Café Cala welcomes Suzanne Brandyn

Hi Suzanne, welcome to Café Cala,

Suzanne Brandyn For webThank you. It’s a pleasure to be here.

It’s great to have you visit Café Cala. I’m looking forward to reading Outback Fever. I’ve been making some apple and cinnamon muffins this morning. Would you like tea or coffee with yours?

Now that’s made my mouth water. Um, Coffee for now please.

1 Where did you get the idea for Outback Fever?

My grandmother often told me many stories about the land, and one included our neighbours, which was fifty kilometres away. Apparently at one stage there was a battle in court contesting who actually owned the property. There was confusion in the paper work and the inheritance. This is where Outback Fever was born. I never thought that the stories my grandmother told me would make it into my novels, also my vivid imagination plays an important role.

2 What have you found most rewarding about your writing?

I have met many wonderful people online and face to face. Readers and authors who are willing to give up their time to review, to chat about books, and answer my calls for help when I have been stumped with a relating related matter.

3 How did you start writing?

I think I began at pre-school Lol…. A B C

Seriously, though, I began writing years ago and gave it up due to work and family commitments. It took a back operation gone wrong after ten years, then another operation before I could no longer work full time. Writing helped my sanity, and now I’m enjoying every moment.

4 What would you say has helped you most?

Becoming a member of Romance Writers of Australia and attending conferences. It gives a writer a chance to meet editors and pitch their latest manuscript. After almost being picked up by two Traditional Publishers, I decided to INDIE publish a few novels and then get back to targeting a novel suited to what sells in Australia, to what is marketable having being told that my works are a cross genre and they didn’t know where to place them in the market. Meaning, too much romance, and another publisher stating too much suspense. So this answer relates to question 6 as well.

5 What are you working on at the moment?

I’m about to undertake a complete rewrite of another Rural Romantic Suspense for a Traditional Publisher. Fingers crossed on this one. J

 6 What advice would you offer aspiring writers?

Although I’ve come a long way with my writing, and Outback Fever is my eighth published novel, I don’t think I’m qualified to give advice to aspiring writers. BUT having said that…. read between the lines. If you are targeting a publisher read extensively on what they are publishing within the genre you write. There is nothing more disheartening then being rejected on the basics of ‘we don’t publish that genre.’ Study their guidelines to the tee. Know what types of novels they market, and what sells.

7 Which authors do you enjoy reading?

I started out reading Colleen McCullough’s Thorn Birds, and an Indecent Obsession. I find I am now partial to Australian writers such as Rachael Johns, Jennie Jones, Bronwyn Parry and many more Rural Authors, as well as an old time favourite Jane Austen works. Oh and I mustn’t forget, I love Jaye Ford’s novels. I read extensively and the author’s mentioned above are just a few of my favourites. There are many talented authors in Australia. Saying this, I have found some great US writers as well.


Except of Outback Fever.

‘Does that mean we have to watch out for her?’

The warm voice from behind startled Cassandra and she turned to the side to look over her shoulder. The blood in her veins travelled at lightning speed into her heart and out the other side just as fast.

Jake was approaching, and alone. For a long moment tears threatened to cut her down, to expose everything for what it was, for what she was.

He wore denim jeans, a silky dark blue shirt, and his dark wavy hair hung centimetres below his collar, twisting into little curls. There wasn’t a single male in Australia that had ever kicked up her insides like this. She could scarcely breathe. She curled her fingers into a ball trying to suppress the memories that were all too eager for attention.

He stopped beside her, and she inhaled a scent that reminded her of the local timber mill. Fresh, exciting, and outdoorsy. Her nose tingled at the sensation, and she swallowed a twinge of hurt – the pain of rejection she thought had died a long time ago. Surprise washed over her. How could she still have feelings for a man like him? She concluded it was mere sexual attraction. What else could it be? Living alone for four long years… That thought woke up her senses. She hadn’t been with a man in a long time. No wonder she was out of sorts.

‘You remember Cassie, don’t you Jake? She was at school with us but a few classes below us,’ Matt said.

‘I do recall seeing her about.’ He studied her. ‘We finally meet, Cassie.’

So, he was pretending they didn’t know each other. That suited her just fine.

Conjuring a perfect fake smile to her lips, she tilted her head upwards. ‘Yes, vaguely. Jake. Hello. How are you?’ She sounded like a robot, but his appearance had continued to swamp her with disturbing emotions. The hairs over her flesh sang and she wondered what it would be like to have him touch her once more, to have his fingers run down her arms, over her bare back. Even the three day growth shadowing his face made him appear mysterious, dark and downright…male.

She licked her lips, her fingers tightened around the stem of the wine glass and she shifted her balance, planting her feet further apart.

‘Cassie’s been back for a few years now. I think I told you that,’ Matt said.

‘I recall you saying something along the lines. ‘Jake directed his attention toward Cassandra. ‘So the city didn’t agree with you?’

He smiled, sending a warm tickle to caress her belly.

‘Um. It wasn’t the city.…’

Cassandra almost closed her eyes and silently prayed for release from this curse, his curse. She stiffened and gave herself a mental shake. Thornton. Thornton. He’s just a damn Thornton.

She coughed a few times, spluttered.

‘Here take a sip. It might stop that catch.’

Noticing her glass was empty, she placed it on a drum nearby and reached out taking his glass. She gulped two huge mouthfuls of beer and felt the hops bite into her throat. ‘Thanks. Thank you. I don’t know what happened just then.’

When she met those stormy eyes, they were well alive as if saying, ‘I know what just happened.’

Talk about feeling embarrassed.

‘You don’t know, Jake,’ she whispered, spying Matt and the other men speaking amongst themselves.

He leaned in closer, and lowered his voice. ‘A man never forgets.’

Oh my God, that sexy, whisky, grating tone of his voice ran a delightful shudder over her skin, but it didn’t stop the building of annoyance. How dare he test her out in front of everyone? ‘I suppose you’ve returned to add a few notches to the back of your ute?’

The chatter close by quietened and all eyes including Matt’s were upon her. It was as though she had yelled it out, but she was sure it was barely a whisper. It wasn’t meant to come out that way, and so loud, and she wished her mouth would stay shut for once and not follow her emotions so readily.

‘Um. I have to go inside, give Mum a hand.’

Cassandra spun on the heel of her silver and black pumps and made it to the back door. She grabbed the architrave, afraid she’d drop like a dead weight, and slipped inside. Taking cautious steps, she walked into the kitchen. At least she could hide out inside and keep busy, help her mother and not be subjected to a scene like that again. The farther away she was from the party boy the better. Nausea crept over her, and she placed an open palm over the disturbance. Why had everything returned after such a long time? Surely she couldn’t possible care for the man, not after what he did. After he ripped her heart out and replaced it with a huge block of ice. Was that ice melting? Panic lodged inside and she found it difficult to rid herself of the torture.

Her mother wasn’t in sight and she checked the lounge room. Partial relief arrived when she dropped onto a soft sofa, decorated with colourful flowers. Every single emotion she experienced the day Jake walked out on her jarred her mind. She had a terrible time trying to pull all her nerves, and her loose emotions together. What had he done to her? The bastard.

The shock of seeing him again took time to simmer, especially seeing him so, so… She closed her eyes, and raised her hand to pat a few drops of perspiration from her temple before resting her face in her hands, elbows propped on her knees. Her entire world had collapsed the day he walked out of her life and she never thought she’d make it to where she was now.  She had managed to pull herself from the pits of despair and close the gouge in her heart. And she had to remember he was a married man now, and remember to treat him as such; a married Thornton.


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Café Cala welcomes Jenn J McLeod

Hi Jenn, Welcome to Café Cala.

Jenn JIt’s great to have you back to Café Cala. I love your writing. I can’t wait to read Season of Shadow and Light, and looking forward to your visit to chat with us at Noosaville Library in July. This morning I’ve been making some banana and walnut bread. I remember you liked black tea last time. Is that still your tipple?

It is indeed. I love black tea as much as I love a good black moment in a novel and in the case of my latest character, Paige, the black moment is when she discovers nothing hurts as much a twenty year long betrayal by the person she trusts to most.


1 Where did you get the idea for Season of Shadow and Light?

Lots of little life experiences influenced this story.

My sister’s love of horses.

My own ‘horse encounter’.

My sister losing her sense of smell (therefore taste) for reasons unknown. I thought this an interesting trait for a character who is a food reviewer/editor.

I also saw this Ruth Renkel quote once and never forgot it:

“Never fear shadows. They simply mean there’s a light shining somewhere nearby.”

This quote introduces the book. Here is the prologue that goes with it:

Prologue: Season of Shadow and Light

Same dream, same time, same sweaty body reduced to a shivering mess. Paige peeled her knees from her chest, unfurling her body from its foetal position, cramped fingers slowly relinquishing the fisted balls of bed sheet to fumble in the dark for the mobile phone with its illuminated display. Not that she needed to check a clock to know the time, not after all these years.

Her first thought this morning was to poke Robert from his silent slumber. Once upon a time, her husband would have felt her stir and woken, rolled over, held her, whispered his love for her and massaged that knotted muscle at the base of her neck. Then, without the need for words, her dutiful knight would have clambered out of bed and made a point of examining every nook and cranny of the house so that Paige could confidently close her eyes again. Over time, however, the armour had tarnished, the fairy tale had faded, the knight had tired, his investigations become less forensic, until so cursory Paige no longer bothered waking him at all. Not because he wouldn’t check, put his wife’s mind at ease, let her fall back to sleep; their relationship had not deteriorated to that level. Not waking Robert was more about Paige wanting to avoid his predictable jibes over break- fast the next morning about what he labelled her overactive imagination.

Paige slipped out of bed and with the phone lighting her way tiptoed to Matilda’s room. Not until she could peer through the gap in the doorway to see the Disney nightlight casting its dancing shadows across the small, sleeping form would Paige think to breathe, convinced—again—that no one had slipped from those shadows and stolen her daughter away in the night. As usual there was no one in the house, no one smashing windows, no one ripping her baby from her arms. It was as the doctors and therapists suggested. First her body had betrayed her; now her mind was playing tricks.

Paige fell back against the wall, sliding to the floor outside Matilda’s room. Clasping bent knees with one arm, the thumb of her other hand punched out a phone number. And only then did she glance at the time—always 2 am—before whispering . . .

‘Alice? Same dream.’

2 With three books now under your belt, what have you found most rewarding about your writing?

By far the most rewarding thing is a return reader—someone who has enjoyed my stories so much they keep coming back for more. Second is a happy publisher. These two things allow me to keep writing.

3 How did you start writing?

I had major surgery (thyroidectomy – which in non medical terms (according to my family) means a surgeon cut my neck and took out my bed mood. I was seven weeks recuperating and reading some really bad books by really well known authors. I decided I should try to write one of my own. I’ve always been a word lover. I dabbled with poetry when I was a hormone heavy teenager, and later song lyrics. I come from a very musical family with everything from concert pianists, opera singers and jazz musicians. But my keyboard of choice ended up being a computer.

4 Do you find any challenges writing ‘on the road’ as it were?

As I write this blog post it is Good Friday. I am in Corindi Beach, NSW, and there are tents popping up all around me. In other words, lots and lots of noisy distractions, making concentration zero on the current manuscript. Your email containing this Q&A was a very welcome distraction.

5 What would you say has helped you most?

Re-joining Romance Writers of Australia in 2008 after a five year hiatus. Despite not writing ‘strictly romance’ RWA is an all-embracing association. As Kate Forsyth said recently there are romantic elements in every genre. And as readers of Season of Shadow and Light will discover. Love is love. Family is family.

6 What are you working on at the moment?

The Seasons Quartet will have one more release in 2016 making it four stand alone novels: House for all Seasons, Simmering Season, Season of Shadow and Light and book four’s title TBA. My book four manuscript is currently with my publisher and about to begin its twelve-month journey from acceptance to shelf. While waiting for the first round of edits I am starting a new small town story, this one set . . . wait for it . . . in a caravan park that is located in a seaside community.

7 What advice would you offer aspiring writers?

You can choose to write what everyone else is writing or you can dare to be different, be bold, write the story that you want to write. Remember, bold can mean both ‘distinct’ and ‘daring’. Being distinct may make your work standout to a publisher. By daring I refer to literature that starts conversations. Fictional stories and characters that dare to be different can provide readers with a safe place to explore the human condition and perhaps develop acceptance and gain understanding.

8 Which authors are you reading right now?

Speaking of bold and brave . . . I was asked recently to read and review Honey Brown’s Six Degrees. I’m also looking forward to Trica Stringer’s Heart of the Country. Both authors have been a little bold and tried something new. Right now, though, I an enjoying our perennial favourite, Helene Young (Northern Heat).

Season of Shadow and Light

Season_Shadow_Light_COVER_finalA summer road trip with her daughter is exactly what Paige needs. What she doesn’t need is a reluctant Nana Alice in tow and unprecedented floodwaters forcing an unexpected and life-changing detour, stranding the trio in the tiny town of Coolabah Tree Gully.

Paige feels like everything she trusts is betraying her bit by bit. First her body, with the stillbirth of her baby boy, then postpartum stroke strips the food editor of her sense of taste and smell. Her husband is having an affair, her mother (Alice) is acting weird, and her six-year-old daughter’s questions about ‘her other nana’ is uncovering more questions than answers.

Alice knows how to keep a secret; the sixty year old has been living a lie almost her entire life. Thirty years ago she took on the role of single mother for a child she hadn’t carried nor nurtured through those first formative years. She also made a promise to keep someone else’s secret. But can she trust herself to keep the dead’s deception when she discovers the truth might help the living?

Aiden once trusted his heart to a woman, while to his mate he trusted the dream of owning a restaurant. But the swindling pair leaves Aiden broke and broken; his only choice is to return to his hometown—a place with more bad memories than good ones—where the once sought after executive chef is now executive chip fryer at his uncle’s pub.

Stranded amid rising floodwaters, someone knows that truth can wash away the darkest shadows, but …

. . . Are some secrets best kept for the sake of others?

Buy links: Find links for ALL print and eBook sellers at Simon & Schuster Publishers . Or go direct to Amazon and iTunes.

Connect with Jenn:


Facebook:  &/or  the Readers of Jenn J McLeod group on Facebook:


three books

For your chance to WIN all THREE Jenn J McLeod novels* simply leave a comment below. From now until the end of May Jenn drops into some of her favourite author blogs to say hello to readers old and new. She’ll then collect the comment names from each author blog post, picking a lucky winner from one major draw and announcing the name end May on her blog.

*Book Pack: House for all Seasons (#5 Top Selling Debut novel, 2013), Simmering Season, and Season of Shadow and Light. (Australian postal address only)