaway)

I am absolutely delighted to welcome Cathryn Hein to my tea table today. Cathryn at one stage was an almost-neighbour but has now moved to a more northerly state, forsaking the cool of a Melbourne winter.
However we are both Australian Rules Football tragics and participate vocally in a Romance Writers Footy Tipping contest every winter. We do not support the same team...

Cathryn Hein was born in South Australia’s rural south-east. With three generations of jockeys in the family it was little wonder she grew up horse mad, finally obtaining her first horse at age 10. So began years of pony club, eventing, dressage and showjumping until university beckoned.
Armed with a shiny Bachelor of Applied Science (Agriculture) from Roseworthy College she moved to Melbourne and later Newcastle, working in the agricultural and turf seeds industry. Her partner’s posting to France took Cathryn overseas for three years in Provence where she finally gave in to her life-long desire to write. Her short fiction has been recognised in numerous contests, and published in Woman’s Day.
Cathryn currently lives at the base of the Blue Mountains in Sydney’s far west with her partner of many years, Jim. When she’s not writing, she plays golf (ineptly), cooks (well), and in football season barracks (rowdily) for her beloved Sydney Swans AFL team.

Cathryn, we have agreed not to discuss the football so let’s talk about food instead. You have a wonderful foodie blog but it’s my turn today. George, my trusty general factotum, is standing poised with his notebook and pencil for your favourite cake recipe… to accompany our cup of tea which in the tradition of all Australian rural writers, is of course, billy tea (George has been practicing the swing).

Nice swing, George! And thanks, Alison, for inviting me on your blog. Are you sure we 
can’t discuss football? It’s not every season that I find my darling Sydney Swans sitting atop the AFL ladder, and they really do look very pretty perched there...

As for cake, how about a Hummingbird Cake, moist and beautifully loaded with the sweet, fruity goodness of pineapple, passionfruit, banana and cinnamon? Dead easy to make too!
(AS:  George... get baking... and for the rest of you, Cathryn's recipe is at the end of this post! I shall be trying it out this weekend)

As we brush the crumbs away, tell me a little bit about your childhood in country South Australia?

Oh, it was lovely! Really quite idyllic, when I look back. I was born and bred in Mt Gambier, in South Australia’s rural south east, and other than school, piano and violin lessons, hockey and some rather unsuccessful ballet tuition, my childhood was dominated by beach holidays and horse mania.

Mysty and CH age 10
I know my first word wasn’t ‘horse’ but it should have been. I was born besotted with the creatures. As a child my shelves were lined with model horses and I was a prolific reader of horse stories (Walter Farley’s The Black Stallion series was my favourite). I’d stop to pat any horse I came across and would spend the rest of the day sniffing my hand for more of that lovely horsey smell. Actually, that’s something I still do. I’m not embarrassed to admit it either!

At age ten, heaven arrived in the form of a sweet bay horse with a star in the middle of her forehead. Blissfully unaware that every second pony had the same name, I called her Mysty, thinking it was the most romantic name in existence. I even spelled it quirkily, just to add to the mystique.

Cathryn and Mysty at the family holiday house
Mysty was the funniest horse. I adored her and would have let her sleep on the floor of my bedroom if I’d been allowed. She’d drink coffee, eat cheese sandwiches, and loved attention. But she was only 14.2 hands, so not much bigger than a pony, and eventually I had to get a bigger horse. That was Dinks and he was a lovely thing, too. There were more - mainly ex-racehorses - but Mysty and Dinks were my darlings. We had a ball together.

Cathyrn and her belove Dinks cutting a fine dash!...

I was a horse mad child but the closest I ever came to owning one, was the imaginary horse I had stabled in the far corner of my parents suburban backyard. You were an accomplished horsewoman in your youth. Do you still ride and what was the influence of horses in your growing up?

Sadly, I no longer have the opportunity to ride but give me half a chance and I’d be on a horse in a flash! I still dream about riding and get gooey whenever I see a horse. It’s a tad pathetic but I can’t help it. They’re in my soul.

Like owning any pet, I think having horses gave me a sense of responsibility. They take a lot of work and care, and can’t fill their own feed bins and water troughs. I also think that competing taught me that you don’t get anywhere without hard work and practice, and that drive and determination can take you a long way. Horses also taught me about patience and love. Plus I made wonderful friends during my horsey years, both human and equine.

Your partner is in a profession that requires you to move around a fair bit… even internationally. What are the biggest challenges in such a gypsy lifestyle?

Besides the obvious hassle of moving house, the hardest part is finding reliable new service providers like a doctor, dentist, hairdresser, beautician. After 20 plus years of moving around I usually know someone in the area who can give a recommendation, but there’s a certain sense of adventure in trial and error. Often I end up muddling through myself, just for the fun of it. I’ve had some interesting experiences over the years!
In the last few years we have seen the rise of “Rural Romance” (or RuRo) within Australian romance fiction. It’s been phenomenally successful in Australia but what is its appeal to international readers?

I suspect international readers see Australia as “exotic”. Certainly that has been the case in markets like Germany, where rural romance has probably had the most international success. The US has a long history of cowboy romances, and readers who love those but are looking for something different might find our rurals appealing. I’m not sure about elsewhere. I don’t think anyone has really broken through yet. Give it time!

You have had four successful Rural Romances published by Penguin Books Australia, but I have read your next book, THE FRENCH PRIZE (coming in September) will be a departure for your readers. Can you tell me a little about the premise for this book?

I am ridiculously excited about this book! It’s such fun. There’s romance, adventure, mystery, danger and some glorious Provencal countryside. And food. We mustn’t forget that.

An ancient riddle, a broken vow – a modern-day quest for a medieval treasure.
Australian-born Dr. Olivia Walker is an Oxford academic with a reputation as one of the world’s leading Crusade historians and she’s risked everything on finding one of the most famous swords in history – Durendal. Shrouded in myth and mystery, the sword is fabled to have belonged to the warrior Roland, a champion of Charlemagne’s court, and Olivia is determined to prove to her detractors that the legend is real. Her dream is almost within reach when she discovers the long-lost key to its location in Provence, but her benefactor – Raimund Blancard – has other ideas.
For more than a millennium, the Blancard family have protected the sword. When his brother is tortured and killed by a man who believes he is Roland’s rightful heir, Raimund vows to end the bloodshed forever. He will find Durendal and destroy it, but to do that he needs Olivia's help.
Now Olivia is torn between finding the treasure for which she has hunted all her life and helping the man she has fallen in love with destroy her dream. And all the while, Raimund's murderous nemesis is on their trail, and he will stop at nothing to claim his birthright.

The French Prize will be available for pre-order veeeery soon. Check my website for links or sign up to my newsletter on my Home page.

Your most recent book, ROCKING HORSE HILL, which came out in April, is being acclaimed as your best book yet. What, or who, inspired this story?

Wow. Thanks for that compliment! It was certainly the book that took the most out of me during writing so it’s nice to know readers are enjoying the fruits of that effort.

The initial inspiration was from a newspaper article about women who fall in love with long-term prison inmates. It stuck in my mind for some reason and the day after I read it I was riding the exercise bike when Bang! in popped this idea into my head. The idea was for a thriller so I simply jotted the premise down and set it aside as one of those “maybe in the future books”. But it kept nagging. I couldn’t get the setting out of my head - a property at the bottom of a volcano in south-east SA. Then the heroine wouldn’t leave me alone. Other characters began forming. When I realised this was something that wasn’t going to let go I played around with that initial idea until it became a rural romance.

Who do you trust when a stranger threatens to tear your family apart?

Ever since she was a little girl, Emily Wallace-Jones has loved Rocking Horse Hill. The beautiful family property is steeped in history. Everything important in Em's life has happened there. And even though Em's brother Digby has inherited the property, he has promised Em it will be her home for as long as she wishes.
When Digby falls in love with sweet Felicity Townsend, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, Em worries about the future. But she is determined not to treat Felicity with the same teenage snobbery that tore apart her relationship with her first love, Josh Sinclair. A man who has now sauntered sexily back into Em's life and given her a chance for redemption.
But as Felicity settles in, the once tightly knitted Wallace-Jones family begins to fray. Suspicions are raised, Josh voices his distrust, and even Em's closest friends question where Felicity's motives lie. Conflicted but determined to make up for the damage caused by her past prejudices, Em sides with her brother and his fiancée until a near tragedy sets in motion a chain of events that will change the family forever.
Rocking Horse Hill is a moving family drama and passionate love story from the author of Heartland. 

Buy links for Rocking Horse Hill:
My links:

4 medium sized bananas, mashed
1/2 cup passionfruit pulp
450g tin crushed pineapple in syrup
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs, lightly whisked
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
3 cups plain flour
1 1/4 teaspoons bi-carb soda
Preheat oven to 170C
Grease and line with baking paper a 23cm round springform cake tin. Plonk all the ingredients into a large bowl and stir until well mixed. Pour into tin. Bake for 1 1/2 hours or until a skewer comes out clean (timing will depend on the oven - try 1 1/4 hours then check). Cool in the tin on a rack. Ice with passionfruit or lemon cream cheese icing. Or simply eat plain!

I’m always on the hunt for fun horse names. So for your chance to win a signed copy of my Hunter Valley set rural romance, Heart of the Valley, tell me the most romantic  or cleverest name you can think of for a horse and Alison will pop you into the draw!
Australian postal addresses only.

(AS:  A legacy of my horse mad childhood are the horses that appear in my stories as characters in their own right... I have Pharaoh, Amber and Hector to my credit and a few other horsey characters, my current favourite being Mr. Carrots the school trap pony in my - yet to be published - Harriet Gordon stories)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Not Waving - Drowning...

I come from a long line of "over committers". Any job that needs doing we are first in line to volunteer but I thought, after intensive self therapy, I was learning to say "NO" with aplomb and dignity.

Until I woke up this morning in a cold sweat and realised there were simply not enough hours in the day - unless I gave up sleep - to get through my to do list. 

 My DH (darling husband) has been working interstate for the last few months leaving me at home alone. A bit like an excited teenager I have spread myself throughout the house, with plans for all the things I could do in his absence (I have been married 30 years so this was a bit like that proverbial “time off for good behaviour"). Without the distraction of a 3rd party (I don’t count the cats although they can be seriously demanding), I have realised that my life is spiralling out of control.

I work 2 days a week so that still leaves 5 days… and on those days I rise by 6.30am and I am in bed by 10.30pm. So how am I filling my time? 

I am a compulsive list writer and by my calculation this is my do to list FOR THIS WEEK:
  • Hard core revisions for a writing project that I can’t tell you about yet! This is taking an inordinate amount of time. I can’t write fast and layering my books is like handcrafting an objet d’art. Even revisions require care and attention to make sure all the pieces fit together.
  •  A general panic because my next book is due in February and I have only a few sketchy scenes and I have never written to a deadline before and have I mentioned I am a very slow writer?
  • Judging a writing contest. It’s my “giving back” to the writing community but again it takes time and thought.
  • Real Life - electricians to chase up, tax to be done, bills to be paid and the Parish Newsletter of which I am editor, Parish Council responsibilities, meetings of the Charity Board of which I am Secretary to co-ordinate.
  •  Research blogs for the two group blogs I am a part of. These take hours to research and write.
  • Needlework… This was not a good time to start a new quilt, but it is for a friend’s birthday and then there is the cross stitch project I have to finish by a certain date too. Needlework and writing are incompatible hobbies.
  •  Did I mention diet and exercise?

And then there is the “business” side of being a writer at which I have decided I am a complete failure. My own blogging is erratic, let alone writing blogs for other blogs and I am now convinced I am a social media fail. I have a Facebook profile, a Facebook Page, a Twitter account and a Pinterest Board and that is ENOUGH! As it is I don’t think I have Twitter worked out at all and I use FB as my own social hang out with my other writer pals. I don't have time to watch the wonderful webinars about how to make social media work for you...

Throw in the fact that over June and July my book sales stopped dead. I don’t mean slowed or dropped, I mean just stopped in the water. What? Why? Is it the northern hemisphere summer or is it me? Why am I doing all of this if no one wants to buy my books? 

So like Chicken Little I am running around and around in ever decreasing circles and I have just spent half an hour writing a blog no one will read because my blogging is too irregular to have garnered an audience.... 

My husband comes home this week and he is going to find a gibbering idiot sitting at the kitchen table frozen into inaction by too much action...

PS I forgot to mention CLAIMING THE REBEL'S HEART is currently available at a promotion price of .99c at all good estores.

Friday, July 18, 2014

From Scotland to Australia... Author Maggie Christensen

Aussie authors are taking the world by storm (due in no small part to the work of Romance Writers of Australia). I love showcasing my fellow Australians... and of course I also love the fact that although we all call ourselves Australian, we come from such divergent backgrounds. This is Australia in the 21st century.

Today's guest, MAGGIE CHRISTENSEN, came from chilly Scotland to the warmer climes of Queensland where she now lives.

Born and brought up in Scotland, and attracted by advertisements to ‘Come and Teach in the Sun’, Maggie Christensen emigrated to Australia in her twenties to teach in primary schools in Sydney. She now lives with her husband of almost thirty years near Peregian Beach on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland. She loves walking on the deserted beach in the early mornings and having coffee by the Noosa River on weekends. After spending many years in teaching, lecturing and education management, where she wrote course materials and reports, Maggie began writing the sort of books she enjoys reading, books about women in their prime, their issues and relationships. Now her days are spent surrounded by books, either reading or writing them – her idea of heaven! She continues her love of books as a volunteer with Friends of Noosaville Library where she helps organise author talks and selects and delivers books to the housebound.  Visit Maggie at her WEBSITE

Maggie is offering three copies of her latest book in a Goodreads Giveaway. You can enter directly from the links on this page.

Maggie, I recently enjoyed a cup of tea on your blog, Café Cala and I am delighted to reciprocate. What is your preference in the way of tea?

Thanks so much for inviting me to tea, Alison. I’d love a cup of liquorice tea if you have any. Failing that, Earl Grey would be lovely. (AS:  Earl Grey... sigh!)

You moved from Scotland to Australia at a time when Australia was actively recruiting young teachers from the British Isles to teach in Australian Schools. I’m not sure if you have ever seen the movie “Wake in Fright”, but I would really like to know more about why you chose to make the move to Australia and what you found when you got here?

I have seen the movie and, fortunately my experience was nothing like that! I had the travel bug so after teaching for three years in Scotland I decided to look for teaching position overseas. The options were US, Army schools in Germany or Australia. I didn’t want to go to the US – strange, as I subsequently married an American, the Army schools required a three year commitment while I could come to Australia for only two years. Also I had a great aunt who married an Australian soldier during the First World War and grew up with stories of mad Australian soldiers who visited my family during the Second World War. It sounded like an exciting place.

When I arrived I stayed in an immigrant hostel in Marrickville (central Sydney) for two weeks with other single teachers before finding my own accommodation. After a two week orientation to teaching in New South Wales, I was sent to the outer western suburbs, a long train trip from where I was living. I wasn’t impressed.

This is me with the first class I taught in Australia – note the class size and the fashion! (AS:  Love the skirt... but you look so YOUNG!)

After two years of working in State schools I moved into the private school system which I found much more to my liking and more similar to the schools I had taught in back in Scotland.

I loved the Australian weather from the start and spent the first few years feeling I was on a perpetual holiday.

How did you move from Primary teaching to University level teaching?

My school principal encouraged me to engage in further study, but this led me to a situation in which the school couldn’t afford my qualifications. I moved to teach in a parent co-operative school (a wonderful experience) then to become a tutor in a private college of teacher education. When I was part-way through my Master’s degree I was successful in gaining a position at Goulburn Teacher’s College, which was subsumed into Riverina Murray College of Advanced Education, which became Charles Sturt University. It had always been a dream of mine to be involved in teacher education and I loved teaching at the tertiary level.

You are married to a man from Santa Barbara… how did the two of you meet?

Jim and I met when I moved to teach at Riverina. I had fought against the move, trying to find a position in Sydney instead. But when I moved, there he was. He had emigrated there some years earlier.  He invited me to dinner on my first day in the office and – as he often tells people – I haven’t gone home yet! My advice to everyone is – seize every opportunity as you never know what it might lead to.

What (or who) was the biggest influence in starting your writing career?

I have always wanted to write fiction but became caught up in the demands of my day job where I was involved in writing course materials, reports, submissions and academic papers. I initially tried to write about younger heroines, but when I began to read Liz Byrski, Anna Jacob’s contemporary novels, Joanne Trollop, and Marcia Willett, I realised the books I wanted to write were the ones I enjoyed reading – books about women like myself who had experienced more of life’s challenges. I began writing these books when I was facing a redundancy like the heroine in my next book, The Sand Dollar.

As a hybrid writer (traditional and indie published) myself, I am interested in why you chose to go the self publishing/indie route and how you have found the experience?

Initially I attempted to go down the traditional route contacting agents and publishers, but found my writing didn’t suit their lists. I suspect it was because my heroines are older women. So I decided to self-publish and began my research. In the process I have found a wonderful editor, and cover designer and formatter, both of whom live in England. I really believe this makes communication easier as I can send off an email in the evening and waken to find their reply in my inbox. I have also built up a good relationship with our local bookshop owner, where I am having my formal launch at the end of this month. I like the control self-publishing gives me, although I sometimes think it would be useful to have the marketing arm of a publisher behind me. I know there is a market out there for my books – it’s a challenge, as an indie author, finding the best way to tap into it.
(AS:  I agree that indie publishing opens up options for those of us who don't fit neatly into the "boxes" dictated by the mainstream publishers.  You are also lucky to have a good relationship with your local bookshop...That has not been my experience.)

Your debut novel Band of Gold is a contemporary story set in Australia. What was the premise behind this story?

The book focuses on the situation faced by Anna when her husband of twenty five years leaves her on Christmas morning. It follows her life through the next year as she attempts to leave the past behind and forge a new life for herself. Some years ago I heard of a woman to whom this happened and it stuck in my mind. When I stared writing I began to wonder what might happen next, and Anna and Marcus came into being.


Anna Hollis believes she has a happy marriage. A schoolteacher in Sydney, Anna juggles her busy life with a daughter in the throes of first love and increasingly demanding aging parents.

When Anna’s husband of twenty-five years leaves her, on Christmas morning, without warning or explanation, her safe and secure world collapses.
Marcus King returns to Australia from the USA, leaving behind a broken marriage and a young son.
When he takes up the position of Headmaster at Anna’s school, they form a fragile friendship through their mutual hurt and loneliness.

Can Anna leave the past behind and make a new life for herself, and does Marcus have a part to play in her future?
·      Buy links for the book


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. 



    Goodreads Book Giveaway
        Band of Gold by Maggie Christensen

          Band of Gold

          by Maggie Christensen
            Giveaway ends July 31, 2014.
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