Congratulations to Barbara Hannay who is a finalists in the 2017 RUBY Awards, nominated for her book, The Grazier’s Wife! We chat with Barbara about her nominated book, how she reacted when she found out she was a finalist, and her advice for aspiring authors.
Congratulations, you’re a finalist in the 2017 RUBY Awards! How did you react when you found out you were a finalist?
I was away on holidays at the time and I almost missed checking my emails that day. So glad I didn’t. The nomination was a thrill and a wonderful excuse for a celebration!
Please tell us about the story you’ve been nominated for. Did you have a secret alternative title while you were writing it?
My editor at Penguin suggested the title The Grazier’s Wife when I first sent my proposal for this story. I loved it immediately and I think knowing the title helped to keep my focus. The story is about a North Queensland cattle grazing family and follows three women from three different generations. It takes the reader from Singapore during World War 2 to Ruthven Downs in the present day, and when a secret from the past is exposed on the eve of an important family celebration, tensions abound. And romance.
Do you write romance books in secret, or are you loud and proud?
I’ve been writing romance novels under my own name for almost twenty years, so there’s little chance of keeping it a secret. Not that I’ve ever wanted to. Being published was my dream. I’ve always been out and proud.
Headless washboard abs, a torrid embrace, the sprawling homestead, an elegantly dressed décolletage, or a vaguely kinky object against a dark background – what’s your favourite type of romance cover and why?
I love the covers my publishers at Penguin have given me. Capturing the romantic outback and dual timelines can be tricky, but I think they do a brilliant job.
What is the secret life of a romance writer? What goes on between you and your keyboard (or quill) behind closed doors?
I’m very lucky that my husband is also a writer and our brainstorming sessions are gold. There’s also a fair amount of research and dreaming on my part and long hours at the keyboard. I’m a plodder.
Do you remember the first romance you read, the one that inspired you to continue reading and writing in this genre?
Do you hide any secrets in your plot line that only a few people will find?
Not really, although close friends and family might recognise the occasional turn of phrase or personality quirk.
How you differentiate between romance fiction, erotica and porn. Are romance readers getting naughtier?
With a few notable exceptions, I think the covers usually convey the right clues.
More women read romance than men, but some men do. What do you know of your male audience? And why do they read you?
I love hearing from male readers. Mostly they read for an emotional experience, just as women do, although some men also express appreciation for the historical details, especially those relating to World War 2.
What advice would you give aspiring romance writers?
Read widely in the genre, work out what you love about it, what other readers love about it, and then write and have fun. Join Romance Writers of Australia.
Thank you, Barbara!
The Grazier's Wife
For Stella in 1946, it was a compromise in the aftermath of a terrible war. For Jackie in the 1970s, it was a Cinderella fairytale with an outback prince. While for Alice in 2015, it is the promise of a bright new future.
Decades earlier, Stella was desperate to right a huge injustice, but now a long-held family secret threatens to tear the Drummond family of Ruthven Downs apart. On the eve of a special birthday reunion, with half the district invited, the past and the present collide, passions are unleashed and the shocking truth comes spilling out. From glamorous pre-war Singapore to a vast cattle property in Queensland's Far North, this sweeping, emotional saga tests...