New South Welsh author Pamela Cook is rarely at a loose end, with a multitude of hobbies. As well as volunteering for her local pony club and the not-for-profit organisation Room to Read, Pam regular teaches writers ways to improve their craft and shows her quarter horse, Rio. She is also a keen supporter of the Australian literacy scene, interviewing over 32 women this year for the Writes4Women podcast with fellow writer, Kel Butler. Pam’s first novel was published seven years ago, and the popularity of her rural romance stories soon elevated her to bestseller status. Between writing, teaching and volunteering, Pam can be found touring the countryside in her orange 1978 Kombi ‘Kenny’, dreaming of her favourite city Paris and the French-set book she will someday write, and spending time with her family on their picturesque rural property, surrounded by horses and bush.
Pam has made a fine segue into women’s fiction with her recent release, Cross My Heart. Her moving story opens with the main character Tessa navigating a minefield of tense family dynamics, professional responsibilities and a stale marriage. Old loyalties and teenage mistakes come to the forefront after the death of an old friend. The opportunity to care for her orphaned god-daughter puts Tessa on a mission to set things right. Cross My Heart covers a broad range of emotional issues including grief, memories, country communities and enduring friendships. I especially enjoyed the equine-assisted learning sub-plot, with horses providing their own unique brand of therapy. Pam’s love and knowledge of horses shines through in the novel, and I can’t wait to see what she writes next. Top tip: get your tissues ready!
Short and sweet questions
Current book on your bedside table: The Weekend by Charlotte Wood
Where do you do most of your writing? In my study or on my verandah.
Favourite Australian holiday destination: Milton on the south coast of NSW. Beautiful beaches, great shops, the perfect place to relax.
What’s your preferred drop? A nice chilled glass of rosé.
Guilty pleasure? Plain salted Kettle Chips. I could eat a whole giant bag and will if someone doesn’t stop me.
Pet peeve: People throwing rubbish out their car window, or anywhere.
Favourite fictional couple and why? Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy. No explanation needed.
If you could pack two non-essential items for a deserted tropical island, what would they be? A journal (although maybe that’s an essential?) and my dog, Teddy (also possibly an essential).
Name an emerging author to keep an eye out for: Michelle Barraclough. She was Highly Commended in the 2017 Richell Prize for Emerging Authors and is one of the most beautiful writers I know.
Established authors who inspire you? So many! Kate Forsyth, Natasha Lester, Kim Kelly and Kelly Rimmer just to name a few.
Best thing about being a writer? Escaping into the world of my story and characters.
Worst thing about being a writer? Classic imposter syndrome: the fear of not being good enough never goes away.
Do you prefer music, podcasts or silence when writing? Silence when I’m writing but I often create a playlist of songs to match the mood of the story as I’m writing.
Favourite perfume: La vie est belle
TV/film crush: George Clooney. Always.
The best non-writing related prize I won was…When I was in Year 10, I won a Gold Concert Pass on what was then 2SM. It gave me 2 tickets to every overseas concert happening for the next year.
Top three tips for aspiring authors?
You leant how to write by writing – a lot.
Perseverance and determination trump natural talent.
Write what you truly want to write rather than forcing yourself into a particular genre.
What theme do you hope shines through in your writing? Resilience.
Proudest author moment? The first 5 star review I received for my most recent book Cross My Heart. As I published it myself, great reviews mean so much more.
If anyone gives me flack for writing in the romance genre, I tell them… In the words of Baz Luhrmann in one of my favourite films Moulin Rouge, ‘the greatest thing you’ll ever learn is how to love and be loved in return’. If it’s good enough for Baz, it’s good enough for me!
My favourite thing about writing romance is… the smile on my face when my characters get their happily ever after.
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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 – is published by Allen and Unwin 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