Welcome to Tea with Mrs B, an author interview series. Here to share a pot of tea and to chat about her brand new book, The Cottage At Rosella Cove, is Sandie Docker.
Sandie Docker grew up in Coffs Harbour, and first fell in love with reading when her father introduced her to fantasy books as a teenager. Her love of Women’s Fiction began when she first read Jane Austen for the HSC, but it wasn’t until she was taking a translation course at university that her Mandarin lecturer suggested she might have a knack for writing – a seed of an idea that sat quietly in the back of her mind while she lived overseas and travelled the world. Sandie first decided to put pen to paper (yes, she writes everything the old fashioned way before hitting a keyboard) when living in London. Now back in Sydney with her husband and daughter, she writes every day. Her debut novel, The Kookaburra Creek Café, was released in April 2018, and her second novel, The Cottage At Rosella Cove is due for release Jan 8th, 2019.
Hello Sandie. It is my pleasure to warmly welcome you to my blog, Mrs B’s Book Reviews. Thank you for joining me for Tea with Mrs B, an author interview series. To set the mood for our tea infused interview, what is your preferred beverage, tea, coffee or other? And side accompaniment, scone, cake or other?
Thank you for having me. I’d have to choose hot chocolate above tea or coffee, but seeing as this is called Tea with Mrs B, I should pick a tea. So, either peppermint or chamomile. And to go with it, how about a nice brownie?
Can you tell us what genres you write for and how many books you have had published?
I write in the genre considered Women’s Fiction. I have two books published with Penguin already and another two on the way.
The Cottage At Rosella Cove was released last month. Can you describe it in just a sentence?
One sentence? That’s cruel! – The Cottage At Rosella Cove is a story of three damaged souls – one lost, one found, one forgotten – whose lives intertwine in a rundown old house in a sleepy coastal town, where they learn that sometimes family can be built out of the most unusual of friendships.
How long did it take you to write The Cottage At Rosella Cove? Did you experience second novel syndrome with this one?
It took about three years write, because of work and family and life. I didn’t have second novel syndrome when writing it, as it was actually written before The Kookaburra Creek Café. I had both manuscripts finished before signing with Penguin. I was more nervous about it being released than Kookaburra Creek, though, because with a second novel there are expectations that you don’t have with a first.
Where did the inspiration for the characters featured in The Cottage At Rosella Cove come from?
It started with Nicole and Charlie, sitting on a bench. I didn’t know who they were or how they were connected, but I knew it was unconventional and I knew the bench was really important. And I started writing their story to discover more about them.
Did you need to undertake any research to bring The Cottage At Rosella Cove to life? How did you incorporate this research into the narrative?
I always end up having to do more research than I think I’ll have to do. For Rosella Cove I had research how Ivy would communicate with her husband in WWII; when lamingtons were invented; what features were in a period home; I also had to get a sensitivity reader to ensure I was portraying Nicole’s back story accurately. A lot of research you do never makes it on to the page, and hopefully I’ve incorporated my research in a way you can’t feel it’s there.
There are a number of different time periods featured in your book, was it a hard process to write and link them all together?
I wouldn’t say it was hard, but it does take work. One of the things you have to watch out for is when you change one little thing, there is a domino effect on other aspects. An example of this is when I was playing around with Charlie’s timeline at one point, to make an aspect of his story fit better, but that meant changing part of Ivy’s story, and in doing that I had Ivy referencing the moon landing in one of her letters in 1973, which of course is wrong and I had to fix that.
Can you tell us more about the stunning Australian location featured in The Cottage At Rosella Cove?
Rosella Cove is a sleepy little town where everyone knows everyone’s business. It is nestled between hills and the ocean on the east coast of Australia. The people who inhabit Rosella Cove are quirky and eclectic and kind and really love their footy and their pub. It is a fictional town, and in my head I know exactly where it is, but I’m not going to say, as I did that once when a reader asked about Kookaburra Creek, and she told me I was wrong!
Is there a particular scene in The Cottage At Rosella Cove that you are proud of?
Ohhh. Another hard one. I do love all of Ivy’s letters. They were fun to write. Ummm…one scene in particular???? One of my favourites is the scene where Danny takes Nicole bush-bashing and they sit on the boulder looking over the town. And the scene where Nicole takes her shoes off at the picnic. And…..
What do you hope readers will take away from reading The Cottage At Rosella Cove?
First and foremost I hope they simply enjoy it. I hope they love Nicole and Charlie and Ivy and want to be their friends. I also hope they find it uplifting, despite some of the heavy themes that are explored – that they come away with a sense of how you can get through what life throws at you if you open yourself to the love around you.
How did you celebrate the official release day of The Cottage At Rosella Cove?
Totally rock-star-esque – dinner with hubby and Miss 13.
Can you tell us about your creative working space, where do you write and is there anything vital you need to get started?
I’m fortunate that last year we did a knock-down rebuild and I now have a library. It’s just a study with lots of bookshelves and books, but I like to call it a library. But I also write anywhere – in the car waiting for school pick up (rock star again!), my local café. The only thing vital to get started is discipline. Butt in seat, fingers on keyboard. And a bowl of M&Ms really helps.
Is there a genre you haven’t tried writing yet, but want to in the future?
I’m not sure I’d have the research skills, but I do love historical fiction like Geraldine Brooks, and there is a story in that genre I’ve had in my head for a long while, but I’m not sure I could pull it off. For now, I’ll stick with Women’s Fiction.
Aside from writing, do you have any interesting hobbies?
Interesting? Hmmm. I do bake a lot and do birthday cakes. I also sew. And of course read. But none of that is particularly interesting. I’d love to be a gardener, but I pretty much kill everything I touch, so that’s probably never going to take off.
What is next on the horizon for Sandie Docker? Do you have any writing projects you would like to share with us?
I am currently trying to finish number three – The Banksia Bay Beach Shack, which is due out in January 2020, and then I’ll get cracking on 2021’s release, The Wattle Island Book Club.
What 2019 book releases are you most excited to read?
Lauren Chater, author of The Lace Weaver, is releasing a new book in September, so I’ll be rushing out to buy that one. And Penguin are debuting a new author Tabitha Bird, whom I’ve had the pleasure to be friends with a little while now, and her novel, A Lifetime Of Impossible Days, is coming out in June. It is quirky and interesting and emotional – all the things I love – and I’ve pre-ordered it already and can’t wait for it land in my letter box.
Finally, wrapping up our tea themed interview, who would you most like to share a pot of tea with?
Again, just one???? You’re killing me Mrs B! Apart from all my literary heroes, right now I’d love to have a cuppa with my Dad. He was my first and biggest supporter when I was chasing my writing dream, but unfortunately we lost him before my dream came true. He would be getting such a kick out of this journey, it would be wonderful to have a good ol’ chin-wag with him about it.
Thank you for taking the time to visit Mrs B’s Book Reviews for Tea with Mrs B Sandie. Congratulations on the publication of The Cottage at Rosella Cove!
Thank you so much for having me.
Why had the house stayed empty so long? Why had it never been sold?
Nicole has left her city life for the sleepy town of Rosella Cove, renting the old cottage by the water. She plans to keep to herself – but when she uncovers a hidden box of wartime love letters, she realises she’s not the
first person living in this cottage to hide secrets and pain.
Ivy’s quiet life in Rosella Cove is tainted by the events of World War II, with ramifications felt for many years to come. But one night a drifter appears and changes everything. Perhaps his is the soul she’s meant to save.
Charlie is too afraid of his past to form any lasting ties in the cove. He knows he must make amends for his tragic deeds long ago, but he can’t do it alone. Maybe the new tenant in the cottage will help him fulfil a promise and find the redemption he isn’t sure he deserves.
Welcome to the cottage at Rosella Cove, where three damaged souls meet and have the chance to rewrite their futures.
The Cottage at Rosella Cove by Sandie Docker was published on January 8th 2019 by Penguin Books Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
Connect with Sandie here: