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...
Books Spark Joy with Sandie Docker

Books Spark Joy with Sandie Docker

My guest on the Books Spark Joy blog this week is  Australian Women’s Fiction author Sandie Docker. Sandie  grew up in Coffs Harbour, and first fell in love with reading when her father introduced her to fantasy books as a teenager. Writing about love, loss, family and small country towns, her debut novel, The Kookaburra Creek Café, was released in April 2018, The Cottage At Rosella Cove was released Jan 8th, 2019 and her third novel The Banksia Bay Beach Shack is scheduled for release in March 2020.     Over to Sandie … Unlike most writers, I didn’t start life with a love of books. I actually hated reading as a child and couldn’t understand why anyone would want to sit and bury their faces in some musty old pages. But one day in my late teens, my dad, a voracious reader, put a copy of Pawn Of Prophecy, a fantasy novel by David Eddings, in my hand and told me to ‘just give it a go’. Reluctantly I did. And my life forever changed. I was transported mind, body and soul into another world, the characters felt so real to me that I thought of them as friends, and to this day, nearly thirty years later, I can picture the opening scene and conjure images from that story in my mind with vivid clarity.     Eventually I moved on from fantasy and found my reading (and now writing) home in women’s fiction. But the same feelings apply – being swept away by a story and its characters is one of life’s great gifts. An escape from...
Books Spark Joy with Alissa Callen

Books Spark Joy with Alissa Callen

This week we welcome Alissa Callen to the Books Spark Joy series. USA Today bestselling author Alissa Callen is a country girl happiest living far from the city fringe. Alissa draws inspiration from the countryside around her and from the resilience of local bush communities. Alissa’s books are characteristically heart-warming, authentic and character driven. Alissa lives with her teenage family on a small slice of rural Australia in central western NSW.     Over to Alissa … Books continue to be my compass. From the Dr Seuss stories that resonated as a child, to the horse books that lined my teenage bed head to the TBR piles spilling from my reading corner, stories anchor me in a busy world. The bookshelves filling my house could only be described as curated clutter. The random assembly of titles might seem ad hoc but there is method in the madness. The reason why The Silver Brumby series by Elyne Mitchell sits beside the complete collection of Louis L’Amour westerns on the top shelf of the bookcase in my office is that they are a favourite snapshot of my reading life. In the days before the internet I’d write letters to book exchanges to track down any missing Louis L’Amour titles. While I still remember my aunt taking me (a bush kid) to a city bookstore to buy Silver Brumby Whirlwind. I’d never seen so many shelves of new books.     When I had my four children it was important to instill a love of reading. Each child had their own bookcase to fill with stories that inspired and touched them. For...
Books Spark Joy with Sarah Williams

Books Spark Joy with Sarah Williams

Welcome to this week’s edition of Books Spark Joy with Sarah Williams. Sarah is the bestselling author of Australian romantic fiction including the successful Brigadier Station series. She spent her childhood chasing sheep, riding horses and picking Kiwi fruit on the family orchard in rural New Zealand. After a decade travelling, Sarah moved to Queensland to raise a family and follow her passion for writing. She currently resides in Maleny on the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, Australia. When she’s not absorbed in her fictional writing world, Sarah is running after her family of four kids, one husband, two dogs, a horse and a cat. She is CEO of Serenade Publishing, hosts the weekly podcast/vlog Write with Love, runs writers workshops and retreats, mentors and supports her peers to achieve their publishing dreams.     Over to Sarah … My mother was a teacher, so she knew the value of reading to kids. Every night my brother and I would snuggle in and listen as she read us story after story. As I grew up my interest in books wanned as I found other hobbies. However I clearly remember the moment my life changed. I was fourteen and my family were attending a party at my aunts house. I stumbled across a pile of books in her garage and spotted a worn paperback with a pioneering couple in a dramatic pose. The blurb of “This Calder Range” by Janet Dailey promised romance, suspense, cowboys and indians. Everything 14 year old me could possibly want. My aunt let me have the book – she’d obviously forgotten how steamy parts of it were. While...
Books Spark Joy with Susanne Bellamy

Books Spark Joy with Susanne Bellamy

This week in the Books Spark Joy series we’re joined by Susanne Bellamy. Born and raised in Toowoomba, Susanne is an Australian author of contemporary and suspense romances set in exciting and often exotic locations, and rural romance set in Australia. She adores travel with her husband, both at home and overseas, and weaves stories around the settings and people she encounters. Susanne loves connecting with readers and fellow writers and you’ll find her social media links at the end of the post.     Over to you, Susanne …   Books have been important to me since I was little. My parents were great believers in the empowerment of knowledge and the inspiration of story. Two of my older sisters gave me books for Christmases and birthdays – Girls Annual, and Enid Blyton. My parents weren’t wealthy, but they valued books and reading and gave me the gift of Reader’s Digest for Children, bi-monthly anthologies of four great stories. Although shortened versions, these, along with the books from my sisters, set me on the path of a lifelong love affair with books.     When I was three, my mother ran a small coffee shop for those attending the Maternal and Child Welfare Clinic, which was next to our town library. Apparently, I read the books I borrowed quickly (and frequently borrowed them again). Mum would watch me walk the few metres to the door of the library, and her friend in the library would help me ‘change’ my books for the next set, and then see me back to Mum, a trip I am told I did several times...
Books Spark Joy with Fiona Macarthur

Books Spark Joy with Fiona Macarthur

One of the best things about being a writer is all the lovely writers and readers you get to meet. Last year I had the pleasure of meeting Fiona Macarthur. We hit it off immediately and I can’t wait to catch up with her again. In the meantime I’m very happy to welcome her to the Books Spark Joy series. In her compassionate, pacey fiction, Fiona McArthur’s love of the Australian landscape meshes beautifully with warm, multigenerational characters as she highlights challenges for rural and remote families, and the strength shared between women. Happy endings are a must.   Over to Fiona … Thanks for having me, Pamela, ‘cause I had a ball poking through my bookshelves and actually found more books than expected. I’ve been culling for a while now and happily give away a lot. Noted while culling – that some old books can transport me to moments in time. As a pre-teen, zoom back to my dad discussing the latest Modesty Blaise book with me and how much better she was than James Bond. No culling of that collection of stories written by Peter O’Donnell and always, wistfully, as I re-read. And Dick Francis. We both loved those. Pretty sure he’s where my heroes came from. I also suspect Modesty is where my strong, independent women are born, a can’t-kill-her-with-a-stick-woman, yet a woman with practical kindness for others, except the bad guys. Which is why I’ve started to collect the full set of Madeleine Brent women’s fiction P.O’D wrote under that pseudonym (why did I not know this?) and I love discovering each new book. These...
Books Spark Joy with Historical Fiction Author Kim Kelly

Books Spark Joy with Historical Fiction Author Kim Kelly

Welcome to the first edition of the Books Spark Joy. I was inspired to start this series by a fabulous article in the Washington post featuring a number of American authors talking about their bookshelves. It was such an enjoyable read I wanted more – and I wanted to find out about Australian writers and their relationship with books. The series will continue throughout the year with new authors appearing each Friday. If there is an author you’d like to hear about please email me or add a comment, and remember to subscribe to the blog so you know when a new post is up.   I’m so excited to have historical fiction author Kim Kelly kicking off this series. Kim writes breath-taking historical fiction and lives in the beautiful Millthorpe area of New South Wales. You can find out more about Kim and where to find her online at the end of the post.     Over to Kim …   I’m such a cliché there are books in every room of my house, including the kitchen – and they’re not of the cooking variety there, but novels. The main paperback hang is the back wall of the living room, where my muse de bloke, Deano, built me some five-metre-long shelves.   Book-hoarder? Me? No. The boxes of books in the junk room are all important, too. I’m not precious about them, either: file copies of romances and short story collections I’ve edited sit jumbled together with Nietzsche and Aristotle; history and art mingle with science and the classics of English Lit. The predominant flavour is Australian, though. Unsurprisingly,...
My Top Five Reads For 2019 (So Far)

My Top Five Reads For 2019 (So Far)

Bridge Of Clay by Markus Zusak   Like many others I couldn’t wait to read this 13-years-in-the-making tome from The Book Thief author Markus Zusak. I had the pleasure of hearing Markus talk about the novel as far back at last July at the launch of Storyfest and was even more excited to devour it after he read an excerpt on the night. Long awaited books, like any  highly anticipated life event, can often be a let-down, never reaching the heights of the expectation and hype. To be totally honest for the first part of the book I struggled and I was worried this was the case with Bridge Of Clay. And for a very strange reason: it felt too perfect. I couldn’t connect with the characters or the emotions. But something magical happened about one third of the way in – I fell in love, with Penny Dunbar, with Achilles the mule, with the fractious Dunbar boys and with the beautifully woven words that seemed to take flight once the opening section of the novel was out of the way. The writing and the story capture a family trying to come to terms with death and working out how to live in the face of it. When I considered my response I remembered having the same response to The Book Thief – I started it and put it down a number of times before getting into it and absolutely loving it. Maybe this is the case with all deeply emotional stories: we have to come to grips with a subject matter so deep, told in such a heartfelt...

My Top Five Spring Reads

So many books and so little time! A cliché but definitely the apt for me right now. With an ever growing book pile and dividing my time between writing, Writes4Women and Storyfest, not to mention family time and horse riding, I hardly seem to be making a dent in my TBR tower. I have managed to sneak some time for reading though, and here are my recommendations for Spring reading, in no particular order. And if you click on the links on the bottom of the post you’ll find more reviews from my writing buddies, The Writers’ Dozen. There’s something for everyone!   Lost Without You – Rachael Johns I was lucky enough to read Rachael’s latest novel prior to its release and after just a few pages became totally immersed. The storyline centres around a wedding dress that connects the main characters, Rebecca, Paige, Josie and Clara. Covering a range of family and social issues, the plot unravels the knots binding these characters together and delves into both the positive and negative aspects of the choices they make. While some of the consequences do not lead to a happy place, each thread is well resolved and the story ultimately has a hopeful ending. I thoroughly enjoyed Lost Without You, a great addition to Rachael’s collection of contemporary women’s fiction.   The Single Ladies Of the Jacaranda Retirement Village – Joanna Nell This title of this book pretty much sums up the story: single women dealing with the ups and downs of life in their twilight years. It centers around the two lead characters Pat and Angie, who are...