Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Another author in the family...

                         - THE COLT WITH NO REGRETS - by Elliot Hannay 

There was great excitement in our household this week as the first copies of my husband's memoir arrived from Wilkinson Publishers.

Welcomed by Phillip Adams as an important Australian memoir full of insight and humour, this is also a story about growing up.

It’s the personal journey of a 16-year-old boy starting work in “the golden age of journalism” when reporters toiled with hard copy and hot metal and endured a mixture of instruction and reprimand that would be branded today as workplace harassment.

Follow a boy gripped with an intense fear of failure in the first weeks of his probation, to the height of his career as a hardened and experienced newspaper editor confronting  the Ku Klux Klan, being threatened by  dangerously corrupt police, and breaking international news from the inner sanctum of the Chinese Communist Party.

Lessons from the past in a sparkling narrative which has been endorsed across the political spectrum. 

The Colt (aged 16) reporting on rainfall, temperatures, tide times and baby shows. Righting wrongs and exposing injustice will have to wait.

The Colt (aged 38) facing the downside of righting wrongs and exposing injustice... death threats and a $3 million writ from Kings Cross underworld figure Abe Saffron.

By a strange quirk of fate, this story is arriving in the same week as the announcement that small regional newspapers, including the Bundaberg News Mail where Elliot first started work, are no longer going to be printed. Elliot and I are both saddened by this.

These papers were important sources of connection and pride for local communities. They also gave their communities a morale boost and kept local councils on their toes. However, I'm also very proud that my husband's record of a bygone era has been published.

                         "Let his musings remind us of what we are losing
                          before it is entirely lost."

                                                              Phillip Adams

And if you'd like a taste, here's an extract...

                          “The Colt With No Regrets”


 A double brandy on a double brandy
Myles Harrington Carruthers stepped off a slow train from Brisbane with no luggage and wandered into The Imperial an hour before closing.
I wasn't anywhere near legal drinking age, but I was there when it happened.  But it was okay. I was into my second year working at the paper next door, and I had been given the nod.
I had been taken in one day by Tommy and Mervyn and received the nod from Mother Moore, the widow publican.
“Always wear a coat and tie when you’re with us, Colt. Stand up straight so you look older than you are, make sure you start with a dash of sarsaparilla in the first beer and stay off the rum until you’re twenty-one… and for God’s sake loosen that tie, pull the knot over to one side so you look like you’re taking a well-earned break and not about to attend a bloody funeral.”
My entry to this world of men also got the nod from the plain-clothes who never seemed to pay for their drinks. Detective Sergeant Neil Harvey looked like a grey goshawk watching a duckling in a chook pen on the first day I walked into the bar.
He looked at Mother Moore who gave him the nod, then turned to Tommy and Mervyn and they all exchanged nods. He ignored me. I badly wanted to give someone the nod.
By the time Myles Carruthers hit town, I thought I was a competent nodder, but modified my modus operandi after Tommy pulled me up short. “Stop it, Colt, you’re nodding to every poor bastard who walks through the door. You look like a bloody parrot in a cage.”
So, I didn’t nod at Myles Carruthers when he stepped through The Imperial’s old batwing doors, letting a chilly westerly sweep through the bar.
He was pale, pink and skinny and he looked crook. I was young, and he seemed old. He had a nylon Hawaiian print shirt stuck into light brown corduroy shorts that were soiled around the pockets. Dirty white short socks and what looked like plastic slippers.
Myles was dressed like an English remittance man in sultry Singapore, but it was a cold Bundaberg winter’s night. Later, his fellow drinkers would suggest that he’d consumed so much alcohol that his blood chemistry had changed, and it acted as an effective anti-freeze.
     In the four years he was with us, I never saw him wear a jacket and can only recall the shirts changing. The corduroy shorts, unwashed socks and plastic shoes, took on the appearance of permanent attire.
His arrival in the pub that night became the stuff of legends in later years. I vividly remember him ordering a double brandy on a double brandy in a plummy, almost stuttering English accent that silenced the noisy bar.
That's when I first saw his trademark pub theatre. The glass raised high into the air for inspection against the hard-overhead lights, like an Amsterdam diamond cutter appraising the largest stone he’d ever seen. The other hand, with the little finger sticking up in the air, sweeping back his long greyish- blonde hair.
Then, just as you were preparing for the bar to erupt with derision, Myles, with the timing of a Shakespearean actor, would put glass to mouth and with a sudden tilt of his head backwards, drain four shots of Chateau Tanunda brandy in a split second.
We all realised in that first hour of his first night with us, that Myles was in the grip of the grog. He could repeat the quadruple brandy theatre until he ran out of cash or credit.
Like the worst of alcoholics, Myles had a huge capacity for drink and it soon became obvious that beer, even Aussie beer, was but well water to the demon inside him.
He told me much later that he was greatly relieved that first night when he saw soot- blackened cane cutters drinking beer with five-ounce over-proof rum chasers. They were so black from working in the burnt sugarcane that Myles first thought they must have been coal miners, but it was their capacity to quaff strong spirit that really impressed him.
“A civilised society cannot be maintained by beer alone, old boy. Spirit drinkers are a sign of civilisation. Distilling is a gift from God, passed to us through the ancient monks. It is all about the search for purity and essence, just like a good tabloid sub being able to condense four hundred words of purple prose into a beautiful intro, supported by two meaningful and informative paragraphs.”
Yes, Myles was one of us, a newspaperman, and a hard copy journo.

 Others in town came to describe him as a con man, a bullshit artist, a queer and a bad influence, but I believe he was the closest I ever came to having a real English gentleman as a friend.

You can order this book from the following stores:

Amazon Aust


QBD Books

Angus and Robertson

Wilkinson Publishing


Friday, May 15, 2020

Another Wirralong story...

Yay! The Outback Brides of Wirralong are returning for another series! I loved writing Jenna's story (released last year) and it was fab to contribute another romance to this line.

A NANNY CALLED ALICE will be released on September 3rd.

Here's the gorgeous cover.

And here's the blurb:

She’s thousands of miles from home and intent on proving her independence…

When Alice Trembath is mugged in the stark Australian outback, she has two choices: return to the US with an "I told you so" from her conservative parents and join the family business, or take a job as a nanny on a nearby cattle station. Despite being wildly unqualified, she accepts the position. She’s a fast learner and besides, she needs the money.

Hotshot businessman Tom Braydon is juggling huge responsibilities. After the death of his brother, Tom took in his orphaned nieces and managed his brother’s cattle station, while simultaneously running his own thriving business in Sydney. Tom desperately needs Alice’s help, even though she has zero experience looking after children or living in the outback. He has plenty on his plate, he doesn't need the distraction of a romance.

But while Alice and Tom strive to ignore the chemistry sizzling between them and focus on their separate goals, love clearly has other plans.


Apple iBooks –

Barnes and Noble –

And you can add A NANNY CALLED ALICE to your Goodreads want to read list here:

Print books will also be available and I'll be keeping a list of those who'd like to PM me to order a copy.

Thanks, Barb xx

Friday, April 03, 2020

$I.99 books for all of April...

Dear readers,

I do hope you are well and coping with the social distancing and self isolation. I've popped by to let you know that for Australian and New Zealand readers, five of my books have been reduced to just $1.99 in digital format until the end of April.

To make things easier for you, I've listed the books here with their pretty new covers along with buy links to the four major retailers involved. I hope you'll try one and if you do, happy reading.

Barb xx

In the Outback... one spark can set the heart aflame!
The image of Byrne Drummond has burned in Fiona's mind ever since she first saw him in Gundawarra. A stoic, broad–shouldered cattleman stricken by the wreckage her brother had wrought...
Byrne has every reason to hate Fiona McLaren. Her reckless brother destroyed his family. But Fiona's touch is the first to stir him in years. He wants to stay away, but she draws him like a moth to a flame... who will get burned?

When Kate Brodie inherits half a rundown cattle station she doesn't expect to have a sexy cattleman boss to contend with! 
Noah Carmody doesn't need a city–girl like Kate trying her pretty hand at Outback life, but he's a single dad now, and needs help restoring Radnor to its former glory.
Kate's the only person within a hundred miles who will help him, so he'll grudgingly show her the ropes... As they toil together under the Outback sun, romance should be the last thing on their minds... shouldn't it?

 Getting noticed by the gorgeous best man is every bridesmaid's dream. Especially if he's her old crush. Lucy McKenty knows she should be wary of Will Carruthers. All she wants is to finally settle down and have a family; and that's a far cry from this globe–trotting wanderer's life plan....
Caught up in the swirl of confetti and romance, Lucy finds herself in Will's arms. Discovering she's pregnant thrills her; but is Will going to stay to meet his baby?

Whoever said a broken heart was the end of the world had never met Milla Brady! In desperate need of a distraction she sets her sights on reviving her parents' bakery. But when a tall, handsome blast from the past turns up, Milla's calm feathers are ruffled!
Ed Cavanaugh could only watch when his brother walked all over Milla's dreams – he always knew she deserved better. So, seeing her looking beautiful and content, Ed promises not to leave Bellaroo Creek until he tells Milla what he wanted to say all those years ago...

A suitable bride?
Cattleman Fletcher Hardy welcomed a diversion like Ally Fraser during his tedious business trip in Melbourne. Until he found himself falling for her!
He'd learned that city women were unsuited to Outback life when his Parisian mother fled their cattle station. Ever since, he'd vowed his bride had to be born and bred in the bush. So when news came that he'd become the guardian of his four–year–old godson, he returned to Wallaroo, intending to forget Ally for good.
He hadn't bargained on Ally turning up at the homestead as little Connor's nanny, determined to prove she could survive the Outback and make the perfect wife and mother!

Saturday, February 22, 2020

My 2020 release...

My new book from Penguin Australia is The Sister's Gift. It's set on  magical Magnetic Island and I wrote this story through the upheaval of selling our home on the Tablelands and relocating back to Townsville. This was a busy time of mixed emotions on many levels and I found, to my surprise, that returning to my desk and to these characters was like sitting down for a cuppa and a chat with  old friends, a perfect escape between those bouts of busyness.
So a huge thank you to Freya, Billie and Co for staying the course with me. You're so real to me, I want to hug you. LOL.

And here's the lovely cover...

Here's the back cover blurb...

Two sisters, one baby and the best of intentions...

As a vibrant, young woman with a lifetime of possibilities ahead of her, Freya grants her sister, Pearl, the ultimate gift of motherhood. However, this comes at a hefty price – an unexpected rift in her family and the loss of the man she loves.Decades later, Freya is divorced, childless and homeless, at rock bottom after losing everything she's worked for. When her estranged niece, Billie, offers sanctuary, managing the family restaurant on beautiful Magnetic Island, Freya can hardly refuse.Billie has never understood the tension between her mother and her aunt and now, with a newly broken heart, she is nursing a family secret of her own. All three women come together under the tropical Queensland skies, but can they let go of past regrets, or will old tensions tear them further apart?By the bestselling author of Meet Me in Venice, this is a moving and inspiring novel in a stunning setting about choices and consequences and the redemptive power of love.

And here are buy links if you'd like to pre-order...
Angus and Robertson
Apple iBooks
Google Books
Rakuten Kobo

You can add  The Sister's Gift to your want-to-read list on Goodreads here.

If you prefer to order print books (and I totally get that) you can leave me a message or send a quick email and I'll add you to my mailing list.

Also, while you're here, take a moment to enjoy this excerpt...


On the morning Freya went into labour, she told no one. She simply walked onto the Magnetic Island ferry, found a padded seat near an open window and focused on the seagulls lined up along the jetty. While the birds dived for fish among shell-encrusted pylons, Freya took deep, steadying breaths, just as she’d practised at the antenatal classes.
We can do this, Butterfly.
Fortunately, the ferry wasn’t crowded, but it rocked as it left the island’s sheltered bay and headed across open water to Townsville. The jerky movement brought a wave of nausea, accompanied by a fiercer and longer contraction. Biting back the urge to whimper, Freya closed her eyes and breathed even more deeply as she gently massaged her enormous belly.
Her solo journey had never been part of the Official Plan, but more a last-minute impulse. After nine long, often trying months, the baby girl was about to arrive, and Freya had been gripped by an unexpected need to experience the momentous event on her own.
Selfish? Perhaps, but there were limits to her generosity.
Just the same, she’d never expected the labour to progress so quickly. First babies were supposed to be drawn-out affairs, weren’t they? As the island’s boulder and pine studded headlands receded, another contraction came, closer and stronger than the last.
The twenty-minute ferry ride seemed to take forever and when the boat finally reached the dock in Ross Creek, the young fellow in charge of tying up to the pier was tediously slow. Tourists jostled on the wharf, impatient to hurry on board for a day on an idyllic tropical island. Freya swayed unsteadily as she stood, felt dampness down below and had a flash of panic.
Not now. Hang on, Butterfly. Please don’t rush.
Praying that her waters would remain intact until she reached the hospital, Freya made her way down the ramp, moving slowly, cautiously, for the first time in her life hanging onto the railing like a little old lady. And as another contraction arrived, the decision to take a taxi to the hospital was a no-brainer. She couldn’t possibly drive the little rattletrap Honda she kept in the ferry’s car park for use on the mainland.
A mere three hours later, Freya made the necessary phone call.
‘Pearl, she’s here.’
‘What? Who’s there?’
‘The baby. She’s arrived.’
‘Oh, my God. How —?’
‘She’s so cute. I think she looks a lot like Troy.’
‘Freya!’ Pearl’s voice was frantic. ‘Why didn’t you tell me? You knew I wanted to be there. Troy’s on night shift this week. He could have come too. We both wanted to be there. You knew that.’
‘Sorry.’ Freya looked down at the bundle of miniature perfection in her arms, reliving the enormous sense of achievement and excitement that had overridden the pain when this little girl slipped sweetly into the world with only a minimum of assistance from the midwife. ‘It was all a bit of a rush.’
‘But we had everything planned. We told you so many times that we wanted to be there for the birth.’
Pearl’s voice was sorrowful. Accusing. Almost certainly, she was crying, but Freya refused to feel guilty. ‘She’s here safely, Pearl. That’s the main thing.’
‘I suppose…’ Her sister’s voice squeaked and then, sounding more like her usual bossy self, ‘Have you expressed colostrum?’
‘Not yet, but I will.’
‘It’s very important, as you know.’ Freya could imagine Pearl’s stern frown now, the earnest expression in her pale blue eyes that could make her look years older than she was. ‘Troy and I will be on the next ferry.’
‘You won’t actually breastfeed, will you?’
‘No, Pearl. I’ll stick to our agreement.’
‘Right. Yes. Good.’ Less certainly, ‘Of course you will.’
‘I promise, Pearl.’ After a beat, ‘She’s yours.’
‘Well, yes. Of course she is.’
Freya let out her breath slowly. She hadn’t wanted to make trouble today. True, she hadn’t obeyed the rules they’d set out, but she was sure she’d earned this treasured window of time alone with the small creature she’d carried for so many months.
She looked down at the baby’s sweet pink perfection. Her skin was so soft, her tiny, tiny fingers and diminutive ears so exquisitely faultless. The baby screwed up her face and love swelled in Freya to the point of bursting.
‘It’s over to you now, Pearl,’ she said bravely. ‘To you and Troy.’
‘Thank you.’
There was no mistaking the relief in her sister’s voice.
Copyright Barbara Hannay 2020

Barb xx

Friday, August 16, 2019

Meet Me in Venice... all the important info...

Meet Me in Venice

Leo . . . how could you live such an ordinary, respectable life and then leave me with such a mystery?
A year after her husband Leo’s death, widow Daisy invites her three adult children to join her for a holiday in beautiful Venice. It will be wonderful, her chicks under one roof again in their father’s birthplace. But is it possible to recapture the past?
Marc’s marriage is in jeopardy, but for his mother’s sake, he convinces his wife to keep up appearances. Anna’s trying to hide the truth about the dismal state of her London acting career; and Ellie, enjoying a gap year and uncertain about her future choices, wants to avoid family pressure to conform.
Despite the magic of Venice, family ties are tested to the limit, especially when a shocking secret from Leo’s past is revealed. Now everything they value about love, family, commitment and trust must be re-examined.
How can one family holiday require so much courage? Will Daisy’s sentimental journey make or break them?
From multi-award-winning author Barbara Hannay comes a moving and heartfelt family drama about difficult choices and finding happiness in the most unexpected places.

What reviewers are saying...

What a delicious read this is from a Master writer. (Cathleen Ross)

a delightfully beautiful story, with an awesome setting (Helen Sibbritt)

..."a novel that manages to be deeply Australian and yet full of international colour, a story particularly relatable for women in the second half of life who are facing unexpected new beginnings." (blogger Danielle Carey)

Barbara Hannay continues her reign as one of Australia’s brilliant women’s fiction writers.

There’s something tremendous about a well written family melodrama that gives you a enormous smile after finishing. (Happy Valley)

A Top 10 Pick in Your Day magazine...

Featured in What to Read on Apple Books:

Read an extract:

Daisy Benetto blurted out her big idea before it was quite ready.
For days, the plan had circled harmlessly in the privacy of her
own thoughts, safe yet cheering, a useful distraction as she’d bravely,
finally, begun to sort through Leo’s things. Such a difficult process
that had been, deciding what should go to Vinnies, or into a box in
the garage, and what needed to be binned.
Each sweater, shirt or jacket had been laden with memories.
Daisy could picture Leo at a party, sending her a covert smile, his
eyes bright with secret amusement over some crass remark a slightly
sozzled friend had made. She saw him dressing for a night at the
theatre, lifting his jaw, just so, as he adjusted the knot on his tie. Leo,
coming through the front door, sunburnt but satisfied after coaching
their son’s soccer team.
The images of her husband, so alive and well, had been too
painful, and Daisy had been forced to drag her thoughts elsewhere.
Anywhere. Cautiously, she’d toyed with her bright, shiny idea,
allowing herself to imagine how each of her children would react.
The proposal was still in its infancy, of course. Daisy hadn’t made
any proper plans.
She was confident, though, that Marc in America, in Silicon
Valley, would welcome the chance to visit his father’s birthplace.
Marc’s only problem might be taking time off from his very important
IT work. His wife, Bronte, wasn’t too enamoured of life in
Palo Alto, though, so she would no doubt embrace a European
Daisy’s middle child, Anna, was bound to love the idea too,
but she would also have to juggle time off between her acting gigs
in London.
At least, taking time off shouldn’t be a problem for Ellie. Daisy’s
youngest was pretty much at a loose end, enjoying a gap year
before starting uni, working in caf├ęs at night and surfing or sleeping
most days.
As for Daisy herself, after long months of feeling as if she’d
fallen through the cracks in life with no one to catch her, this lovely
new scheme helped her to feel ever so slightly more normal. In time
she hoped to be one of those very capable widows she admired in
books. Perhaps planning this holiday could be the first step. And it
would bring her family together again.
For a few precious weeks, the Benetto kids would be under one
roof, laughing, joking, teasing . . . like the old days.
Just the same, Daisy had no intention of mentioning this plan
when she went to lunch with her two best friends. She had tried to
argue that turning fifty-seven wasn’t a milestone worthy of fuss, but
they wouldn’t listen to her protests.
Just a small lunch, Daisy. Just the three of us. You know we
never miss each other’s birthdays.
This was true. Daisy, Freya and Jo had been celebrating each
other’s birthdays now for more than twenty years, ever since they’d
first met in a beachside yoga class and, of course, Daisy appreciated
that her friends truly cared about her happiness. In the end, the day
turned out to be spectacularly beautiful.
The trio dined on a sunny terrace overlooking the Noosa River
where, after a long, hot and gruelling summer, the first hint of
autumn had arrived overnight, creeping into Queensland from the
south. Despite the pleasantly warm sunshine, Daisy could sense
the nip of a cool change in the crisp, dry air. And when she looked
out at the blue and cloudless sky, at the familiar, sleepy river, dotted
with small boats and lined with stately, white-trunked gumtrees, she
felt her shoulders relax.
She took a sip of sparkling wine and, without warning, the
words she hadn’t planned to utter just tumbled out. ‘I’m thinking
about shouting my kids a trip to Italy.’
Freya and Jo stared at her, clearly too surprised, or possibly even
too stunned, to speak.
Panic flared in Daisy’s chest. Why on earth had she spluttered
her crazy scheme out loud? She looked at her friends. Both, like her,
in their late fifties, middle-class, stylishly dressed – Freya in dark
green with a multi-coloured scarf thrown just so, and Jo in smart,
smoky grey, with a touch of gold at her ears and throat.
These well-meaning, sensible women would almost certainly try
to talk her out of her plan, telling her it was too expensive, or too
soon, or even too dangerous to try to hang on to her adult children
after they’d flown the nest.
The problem was that even Daisy’s closest friends could not
really understand how lonely and scared she’d been these past
months. They couldn’t imagine the terror of having the future
she and Leo had so carefully planned – or rather, the future that
Leo had planned and Daisy had happily agreed to – suddenly
Neither Freya nor Jo could be expected to know what it was like
to wake in the middle of the night and to reach out, expecting to
touch a warm shoulder, or to rub your foot against your husband’s
ankle, and to find a cold, empty space beside you. They couldn't
imagine the sickening slam of anguish that came every time you
remembered that space would always be empty.
Daisy had lost her husband and her dreams. She couldn’t bear to
lose her children as well.
Marc and Anna had come home for the funeral, of course,
but they’d been as dazed and shocked as Daisy was. And in no time
they’d left again, flying back to their important jobs, to their new
and exciting lives on the other side of the world. Meanwhile Ellie, to
Daisy’s huge surprise, had hunkered down to study especially hard
for her final Year 12 exams.
The intense loneliness that followed had nearly consumed Daisy.
On a scale of one to ten, she would have put her happiness quotient
at sub-zero. But just lately, this new holiday plan had given her such
a lift, a glimmer of hope.
That was hardly an excuse for giving voice to her half-baked
idea now, though, on her birthday, before it was anywhere near
properly planned. If she’d learned anything from her dear Leo, it
was the importance of looking at a decision from every angle and
carefully calculating the pros and cons before taking any kind of
first step. Leo had always been so clever and steady and reliable.
Possibly, the only careless, unplanned act the poor man had ever
committed was to drop dead of a heart attack six weeks before
he was due to retire.
Daisy stamped down on that gut-wrenching reminder before it
set her crying again. The last thing she needed today was another
bout of tears. She’d wept so much in the past twelve months she’d
probably caused permanent damage to her tear ducts.
Now, here she was instead, all smiles and drinking champagne.
And spilling the beans on this crazy scheme, when she hadn’t even
spoken to her accountant to make sure she could cash in those spare
shares of Leo’s.
‘It’s just a crazy, silly thought,’ she hastily amended, absorbing
her friends’ surprised expressions and charging straight into damage
control. ‘I seem to be having all sorts of weird ideas lately.’
Freya, however, was shaking her head, making her hairdresser enhanced
auburn curls bounce. ‘No, Daisy, I think it’s a fabulous
idea.’ After a beat, Freya added, ‘If you can afford to be so generous.’
But then, almost immediately, she gave a cheeky grin. ‘Actually,
no, I take that back. It’s still a fabulous idea even if you can’t
afford it.’
‘And it’s probably just what you need,’ added Jo, although she
spoke more carefully. Then again, Jo was always careful, just as Leo
had been.
Daisy looked from one friend to the other. ‘I was sure you’d both
tell me I was being ridiculous.’
‘Oh, darling,’ laughed Freya. ‘Even if your scheme was totally
harebrained, it’s put a sparkle back in your lovely blue eyes and that
has to be a good thing.’
‘Oh.’ Daisy couldn’t help smiling at Freya’s warmth and
enthusiasm, even though harebrained wasn’t exactly reassuring.
Meet Me in Venice © Barbara Hannay Penguin Random House August 2019

And here are the buy links:

Apple Books




Book Depository

Angus & Robertson


Also available as an audio book: