Behind the Story: Virginia Taylor

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Today I am delighted to welcome Virginia Taylor. Virginia Virginia Taylor is an Australian writer of contemporary romantic comedy, historical romance, short stories, and children’s stories.

So tell us about your story behind the story, please, Virginia!
In the writing stakes, I’m a late contender. In the reading stakes, I’m an early starter, but a persistent stayer. This means I have read every genre written but only enjoyed those with positive endings. I have read stories set in every country in the world but very few in my own, and I don’t recall reading any set in my state. Because the history of South Australia is not based on convict settlement, but free settlers, and because I love reading historical romances, I set my mind on writing a series of South Australian historical romances.

I started the first in 1995 after reading my first historical romance a year or two earlier. From the first one, Gentle Rogue, by Joanna Lindsay, I was hooked, but the historical accuracy was more romantic than authentic. Nevertheless, I read Ms Lindsay’s full series, preferring those she set in her own country whose history was more interesting to me than her British set stories. I had, of course, read Austen and Heyer who knew their own countries best, too.

Five generations of my family before me were born in South Australia, which has a rich and interesting history based on the free settlers who came out from England to the Utopia of the south. While they did so, they discovered copper, marble, slate, gold, silver, anything the world needed, in abundance. They grew crops and bred sheep to supply the world with good quality wool. They set up industries, processing plants, and small businesses. These are the people I wanted to write about.

30366819.jpgWenna is the fourth story of my South Lander series, which doesn’t need to be read in sequence. Her parents were immigrants, always had a plan, but she needs some way to finance herself. She works her way up as a servant and achieves her desired position of a lady’s maid. This job prepares her to start her own business, but her work ethic and her ambition makes her worthy of the best sort of hero, one who understands her, appreciates her, and knows he is lucky to have found her.

Although Devon is an aristocrat who doesn’t need to earn money, he is ambitious too, and wants to make his way in the world without the influence of his family. He is my sort of hero, tough, and smart enough to see beneath Wenna’s prickly exterior. He is loving enough to tame her: to teach her to trust him. I love these two, and the way they bounce off each other. Their journey together is tricky but survives all the stumbles along the way.

Before any of my books were sold, I had enough stumbles along the way to take me out of the race for almost twenty years. None of my original stories survived its original version because I had a lot to learn back then. I finally sold my first, a contemporary, whose heroine shares the name Alli Sinclair. How’s that for a coincidence?

For links to Virginia’s books, please click HERE.

 

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Behind the Story: Darry Fraser

darry profile.jpgI am delighted to introduce you to the lovely Darry Fraser. Darry woke up one day with an epiphany: writing is her journey, and a major publication was the goal. It was now or never. 

So, the ‘now’ took five years and 9 e-books and happily, ‘Daughter of the Murray’ was published with Harlequin MIRA in 2016.

The Australian landscape is home and hearth – the rural, the coastal, the arid lands and the desert. The history, the hidden stories, the catalysts, and the powerful connection between humans are her drivers.

She lives and works on a beautiful island off the coast of South Australia with her black kelpie x writing companion.

So, Darry, please tell us about your story behind the story:

So lovely to be here on Alli’s ‘Story Behind the Story’.

Funny how the path to your goal takes many twists and turns. Had I been the sort who had one eye on the goal and the other eye also on the goal, I might’ve arrived at my dream a helluva lot earlier. Life gets in the way, as most of us know.

In a sense, I’m glad I wasn’t ‘one-eyed’ about it (though I do question that just a bit). When I first started writing seriously, i.e believing I could deliver a well-crafted story, I was nowhere near the mark. I remember being encouraged by friends and family, who alas, were well meaning, and also nowhere near the mark.

So, when I finished what was to become Daughter of the Murray many years later, I was a young writer burning with the urgent need to write, but without my craft honed, without my instinct for pace sharpened, armed only with my natural talent still raw and unformed.

Another author and I lately identified that the mature writer has had some years of ‘living’ under her belt. I certainly have those years now. And what those years have done for me – and the story – was give it the maturity of voice and style that it needed. If I’m lucky enough to have the second in the series published, those years of apprenticeship have honed my skills tremendously.

I’ve always loved a bigger story, the type with more than one arc, where characters are real, and who walk with me every day – albeit in my head. I tried my hand at other types of stories, learned how to make every word count, how to show not tell – but tell where telling had to be – and to find my own way.

By the time I grappled with my courage and pitched it to a publisher, Daughter of the Murray had come of age.

Readers have told me that my book is not what they were expecting. My research told me that the 1890s was not a namby-pamby nanny era, anywhere. It was tough. It was misogynistic and paternalistic. Rough, bloody, dirty and diseased. I wanted a decent story, so I had to be true to the times and not throw a 21st century character into a 19th century setting. I had to have my characters as true to their ‘selves’ in their era as I could.

The other thing I feel strongly about, and is why I write these sorts of historical characters: Australia needs some honourable, if fictional heroes. People who had personal honour. We weren’t all murderers, marauders, or rapists and pillagers, thieves and dirtbags, or escaped convicts but innocent of alleged crimes. And they are always fundamentally flawed. My take only, of course.

Where did the story-telling gene came from?  A generation back to a woman who only had her imagination to take her to places she could only dream about.

But honour in her heroes was always there.

cover-darryBlurb – Daughter of the Murray

1890s, River Murray, Northern Victoria

Georgina Calthorpe is not happy living with her foster family, the MacHenrys, on Jacaranda, their neglected sheep run on the banks of the River Murray.

Unlike the rest of the family, she isn’t looking forward to the return of the prodigal son, Dane. When he arrives at the homestead, he’s furious to discover his inheritance in severe decline. When he blames Georgina, ignoring the true culprit – his father, she decides to leave in a hurry.

Unfortunately, she makes her escape on Dane’s prized stallion and he gives chase, at first to track her down…

From here their fates collide with Conor Foley, a businessman with a dark secret. He offers Georgina apparent security: marriage with status in the emerging nouveau-riche echelons of Melbourne.

But where does her heart lie, now?

None of them can imagine the toll the changing political and social landscape will have on home, heart and family. Has Georgina’s decision led her into grave danger and more unhappiness, or will she survive and fulfil her destiny?

You can find out more about Darry here: www.darryfraser.com

Daughter of the Murray is available in all good bookshops in print and ebook. Link to all retails found HERE.

 

 

Behind the Story: Vanessa Carnevale

Vanessa_Carnevale.jpgToday I am honoured to have the delightful Vanessa Carnevale on my blog today. Vanessa is an author and freelance writer based in Melbourne, Australia, where she lives with her husband and two children.

Passionate about writing and creativity, Vanessa coaches writers to embrace their words and enjoys presenting workshops that inspire budding authors to get their books written. She is also the creator and host of Your Beautiful Writing Life, writing retreats, the first of which she held in Tuscany, Italy, in 2016.

In her early twenties, Vanessa spent several years living in Florence, Italy, where she met her husband and discovered a love of travel and la dolce vita. She now considers Italy her second home. The Florentine Bridge is her first novel.

Vanessa, please tell us about your Story Behind the Story.

In my early twenties I travelled to Europe, a trip that would change the course of my life. I accidentally fell in love not only with the man who would become my future husband, but with Italy, or more specifically, Tuscany. I ended up moving to Florence, where I lived and worked for several years, right in the infamous piazza that houses Brunelleschi’s magnificent dome. I learnt many things during my time in Italy; how to ride a scooter, what a table celebration truly means, what makes a good Chianti and how to embrace the hand gesture! Italy is steeped in all of these things, but most beautiful of all is the way that Italians truly embrace the concept of ‘the slow life’ taking each day as it comes. Perhaps one of the things I loved most about Italy was how life seemed to chug along at a pace that never felt hard to keep up with.

During my time in Italy I kept lots of notes about my observations about life, thinking that one day they might come in handy if I wanted to write a book some day. I sold my first freelance article while living in Italy but put off writing fiction for some time.

When I did eventually sit down to write a novel, a lot of my memories about life in Italy came surfacing back as I read through those original notes. I knew then, that the book I was about to write, would be set in Tuscany, the perfect backdrop for a young aspiring artist by the name of Mia who was in remission from cancer and had lost her motivation to paint because her perspective on life had changed.

Creating an artistic character fit so well with the setting – Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance is steeped in so much culture, that it’s hard to overlook the beauty of this incredible city.

I didn’t expect to write a love story though, but a story of enduring, once-in-a-lifetime, timeless love unfolded once handsome Luca made an appearance in the early chapters of the book and was determined not to fly under the radar unnoticed!

“Full of heart and hope, The Florentine Bridge is a love story about the dolce vita in Tuscany.”

The Florentine bridge (1).jpgMore about The Florentine Bridge:

Young Australian artist Mia Moretti has been cancer free for nine months. But her battle with the illness has taken its toll, leaving her depressed and tormented by overwhelming fears. What’s more, she can’t seem to paint anymore. Mia needs a fresh start so when a surprise opportunity to travel to Tuscany presents itself, she takes it. With any luck, this trip will help her find whatever it is she needs to open her heart and start painting again.

What she doesn’t count on is meeting Luca, a handsome Italian mechanic. With his smile, his warmth and his inspirational outlook on all the good things life has to offer, he sweeps her off her feet. As Mia slowly lets down her walls and allows Luca in, her passion for life is reignited and her new perspective begins to inspire her art. But just when she’s ready to let go of her past, will a tragedy threaten her new life with Luca?

Full of heart and hope, a love story about la dolce vita in Tuscany.

Buy links for book/series

http://www.harlequinbooks.com.au/product/9781489214539

You can connect with Vanessa: 
Web: www.vanessacarnevale.com
Facebook www.facebook.com/vanessacarnevalewriter
Twitter www.twitter.com/v_carnevale
Your Beautiful Writing Life Retreats: www.yourbeautifulwritinglife.com