GUEST BLOG: Bestselling author Fiona Palmer on what she’s been reading

Fiona PalmerHarvest has started over here in the West of Australia but the rain keeps coming and holding up the headers. I’ve been a bit busy with visits to Perth for Monster Jam (with the kids), Rural, Regional and Remote Women’s Network meetings and related work, then throw in kids’ sports, carnivals, hockey and golf AGM’s, housework, farm work, and writing my next book, which means I haven’t got much time left to read. It’s really sad, but I’ve only managed to read one book in the last month, Rachael John’s The Patterson Girls.

Rachael is a great friend of mine, we have done a few book tours together and support each other in our writing. But that isn’t why I read her work. I pick up Rach’s books because she writes easy to read stories and has an engaging storytelling ability that keeps you turning each page frantic in anticipation. Her books are always full of emotion and The Patterson Girls was definitely that! It follows four different sisters who come home to spend Christmas with their father, six months after their mother has passed away. Each sister has their own journey and while together they learn of a family curse.  Rachael’s stories are going from strength to strength and she’s making a big name for herself.

Even though I haven’t read this next book I’m still recommending it because my mum read it and loved it. Anything my mum has enjoyed I know I will too. The Tea Planter’s Wife by Dinah Jefferies is about Gwendolyn, who leaves her home at nineteen to travel across the world to Ceylon where her new husband Laurence owns a large and prosperous tea plantation. I’m keen to read this story because my grandfather was adopted when he came to Australia as a one-year-old from England. On his adoption papers it lists his father’s name, which states that he was in India working on a tea plantation and that is all we know of him. My mum said she couldn’t put it down, it had her intrigued and she said it was a beautifully written drama. I can’t wait to read it myself.

The Patterson Girls The Tea Planter's Wife












That’s it, just two books from me this time. I am busy trying to write my next book set in Lake Grace, which follows on from The Saddler Boys and includes a Vietnam veteran.  I’m looking forward to including all the little stories I’ve gathered from the vet’s I’ve been talking to. In the meantime, I’ll be spending most of my time on Holly, the New Holland header, and working on my plot as I harvest.

Grab your copy of The Saddler Boys here!

The Saddler Boys

Fiona Palmer The Saddler Boys

School teacher Natalie has always been a city girl. She has a handsome boyfriend and a family who give her only the best. But she craves her own space, and her own classroom, before settling down into the life she is expected to lead.

When Nat takes up a posting at a tiny school in remote Western Australia, it proves quite the culture shock, but she is soon welcomed by the inquisitive locals, particularly young student Billy and his intriguing single father, Drew.

As Nat’s school comes under threat of closure, and Billy’s estranged mother turns up out of the blue, Nat finds herself fighting for the township and battling with her heart. Torn between her society … Read more

Grab your copy of The Saddler Boys here!

Read an extract of The Saddler Boys

A Wuthering Heights inspired tale: Debra Adelaide, author of The Women’s Pages answers Six Sharp Questions

Debra AdelaideThe Booktopia Book Guru asks

Debra Adelaide

author of The Women’s Pages

Six Sharp Questions


1. Congratulations, you have a new book. What is it about and what does it mean to you?

My novel The Women’s Pages is based on a short story of mine that introduced two characters in a multilayered story about loss, silences, relationships between mothers and daughters, and above all about the power of the written word.

It’s based loosely on Wuthering Heights, which presents numerous themes big and small, but particularly for me is very much about storytelling, given the novel’s many intriguing narrative layers. I’ve not rewritten that extraordinary novel by any means, but simply responded to its elements and especially leapt into some of its most compelling imagined spaces, such as the unspoken, untold, age-old story of the mother and daughter dynamic. Wuthering Heights features only absent, silent, missing, dead or dying mothers: The Women’s Pages is partly about finding or restoring mothers to a narrative.

2. Time passes. Things change. What are the best and worst moments that you have experienced in the past year or so?

In the past year I have had two books published and as a writer with a full time job (at a university) I can’t hope for better than that. My last book was the collection The Simple Act of Reading, which was done in collaboration and for the Sydney Story Factory. Being able to present essays by authors on the topic of what reading means to them, and with the support of organisations like CA’s cultural fund and Random House publishers, all for the cause of fostering reading and writing in children, was a total pleasure and privilege. It’s been a very satisfying moment of my wDebra Adelaideriting life in every way.

Having a novel come next, especially one that’s so much about the act of reading – I must have a bit of a theme or obsession here! – only consolidates this pleasure. The day your publisher rings and says she loves your manuscript, the one you wrote in desperation, for yourself alone, and wants to publish it, is a unique joy, one you cherish forever.

The worst moments in recent times have involved the serious illness of two friends and the terrible swift death of one and the ongoing illness of one of my closest family members: not being able to help or heal someone you love is just devastating. But on that note, love always offers the very best moments, and I am blessed with an abundance of that in my life.

3. Do you have a favourite quote or passage you would be happy to share with us? It doesn’t need to be deep but it would be great if it meant something to you.

My home email address signature includes this quotation from Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary: ‘Human language is like a cracked kettledrum on which we beat out tunes for bears to dance to, when what we long to do is make music that will move the stars to pity.’

I love this quotation because it reminds me almost every day what my job as a writer is, and how big the challenge is, that is, to take language that is tired and worn out, or lowly, cliched and undistinguished in every way, and turn it into something moving and beautiful and uniquely mine. I don’t achieve this all the time of course, but at least I am reminded to aspire to it.

MB quote

4. Writers have often been described as being difficult to live with. Do you conform to the stereotype or defy it? Please tell us a little about the day to day of your writing life.

My writing life itself is messy, ad hoc, organic and irregular in every way. However once I am engaged in a writing project, a story, or a novel, once I am ‘in the zone’ I become very disciplined and write to a schedule that I set myself (and deadlines that I always meet).

Despite this I think I am supremely easy to live with! At least, I still do the household tasks and meet my family obligations and certainly never disappear into my study with bottles of whisky or boxes of chocolate biscuits, muttering or ranting when I do emerge. However I know I become distracted when I’m in the zone, and am really thinking deeply only about the work, so perhaps those I live with would differ on this.

5. Some writers claim not to be influenced by the needs of the marketplace, while others seem obsessed by it. Would you please describe how the marketplace affects your writing (come on, tell the truth!).

The only time I have tried to think about and respond to the marketplace the writing has failed. The marketplace is a terrible distraction: if I were a genre writer, say of crime or speculative fiction, this probably wouldn’t be the case. But for me I have learned I cannot hope to second guess the market or my readers. I write for myself first: everything I write I have assumed no one else in the world would want to read (but of course at the same time have secretly hoped that millions would). the-household-guide-to-dying

When I completed my last novel, The Household Guide to Dying, I gave the manuscript to my agent and without a trace of irony told her that if she didn’t like it I would just go away and bury it because I had another novel underway. Perhaps I am always preparing myself for rejection: that might imply some bleakness in my background, but in fact I think this is healthy for a writer. You need rejection, and you need failure, so confronting it yourself right from the start is helpful.

The market is far too protean and slippery to grasp with confidence: it can make you unconsciously censor the work, or stop you from concentrating on what the story might need.

6. Unlikely Scenario: You’ve been charged with civilising twenty ill-educated adolescents but you may take only five books with you. What do you take and why?

Wuthering Heights, of course: this is a no-brainer given the context of my new book, but also because it is one of those novels that can bear endless re-readings, and one that for all its mysteries and even frustrations, has the capacity to speak across the generations. And then the characters are so bold and wild and wilful and out there, which I imagine might strike a chord. And finally because it can and should be read aloud, so I imagine sitting down reading this novel to commence the civilising process with some sense of community and even ritual.

The Little PrinWuthering Heightsce, because it is exquisitely beautiful and wise and clever and delightful, and would remind adolescents, who are always pretending to be so much more grown up than they are, of the importance of child-like wonder and imagination.

If the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy is cheating (three novels) then definitely The Hobbit, mainly because I loved it when I was a child but have loved it and re-read it forever since; but also because it was a real breakthrough for so-called children’s literature, coming from that vast and intricate and complete fantasy world that Tolkien created.

Thea Astley’s A Descant for Gossips, which I have recently re-read, because it demonstrates the terrible consequences of prejudice and alienation in the way a vulnerable schoolgirl is picked on and ostracised. I think it would touch these readers in sensitive emotional spots. And because readers always learn a new word or two reading an Astley novel.

Definitely cheating, but The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, which of course would be read aloud and performed with plenty of roles for the 20 adolescents; it would be marvellously civilising in every way. And they would also learn many new words.

Debra, thank you for playing!

Grab your copy of The Women’s Pages here!

The Women’s Pages

Debra Adelaide

Debra AdelaideEllis, an ordinary suburban young woman of the 1960s, is troubled by secrets and gaps in her past that become more puzzling as her creator, Dove, writes her story fifty years later. Having read Wuthering Heights to her dying mother, Dove finds she cannot shake off the influence of that singular novel: it has infected her like a disease. Instead of returning to her normal life she follows the story it has inspired to discover more about Ellis, who has emerged from the pages of fiction herself – or has she? – to become a modern successful career woman.

The Women’s Pages is about the choices and compromises women must make, their griefs and losses, and their need to fill in the absent spaces where other women … Read More.

Grab your copy of The Women’s Pages here!


Nine naughty questions with… Trish Morey, author of upcoming Cherry Season

The Booktopia Book Guru asksCherry Season

Trish Morey

author of Cherry Season

Nine Naughty Questions

1. I wonder, is a Romance writer born or made? Please tell us little about your life before publication

I think, maybe a bit of both. I came to writing like so many of my colleagues, via a totally unrelated career. I was a mild-mannered chartered accountant before the writing bug bit hard and wouldn’t let go.

However as a teen I always fancied myself a writer (until talk of the real world and needing a “proper” job intervened).

(PS: I was kind of kidding about the mild-mannered bit…)

2. For all the glitz and the glam associated with the idea of Romance novels, writing about and from the heart is personal and very revealing. Do you think this is why Romance Readers are such devoted fans? And do you ever feel exposed?

A romance writer can’t just pay lip service to the emotions – romance readers will spot insincerity at fifty paces. So if you want to connect with your readers, you have to be prepared to pour yourself onto the page. Sure, sometimes it’s hard or confronting, but then, we’re not writing autobiography, we’re writing fiction. It’s about tapping into our experiences, our heartbreaks and highs, our joys and our grief, and putting the characters in that place instead.

Ultimately it’s not about you, the writer, and you have to be able to let that go.

3. Please tell us about your latest novel…

Cherry Season is a story about what happens when polar opposites attract. Dan Faraday is a 37 year old uptight third generation cherry orchardist with both age and an overblown sense of responsibility weighing down on his shoulders.

Lucy Marino is a 24 year old California girl backpacking her way around Australia and who gets a job picking cherries on the orchard, and immediately the two are at loggerheads.

It’s a story about spark, finding home and finding love where you least expect it. And it’s a book about cherries too, of course :)

4. Is the life of a published Romance writer… well… Romantic?

If ugg boots, too much coffee, screaming deadlines and mad hair 99% of the time is romantic, then sure.

But there are times you have to go to Santorini and watch a sunset, or visit a winery and learn how to dosage and disgorge a bottle of sparkling wine that you can later crack open and taste, all in the name of research.

So yeah, there are moments of sheer unadulterated romance that make up for that other mental 99% of the time.

5. Of all of the Romantic moments in your life is there one moment, more dear than all the rest, against which you judge all the Romantic elements in your writing? If so can you tell us about that special moment?

This is funny. Ever heard that expression “about as romantic as a road accident”? Well, that could have been coined for my hubby. Don’t get me wrong, he’s one amazing guy, but he’s not the most romantic man on the planet (which may or may not explain why I feel the need to make stuff up :) Then again, we’ve been married longer than twenty-seven years now and I’m crazier about him now than ever.

I figure if I can give my characters a taste of that kind of romance and a love that turns into a bone deep commitment, that means your characters are going to stick together whatever life hurls at them, then I’ve done my job.

Trish Morey6. Sex in Romance writing today ranges from ‘I can’t believe they’re allowed to publish this stuff’ explicit to ‘turn the light back on I can’t see a thing’ mild. How important do you think sex is in a Romance novel?

Sex is one part, and often a very important part, of any romantic relationship. But in romance, it’s not about the sex per se – it’s about the emotion, for without that, the sex is nothing more than a physical act that comes as no surprise to anyone.

Intimacy is a huge, risky step and takes courage and trust, because when our characters take off their clothes, they’re not only baring their bodies, they’re often baring their souls. Now they’ve got nothing to hide behind, and all sorts of secrets and fears and hang ups can be exposed, exposing the characters to all kinds of grief in the process.

I like to put my characters through the wringer in all kinds of ways. Sex is just one way.

7. Romance writers are often Romance readers – please tell us your five favourite (read and re-read) Romance Novels or five novels that influenced your work most?

It was a box of Mills & Boons from my Granny’s nursing home that I devoured when I was fifteen that made me want to be and believe I could be a writer – I so wish I’d taken note of the author names (back then I do believe I was much more interested in some much needed sex ed:-))

When I caught the bug again, it was Emma Darcy (love love love her Holly Christmas!), Miranda Lee (fabulous sex!) and Alison Kelly’s strong sexy stories that I loved. All our fabulous Downunder Sexy authors really, because that strong, confident voice resonated with me.

And then I discovered Jennifer Crusie and her full length contemporaries, like Welcome to Temptation and that leapt out and smacked me over the head and said, it’s okay, you can do sexy *and* funny.

So here I am now, writing sexy and funny and having a ball.

Emma DarcyMiranda Lee











8. Erotic Romance writing is ‘so hot right now’, do you have any thoughts on why?

Haha, could it be the sex, perchance? Writing has become much more graphic sexually over the last forty or fifty years, and men’s fiction has led the way. Women’s fiction is catching up. And now you can read on a Kindle or similar and nobody on the bus on the way to work knows what you’re reading – it’s liberating and discrete at the same time.

9. Lastly, what advice do you give aspiring writers?

To writers in general – just write. The more you write, the better you’ll get. And don’t believe it when people tell you that you have to write a certain way. Just write the story, and sort the rest out later.

To romance writers in particular – all of the above – and join Romance Writers of Australia if you are serious about pursuing a career in romance writing.

Trish, thank you for playing!

Pre-Order your copy of Cherry Season here!

Cherry Season

Trish Morey Cherry Season

Dan Faraday is too busy for love. With the long hours running the family orchard, he doesn’t have time to go on dates, and if he did, he would be looking for someone who fits into his ten-year plan. Someone traditional, reliable and dependable – someone just like him.

Someone the total opposite of beautiful drifter Lucy Marino. A free spirit who chases the moment, she’s in town for the fruit-picking season. The only certain thing in her life is constant change and while she’s tempted to see how cute Dan might be if only he smiled, she’s not the type of girl to wait around.

But as the cherry trees blossom, Lucy and Dan are increasingly drawn … Read more.

Pre-Order your copy of Cherry Season here!

Behind every strong woman is another…Cathy Kelly talks to Booktopia TV about her new book Between Sisters

Meet sisters Coco and Cassie who were abandoned by their mother when young. Meet grandmother Pearl who raised them. And meet Elsa, the polished face of daytime television who has some demons of her own. How she fits into the story … well, you’ll just have to find out for yourself!

From bestselling Irish author Cathy Kelly, Between Sisters is another enchanting read from this master storyteller, weaving the lives of these four women into one powerful narrative of love, family and redemption.

Grab your copy of Between Sisters here!

Between Sisters

Cathy Kelly

Meet the women of Delaney Square . . .Between Sisters

Cassie has spent her married life doing everything right – making sure her children have the perfect life, being a devoted wife and a dutiful daughter-in-law. Although it’s left her so exhausted that ‘wine o’clock’ comes a little earlier each afternoon.

Her sister Coco runs a vintage dress shop and has shied away from commitment over the years. Coco believes men complicate things, and she’s got enough to contend with. Until a face from her past returns.

Watching over them is grandmother Pearl, tucked away in her little house in Delaney Square. But something … Read more.


Grab your copy of Between Sisters here!

It started in Paris The Honey Queen Homecoming



Visit Cathy Kelly’s Booktopia author page.

A dysfunctional family, country town tension and a little romance with a park ranger … Pamela Cook talks to Booktopia TV about her new book, Close to Home

Australian rural fiction writer, Pamela Cook, talks to us about her new book Close to Home a heartwarming story about letting go of the past and embracing the future. There’s a dash of a dysfunctional family, a smidgeon of country town tension and a little romance with a park ranger …

Cook is also the author of Blackwattle Lake, an engaging novel of finding your place in the world and Essie’s Way, a captivating story of family and love

Grab your copy of Close to Home here

Close to Home

Pamela Cook

Close to Home

Orphaned at thirteen, Charlie Anderson has been on her own for half her life. Not that she minds – she has her work as a vet and most days that’s enough. Most days. But when she’s sent to a small town on the New South Wales coast to investigate a possible outbreak of the deadly Hendra virus, Charlie finds herself torn between the haunting memories of her past, her dedication to the job and her attraction to a handsome local.

Travelling to Naringup means coming face to face with what is left of her dysfunctional family – her cousin Emma, who begged Charlie not to leave all those years ago, and her aunt Hazel, who let her go without a backwards glance. But it also means relying on … Read more.

Grab your copy of Close to Home here 

 Grab your copy of Close to Home here 

BOOK REVIEW: The Secret Years by Barbara Hannay (Review from Hayley Shephard)

From London to Tobruk to Australia to New Britain to Cornwall to Australia and then back to Cornwall and back to Australia again, The Secret Years follows a difficult yet heart-warming journeythe-secret-years that spans years and continents.

After an intriguing prologue we are introduced to Lucy, a soldier on a return flight from Afghanistan heading home to Townsville. She hopes to start planning her wedding but after arriving her fiancé changes her mind; he can’t handle her job with the army while he has – for all intents and purposes – a desk job. That’s not the end of it as her mother, who has jumped from one rocky relationship to the next her entire life, has moved in with a man who this time around seems perfect; and that makes her all the more nervous about messing it up.

Lucy’s mother’s uncomfortable (to say the least) relationship with her own father has overshadowed her entire life, with secrets left untold.

Lucy finds an old letter with a photograph of a stunning young woman who turns out to be Lucy’s grandmother, affectionately called George. The letter could help uncover the secrets from the past and from her Mother’s reaction to the letter, Lucy discovers it won’t be easy playing detective. So Lucy sets off to England where it all started; during WWII her Grandfather fell head-over-heels in love with George, a beautiful aristocratic English woman who in turn loved him immeasurably.

While there Lucy finds out things that help set the record straight. We find out why her grandfather sent her own mother back there when she was a child after George had died. Why she was taken from the family’s home in outback Queensland?

Sorry, I have to stop typing out the entire plot; it was just such an awesome read.

Now focus!

The whole story brought tears to my eyes, particularly towards the end of the book.

I loved how she portrayed her female characters. Lucy, her mother and grandmother are strong women who love fiercely.

Barbara Hannay’s descriptions of the surrounding landscapes are also stunning. You feel the heat of Queensland and the bitterly yet magical cold weather of Cornwall.

But what I think I loved most about this story was how easy it was to relate to, how universal the themes are. Everyone experiences heartbreak and regret, and forgiveness is truly a powerful wake-up call…

Grab your copy of The Secret Years here

the-secret-yearsThe Secret Years – Signed Copies Available!*

by Barbara Hannay

For a limited time only, order The Secret Years and you will receive a signed copy. *Offer available while stocks last.

When Lucy Hunter stumbles upon her grandfather Harry’s World War II memorabilia, she finds a faded photograph of a stunning young woman known simply as ‘George’ and a series of heartfelt letters. They are clues about the secret years, a period of Lucy’s family history that has been kept a mystery . . . until now.

How did a cattleman from north Queensland find forbidden love with the Honourable Georgina Lenton of London and persuade her to move to his isolated outback property? And why are the effects of this encounter still reverberating in the lives of Lucy and her mother, Rose, now? As the passions of the past trickle more…

Grab your copy of The Secret Years here

Fiona Palmer talks to Booktopia TV about her new book, The Saddler Boys!

Bestselling Australian rural author Fiona Palmer talks to us about her new novel The Saddler Boys. And for the lucky that get in quick, they’ll receive a signed copy!

For a limited time only, order The Saddler Boys and you will receive a signed copy. Offer available while stocks last.

The Saddler Boys

Fiona Palmer

the-saddler-boysSchool teacher Natalie has always been a city girl. She has a handsome boyfriend and a family who give her only the best. But she craves her own space, and her own classroom, before settling down into the life she is expected to lead.

When Nat takes up a posting at a tiny school in remote Western Australia, it proves quite the culture shock, but she is soon welcomed by the inquisitive locals, particularly young student Billy and his intriguing single father, Drew.

As Nat’s school comes under threat of closure, and Billy’s estranged mother turns up out of the blue, Nat finds herself fighting for the township and battling with her heart. Torn between her society … Read more

For a limited time only, order The Saddler Boys and you will receive a signed copy. Offer available while stocks last.


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