Tuesday, July 07, 2009


Last weekend, Ian Frazer from the Townsville Daily Bulletin published a feature story about my RITA nomination. I thought I'd share some his questions and my answers here.

I.F. Can you say anything more about the inspiration for Adopted Outback Baby? When was it written and how has it fared with readers?

B.H. Adopted: Outback Baby was written in 2007 and first published in July 2008. It seems to have been very popular with the readers, selling well in both the US and UK as well as being translated in quite a few languages.

The idea was born during a car trip between Townsville and the Atherton Tablelands. I was brainstorming with my husband, bouncing around rather ordinary ideas. As usual, I was saying: “No, that won’t work.’ ‘No, not good enough,’ and then, like the best ideas, the notion that the hero and heroine should be grandparents just “arrived”. I can’t remember who actually came up with it, but I immediately knew it was the story I wanted to write.

The ideas were further refined when I brainstormed them later with writer friends at a retreat in Queenscliff in Victoria.

For further inspiration, I made a collage of images and word pictures that were evocative of the mood that I wanted for this book. The collage included William Butler Yeat’s beautiful poem He wishes for the Cloths of Heaven.
Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly, because you tread on my dreams.
-- William Butler Yeats
I worked elements of this poem into my characters and into the story itself.

I.F. Does publicity about awards boost sales?

B.H. It’s hard to say. Very keen readers of romance would be aware of the awards. Editors and agents certainly take notice. Within my peer group, being a finalist in this competition is a really big deal.

I.F. Which of your novels has been most popular and how many have you written?

B.H. Outback with the Boss has sold the most copies so far. I’ve written thirty novels and two novellas.

I.F. Do the stories still unfold as you write, as Mary Vernon reported in `05?

B.H. Yes. I have a basic situation in mind and from there I start to develop characters and conflict. But I like to surprise myself as I go. It’s more fun than plotting ahead and knowing exactly what’s going to happen.

I.F. Are you still as disciplined?

B.H. I have to be disciplined. I have deadlines, but some days the words come much more easily than others.

I.F. Do you have time for reading fiction and if so what at present?

B.H. I love to read fiction. I think it’s one of life’s greatest pleasures, but I don’t read so much romance these days, because I’m dealing with it every day. Currently, I’m reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, and books lined up to follow that are Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay and The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff.

I.F. Was last year’s US romance writers’ conference the first you had attended?

B.H. No, I’ve attended other conferences in New York and Dallas.

I.F. What was your topic at the writers’ seminar (in San Francisco)?

B.H. I was involved in presenting a workshop with two other authors from the UK and USA, as well as an editor from the London office. Our topic was: Writing romance with global appeal, and as well as giving lectures, we ran group exercises. The groups then pitched ideas to the editor who gave useful feedback. As a former teacher, I enjoy passing on what I’ve learned to aspiring writers. Romance writers are surprisingly generous and nurturing. Perhaps because we’re mostly women??

I.F. Do you usually have any contact with other writers?

B.H. Thanks to the wonders of the Internet and email, I have daily contact with other writers. Writing is a lonely job, so this contact is a lifeline. I usually attend the annual Romance Writers of Australia conference, (which this year will be in Brisbane in August) but I also go on an annual retreat with a group of close writer friends. We stay in a guest house, work in our rooms during the day, but get together for meals and in the evening. We’re quite organised and have a list of topics we want to discuss that are related to either our craft or our industry.

I also chat to readers and writers via my blog.

I.F. How many other Harlequin/ Mills and Boon writers in Australia?

B.H. There are over 50 authors.


Magdalena Scott said...

Thank you for sharing part of the interview. Very nice!

Liz Fielding said...

Great interview, Barb. I'll be thinking of you on Saturday night :)

I've read The Girl with Dragon Tattoo and thought it was terrific. Definitely up for the next one in the trilogy.

2paw said...

Thanks for sharing. I really enjoyed the insights.

JoyfullyHis said...

I had a lively discussion about Outback Baby with someone at the library last week. Just about the premise of the book and about second chances, even when you think you've royally screwed up. Just thought you'd get a kick out of that. :)

Barbara Hannay said...

Wow. So glad to know that premise gets people talking. Thanks!