Set in Victoria in the 1870s, The Postmistress tells the tale of Adelaide Greaves and the life she forges in the gold-mining town of Maiden’s Creek. Having worked hard to create a new identity and future for herself, her son Danny and her maid Netty, Adelaide has little time for friendships, let alone relationships. Her quiet existence is sent into a spin with the arrival of Caleb Hunt, a handsome but battle-weary American still reeling from the civil war. Both have their secrets and independent streaks wider than the Shenandoah River, but before long, romance blossoms in the tinder-dry bush setting.
Alison has a knack for painting a vivid and authentic image of early Australia and the beautiful but deadly countryside, and I loved discovering Alison had based the location and several of the incidents and characters on real places and actual events. She weaves her research through the story with a hint of mystery and enough drama to keep me turning the pages throughout a wet, wintery weekend. Released in July by Harlequin Mira, The Postmistress is Alison’s ninth book, but her first set in Australia.
Alison’s pre-writing career spans several specialities and continents, with the Victorian-based writer having worked as a lawyer, and then in corporate governance. She qualified for Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Reserve (Legal Corps) before moving to Singapore with her family and helped establish the Fire Fighters Charity Fund. As well as teaching OWL courses and volunteering in many capacities for the Romance Writers Australia, Alison was proud to help create a committee and structure that saved RWA from folding in 2003. Despite having her own office, Alison does most of her writing on the dining room table under the careful eye of her feline writing companion TobyKat.
Short and sweet questions
Current book on your bedside table: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Favourite Australian holiday destination: Walhalla, Wilsons Promontory and Port Lincoln
What’s your preferred drop? Mum Champagne
Guilty pleasure? Gin and Tonic
Pet peeve: Dog droppings on the footpath!
Favourite fictional couple and why? Peabody and Emerson from the wonderful books by Elizabeth Peters (the first in the series being THE CROCODILE ON THE SANDBANK). Theirs is a partnership of true equals.
If you could pack two non-essential items for a deserted tropical island, what would they be? Does a comfy pillow and my toothbrush and toothpaste count as non-essential?
Name an emerging author to keep an eye out for: Rania Battany.
Established authors who inspire you? I think anyone who has been involved with RWA as long as I have would find this an impossible question to answer and if I start trying to pick just a few who have inspired me on my journey I will miss someone out!
Best thing about being a writer? The freedom to tell stories that bring pleasure to the people who read them.
Worst thing about being a writer? It can be a 24/7 job to the exclusion of anything else, particularly when deadlines are looming. At least with the advent of social media it is no longer a lonely job.
Do you prefer music, podcasts or silence when writing? I listen to music… in fact every book I write has a musical theme song. For THE POSTMISTRESS it was the song ‘Shenandoah’ sung by Peter Hollens. I play the theme song several times as I sit down to write to kick start my day.
Favourite perfume/cologne: Sadly I no longer wear perfume
TV/film crush: Going back a long way, but he has been on my mind recently (it’s the gold mining connection)… John Waters as Sergeant McKellar in Rush.
The best non-writing related prize I won was … I was in the school team that came second in the 1974 It’s Academic. We came second in the state and we won a State Bank Account with $100 in it and a set of World Book Encyclopedias for the school.
Top three tips for aspiring authors?
- It’s been said before but it is worth saying again. You HAVE to finish that first rough draft. There is no point having the best first three chapters in the world… you need something ‘book shaped’ with a beginning and a middle and most importantly an end. It will be an ugly piece of work but it gives you the framework on which to craft your best work.
- Learn patience as you learn your craft. I jokingly say it has taken me 25 years to become an overnight success.
- Find your tribe – those writers who get you and your writing.
What theme do you hope shines through in your writing?
Courage and heroism in all forms…
Proudest author moment?
Seeing THE POSTMISTRESS on the shelves of a bookshop.
If anyone gives me flack for writing in the romance genre, I tell them… That in these uncertain days I write stories of happiness and hope that readers can escape into for a few short hours.
My favourite thing about writing romance is… I can create two wonderful people who are worthy of the love of a lifetime. I also get to torture them along the way…
Three fun facts about the author:
- I was born in Kenya
- I have ridden a float with the Krewe of Morpheus in the 2013 New Orleans Mardi Gras
- In the early days of my army service, despite my complete lack of rhythm, I found myself in an all girl drum corps in the Army Reserve – a shortlived career diversion
Follow Alison online:
Twitter: @AlisonStuart14 https://twitter.com/AlisonStuart14
Maya Linnell was recently shortlisted as the ARRA 2019 Favourite Australian Romance Author for her bestselling rural romance debut Wildflower Ridge. Her second novel Bottlebrush Creek is out now, with both stories gathering inspiration from her rural upbringing and the small communities she has always lived in and loved.
A former country journalist and PR writer, Maya now prefers the world of fiction over fact and blogs for Romance Writers Australia. She loves baking up a storm, tending to her rambling garden, and raising three little bookworms. Maya lives on a small property in country Victoria with her family, her menagerie of farm animals and the odd snake or two.
Follow Maya online