Books Spark Joy with Barbara Hannay

Books Spark Joy with Barbara Hannay

Welcome to the latest edition of Books Spark Joy where authors talk about the books that make them sparkle and what’s on their shelves. This week’s guest is Barbara Hannay. Barbara has published over 50 books. Many of these have been set in rural and outback Australia and have been enjoyed by readers around the world. Barbara has been nominated five times for Romance Writers of America’s RITA Award which she won in 2007 and she has twice won Australia’s Romantic Book of the Year award. Her most recent release is Meet Me in Venice from Penguin Australia. Over to Barbara … As we are about to move house for quite possibly the last time (the seventh time during our marriage) and as we are also downsizing to an apartment, the whole question of what to keep and what to cull currently looms large in our household. I’ve been an avid reader all my life and a professional writer for more than twenty years, so books have always been a huge part of my world. As my husband, a former journalist, is a writer, too,  there are books in every room in our house – yes, even a few hanging out in the bathrooms. We’ve already had one huge cull, carting hundreds of books off to secondhand shops, the local library and nursing home, but rather than another reduction, we’re planning as much bookshelf space as possible for our new home. A reality check is quite possible. I will never forget the first “big”book I read, Seven Little Australians. I was seven or eight years old  at the time...
Books Spark Joy with Cassie Hamer

Books Spark Joy with Cassie Hamer

This week on Books Spark Joy meet Cassie Hamer. Cassie is the debut author of After The Party, which I just happened to finish this morning and loved! If you’re a fan of Liane Moriarty style stories this one is for you. Cassie completed a Masters in Creative Writing, and has since achieved success in numerous short story competitions. Her first novel, After the Party was published in March 2019 by Harlequin. She is working on her second novel, to be published in April 2020, but always has time to connect with other passionate readers via her website – CassieHamer.com – or through social media. Over to Cassie … There are two things I love unconditionally in this world. One is my family. The other is reading, and I can’t remember a time when it was any different.  I was that kid who would always take a book wherever they went, then read at night until my eyelids fell shut. Occasionally, my parents had to tell me to stop and engage with the real world. I loved books then, I love them now, and at the end of my life, it will be my connection with books and reading that will count as being among the longest and most sustained relationships of my life. I still get flutters in my stomach when I go into a library. I could sit in a bookshop all day and inhale that new book smell. These days, I’m also a full-time author and therefore, the reading habit that I have always regarded as pure pleasure can also be quite easily justified as ‘work’. So, obviously, my house...
Books Spark Joy with Annie Seaton

Books Spark Joy with Annie Seaton

This week’s guest on Books Spark Joy is the multi-talented Annie Seaton. Annie has been following her dream of writing since she left her career in education eight years ago. She has written over forty books in that time and is published both traditionally and as an indie author. She’s won several awards, including Book of the Year (AUSROM) for Whitsunday Dawn in 2018, and has been a finalist for the RWA Ruby Award, and the RWZN Koru award and has had many bestsellers. Her latest book, Undara, is in stores this week. Over to Annie … Where do you keep your books? My books are in the living room of our house, and in the guest bedroom on a bookshelf, as well as teetering in a pile of ‘next-to-be-read’ beside the bed! I also have a small cabinet in my study with craft of writing books, and special collections. Annie’s bookshelves crammed with loads of great books! Do you hoard or pass your books along? Until our last-but-one move, I had every book I ever owned on several large bookshelves. When we lugged in boxes and boxes of books, I decided it was time to downsize, and I gave away many books. I have regretted it ever since! How do you feel about lending books? I lend often, and I lend my favourite books, and usually get them back. My two favourite books of all time are Katherine by Anya Seton, and Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy. They both were non-returns and I have never been able to get another copy of Prince of Tides! How does your bookshelf tell the story of your life? It gives...
Books Spark Joy with Wendy Lee Davies

Books Spark Joy with Wendy Lee Davies

This week’s Books Spark Joy post is a Q&A with award-winning Romance Author Wendy Lee Davies. Wendy began writing romances as a lark after leaving her communications and editing job of many years. Wendy won the Romance Writers of Australia Emerald Award in 2017 with her small-town contemporary romance, The Drover’s Rest. The same story (renamed Good Enough For Love prior to publication), was also a finalist in the 2017 Mid-American Romance Writer’s Fiction from the Heartland competition. Let’s get chatting! Where do you keep your books? Most of my books are on my Kindle. I do have a [very] small bookshelf with some of my favourite, and precious, print books. Do you hoard or pass your books along? No. I just keep them. How do you feel about lending books? It’s virtually impossible to lend books on my Kindle, but I recommend stories I love to other friends and writers to read. I’m also an active member of my local library, so lending books is a wonderful way of sharing great fiction. How does your bookshelf tell the story of your life? It doesn’t, really. And the electronic bookshelf on my Kindle is definitely not a representation of my whole life, just a part of it. The part where I’m both researching and enjoying numerous romantic stories from a variety of genres, not just the small-town, country romance genre that is where I write. How do you organize your books? Yes, I do. I try to keep all the similar genres together. But I don’t do more than that. Are you a print or digital reader? Digital. Have...
Books Spark Joy with Mel A Rowe

Books Spark Joy with Mel A Rowe

This week’s guest on Books Spark Joy is Mel A Rowe and she has a special giveaway for readers (keep reading to find out more!). Australian Bestselling Author, Mel A ROWE is a Writer and Weekend Wanderer, trying not to get too lost outback of Northern Australia. Besides random road trips, fumbling with her camera, and annoying her family with her bad singing—it’s her novels she enjoys creating the most. Suffering from an allergy to all things corporately serious, Mel’s novels are dished up with a dash of drama, witty humour, and quirky family units. Known for reinventing romantic versions of home, Mel takes her common characters on an uncommon journey that leads from boardrooms to billabongs as they try to find their own HAPPILY EVER AFTER.     Over to Mel … SURVIVING IN AN OUTBACK BOOK DESERT. The NT’s (Northern Territory) outback destroys books, and that’s where I live—in a freaking book desert! Until Pamela Cook posed the question, I’d never realised my eclectic book collection had spread throughout my house. Cookbooks are in the kitchen—shocker, right!  But they’re vintage CWA (Country Women’s Assoc.) cookbooks I’d inherited from my grandmother. My mother annually mailed me her local fundraising editions to wherever I was working at the time. Yep, the CWA recipes made it to Papua New Guinea’s hinterlands and many beaches on deserted tropical islands in the Torres Straits. I’m surprised they lasted…maybe because those ladies stapled or tied their editions together with ribbon. Continuing on our book tour of the humble abode, you’ll find an old-school atlas, tropical gardening manuals, and Australiana reference books. They stand next to the...
Books Spark Joy with Jennie Jones

Books Spark Joy with Jennie Jones

This week’s guest on Books Spark Joy is Jennie Jones. Jennie is one of the first writers I connected with when I started my publishing journey and it’s been such a pleasure to see her career go from strength to strength. Jennie writes stories about love, life, laughter and everything between. A proud Australian with equal pride in her Welsh roots she wrote her first book seven years ago and hasn’t looked back. She now has eleven published novels under her belt in the genre of small-town and rural romance and is currently thoroughly enjoying working on two women’s fiction novels for HarperCollins/Harlequin. One a dual timeline with heartbreaking issues from the 1940s through to the 1970s that still resonate today, and the other about a contemporary Australian family dynasty on the brink of losing everything.   Over to Jennie … While I’m not quite a full-on neat-freak I am the kind of person who likes symmetry and aesthetically pleasing visuals, so my bookshelves are a place of honour for a number of special items in my life, not just books. Although books are the main value-added attraction of course.   Apart from the odd photo frame (my paternal grandmothers in this instance), I tend to keep objects alongside my books that resonate with quiet contemplation and the cosy passing of a rainy afternoon. Like playing cards, and the old dominoes box I’ve had for years, along with the odd little knickknack.     I don’t keep every book I read and space isn’t the only reason for this. It’s because I don’t like to hold on to something...
Books Spark Joy with Leisl Leighton

Books Spark Joy with Leisl Leighton

This week’s guest on Books Spark Joy is Leisl Leighton. As a child Leisl’s literary heroine was Anne of Green Gables. Leisl’s stories have won and placed in many competitions in Australia and the US, including the STALI, Golden Opportunities, Heart of the West, Linda Howard Award of Excellence, Touch of Magic and many others. She is addicted to the Syfy channel, and her shelves are full of fantasy and paranormal books and scifi DVDs.   Over to Leisl … Books for me are necessities. I can’t do without them. I need one with me at all times – whether a physical book or a digital book, it no longer matters – because no matter what the day has brought, if I can sink into a good story at various points in the day, I can let go of everything that is me and become everything that is someone else, and it helps me find my peace.   I have heard many writers say that they have no time to read, and for me, this is crazy talk. I write because I love reading and without reading, there would be no writing. I fill my muse by reading and reading and reading, historic, regency romance, paranormal romance, sci-fi, fantasy, steam-punk, romantic suspense, chic lit and contemporary romance novels. The only thing I don’t read when I am writing, is a book that’s too close in genre to the one I’m writing in – I don’t want to be influenced in the wrong way while writing my own book, so that is one rule I do have about reading and writing....
Books Spark Joy with Jennifer Scoullar

Books Spark Joy with Jennifer Scoullar

This week on Books Spark Joy, meet Jennifer Scoullar. Jennifer writes Australian Fiction with an environmental message. She began writing as a child after reading Elyne Mitchell’s The Silver Brumby. After a career in law Jennifer picked up her pen and began writing again, an experience she describes as ‘coming home’. She lives with her family at Pilyara, a beautiful property in the mountains that was left to her by her father.   Over to Jennifer … There’s an old saying that goes, ‘A home without books is like a room without windows.’ My books live all over the house. There isn’t one room without overflowing shelves, looking like an overstocked secondhand bookshop. That said, I’m not a hoarder, and do cull old books occasionally. I’m also happy to lend books ‒ which is a back door way of culling, because I never get them back 😊 There is some method to my madness, and I have a rough organisational structure to my library. I keep classic literary fiction in the lounge room. Some tragic tales I may never return to, especially the ones where the lovers die, then the family dies, then the whole village dies. I’m a sucker for a happy ending. I’m also unlikely to re-read incomprehensible books like Finnegan’s Wake, The Sound And The Fury and Tristram Shandy, or historical set pieces by Jane Austen and Thomas Hardy. But there are other classics that continue to inspire me. Thoreau’s Walden is a masterpiece. Authors like John Steinbeck and Mark Twain are perennial favourites, as are Australian women writers such as Henry Handel Richardson, Miles Franklin and Nancy Cato....
Books Spark Joy with Darry Fraser

Books Spark Joy with Darry Fraser

This week’s guest on Books Spark Joy is Darry Fraser. Apprenticed on a number of contemporary novels in her early career, Darry returned to writing her favourite genre, Australian historical fiction in 2016. Her first published novel, Daughter of the Murray, began a series set in the 1890s on her beloved River Murray. Darry’s books are set in a rural landscape, and her new novella, Edge of the Blue (2019) is set on fictional Australis Island, which very much resembles her home. The Good Woman of Renmark is due out November 2019, and is the last in the Murray series. Darry lives and works on wild and beautiful Kangaroo Island off the coast of South Australia.       Over to Darry … My love of Story and books has always been there and by the time I was capable of physically handling a book, I was already enthralled. Story captivated me: the action, the adventure, the characters, the setting. Good vs evil, and I always loved it best that Good won, of course, at least in Story. That might be why I tend to write Happily For Now, no matter what genre. I love to read and also to write a really good Not So Happily At All, but in this day and age, an uplift is always sought after. As soon as I had pocket money, the book buying began. I’d always had books given to me, as well, and early in life had learned the wonder of libraries. However books came to me, I loved to hold the tomes in my hand. Over the years there were many, many books...
Books Spark Joy with Juanita Kees

Books Spark Joy with Juanita Kees

This week’s guest on Books Spark Joy is Juanita Kees. Juanita escapes the real world by reading and writing Australian Rural Romance novels with elements of suspense, Australian Fantasy Paranormal and Small Town USA stories. Her romance novels star spirited heroines who give the hero a run for his money before giving in. She creates emotionally engaging worlds steeped in romance, suspense, mystery and intrigue, set in dusty, rural outback Australia and on the NASCAR racetracks of America. When she’s not writing, Juanita is mother to three boys and has a passion for fast cars and country living.         Over to Juanita …   Thank you for hosting me today and sharing books that spark joy. Growing up, books and stories were a lifeline in our house. My parents didn’t own a television until the mid to late seventies, and because of heavy sanctions in South Africa, our television programs were limited to mostly local productions anyway. As a result, most nights after dinner, we would listen to the radio, play board games or cards, or read a book. When Christmas time came around, our gifts almost always contained a girl’s annual filled with beautiful pictures, puzzles and stories. Both my parents were avid readers and encouraged our reading habits. Saturday mornings were always ‘library day’ for us and I used to look forward losing myself among the bookshelves. My father was (and still is) a wonderful storyteller. He’d make up campfire and bedtime stories, and some of them he and my uncles even recorded on tape with sound effects. We used to love listening to...