Behind the Story: Penelope Janu

profile 2Today I’m delighted to introduce you to Penelope Janu. Penelope lives on the coast in northern Sydney with her six children (rapidly growing up) and her distracting husband. She enjoys exploring the Australian countryside, but isn’t always good company because she writes stories in her head as she walks. A lawyer for many years, she has an interest in social justice issues and the natural environment. Whether coastal or rural, Penelope’s novels celebrate Australian characters and communities. Her first novel, In at the Deep End, was published by Harlequin Mira in 2017.

We’d love to hear more about your new release, Penelope!


The name Golden is unusual. Can you tell us how you came up with it?

I was researching one of the well-known events in the Australian horse racing industry, the Golden Slipper, when I decided to name my character Golden. But from the very first chapter of the book, the character of Golden’s grandfather makes it abundantly clear his granddaughter wasn’t named after a horse race, but the Golden Wattle tree, Australia’s national emblem.

Grandpa admired every species of wattle and all the different flower types, but he particularly liked them in August because that was the month of my birthday. I told him once that the flowers looked much better in September and October, when the trees were in full bloom. ‘That’s not the way I see it,’ he said. ‘In August they’re tightly furled and full of potential.’

Immediately I had not only a name that fitted the character and her appreciation of the rural district she lives in, but a poignant connection between Golden, her late grandfather, and her home. In the process of writing this book, I developed an obsession for Australian wildflowers and spent a great deal of time thereafter visiting national parks and gardens and researching species of native flowering plants and trees—including wattles and gums. Like a lot of research, only the parts essential to tell the story actually make it into the book, but I’ve become fascinated with native flowers as a result. Most of them aren’t as showy as introduced species like roses and dahlias, but their delicacy, beauty and ability to thrive in difficult conditions is wonderful.

Was there anything in particular that led you to tell this story?

I had a general interest in horseracing because of my longtime love of horses. I didn’t ever own an ex-racehorse but my friend from childhood, Rina, a policewoman in Victoria, has had two wonderful ex-race horses that have been taken off the track—she’s re-educated them and they have become successful in the competitive dressage arena. Golden rides an ex-racehorse, and her childhood was spent in the horseracing industry.

I’m opposed to gambling (besides the occasional Melbourne Cup flutter) because of the terrible implications it has for many individuals and their families, but the horse aspects of the horseracing industry is something I’ve always been interested in. There are so many people who work within the industry, from strappers and jockeys, to trainers and breeders, who are there because of their love of horses. I find it fascinating that, when going to a horserace and seeing thousands of people in the stands, you can walk to the stalls and stand only metres away from the beautiful animals that underpin the industry. There are generally a host of characters only too happy to talk to you about their lifelong passion for thoroughbred horses and their determination to respect, care for and preserve this unique breed of horse.

cover right trackAbout the book:

On the Right Track is a love story, a story about taking chances, and a story about what it means to belong. Golden Saunders has overcome many obstacles in her life and holds a belief that, ‘I’m happy enough. I don’t need more.’ When Tor Amundsen, a Norwegian diplomat, starts asking questions about the past that Golden left behind, it threatens not only the memories she has of the grandfather who raised her, but of the home and career she loves. The tagline that my publisher at Harlequin Mira suggested for the cover perfectly sums things up—All she wanted was a quiet country life: fate had other ideas.

If you’d like to buy the book:


If you’d like to find out more about Penelope:


Australian Stories Go Worldwide

largerlogowriterontheroadI’m super happy to tell you that I’m on a podcast created by the wonderful Mel from Writer on the Road. In this edition I talk about Australian writers who now have their books on the world stage, sharing our uniquely Australian characters and stories with readers from every corner of the globe. 

The link is below if you’d like to have a listen. I also suggest you have a look at the other authors Mel has interviewed as there are some amazing stories and information from an array of writers. Thank you for having me on your podcast, Mel!




Behind the Story: Tracy Brenton

Author Tracy brenton.jpgI’m delighted to introduce you to Tracy Brenton, whose favourite books to read are “kissing books” (full credit to ‘The Princess Bride’) and if there isn’t at least a little bit of romance in a story then she’ll probably lose interest. So it won’t come as a surprise to learn that all of the stories she writes have a romance at their core. Even the zombie ones!

Tracy love all things creative and take way too many pictures of sunsets and all the pretty flowers around her home on the Mid North Coast of NSW. She’s currently working hard on developing a taste for coffee and writing the next book in the Tempest Beach series.

Tracy, we’d love to hear your story behind the story. Take it away!

I’m an accountant by day and a writer by night (& morning, and weekends, and any spare 5 minutes). I started writing about five years ago when I realised I wasn’t doing anything just for me.

I tried a bunch of different things:

  • Dragon Boat racing, which was awesome, but then I injured my shoulder
  • Yoga, which I still do intermittently
  • I joined Rotary, and have been President of my club the last two years
  • And, I did a writing course with the Australian Writers Centre (AWC)

That course was the start of my writing journey. I joined an AWC writing group and wrote a short story for an Anthology we put together, just to see if I could. That story was High Tide and when I released it on its own recently it made number one in it’s Amazon category – short Romance stories – and stayed in the top three for over a week!

After High Tide, I decided to see if I could write a full length novel. After a great start, I got lost and couldn’t figure out what happened next (that book’s still sitting half complete on my cloud drive). So I set out to learn more about story structure, and plotting. When I felt ready for my second attempt at a full length book I gave myself a deadline, my birthday.

Deadlines are awesome. I finished it by my deadline, got feedback, got it edited and started submitting to publishers. It wasn’t quite what they were looking for, so that book’s sitting on the cloud drive too, waiting for its time.

In the meantime I had started writing the next book which turned out to be Spark. Again, I gave myself a deadline. I wanted to see if I could write it in twelve weeks. In the process I became a morning person (that was short lived) and hit my deadline. Mind you, it took another four months to get feedback, a professional editor, and to do all the edits.

I’d pitched Spark to a publisher at a writing conference and they said to send it through once it was finished. So, when it was finished I had to decide – submit or self publish.

I’m a business woman at heart, so have gone down the self publishing route. It’s been a huge learning curve, but my book went live on my birthday.

Spark Cover smallTo make time to write I completely rearranged my life, selling my business and getting a part-time job. My part-time job turned into two part time jobs so I’m actually working full-time hours, but I still have more time than when I was working for myself and it’s made all the difference to getting my book finished.

Fun fact: I can only write first person. I tried third person at first and it wasn’t working. Then I rewrote it in first person and it just clicked. My story suddenly worked and it was easy, it flowed.

So that’s the story behind the story – my first full length book – Spark (Tempest Beach Book One).

I’m about to start writing the second book in the series – Sing. And I’ve set myself a challenge to write it, get it professionally edited, and have it ready to publish in six months. Just to see if I can.

Watch this space in December to see if I made it!

Here’s some more about Spark:

I might be inexperienced, but that’s not going to stop me from saving my brothers business. Even if HE gets in my way.

He might be a black belt mechanic, but that doesn’t make him the boss.

The only problem is, I can’t seem to stop KISSING him.

I won’t let him distract me. I won’t, dammit.

Sparks fly between a sassy business graduate and a black belt mechanic when they join forces to save her brother’s business while he’s in an induced coma after rescuing their parents from a fire.

But the fire was deliberate, and a shadowy underworld threatens not only the business, but their lives.

Throw in a kick-ass crew of sexy martial artists and you’ve got yourself a delicious mix of adventure, mystery and mayhem, complete with a gorgeous beachside location and love at first sight.

2S connectionIf you’d like to purchase a copy:

Amazon Australia –

Amazon US –

iBooks –

Google Play –

Universal –

If you’d like to keep in touch with Tracy:

19S this kiss


Behind the Story: Sarah Williams

Retouched 1.jpgToday I’m excited to introduce you to Sarah Williams. Sarah spent her childhood chasing sheep, riding horses and picking Kiwi fruit on the family orchard in rural New Zealand. After a decade travelling, Sarah moved to Queensland to raise a family and follow her passion for writing. She currently resides in Maleny on the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. 

When she’s not absorbed in her fictional writing world, Sarah is running after her family of four kids, one husband, two dogs and a cat. If that’s not enough, she also mentors and teaches writing workshops and hosts Write with Love- a weekly writers and readers podcast.

Sarah, please tell us your story behind the story!

The Brigadier Station Series is a family saga about three sons who each have their own love story. They are very family and small-town community focused.

The Sky over Brigadier Station is the second in the Brigadier Station series which is set near Julia Creek in the isolated Queensland Outback of Australia.

In this novel I reversed the gender stereotype. Riley, my heroine is very Alpha and dominates the relationship while Noah is the one who gets left behind on the station, so she can go fly Helis!

The Sky over Brigadier Station also touches on Domestic Violence and PTSD. These are both big issues I wanted to draw attention to.

The-Sky-Over-Brigadeer-Station-Kindle-FINALMore about Sarah’s book: 

Noah McGuire stayed away from Brigadier Station for a reason. He’s spent almost a decade in New Zealand’s South Island, trying to forget his past. But the memories still haunt him and the last thing he wants to do is see his estranged family and attend his brother’s wedding. 

However, the only way he can collect his inheritance is if he returns to his family’s property and faces the demons he’s been hiding from. 

When it comes to rounding up hundreds of cattle in a day, doing so by horseback doesn’t do the trick quite like a helicopter does and Riley Sinclair is one of the best pilots in the country. It’s a dangerous job, but she has nothing to lose. Until she meets Noah and her bravery is finally tested.

Can they make a life together or is the pull of the sky too strong? 

To connect with Sarah or purchase her book: 

Print and digital through all the usual online retails. Here’s a link:

Sarah is regularly checking social media when she really should be cleaning. 
You can find her online at: