I’m yet to find a Darry Fraser book I haven’t loved, so I was thrilled to receive an advance copy of The Good Woman of Renmark. Just as I’d expected, Darry reeled me in with strong female characters, the rich historical tapestry of 1890s Australia and a charming storyline.
Darry has a talent for weaving in characters from previous books, and a great way of blending facts into her fictional plots. Having visited the Murray River on several holidays, I enjoyed the snippets about the Chaffey Brothers who had such grand plans for the region, inclusions on the indigenous people of the area and themes on women’s rights and the suffragettes.
The Good Woman of Renmark starts with a bang, as strong-willed Maggie O’Rourke risks her life and reputation to save a friend. Fearing she will hang for killing a man and determined to avoid the shackles of marriage and domesticity, Maggie flees down river on a paddle steamer, only to find her escape route is equally fraught with danger. We also have the dual narrative of Maggie’s lost love, Sam Taylor who is sent by her family to find her and bring her home, and the loveable Bucky, a Murray River Retriever who will undoubtably win readers’ hearts. Discovering the backstory to this canine inclusion (on Darry’s website) made the plotline even more poignant.
Darry Fraser lives in Kangaroo Island, off the mainland of South Australia and her hobbies and career history are just as unique as each of her books. As well as writing, Darry has operated a bed and breakfast, a four-wheel drive tour company, printing business, administration service and also worked in a boutique gin distillery. She is a justice of the peace and treads the boards in the local theatre group, with a weakness for dark chocolate, fresh licorice and plain potato chips, and a canine writing companion called Hamish the Wonder Dog. The Good Woman of Renmark was released this month by Harlequin, with a three-state book tour planned for coming months.
***WIN! For your chance to win a copy of The Good Woman of Renmark, simply read the answers below and comment on my Instagram or Facebook page to tell me Darry’s nickname for her writing spot. Contest opens Nov 21 and closes Nov 28. Aussie addresses only please. Thanks to Harper Collins Australia for providing the winning copy.
Short and sweet questions
Current book on your bedside table: The Other Wife – Michael Robotham
Where do you do most of your writing? At my batcave (office) desk
Favourite Australian holiday destination: Wherever I’ve decided to go … usually research destinations
What’s your preferred drop? South Aussie reds – big bold berry flavours
Guilty pleasure? Food and wine – I don’t ever feel guilty. Other things? I can’t remember!
Pet peeve: People who are rude to service staff / service staff who chat among themselves while you’re waiting to be served.
Favourite fictional couple and why? Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott from the Robert Galbraith (aka J.K Rowling) crime series – they seem real.
If you could pack two non-essential items for a deserted tropical island, what would they be? A wineglass and that South Australian red
Established authors who inspire you? Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling), Michael Robotham, Lisa Gardner, Tim Slee – so many.
Best thing about being a writer? I’m doing what I love; it’s what I’ve always loved doing.
Worst thing about being a writer? Tidying the batcave; I can never find anything afterwards. OR – hitting ‘send’. OR Imposter syndrome. OR – it doesn’t matter. I love it all.
Do you prefer music, podcasts or silence when writing? Silence. I used to be able to have music, but not any longer. Not really sure why – probably just habit after a while
Favourite perfume: Forever – rain after a dry spell. And the other day it was the scent of sea shells – really strong on our first warm day.
TV/film crush: TV – Brit dramas (any of those great actors). Film – Meryl. Branagh. Deb Mailman. Emma Thompson. Cate Blanchett. Hugo Weaving.
The best non-writing related prize I won was … $22,764 million from a nice Nigerian man.
Top three tips for aspiring authors? Write your story. Learn your craft. Take note of constructive criticism; it’s usually gently delivered.
What theme do you hope shines through in your writing? Strength in adversity. Maintaining one’s self. Survival. Honour.
Proudest author moment? The Call. I was by myself, locked in my office waiting – but still, it was the proudest moment ever. Then there was the ugly crying.
Follow Darry online…
From country show baking to raising orphaned lambs, bestselling author Maya Linnell writes about the life she lives and loves. A keen bookworm, former rural journalist and radio show host, Maya is also an ambassador for the digital library app Libby OverDrive. She lives in rural Victoria with a menagerie of animals, sweeping gardens, three bookworms and the odd tiger snake or three. Her latest novel Kookaburra Cottage is out on May 30 with Allen & Unwin. Find her online @maya.linnell.writes or mayalinnell.com