Posted by Juliet Madison
In celebration of the release of my debut novel, Fast Forward, I’m doing a series of interviews with authors about their past, present & future. Today, please welcome another debut author, the fabulous Jenn J McLeod!
I was supposed to be a multi-disciplined musician (like my Dad), study at The Conservatorium (like my Aunt), be a famous opera singer like my cousin (whose sons – Ben and Alexander Lewis – (think Phantom!) are now making their own musical mark internationally). Instead I wrote, my keyboard of choice a computer, leaving the old upright piano to languish in the living room as I followed my labyrinthine road and wrote my own story. (Excuse me while I sing my theme song…“I did it myyyyyyy way!”)
So as the daddy longlegs weave their webs around the piano’s soundboard and strings, I weave stories that give my characters a life and a voice. My stage is country NSW, my tree change many years ago like coming home. I guess it must have been all those hours I spent in my room as a child, riding my bed-end rather than practicing piano! Yep, that’s right: a pillow for a saddle, a dressing gown tie as a bridle and voila! I was National Velvet.
2. What did you do before you became a writer?
You mean besides being National Velvet? That answer is a novel in itself. Let’s see (in order): Hairdressing, cosmetic sales, retail security (nabbing shoplifters), hotel security at Sydney’s Intercontinental Hotel (where I met celebrities and heard stories I can never tell), Event Management, Road Safety Education, Corporate PR & Communications, Intranet Producer, Cafe owner, B&B Operator and finally… Author.
[Juliet – what a wealth of experience to add to your stories!]
Besides pretending to be National Velvet, you mean? Hmm, that would be winning a national road safety award for a young driver education initiative. Here I am accepting the award with my colleague, Pam Leicester. As friends and colleagues we were a formidable team; Pam inspiring me then and more recently. (My House For All Seasons character, Sara, was inspired by Pam who is sadly no longer with us. Creating Sara allowed me to give Pam her happy ever after.)
[ Juliet – Congrats on the award! And what a nice gesture for Pam]
4. What’s your latest release about and/or what are you currently working on?
House For All Seasons is now available. It is the story of four estranged school friends forced to return the NSW country town of their youth to claim an unexpected inheritance – the century-old Dandelion House.
As restless teenagers, desperate to forget a tragic end-of-school muck-up day accident, they escape the confines of small town life and never speak to each other again.
Twenty years on, coming home to the country triggers mixed emotions and the women must face their shame and self-doubt if they are to reconcile their past with their present.
Only after spending a season each in the old place – a condition of the will – do they discover the reason for the inheritance and how they are forever tied to the house and to each other.
[Juliet - what are you waiting for readers? Dash to the bookstore now! Well, after you read this interview of course ;)]
5. What’s a typical day like for you? (If there is such a thing!)
A mess! I have no fixed agenda and I need to change that. I need to fit in the networking side of this business without losing entire days! I must write – not Facebook. I must write – not tweet. I must write – not blog. Oops!
[Juliet – sorry about that!]
Right now? As in today? As in 8 March 2013? Forgive my preoccupation, but as my debut novel has just released (with a couple five-star ratings already) I am a little dizzy (and I feel a Gwyneth Paltrow Oscars acceptance speech coming on, so we’d best move on.)
7. If you could fast forward in time to any age or year for just one day, what would you choose & why?
Fast forward! Crikey, I so wish I could go back. I would love to be doing what I am doing now as a 40 year old!
But, okay, to fast forward it would have to be to the day a book is an interactive hologram. Remember those pop-up storybooks? I loved them. I used to walk my fingers through the pages. Imagine the future: holograms that let you wander through scenes—touching, tasting, smelling, hearing, seeing, feeling… ooh la la!
[Juliet – You’re in luck, there just might be a hologram or two in Fast Forward! Great minds huh?]
8. If you could have any new technology or invention in the future that would make your life a whole lot easier (or more fun), what would it be?
A George Jetson Winnebago (ie it folds into a briefcase for easy parking).
[Juliet – Patent it NOW!]
9. What are your hopes & dreams for the future?
That people love my books and want more (so I can keep writing while travelling in that Winnebago.)
Thanks for visiting, Jenn, and all the best for HOUSE FOR ALL SEASONS!
Posted by Juliet Madison
1. Can you tell us about a happy memory from your life that revolved around food?
At 22, travelling around Australia in a Ford F100, my girlfriend and I were ‘rescued’ by four Sth Aust. farmers (on their annual pilgrimage). We dropped our exhaust on the (then corrugated dirt) Stuart highway, miles from anywhere. We met up with them again at Coober Pedy pub and they suggested we camp out of town. We did! (Had not heard of Wolf Creek then obviously.) What an experience. In the middle of nowhere – 100 clicks from Coober Pedy – they cooked us kangaroo tail soup, kangaroo steak, damper and baked vegies – all from a campfire (see picture below!). My love of a life in the country was born.
2. Do you have any food-related rituals or routines in your household, such as a specific meal for certain days of the week?
Very regimented at breakkie time – need it to wake up. After that, who knows! As long as I get my two soy lattes every day I’m a happy girl.
3. What is your favourite
Drink: alcohol – full stop. Only don’t stop. Pls don’t stop. Barman! Another one pls…and one for my friends. (I shout cyber drinks these days since deciding too much of the real thing is bad for my health and my waistline. Although I will be lashing out come Conference. Try and stop me!)
Indulgence: brie cheese & crackers with homemade persimmon paste, pretzels and red wine under a setting summer sun.
Meal: Home made pasta or pizza with home grown spices and herbs.
Oysters or smoked cod in white sauce. Brrrrrrrrr!!!!!
5. If you have children, have you discovered any ingenious ways to hide vegetables in meals?
I hide the dogs’ tick prevention pills in yoghurt (a dollop in each bowl of biccies). Does that count?
6. Is eating out at cafes and restaurants a regular part of your life? Do you have any favourite places you’d like to mention?
Eating out was my all-time fav thing to do…until I bought a café. If you want to stop eating out (save money and lose weight) buy a food business and see what some chefs do in the kitchen, learn what the 10 second rule is, or discover how cheap and easy that $30 masterpiece is to make! I promise you will never eat out again.
7. Do you eat while you write? Are there any particular foods or drinks you always have on hand while writing?
Who can eat and write at the same time? I need every finger to hunt and peck my way around the keyboard. Besides, I can’t afford slippery food fingers if I want to keep the letters from fading away.
8. If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would you choose?
Kylie Minogue or Tina Arena. Two different and very successful women who found success their own way. I admire their tenacity and the ability to reinvent themselves to broaden their audience and grow with the changing music scene. I’m not sure writers can ever do this. Both these ladies have endured set backs (in different ways) and stayed focused and positive.
9. Which one of the following types of cooks are you?
- Cooking? What’s that?
- I cook only when I absolutely have to
- I’m an average cook, and stick to my regular meals
- I like to experiment with new recipes regularly, or create my own
- Next season of MasterChef – lookout!
None of the above. I now use my new status of soon-to-be-published-author, milking it wherever possible (usually at dinner and dishes time), except when I can’t because my B&B – purpose built for pups and people – visit us on facebook here. (shameless plug) — offers evening meals. Typically:
Char-grilled Atlantic salmon fillet on Moroccan cous cous, with homemade mango chutney, cucumber yoghurt and salad with preserved lemon dressing
Our Mediterranean Table – Spaghetti Bolognaise with hand-made fettuccini, Mediterranean salad, olives, shaved parmesan & crusty sourdough bruschetta
The Calingarry Crossing CWA ladies (from my first novel) have THE best / easiest no peeling required pumpkin soup. They posted it on my blog a while back! Here it is.
Thank you, Juliet, for my very first invitation to blog as a ridgy-didge author, having signed up with Simon & Schuster for my two contemporary Australian novels earlier this year.
House For All Seasons (due May next year)
The Simmering Season (due May 2014)
In the meantime, come on over…
Come home to the country…
Jenn J McLeod
Small town stories. Discover them. Love them.
Thanks for visiting, Jenn, and I can’t wait for your books. Consider them pre-ordered!
Leave a comment for Jenn below, and you will go in the draw for prizes at the end of the month (Just make sure you also subscribe to the blog posts ;))