As part of Australian Romance Month, Romance Specialist Haylee Nash will be interviewing one Australian Romance author per day. Much like a beauty pageant, each author will be using their charm, wit and grace (and the power of social media) to take home the Booktopia Romance Bestseller crown. Booktopia invites author of Australian Rural Fiction Jenn J McLeod to the stage.
1. Describe the perfect date.
A happy publisher. A joyous agent. A pen, a movie deal and champagne!
2. Which of your books are you most proud of?
My debut novel House for all Seasons. Why? Because I dared to take a risk (my publisher at Simon & Schuster suggested it was “brave for a debut novelist”) and readers loved it (Phew!).
3. What is the hardest thing about being a romance author?
While House for all Seasons is more a life-affirming/family relationship story, for The Simmering Season (out next March) I’ve developed a rather complex romantic lead character. From a little boy made invisible by sorrow and bitterness, Dan has had to learn a few tough lessons and grow into a loveable character. I had a similar experience writing one of the female characters in House for all Seasons (i.e. making a character that readers don’t necessarily warm to at the start, but cheer for in the end). For some reason this seemed easier to do with a female character. Writing that vulnerability and growth into a male lead to make the hardened and work-weary copper loveable, has been more challenging.
4. What is the best thing about being a romance author?
I love adding a touch of romance to my small town stories, if only so I get to fall in love myself. I believe a hint of romance can tantalise and be even more powerful than a full-on love story. (But readers of House for all Seasons will also tell you, I can be a bit of a romance tease!!)
5. Who (aside from a significant other) do you swoon over?
At the moment I am swooning over Detective Dan! He’s that lead character I was just telling you about in The Simmering Season. I’m at that stage of getting into the core of his issues. He’s like a grown up version of Will from House for all Seasons.
6. Tell us something very few people know about you.
According to my parents, I was a mistake—conceived after a meat pie and a beer, on a train trip to Ballarat. I thought that titbit appropriate given this is a romance–themed blog post! (Hence my penchant for pies and beer!)
7. Describe your writing style in three words.
Heart-warming, life-affirming drama. (Gotta love hyphenated words!)
8. What is your definition of a good book?
Thought-provoking stories that provide readers with laughter and tears in equal measure.
9. Which author would you invite to a dinner party and why?
I rarely have dinner parties these days. By definition a dinner party implies multiple (i.e. more than two) diners; too many guests means too much work and too much time away from the computer. But if I was to invite six friends, along with one special author, to generally eat, drink and be merry (forcing me to dig out and dust off my rarely used 8-piece Mikasa dinner setting) my table of eight would comprise: Hélène Young, Dianne Blacklock, Christine Stinson, Dawn Barker, Lily Malone, Nicole Alexander, Monica McInerney + me! (Add to that, every author would be bringing at least two fictional characters along in their heads. What a night!)
10. Finish this sentence: I would do anything for love, but I won’t _____
…stop writing. (It’s true! My family mostly gets to talk to the back of my head these days!)
Jenn J McLeod quit Sydney’s corporate chaos to buy a little café in a small town and now spends her days running a unique, dog-friendly B&B on her NSW property and writing life-affirming novels about friendship, family and small towns in which country roots run deep.