All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Q&A With….. Jennifer Scoullar

on June 26, 2013

Scoullar, Jennifer - credit John Koenders, Studio ReflectionsTo celebrate the release of Jennifer Scoullar’s second novel, Currawong Creek she is a guest today on my blog, answering some of my questions. Jennifer’s first novel, Brumby’s Run was a lovely story of family, connections and life on the land. Currawong Creek has some similar themes and is sure to be a must-read for those enjoying the rural genre. You read my review of Brumby’s Run here and my review of Currawong Creek here.

Currawong Creek

Q1. Hi Jennifer and welcome to my blog. Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions for me. To start us off – how did you come to begin writing novels and how were you first published?

– I was a bookworm as a child, and began my first novel at eleven. I always believed I’d grow up to be a writer, but unfortunately life got in the way. In 2006 I watched a little wasp buzz past my window, and unaccountably felt compelled to pick up a pen and write about it. That story became Wasp Season, and was picked up by a small Melbourne publisher. My ambition though, was to sign with a major house. I pitched Brumby’s Run to Belinda Byrne of Penguin Books at a conference, and miracle of miracles – it was published last year!

 

Q2. Share a little about your writing process – do you plot extensively or go with the flow? Do you have a favourite place to write and are there any essentials (snacks, music etc) to your creative process?

– I used not to plot at all, just let the story carry me along. Deadlines have made me more efficient. I now draw up a rough preliminary outline, listing the major plot points. These go on to index cards, and then on to a cork board. However the narrative always takes on a life of its own at some point, breaking out in unexpected directions. I’m very glad of that, because it keeps me excited and interested. The carefully ordered index cards are hurriedly revised, and must play catch-up as the story evolves.

I’ve learned to write whenever I can, seizing any opportunity: my little home office, bed, the stable, the beer garden at the local pub. Sometimes it’s nice to have a change of surroundings. There are no essentials required – just my computer, or a pen and paper. I’m really very flexible. Although I must admit, the occasional glass of Shiraz does help.

 

Q3. Having read both your novels, your love of the land is so obvious and it really adds something to the stories. Have you always been so passionate about conservation and respecting the natural surrounds? Or has it been something that has come to you over time spent exploring it?

– I’ve always enjoyed a profound affinity with nature. It was undoubtedly encouraged by my parents, both great lovers of the Australian bush. But I think it’s more than that. I think I was born with it, and that most of us are. For some reason I just never outgrew that original, childlike wonder and connection with the natural world. I don’t need to consciously channel my love for the land. It automatically informs not only everything I write, but everything I do, whether I like it or not.

 

Q4. In Brumby’s Run you investigate the issue of the native brumby population and in Currawong Creek you explore mining and how it can affect the land. How much research did you have to do into these?

– An awful lot of research goes into my books. However, since I always write about issues I’m passionately interested in, that research becomes a great joy. I’m a nerd at heart!

Brumby's Run

 

Q5. The rural romance genre has really exploded in popularity in recent times. Do you attribute anything in particular to why this has occurred?

 

– Australian readers find independent, tough-minded women more appealing than the self-absorbed shopaholics who dominate chick-lit. These tend to be the main characters in rural stories. Before Rachael Treasure, there were no uniquely Australian contemporary novels in this genre. But more importantly, the landscape is an integral part of these stories. Australia’s wild landscapes are powerful settings. In cities, many people live lives so far removed from nature, that they rarely even touch the earth. But at what cost? The cost to our declining environment? The cost to our hearts? I think the world is hungry to re-engage with nature, to ground itself. Rural lit taps into this vein. The wildly successful movie Avatar did the same thing. Losing touch with wildness is losing touch with ourselves.

Q6. What do you like to do to relax when you’re away from your keyboard?

– As I said, I’m a nerd, and also a bit of a loner. I enjoy the company of my animals as much or more as any of my other friends. So horse riding, gardening, working on the property – these are my greatest pleasures. Also reading and spending time with my family.

Q7. Can you share a few of your favourite authors and/or books?

– I love the Aussie rural lit genre for their heartfelt love stories, outback settings and unpretentious depictions of regional life, both human and animal. Rachael Treasure, Fleur Mcdonald, Nicole Alexander, Fiona Palmer – these are all terrific writers. I also love books like Half Moon Bay by Helene Young and Bronwyn Parry’s home grown brand of suspense. But I also read widely outside this genre. Andrea Goldsmith and Charlotte Wood for example. I admire their elegant prose and keen observations of character. The Prosperous Thief  and The Children are particular favourites. I also enjoy environmental thrillers such as Dust by Charles Pellegrino and classics like Dune by Frank Herbert and Earth Abides by George Stewart.

 

Q8. And lastly, what’s next for you? Anything juicy you can tell us?

– I’m currently two thirds of the way through my next novel – a star-crossed love affair between a flood-plains grazier and a cotton farmer …

AWW2013

 

Visit Jennifer’s website
Follow her on twitter
Like her on facebook
Visit her site at Penguin Books Australia 

Thanks to Jennifer and the wonderful people at Penguin for facilitating this Q&A.

 

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