Valentine’s Day is a big deal for me. I especially loved my Feb 14 celebratory champers after my first visit to Batley when Rex presented me with a hibiscus. Charmer that he is, he’s continued the tradition to this day.
Valentine’s Day 2012 was also a biggie – I sent a “Yay, you’ve done it!” email to my writer friend Jenn J McLeod who’d just had this to say:
“Yep! I have accepted an offer from Simon & Schuster (Australia) for the first two novels in my Seasons Collection.
I jotted down the names of the people/novels that have inspired me along the way. You are on that list so I wanted you to be amongst the first to share my excitement.”
Jenn’s novel House for all Seasons (number five on Neilsen’s debut novel bestseller list for 2013) has had many happy readers hanging out for the next book in the series – Simmering Season due out April 1.
Here’s the blurb: Back in Calingarry Crossing to sell the family pub, Maggie Lindeman has no idea a perfect storm is heading her way until her past and present collide with the unexpected.
Maggie once had a crush on Dan Ireland, now a work-weary police crash investigator, still hell-bent on punishing himself for his misspent youth. Dan has ample reason for not going home to Calingarry Crossing for the school reunion, but one very good reason why he should.
Maggie is dealing with a restless seventeen-year-old son, a father with dementia, a fame-obsessed musician husband, a dwindling bank account and a country pub that just won’t sell.
The last thing she needs is a surprise houseguest for the summer. Fiona Bailey-Blair, daughter of an old friend and spoilt with everything but the truth, whips up a maelstrom of gossip when she blows into town.
This storm season, when a school reunion brings home more than memories, Maggie Lindeman will discover … there’s no keeping a lid on some secrets.
And here’s Jenn to tell us her story:
Hi Jenn, first question, okay, questions: When did you start writing and when did you first dream of having a novel published?
I tend to restrict my ‘real writing’ tenure to the years following 2008, which is when I took a more business-like approach: applying myself, learning my craft and setting goals, etc
Did I always want to become an author? No! I wanted to be a singer/actress. As it turns out, my writing process satisfies the latent drama queen in me. I am a ‘method writer’. (I become my character and act out scenes and dialogue when I write. Quite hilarious to watch, so I am told.) I knew from a young age I had stories I wanted to tell. What I didn’t know was now hard getting published would be, or what it involved, or that people (friends and family) would not really understand the pull or dedication required. Had I know how stressful and isolating, I may never have tried. I guess ignorance was bliss.
Rae, can I just clarify something you said above? You didn’t just ‘inspire’ me. Your patience and generosity all those times I sent my “best efforts” for you to critique meant so much to me. Remember when I couldn’t grasp past tense? Then you threw past perfect into the mix and my head exploded! But you made me want to learn and be a better writer. I will love you forever, for that.
Wow! Thanks for the kind words. Umm . . . what’s past perfect tense?
Can you tell us a little about your life? Here’s a hint to get you started: “Woof woof.”
Yes, I am an old dog, Rae. Thanks for pointing that out! 😉
Oh, you mean my B&B, purpose-built for people traveling with their dogs? You know I am a dedicated dog person and a Floss fan (of the dog – not the dental – variety). Creating canine characters for my novels happens to be a bonus to this writing gig. Jackpot the Jack Russell from House for all Seasons even makes a cameo in Simmering Season, along with his mate, Achilles (who, btw, does not heel!)
But, yes, when not writing I am making B&B beds and mopping furry floors. Very glamorous, this writing life.
In case you’re wondering – Floss is my dog, a long-haired border collie.
Jenn, you write books, are busy on social media, have an amazing blog, contribute to other writers and speak at conferences – do you have more hours in the day than the rest of us – or what?
I wish! What I miss is reading time. I was once told “to be a good writer, one must be a good reader”. Too true – then and still. But, just as important these days is connecting with readers and the internet makes it possible and easy. Even though it can be time-consuming, publishers expect their authors to be online and actively engaging with readers. (Another steep learning curve for an old dog who, not too long ago, thought a chat room was a sleazy online pick-up joint.) I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks – woof!
Online, I strive to be like the authors I enjoy following – bloggers who (like you, Rae – and Floss!) evoke discussion,make me think and most importantly, make me smile. I love blogging because I get to support other authors. I once heard someone say, “No author ever hurt their career by being generous to another author”. I live by that.
House for all Seasons has a cast of fabulous characters – and, boy, do you put them through the hoops. What inspired this novel – and Simmering Season?
House for all Seasons started with the simple premise of four parts with four characters – each one as different as the seasons. The original storyline had a male character (the vet).
The seasons inspire all my stories. What better analogy than the seasons for a story about growth and change? I love the contrast, and contrast makes for great characters and conflict. And I do bring plenty of conflict to Simmering Season’s poor Maggie.
A sweltering small town during storm season,
A school reunion that brings home more than memories,
And an unexpected houseguest who’ll blow the lid off a lifetime of secrets for local publican—Maggie Lindeman.
What’s coming next – is there a third book in the series? And what about after that?
Simon & Schuster have now contracted four novels, so my dream of having a ‘Seasons Collection’ will come true in 2016 when Book 4 comes out.
April 2015 will see Book 3 (Season of Shadow & Light) released, but there are two chapters in the back of Simmering Season to give readers a taste. I am moving away from Calingarry Crossing (the setting for books 1 and 2) to a new town with a different cast of quirky and colourful characters for me to traumatise.
Let’s finish on a high note – tell us a highlight or two in your life as a published author.
- Emails from readers. Nothing better than a personal note from a reader to say my story touched them in some way.
- The surreal sense of celebrity that only comes from living in a small town, when strangers come up to you in the supermarket and say, “You’re that author! I loved your book.”
How can readers get your book – will it be on New Zealand bookshelves – and when?
April 1 is the official release date for Aust/NZ.
Simmering Season will be available in print in bookshops, from e-tailers and in e-book. I already have some lovely NZ readers who connect with me via Facebook and Twitter. Will be venturing into Pinterest and Google+ this year too.
There is no stopping this old dog!
Woof right back atchya, Rae and Flossy!
Website: www.jennjmcleod.com (where people can follow my blog or sign up for my ‘Odd and Newsy Newsletter’ – irregular book news and giveaways.)
You can read a sample chapter of Simmering Season here – and view the book trailer