How does it feel to have your first novel, Rosalee Station, being released on May 30th?
It is such an exhilarating feeling! Firstly, I feel very blessed to have made it into the publishing world. I am over the moon to think I will be able to walk into a book shop in a few months time and see Rosalee Station on the shelf. I cannot wait to hold it in my hands and sniff the pages; I love the smell of books! I am counting down the sleeps already. I am also slightly nervous about what the reaction will be to my first novel however I am quietly confident that the readers will love it. Fingers crossed!
How did you come to write Rosalee Station and get it published?
I am so passionate about the outback and love reading novels by country authors. Although, I found that there weren’t enough books in the rural genre to satisfy my insatiable appetite for them. So, I had a wild thought, why don’t I just write one myself! I have had amazing experiences in the outback with some memorable Aussie characters, from being a camp cook at Tobermory station, helping behind the chutes at rodeos to being a fruit farmer, and all these aspects of my life came together and helped me to write an exciting novel threaded with an amazing love story. My journey into the publishing world was unbelievable. I had a finished manuscript after six months of solid writing and within three months I had a two book contract with Penguin. I am so happy to be signed by Penguin, they have been so supportive and have believed in me every step of the way.
Your novel could probably best be described as rural fiction along similar lines as authors like Rachael Treasure, Fleur McDonald, Fiona Palmer and Nicole Alexander. Is this the kind of fiction you most enjoy reading, and do you have some favourites?
Rural fiction is most definitely my number one choice. I love to delve into the worlds that other rural writers have created and meet all their wonderful characters…and fall in love with the cowboy of course! Occasionally I do feel like reading something different and that is when I love to sit down with one of Marian Keyes books. She is an Irish author and so hilarious. She has me in stiches with her Irish wit and she is such a talented writer. As for a favourite in the rural genre, it is hard to pick, but I do love Fiona Palmer and Rachael Treasure as they always have a good thread of romance in their novels.
The first chapter of Rosalee Station is available for free on your website. What do you think tends to make for a great first chapter of a novel, or what is an example of a first chapter you especially like and what makes it work so well for you as a reader?
I feel the secret to a great first chapter is to really get a connection between your reader and the main character. You want them to feel a part of the action so make sure to explain in detail the sights, smells and sounds of the land you are creating your story in. Take them there; make them feel as though they are inside the pages along with the characters. Drop a few hints about possible future developments to make the reader want to keep turning the pages. It is such a compliment to keep the reader awake for half the night because they cannot put the book down! One of the best first chapters I have read in recent times was by Marian Keyes in her fantastic book Rachael’s Holiday. Marian wrote in first person and it made me instantly feel as though I was Rachael’s best mate and she was talking to me over a glass of wine about her life story. It was witty, fun and straight to the point, making me want to read more. I think any author that chooses to write from first person has amazing abilities as a writer. It is a bold and daring approach to a novel and Marian Keyes pulled it off brilliantly.
Who is one of your favourite fictional characters and what makes them stand out for you?
I know this may sounds very biased but I would have to say the main character, Sarah Clarke, from my first novel Rosalee Station. I breathed life into her as I wrote as she was based on me and my life experiences (even down to the curly blonde hair!) so therefore I have a very intimate connection with her. At times throughout the manuscript I would find myself either laughing hysterically or a blithering mess as Sarah discovered life in the outback and fought for the love of Matt, the station owner’s son. I was sad, in a way, when I wrote the final words of Rosalee Station as I had grown close to her and knew her journey had ended, for now.
You live in the town of Dimbulah in north Queensland and have described your local area as “wonderfully diverse countryside with the rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef two hours to the north, lush green rolling valleys filled with dairy cattle an hour in the opposite direction and hardcore Australian outback right at my doorstep. Quite an amazing place to be living!” In what ways does your love for the local area come across in how you capture it in your fiction?
I capture the local areas in every possible way as they are the heart and soul of my novels and create the landscapes in which I write my stories, from the action packed Mareeba Rodeo right through to the quiet little country town of Dimbulah, which I call home. I love the fact that I get to explain, in detail, how it feels to live in a rural community where horses, cattle and fruit trees are peoples livelihoods. I aim to pull my readers into the storyline and take them on an outback adventure that they will never forget so for me it is very important that I write about what I know, which is right here where I live, in beautiful North Queensland.
Part of your first blog entry on your author website reads: “Today is my very first blog. Yeah! I have just won the battle of developing my very own website, by myself!, and I must say I am quite chuffed at how well it turned out. There were a few moments where I wanted to bang my head against the screen for lack of computer knowledge but somehow I waded through the unknown and emerged a computer nerd, well nearly!” What are your thoughts as you now take on the ‘non-writing’ parts of being a published author, such as blogging, doing interviews, and probably bookstore events soon as the release date for Rosalee Station gets closer?
I find this part of the journey absolutely amazing. I have already been receiving emails from people telling me that they cannot wait to read Rosalee Station and it warms my heart. I will be the first one to admit that it does get the butterflies flapping furiously as I think about doing live interviews or speeches as it is all new to me but it is exciting all the same. I am hoping to do my book launch at the Mareeba Rodeo so that will be a hoot and a half! I’m really looking forward to it.
Your second novel, Jacaranda, is due out in early 2012. Can you tell us anything about that?
Jacaranda is in the hands of my wonderful publisher now, at Penguin, awaiting the first round of editing. I can give you a snippet of what it is about, but only a wee one! Jacaranda is the story of Molly Jones, a young woman who is gifted in the art of horse whispering. She faces some tough challenges when she is torn between her love for her granddad, the love for her daughter and the love of her life. The story is full of loveable Aussie larrikins, beautiful countryside and two very sexy country men…what more could you ask for!
What’s next for your fiction writing besides Jacaranda, or is it to early to tell?
I am in the process of writing my third novel, Melaleuca Homestead. I’m not allowed to give too much away right now but it’s certainly another book for the Australian rural fiction lovers, and one that will tug at their heartstrings. It’s a story of hope, devastation, loss, triumph, the will to live and the power of love carrying you through a time in your life when you didn’t think you were going to make it. I also have my forth novel swirling around my head, begging to be told, so there are plenty more books to come. I absolutely adore being a writer as it makes me who I am today and allows me to dream about the future.
More on Mandy Magro and her fiction can be found at www.mandymagro.com.
The Australian Literature Review