Café Cala welcomes Jenn J McLeod


Hi Jenn, Welcome to Café Cala.

 Jenn J

It’s great to have you visit Café Cala. I loved House for All Seasons and can’t wait to read Simmering Season. This morning I’ve been making some chocolate and macadamia brownies. Would you like tea or coffee with yours?

If, as Will says in Simmering Season, you have a “genetically modified free soy cow out the back”, then I will have a soy latte. Otherwise black tea, please.

It just so happens we have one of these grazing out back, so soy latte it is.

1 Where did you get the idea for Simmering Season?

The minute I typed THE END on HOUSE FOR ALL SEASONS I knew I had to start another Calingarry Crossing novel. Despite so many secondary characters nagging me to tell their story, Maggie Lindeman, the publican, won – mostly because I knew she would cope with the story arc I wanted to develop – the kind that builds and builds and builds. The seasons inspire my stories and I remember the anticipation of a wet season when I lived in Northern Territory (Darwin). The way the heat and humidity built over days and months, each afternoon teasing us with cooling cloudbursts that never came, tended to push people to their limit. While House for all Seasons had a four-part story structure, I wanted Simmering Season to live up to its title – a story that slowly bubbles away, building in anticipation and pushing the characters. At the same time I had to write within the confines of the humorous and heart-warming contemporary fiction genre I write in. A challenge? You bet! Did I achieve it? I guess the reviewers and readers will let me know. Fingers crossed.

Needless to say, poor Maggie Lindeman – the publican, back in Calingarry Crossing to sell the family pub – has no idea a perfect storm is heading her way until her past and present collide with the unexpected to blow the lid off a lifetime of secrets.

Maggie’s past includes Dan Ireland, now a work-weary police crash investigator, still hell-bent on punishing himself for his misspent youth, Dan has ample reason for not going home for the Calingarry Crossing school reunion, but one very good reason why he should.

Maggie’s present includes a restless seventeen-year-old son, a father with dementia, a school centenary planning committee, a fame-obsessed musician husband, a dwindling bank account, and a country pub that just won’t sell.

Her unexpected is a houseguest for the summer. Fiona Bailey-Blair, daughter of an old friend and spoilt with everything but the truth, whips up a small storm of whispers when she blows into town.

Sounds wonderful, Jenn – can’t wait to read it!

2 What have you found most rewarding about your writing?

Writers look for validation of their ‘writerly talents’! So, of course, the response to my debut novel was (1) very rewarding and (2) slightly surreal – still! But the delightful by-product to writing is the camaraderie and the networking. Writers, certainly the ones I like to surround myself with, are generous in their support of each other, rather than competitive. The very best thing, however, is the email I might get from a reader to say something in my story touched them personally.

3 How did you start writing?

With a purple-coloured pencil at about age nine. My first story was The Naughty Painter – the paint-loving pooch with a penchant for poop! (Yes, I loved alliteration even before I knew what it meant.)

4 What would you say has helped you most?

NanoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month – a global writing initiative that forces you to glue your butt to a chair for thirty days in November and write, no editing allowed, just bash out the story. The process changed me. I stopped trying to be ‘writerly’ and instead found my voice as a storyteller. As a result, my characters found theirs.

5 What are you working on at the moment?

I am about to submit (on time – phew!) book three to my publisher. Titled SEASON OF SHADOW AND LIGHT, I am very excited about this story and happy to say there is a sneak peek for readers of SIMMERING SEASON, with the first two chapters of SHADOW included in the back of the book.

6 What advice would you offer aspiring writers?

First I’d say writing for publication is not the same as writing for pleasure. Being a published author turns a hobby on its head, frustrates family members when it sucks up your time and focus, and tests your patience. My advice is threefold …

  1. It’s never too early to start thinking like a published author.
  2. Develop a head for business and learn to plan – sometimes the marketing, accounting and time management parts of this gig are more small business operator than writer.
  3. Give those closest to you the opportunity to share your journey. Don’t assume they already know. Don’t assume they don’t want to understand. With involvement comes support – and you will need that in bucket-loads.

7 Which authors do you enjoy reading?

An early bit of advice I remember was  …  “To be a good writer, you must be a great reader.” I try to achieve both. Most recently I’ve enjoyed Anna Romer’s Thornwood House, Liane Moriaty’s The Husband’s Secret, Helen Young’s Half Moon Bay, and anything of Dianne Blacklock! I love books that entertain as well as teach me. I have a pile of books by author friends and my Kindle is about to explode. It would be great if you could rustle up a few more hours in the day to go with those scrummy chocolate and macadamia brownies you’ve made.

In the meantime, I’ll get back to writing book four in my Seasons Collection. Oh, and some good news. My publisher just informed me they are doing more re-prints of HOUSE. So ask your local bookshop, chain store (like Big W), or order from an online e-tailer. You can also download to your e-reader.

simmering season

Book information and BUY links are on my website or head to Simon & Schuster Australia.

I love connecting with readers and other writers, especially aspiring authors. Connect with me on Facebook and Twitter  @jennjmcleod or where readers can sign up for my ‘Odd and Occasional Newsy Newsletter’ for book updates, excerpts and offers.


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