It’s been a huge week for me with the release and book launch for Close To Home. Hence the lack of blog posts!
Today I thought I’d share an abbreviated version of my speech from Thursday’s launch event. It was a great night shared with family, friends and writing buddies and a wonderful way to celebrate the release of my third novel.
Lots of photos were taken on the night and I’ll include a few here but I’ll also add a gallery page to my website very soon and share a few more on Facebook.
This is an edited version of the speech, which gives you some background on how the story originated and also demonstrates how important the support of others is when it comes to writing a novel …
The idea for Close To Home came from a conversation around a camp fire at a pony club event when the topic of hendra was raised. The discussion got quite heated as people debated the pros and cons of the vaccine even touching on the possibility that the rider’s – our children’s – lives could be at risk. It made me realise how much emotion and conflict the topic elicited and as all writers – and readers – know, every good story needs a good dose of both. That led me to ask What if? What if hendra did break out somewhere completely unexpected like the south coast? And that gave me a setting. What if the main character, who I’d decided would be a vet who worked for the Department of Primary Industries, had previously lived in the area? What if she didn’t really want to go back there? So that was where the story started but as Charlie’s story unraveled itself onto the pages I discovered there was a lot more to it. Complicated family relationships, dealing with grief and memories, and to my surprise as I continued to write, the issue of domestic violence crept into the plot.
And then there was the love story. If anyone had told me a few years ago I would be writing novels classified as Rural Romance I would not have believed them. But, as we all say, never say never. Maybe I’ve mellowed with age, but then again I have always loved a good Chic Flick. The signature line in one of my favourite films, Moulin Rouge, is: ‘The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is to love and be loved in return.’
And when you really think about it, how right was Baz when he wrote those words.
So there is a strong romantic element in this novel but there’s more to it than the romance. There’s also the love between family members and there’s the love between friends.
I am so lucky to be in a room full of people right now who have inspired me to write about all three. To my friends who are here, I asked you to come along tonight because you have supported me in so many ways and have always been interested in and champions of my writing. There are a few people I’d like to give a special mention to: my writing buddies and friends who took the time to read the manuscript in it’s various stages of revision and who gave me honest feedback. This book has had more eyes on it than the other two put together. So thank you to Monique, Terri, Annabel, Wanda, Krystina and Kerry. A huge thank you also to Carrie for giving me the ‘reader’ perspective and to Denise who gave me tips on how to learn to surf. Not that I’ll ever be doing it!
Thanks to my fellow Room To Readers who are here tonight – Wendy, Susanne and Mihiri. Your support is so appreciated. For those who aren’t aware I am a Writer Ambassador for Room to Read because I believe so strongly in the work they do to improve gender equality and literacy in developing countries. There are some flyers on the table about Room to Read and I’d really encourage everyone to take one home. There’s also a donation box if you have any spare change and I can assure you it will be going directly where it is needed, especially in the aftermath of the earthquake in Nepal.
Thanks so much to my Hachette ‘family’: Kate, my editor who I probably drove totally mad with all the changes, to Josie, my publicist who has organized tonight and is getting the book noticed out there in the big wide world, and the whole team at Hachette for having faith in me and in this book. And especially to Vanessa. Thank you for being my number one cheer leader, for telling me ‘yes you can’, when I call and say ‘I can’t do this’ and for giving me the opportunity to get another book out on the shelves.
And to my immediate family: Amelia, Georgia and Freya, my beautiful daughters. Way before I was published one of them said to me ‘Mum, just finish the book and get it published.’ I laughed, wishing it was that easy. But thank you girls for always being there supporting me, for moving books around on shelves and for generally being your gorgeous selves.
Thanks to my mum, for everything really. I hope she’s given me her genes so I can still be writing books when I’m 90!
And to (my husband) John. The poor man lives with 4 women and still manages to smile. Really, that is enough right there. I dedicated this book to him because well it was about time I did, but more because he is always there cheering me on. This time around he even brainstormed plot ideas with me on numerous occasions, once again put up with my moaning when I hit a wall and professed that I’d never be able to finish, and he’s created a beautiful new website for me and has taken on the role of being my ‘behind the scenes agent’. But more than that he is always on my side and has shown me that Baz Lurman’s words, as corny as they may sound to some, are true.
Close to Home is also dedicated to someone who can’t be here tonight, even though she would love to be, my closest friend Kathie. There’s a point at which friends become more than that, they become family and Kath is part of mine. She is the bravest person I know and she has taught me the value of friendship and how each of us need to be grateful for every moment we have.
Thanks to all of you – my extended family, school friends, my old work colleagues, school mum friends and writing friends. Some of you I haven’t seen for quite a while but everyone here is someone I wanted to share this celebration with. For me the joy in writing is about connecting with people and I feel very proud and privileged to have you here.
And thanks to everyone who has bought the book so far and to all my readers for your ongoing support.
Have a great weekend.
Close To Home is available now in Big W, Target and Kmart.
Signed copies also available from Booktopia.
Ebook also available on iTunes.