Today, I’d like to welcome Heather Garside to my blog. Heather writes historical novels set in rural Australia. For more information visit her website and Facebook page. Welcome, Heather. Please tell us a little about yourself:
I grew up on a cattle property in Central Queensland and now live with my husband on a beef and grain farm in the same area. Our son works with us on the farm and our daughter is presently working at a gold mine in Western Australia. So far away…
I started my first novel in my late teens and have subsequently published four novels. I’ve also helped to write and produce several compilations of short stories and local histories. The Cornstalk was a finalist in the 2008 Booksellers’ Best Award, Long Historical category, for romance books published in the USA. Breakaway Creek was a finalist in the QWC/Hachette Manuscript Development Program.
I work at home on the farm and help produce a local monthly newsletter, amongst other voluntary activities. I enjoy patchwork and sewing and regularly attend a local craft group. Being a full-time author isn’t for me, but writing has been a fulfilling pastime over the years and my life has definitely been the richer for my involvement in the literary world.
What inspires you to write and when did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I wrote my first poem at the age of seven and at an early age, I began dreaming of writing a book. In those years I was very much inspired by the bush where I lived. The pioneering history of Central Queensland has also been a major influence. This must be due at least in part to hearing stories of my great-grandparents, who were all pioneers in the area.
The love story between my characters is a big driver of my books. I think there will always be a romance of some kind in my stories. 🙂
Which comes to you first? The character or the story/idea?
It’s usually the story. The characters develop as the story evolves.
Did you choose your genre or did your genre choose you?
I can safely say my genre chose me! They say, write what you know, so setting my stories in rural Queensland is a no-brainer for me.
What is your favorite scene in your book?
This is taken from Colonial Legacy:
Disbelief and yearning rushed at her then, mingled with years of aching guilt. ‘You’re Matthew?’ she whispered incredulously. ‘You must know who I am, then?’
He nodded, silently eyeing her in that unrelenting yet guarded way, as if he expected her to deny him. It tore at her already ravaged emotions.
‘Oh, Matthew.’ She fumbled with the gate catch, her fingers trembling and useless. He came to her aid, pushing the gate wide, and then there was nothing between them but a foot of space she hardly knew how to bridge. She studied his face, seeing his father in his mouth and chin, the Ashfords in that arrogant nose. Her eyes swept over him, noting how tall and strong he was. He was beautiful, and he was her son.
Tell me a little about your favourite character in your book.
Louise, from Colonial Daughter, is intrepid and adventurous, and frets under the restrictions of Victorian society. Her rebelliousness gets her into a lot of trouble and the life lessons she learns are hard ones, but make her a stronger and more compassionate person.
Who is/are your favorite author(s) or (reading) genre?
I love Kimberley Freeman’s dual-timeline novels. I enjoy reading exotic settings as well as Australian ones. Georgette Heyer was definitely one of my inspirations when I was a teenager.
What book do you consider your favourite read of all time?
That’s a hard one. The Australian classic, The Shiralee by Darcy Niland is a big favourite. A number of years ago it was made into a wonderful mini-series starring Bryan Brown. I have it on DVD and have watched it several times. I must read the book again one day.
Blurb for Colonial Daughter
Determined not to join her wealthy parents in England, Louise Ashford finds work as a governess in the frontier settlements of Central Queensland. She falls in love with Lloyd Kavanagh, a young cattleman of convict descent. But she knows Lloyd will never be accepted by her family.
Their romance ends abruptly when her brother Charles intervenes, carrying her off to England. Charles’s lies ensure Lloyd will not try to follow her. More grief awaits her in England and a disgraced Louise seizes the chance to accompany Charles back to Australia. She must defy all that is safe and secure if she is to reclaim her love and rebuild the life she longs for.
Previously published as The Cornstalk.
Blurb for Colonial Legacy
Growing up as the coachman’s son at Ashford Manor, Matt Jones is never at ease with his place in the world. Everything he believes about himself is turned upside down when he discovers a well-kept secret. He travels to Australia in search of his birth parents and revels in the rugged lifestyle on their Central Queensland cattle run. But a jealous younger brother and a clandestine relationship with Isabella, an innocent neighbour, make for stormy undercurrents.
Isabella is heartbroken when he leaves to try his luck at the goldfields. Matt’s family intervenes on Isabella’s behalf, but there is trouble and a near-tragedy in store for Matt. When he finally realises how much he loves Isabella, he fears it may be already too late.
Previously published as A Hidden Legacy.