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, Shadows Over Wongan Creek, is Juanita Kees.
Hello Juanita. 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?
A chai latte with scones and cream, thank you, Mrs B.
Can you tell us what genres you write for and how many books you have had published?
I write Australian Rural Romantic Suspense, small town USA romance and stories about Greek gods brought back to life in the 21st century, living in Melbourne. I have published nine books with another two due out this year.
Shadows Over Wongan Creek, your latest book, will be released tomorrow. Can you describe it in just a sentence?
A Pandora’s Box of buried secrets, repressed memories, broken dreams, scars in need of healing and a very cranky lizard, deep in the shadows that threaten Fen and Kieran’s chance at happiness.
Shadows Over Wongan Creek is book #3 in the Wongan Creek series. Can this book be read as a standalone, or does it need to be read in series order?
It can be read as a standalone. There is no over-arching plot or loose ends from other books. While characters from the previous books make an appearance, this is very much a separate story.
How long did it take you to write Shadows Over Wongan Creek?
Six months to write, another six months to rewrite and a couple of months to polish away the “Did I really write that?”
Can you tell us more about the inspiration for the stunning Australian setting of your novel?
The fictional town of Wongan Creek is set in the Western Australian wheatbelt and gold mining region northwest of Perth. Not to be mistaken for the real town of Wongan Hills which lies northeast and is a bit further away. (I get that question a lot! 😊)
Wongan Creek was inspired by my time spent in Boddington ten years ago as a health and safety officer. I found it interesting how the town and mine developed and changed the infrastructure of the region. I also fell in love with the town itself and the characters I met there. The experience opened up a whole new world for me. The town of Boddington is on the Hotham river and has some of the most picturesque landscape in our northwest.
Where did the inspiration for your characters come from?
That’s the question that always makes me sound crazy 😊. I don’t seek inspiration for the characters, the characters come to me to tell their story. Mostly, it’s places that inspire the characters and the question of who lived there, who were they and what did they do?
What ingredients do you feel are necessary to compose a successful romantic suspense narrative?
Gripping intrigue, edge-of-the-seat action, and emotionally engaging characters and romance.
What was the most challenging and rewarding aspects of writing Shadows Over Wongan Creek?
The most challenging was getting the plot right. Fen’s past was complicated and at first she wasn’t keen to ‘talk’ about it. Then I had to put myself in her head to see what she’d seen. I slept with one eye open for weeks!
The most rewarding was seeing the cover and knowing that the artistic fairies had nailed it with a hero showing a scar on his chest.
What do you hope readers will take away from reading Shadows Over Wongan Creek?
That no matter what life throws in your path, no matter how bad the past is, healing is possible with the help of family, friends, community and of course, true love.
How do you plan to celebrate the official release day of Shadows Over Wongan Creek?
With champagne and chocolate, and the hope that Fen and Kieran’s story touches readers’ hearts.
You have published a number of rural fiction novels. What attracts you to this particular genre?
I love Australia. We have a rich and colourful past, land and people with stories to tell. The Dreamtime stories of our indigenous community, tales of intrigue and mystery as the convicts journeyed across the country, and the sagas of the migrants who came to make a new life in a strange land. Every rural town all over Australia has a story in it, full of character and heart.
How has your writing evolved since your first published novel?
My writing has grown so much as a result of critique and good editing feedback. Even though it’s hard to accept critique from partners and editors at times, it’s important that we learn as much as possible from it. Look beyond the emotion that comes with a ‘bad’ critique/edit/review and see how (or if) it can improve your story.
Can you tell us about your creative working space, where do you write and is there anything vital you need to get started?
I often write in the early hours of the morning, propped up in bed. And on the days that I’m not at the day job, I do have the home office to work in. I have a planning board (which seldom gets used) and of course, my firefighters’ calendar on the wall. That’s inspiration enough, right? Sometimes though, I sit out in the garden by the fishpond with a notebook where it’s quiet and tranquil. I like to write in silence. No music, no television and preferably with no one at home to distract me.
What is next on the horizon for Juanita Kees? Do you have any writing projects you would like to share with us?
I’m currently working on finishing my small town USA series, Calhoun Customs Garage, which I want to complete this year. Book 1, Overdrive, was released last year. Then I’m looking forward to getting back to writing the next Australian rural romance.
What 2019 book releases are you most excited to read?
Number one on my list is Holden Sheppard’s Invisible Boys. I have a few others on there, like Cheryl Adnams’ The Girl from Eureka and Susanna Rogers’ Mosh series.
Finally, wrapping up our tea themed interview, who would you most like to share a pot of tea with?
Bill Swampy Marsh, so he could tell me all about the Australia he writes about in his books.
Thank you for taking the time to visit Mrs B’s Book Reviews for Tea with Mrs B Juanita. Congratulations on the publication of Shadows Over Wongan Creek!
When the shadows ride in Wongan Creek…
Fenella Rose-Waterman is happy running The Cranky Lizard winery until a broken relationship lifts the lid on the Pandora’s Box of her past. After years of repressed memories haunting her dreams, she is forced to face the truth to find justice. But with truth comes a danger that puts everyone she loves at risk.
Kieran Murphy left Wongan Creek a newly-wed and returned a widower. He believes he and his young son will find healing in the town that healed him once before. Instead, he finds the woman he loved running scared, her life in turmoil and her business under threat.
As the shadows of the past gather on the horizon, will they lose their chance of happiness or will they find healing together?
Shadows Over Wongan Creek by Juanita Kees is published on March 4th 2019 by Escape Publishing.
Connect with Juanita here: