Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Barbara Hannay!

Today I'm so happy to introduce you to my fellow Romance author and RITA finalist, Barbara Hannay. Barbara's books are wonderful and in my opinion no one can write a setting like she can. When I read her books, I breathe the air in her story and smell the flowers....you get the idea.

Thanks for being here, Barb!


Donna, thanks so much for this opportunity.

It’s often said that we don’t choose the stories we write – they choose us, and I suspect this is probably true, certainly where settings are concerned.

My very first novel was set in the Australian outback and it was actually called Outback Wife and Mother. At the time, the setting was an instinctive choice. I loved the outback and the cattle properties and people of North Queensland and it seemed natural to write about them, but I was also dreaming of other stories set in Hong Kong or on tropical islands…

To my surprise the editors said: ‘Give us more outback. Write as many books as you like with an Aussie outback setting.’

Luckily, this wasn’t a chore.

To me, the outback life, despite its many hardships and challenges, is truly romantic.

I think this fantasy started when I was young. Even though I grew up in the city (Brisbane to be exact) I’d always loved what we Aussies call ‘the bush’.  Our suburb was nestled in the leafy foothills of Mt Cootha, so gum-tree studded mountains dominated my view. Added to this, my parents took regular weekend drives into the countryside, which is possibly why I still have a fondness for picnics on creek-banks.

Later, I married a man who loved the great outdoors with a passion that surpassed even mine and, as our four children arrived and our purse-strings tightened, we spent most of our holidays camping and canoeing.

Yes, it was economical, but our kids loved these outdoor adventures. Later, when my son returned from three years of working in London, his first impulse was to get back to the bush and a campfire with the smell of burning gum leaves.

We were also lucky enough to have a friend who owned a beautiful cattle property on the Burdekin River and this homestead and its surroundings has remained the inspiration for most of my stories.

No surprise – I live in the country now, on a misty hillside with views of hills dotted with cattle. Even so, there are times, every so often, when my muse gets bossy and demands that I head west to the real outback to soak up new sights and sounds and smells.

Recently, my husband and I visited Robin Hood Station in Far North Queensland’s Gulf Country.

This property is huge – covering 330,000 acres and its red dirt and blue skies and rugged terrain were enough to set me grinning – not to mention the impressive cattlemen with their loose-hipped strides and low-slung jeans and easy-going, understated manners.

An added bonus on this property is Cobbold Gorge, not unlike the gorge I described in Rancher’s Twins: Mom Needed. The amazing thing about Cobbold is that the property is so big, the gorge was only discovered by its owners in the early 1990s.

I must say I’m truly honoured that a story set Downunder is a finalist in the RITA contest run by Romance Writers of America. I often wonder what it is that overseas readers most enjoy about the outback books. The settings? The quiet, still-waters-run-deep heroes? The fish-out-of-water heroines?

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and I’ll be sending a signed copy of Rancher’s Twins: Mom Needed to one of you.

16 comments:

  1. One of the things I like is the dialogue ... the manner in which Aussies talk.
    Seriously, though, Barbara, I like the variety I find in all the books. Yes, there are recurring themes, as you can only write about so many things, but every author puts a different spin on the stories, so that I can enjoy almost all of the books I read. It could be the dialogue (especially if it is quick-witted), the use of scenery to escalate the storyline, the pressures felt by the hero and heroine (and even others), and the list goes on and on.
    I am just thankful there are lots of writers out there who write stories I enjoy reading (as I have read over 250 books/year since 1974 and have no plans on slowing down!).

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    1. Wow,it's readers like you who keep us afloat, Laney. Thank you!

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  2. I love books set in the outback. I like the setting and the heroes the best.

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    1. Ah, yes, the heroes... I must admit I love them, too. Tough men in a tough world with tender hearts. Thanks Tammy.

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  3. Ever since reading the "Thorn Birds" (a favorite of mine) when it came out, I love a book (or a movie) that takes place in the Austrialian outback. I love the settings and the characters. It is so quiet and so remote.

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    1. I loved The Thorn Birds, too, BW. I think you've hit on something there about the remoteness. I think it takes a certain kind of courage and self belief to live out there. Thank you.

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  4. Summer3:04 PM

    I don't know what it is about Australia, maybe it's how down to earth everyone always appears. I seem to enjoy everything that comes from there whether it's books, tennis players or actors. One of my favorite TV series ever was McLeod's Daughters.

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    1. I think we have to stay "down to earth" when we live at the bottom of the world. :)) We also have what we call the Tall Poppy syndrome. Anyone gets too big headed, we cut 'em down.
      Maybe that's what happens when a country starts out as convicts.:)) Thanks Summer! I'm loving all these responses.

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  5. I hate to bring down this sophisticated discussion on Australia but it makes me think of the movie Crocodile Dundee! I liked his way of speaking.

    Would love to win the book. :)

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    1. Oh, yes... I think we all loved that laconic drawl..
      and cheeky smile.
      Wasn't Crocodile Dundee fun?

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  6. I love your books Barbara, your Australian Outback is so different to the Australian 'Outback' where I live and I love reading about it. I can see our Ben Lomond from my front verandah and it was -9*C there the other night, and -4*C in our back yard!! Your characters are quintessentially Australian without being Ocker and I love the way you weave the Bush and the seasons and the beach into your stories. Most of your City books have more than a passing nod to the Bush. Even though we are the most urbanised country in the world, we still have such an affinity with the Bush and I love it that I can be there (in the Bush) eight minutes from town.

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    1. Wow... thanks 2paw. And I still have your beautiful Tasmania on my wish list. My daughter honey-mooned there recently and she said it was amazingly beautiful.

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  7. Well, I'm not an overseas reader, Barbara, so I'm not commenting on the setting, but your stories are always beautifully written, warm and heartfelt.

    And you've already won a RITA before, as well as the Romantic Book of the Year in Australia, so that proves this RITA finalist is no fluke. :)

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  8. Thanks Anne. And thanks Donna for hosting this gathering. To those finalists who'll be there on the night, have a brilliant time in Anaheim. Enjoy the glamour and the well-deserved kudos. I guess I'll be "watching" on twitter. :)

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  9. Thanks everyone for being here! It's been particularly manic in my neck of the woods (deadline craze!) but as a reader I agree - Barb's books are fabulous!

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  10. Sorry I'm late with the drawing. I got caught up with a deadline. But Tammy, your name came out of the hat!
    If you'd like to send me your address via BarbaradotHannay @ Yahoodot com, (my website email) I'll pop of book in the mail. Thanks everyone!!

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