The Woolgrower’s Companion
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour today! I’m thrilled to share a wonderful Q&A with author Joy Rhoades, who will be chatting to us about the inspiration behind her new novel, her writing rituals and her advice for budding authors! But first here is a little more about the book.
About The Woolgrower’s Companion
Australia 1945. Until now Kate Dowd has led a sheltered life on her family’s sprawling sheep station but, with her father’s health in decline, the management of the farm is increasingly falling to her.
Kate is rising to the challenge when the arrival of two Italian POW labourers disrupts everything – especially when Kate finds herself drawn to the enigmatic Luca Canali.
Then she receives devastating news. The farm is near bankrupt and the bank is set to repossess. Given just eight weeks to pay the debt, Kate is now in a race to save everything she holds dear.
To purchase a copy of the book, you can follow the links below
About Joy Rhoades
About me? I grew up in a small town in the bush in Queensland, Australia. I spent my time with my head in a book, or outdoors – climbing trees, playing in dry creek beds, or fishing for yabbies in the railway dam under the big sky. Some of my favourite memories were visiting my grandmother’s sheep farm in rural New South Wales where my father had grown up. She was a fifth generation grazier, a lover of history, and a great and gentle teller of stories. My childhood gave me two passions: a love of the Australian landscape and a fascination with words and stories.
I left the bush at 13 when I went to boarding school in Brisbane. I stayed on there to study law and literature at the University of Queensland. After, my work as a lawyer took me first to Sydney and then all over the world, to London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo and New York. But I always carried in my head a strong sense of my childhood: the people, the history, the light and the landscape. Those images have never left me and they would eventually become The Woolgrower’s Companion. It’s a story I’ve felt I had to tell.
I currently live in London with my husband and our two young children. But I miss the Australian sky.
You can follow Joy on Twitter here!
Q&A with Joy Rhoades
Can you tell us a little more about yourself and your path to publication?
It took me a bit to get to writing, I mean really writing. I worked all over the place: first Sydney then London, parts of Asia, New York. But all that time, I was scribbling bits and pieces of fiction. Finally, in New York, I did an MFA at night: a master’s in creative writing at The New School University. And that really turned me on to what a writing life might be like (hard 😉).
Once we went out to publishers, we got a strong response and I went with Penguin in Oz and in the UK. It was a bit surreal after so many years of scribbling on bits of paper. And then the book did very well as a debut in Oz. Also, surreal. And glorious 🙂
Do you plan your books beforehand or do you write and see where it takes you?
I’m a plantser, as they say. Not a pure plotter, and not a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants writer, either. Something in the middle. So, I do plan quite carefully, on a chapter by chapter and scene by scene basis. But then I just write and so I find I add scenes all the time, as the story unfolds. I think it’s like a fingerprint. What works for you– plotting/pantsing/plantsing– is unique to you.
Do you have any writing rituals?
I read over what I’ve written the day before, preferably out loud if I can do it. I will hear things I may not necessarily see on the page, and that gets me into the swing of where I was. And I do try to write first, before anything else, so it gets done. Otherwise a day is lost and that makes me unhappy. I feel better when I’m writing.
What was the inspiration behind The Woolgrower’s Companion?
The Woolgrower’s Companion is loosely based on some family stories. My grandmother was a fifth- generation grazier and spent much of her life on her family’s sheep property in northern New South Wales. She was a wonderful soul, kind and quiet and hilarious too. So, it’s her stories that I used to frame this story.
Have you always wanted to be an author?
I did always want to be a writer or a journalist of some kind. I think that wonder, for books and for words, is common to so many writers.
If you could have written any other book what would it be?
Tim Winton’s Dirt Music is a glorious book. Lyrical language, a heart-stopping arc and a masterful capture of the Australian environment, both bush and sea. I am in awe.
Do you have any advice for budding authors?
Quite a lot of advice, actually 😉 I teach creative writing for London libraries, and love to do so. There is something about desire to learn, that quest to write better, that I identify with and revel in. I say to my students get your craft strong first. By that, I mean: learn to write well. Read widely, read critically and analyse why a phrase — a sentence, a paragraph, a chapter– works. And try to do that in your own writing. Not to copy, but to write well.
Who are your favourite authors?
I like a lot of different writers, styles, genres. I love the Brontes and John Grisham, Jane Austen and even Cormac McCarthy (brutal as his stuff is). And I love Tim Winton’s work. All of it. I don’t think the man has ever written a bad sentence.
How long did it take you to write The Woolgrower’s Companion?
Ha! Too long 😕 I wrote it on the side, while I was working fulltime for what seems like a very long time. But when I gave up my day job to take care of my kids fulltime, then I could write while they were at school (and the washing piles up😉 Then it took about 18 months.
Are you working on a new novel now?
I am working on the sequel to The Woolgrower’s Companion. It’s been commissioned by Penguin Australia and is set about three years after the end of the Woolgrower’s.
In three words, can you describe The Woolgrower’s Companion?
It’s one young woman’s fight to save the farm. But it’s essentially a story of struggle, hope and love.
Wasn’t that wonderful?!
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Huge thanks to Sian Devine, Vintage and Joy Rhoades for my review copy, blog tour invite and the fabulous Q&A!!