You know the landscape must be spectacular when a writer has to orientate her office away from the best views to ensure productivity! And fortunately for her devoted readers, this is the sacrifice that Barbara Hannay is willing to make for her craft, situating her office so she can’t be distracted by her sprawling hillside garden in far north Queensland.
Barbara’s best-selling, award-winning, internationally published novels span multiple romance genres including rural, category and contemporary. A former high school English teacher, she also enjoys sharing her knowledge and craft by hosting writers workshops and composing regular articles for the Romance Writers Australia ‘Hearts Talk’ magazine. A mother of four and proud grandmother, Barbara sings in a capella choir, trawls salvage yards for the perfect pieces to suit their owner builder projects, loves cooking and helps her husband raise a posse of pigs in their rural backyard.
Barbara’s latest novel ‘The Summer of Secrets’ will be released by Penguin Random House on July 30 (e-book available July 26). The story opens with a young journalist, Chloe Brown, leaving her city magazine for a remote newspaper posting. But it’s not quite the sleepy little town she imagined. Her editor and her employer are both cradling their own grievances, the town is mystified by the local baker’s sudden disappearance, and an unexpected night-visitor sets local gossips into a frenzy. With help from the CWA tribe, the gutsy and efficient young journalist settles into the small community and finds romance blossoming. The story took me back to my years as a cadet journalist, so much so I could almost smell the printing ink from my old office and taste the scones – one of the best perks of covering CWA functions! I loved the authentic world Barbara crafted and the way she mixed romance, small town living, tangled family-sub plots, rural newspaper issues and a hint of mystery into such an engaging novel.
Short and sweet questions
Current book on your bedside table: The Secrets of Happiness by Lucy Diamond
Favourite Australian holiday destination: We go to Noosa almost every year. Love it.
Guilty pleasure? Doing crosswords in front of the fire.
Pet peeve: Cruelty in any form.
Favourite fictional couple and why? Elfrida and Oscar from The Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher.
If you could pack two non-essential items for a deserted tropical island, what would they be? A loaded Kindle and a bottle of wine.
Name an emerging author to keep an eye out for: I loved Holly Throsby’s Goodwood.
Established authors who inspire you? This keeps changing all the time. Recent faves have been Lucy Diamond and Dinah Jefferies.
Best thing about being a writer? The wonderful messages from readers.
Worst thing about being a writer? The imposter complex that never quite leaves you.
Do you prefer music, podcasts or silence? Mostly silence for writing, but sometimes music unlocks my muse. I choose classical, without words and my favourite is the Brahms violin concerto
Favourite perfume: Happy by Clinique
TV/film crush: Ryan Gosling, Liam Neeson, Alan Rickman (showing my age)
The best non-writing related prize I won was… The only prize I can remember winning was a crockpot
Top three tips for aspiring authors?
Write what you love to read.
Be prepared to work really hard.
Don’t give up.
What theme do you hope shines through in your writing? The Beatles got it right: Love is all you need.
Proudest author moment? Winning a Rita from Romance Writers of America
My favourite thing about writing romance is… Whacking emotional punch.
If anyone gives me flack for writing in the romance genre, I tell them… It’s the way I’m wired.
Find Barbara online:
Rural fiction writer Maya Linnell honed her journalism skills at a country newspaper before moving to PR and now fiction. She recently completed her debut rural romance manuscript and is hard at work on the sequel. A voracious reader, Maya also loves baking, gardening, preserving home-grown fruit and veggies, and raising three little bookworms. She lives on a small country coastal property in regional Victoria with her family and a growing menagerie of animals, gathering inspiration from her rural surrounds and the close-knit communities within.
Follow Maya online