This week in the Writing Inspirations series I’m excited to welcome Rural Romance writer, Cathryn Hein to the blog.
Cathryn is well known to readers of the genre and her latest novel, The Falls, is flying off the shelves.
by Cathryn Hein
Will losing the home she loves mean finding the place she belongs?
For as long as she can remember, Teagan Bliss has wanted to manage her family’s property. She’s invested everything in the farm, knowing that when her parents retire she’ll be ready to take the reins. But when a family betrayal leaves her reeling, Teagan is forced to rethink her entire future.
Heartbroken, Teagan flees to her aunt’s property in the idyllic Falls Valley. Vanessa is warm and welcoming and a favourite of the locals who drop in regularly for cocktail hour. Teagan soon catches the attention of sexy local farrier Lucas Knight, and with a new job, new friends and the prospect of a new relationship, she slowly begins to open up again.
But the village is a hotbed of gossip and division and when Teagan gets caught up in town politics, Lucas and Vanessa become concerned. As the tension in town escalates, Teagan must decide who to trust. But when she realises those close to her have been keeping secrets, the fallout may split Teagan apart forever.
The Falls is an uplifting story of healing and hope from the author of Promises, Heart of the Valley, Heartland, and Rocking Horse Hill.
- What – or who – first inspired you to write?
I’ve always written – short stories and awful poetry at school, followed by umpteen attempts at full length fiction in my 20s that never made it past the 10,000 word mark. I still have a short story I wrote as a teenager titled A Day In The Life of a Feminist Cockroach. Bonkers is a barely adequate description for that story but I did earn a B+ for it, so perhaps it’s all my English teacher’s fault.
But I think the real inspiration came from reading. Growing up I was an avid bookworm and – other than being around horses – there was nothing better I loved than curling up with a juicy story. I’m also lucky to have been blessed with a pretty active imagination. I’m a fantastic daydreamer. Writing was a way to capture those daydreams and make them real.
- Is there a place and time of day when you feel most inspired?
I am absolutely a morning person when it comes to writing. That’s definitely the time when I produce my best work. But I also find that walking and showering are brilliant for snapping those synapses. I can be completely stumped by something but a walk or a shower will have it solved in no time.
As far as place goes, I prefer the quiet of my office, with all my props close at hand. I feel a bit lost without my whiteboards and stickynotes, but not as lost as when I don’t have my “book bible”. My book bibles are basically scrapbooks filled with scribbles about characters and settings and anything else that captures my attention. Think newspaper clippings, photographs, house plans, brochures, descriptions, plot ideas, timelines, property and town names, handwritten scenes, corrections to be made in edits. Anything and everything that helps build the book. I also keep a folder for research material that’s too thick to paste into the scrapbook. I protect those two things fiercely. They’re as much a part of the book as the manuscript.
- When you’re feeling uninspired what sort of creative activities help you get your writing mojo back?
As mentioned above, showering and walking helps a lot. But I also believe reading is a wonderful way to reclaim your mojo. Certainly it works for me. Reading a favourite author, one whose writing, storytelling and voice I admire is hugely inspiring. They make me want to be better.
If it’s more story/plot ideas or character inspiration I’m after, then I find watching documentaries helpful. Real life and history is mine of stories, often more incredible than the stuff that goes on in my head, which is saying something!
- Can you tell us about one of your characters (current or past) who has been inspired by a real person or a situation in one of your stories that was inspired by a real life event?
There are many. And I mean MANY. I think every book I’ve ever written, published and unpublished, has had at least something in it that came from a real life event. In my debut Promises, for example, there’s a scene where Sophie, on her first day working in the hero Aaron’s yard, has one of the racehorses bolt on her. That happened to me on my first day at a racing stable and Sophie’s solution is exactly what my dad, a former jockey, told me to do should that ever happen. My current rural romance release, The Falls, features a crazy ram that is based on one my parents once kept. The list of real-life inspirations is huge.
- What was the inspiration for your current book?
In January of 2013 we relocated from Melbourne to the foot of the Blue Mountains. At the time I’d already begun writing Rocking Horse Hill and it was always my aim to give each of the female friends in the book their own story. Emily’s story was told in Rocking Horse Hill, with Teagan’s in The Falls, and Jasmine’s in what will one day be Admella Beach.
When, in Rocking Horse Hill, Teagan needed a place to escape the area we’d moved to provided the perfect inspiration. The Falls Valley and village isn’t actually real, it’s a heavily fictionalised version of the area, but it has a similar landscape. The land is dotted with hobby farms and horse properties, which meant plenty of opportunities for Teagan to find employment and take the time to recover from the shock of losing her life’s dream.
I also thought it was a great place for a hero like Lucas Knight to have settled. He’s a city boy who’s built a successful career as a rural farrier. The Falls and surrounding areas are the sort of places that would not only provide plenty of work, but be a gorgeous location for a hero to live.
So parts of the story owe lot to the landscape and demographics of the area. Ever-sprawling Sydney is creeping further and further west, driving agriculture and rural life with it. Not everyone appreciates that, and that’s cause for some of the villagers’ dissention in The Falls.
I also wanted an excuse to write a ram character like Merlin, who, as I’ve mentioned, was directly based on a ram my parents kept. That animal caused so much trouble but, like Teagan’s Aunt Vanessa with Merlin, we were all weirdly fond of him.
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