Natasha Lester’s historical fiction novels are a juxtaposition of glamour and grit, with her April release – the French Photographer – jumping from the Manhattan modelling scene to the trenches of France.
When the career of the lead character, Jessica May, is sabotaged by an old flame, she deftly jumps from one side of the camera to the other. The gutsy Jessica campaigns to become a war correspondent for Vogue Magazine, fighting for equality and risking her life to report from the frontline. A present-day storyline runs parallel to the historical plot, with Australian art handler, D’Arcy Hallworth travelling to a beautiful chateau in France to manage a famous photography collection. The identity of the enigmatic photographer is just one of the mysteries D’Arcy must unravel, with two love stories from past and present intertwining in a well-paced, passionate and heart-wrenching tale. I was quickly immersed in the French Photographer, relishing the depictions of the brave women often underrecognized in the war effort. Published by Hachette, the French Photographer is Natasha’s sixth book.
The Perth-based author exudes the same type of glamour as her novels, with a wardrobe full of vintage fashion, a love of travel and a background in marketing for Maybelline cosmetics. Now a full-time writer, Natasha also teaches writing workshops across the country and is taking French lessons to regain fluency in her second language. An avid runner and enthusiastic traveller, Natasha writes many scenes in her head while she’s pounding the pavement, and the extent of her research and international travel is reflected in rich and well-crafted settings.
Short and sweet questions
Current book on your bedside table: I’m lucky enough to have an advance copy of Gill Paul’s The Lost Daughter, which is a dual historical/contemporary narrative, my favourite kind of book.
Where do you do most of your writing? In my beautiful office, which has silver, pink and blue Florence Broadhurst wallpaper and French doors that open out onto a garden. It’s a place where I always feel inspired.
Favourite Australian holiday destination: We have a holiday house in a place called Siesta Park in WA’s southwest. Nothing can beat it as a beach holiday destination.
What’s your preferred drop? Gin and tonic
Guilty pleasure? I don’t think any pleasures are guilty! If you love it, why feel guilty about it?!
Pet peeve: Mess. I hate mess.
Favourite fictional couple and why? Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth in Jane Austen’s Persuasion.
If you could pack two non-essential items for a deserted tropical island, what would they be? I’m assuming my kids count as essential items, so I’m going to go with books, obviously, and a sun lounger to lie in while reading.
Name an emerging author to keep an eye out for: Cassie Hamer.
Established authors who inspire you? Kate Morton, Kate Forsyth, Kate Quinn (I seem to have a thing for Kates!)
Best thing about being a writer? That I get to spend my days making things up
Worst thing about being a writer? That writing involves sitting at a desk for long stretches, which is very bad for your back
Do you prefer music, podcasts or silence when writing? Absolute silence. I have three noisy kids so I need stillness and solitude when writing to counterbalance the usual noisy chaos.
Favourite perfume: Buly 1803 Sevillian Bigarade
TV/film crush: I’ve always been a George Clooney devotee
The best non-writing related prize I won was …
I won a full set of Liane Moriarty’s books at a morning tea I attended for the launch of one of her books.
Top three tips for aspiring authors?
- Turn off the wifi when you’re writing.
- Write no matter if you’re too busy/tired/sick/insert other excuse of choice.
- Persist. Keep going. Be the one who endures.
What theme do you hope shines through in your writing?
That women are strong, amazing, brave and inspiring.
Proudest author moment?
There have been a few good ones over the last year! I would say that making the USA Today bestseller list was pretty exciting.
If anyone gives me flack for writing in the romance genre, I tell them…
I just show them my most recent royalties cheque. That tends to quieten them down. No, seriously, I don’t care what other people think or say. I love what I do and I have never been happier in my life. Only a crazy person would give me flack for being happy!
My favourite thing about writing romance is
The depth of connection that readers feel for your characters. Something about writing love stories makes readers really bond with the people and the story.
Three fun facts about the author:
- I was born with a crooked nose and had to have a nose job when I was two days old
- I self-published my first book when I was 8 years old. It was called Mr Men Go On A Picnic. My mum bought the only copy.
- The heroes in my books ALWAYS have dark hair. I just can’t write a blond-haired hero!
Follow Natasha online:
Rural fiction writer Maya Linnell honed her journalism skills at a country newspaper before moving to PR and now fiction. Her debut rural romance novel – Wildflower Ridge – will be published by Allen and Unwin in June 2019 and she 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