Welcome to Tea with Mrs B, an author interview series. Here to share a pot of tea and to chat about her latest book, Swinging Through Life: A Flash Fiction Collection, is Renee Conoulty.
Renee Conoulty is an Australian Air Force wife and mother of two. She writes stories of dance, romance, and military life including Don’t Mean a Thing, Catching Onix, Wife, Mother, Woman, and Best Friends for Now.
If you run into Renee at the shops, make sure you wave to get her attention because she’ll likely be listening to an audiobook or lost in a day dream.
Hello Renee. 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?
I’d love a hazelnut latte and a chocolate brownie. I am a sucker for Devonshire tea, jam and cream is just as good as chocolate, but I’m very fussy about the temperature of my tea and I know I’m going to get so distracted chatting about books that my tea will go cold.
Can you tell us what genres you write for and how many books you have had published?
Most of my books are chick lit or romantic comedy but I’ve also written two non- fiction books for authors and co-written a children’s book with my daughter. I currently have ten titles available, including two stories in small publisher collections.
Swinging Through Life: A Flash Fiction Collection, your latest book, has just been released. Can you describe it in just a sentence?
The dance of life – one step forward, one step back.
What came first in the creation of this book – the title, plot, characters or setting when you first set out to write Swinging Through Life: A Flash Fiction Collection?
I wrote this collection using the monthly prompts in the Australian Writers’ Centre Furious Fiction competition. I thought about the prompts and brainstormed how I could fit them into a setting then worked out a simple plot. Once I worked out what was going to happen, I slotted in the characters. Titles came last.
How long did it take you to write Swinging Through Life: A Flash Fiction Collection?
Each story was written over a weekend (between 5 pm Friday when the prompts were announced and the midnight Sunday deadline). I began in February 2018 and wrote the last story in January 2019. I edited the stories before submitting them, so once I’d written the twelfth one, I published within the following week.
Swinging Through Life: A Flash Fiction Collection has twelve different stories. Did you have a favourite character?
I love Dulcie in Meant to Be – she’s so sweet and innocent.
What ingredients do you feel are necessary to compose a successful short fiction narrative?
A plot. Even though it’s short, something still needs to happen. The main character should want something, there should be something that gets in their way, then they either get it or don’t.
What was the most challenging and rewarding aspects of writing Swinging Through Life: A Flash Fiction Collection?
The biggest challenge was to fit swing dancing in with the official writing prompts. I decided to do this from the beginning so I would have a collection of themed stories even if I didn’t win the competitions. The biggest reward is when someone tells you they loved the stories.
What do you hope readers will take away from reading Swinging Through Life: A Flash Fiction Collection?
I hope they get a brief escape from day to day life and a smile.
How did you celebrate the official release day of Swinging Through Life: A Flash Fiction Collection?
With a glass of sparkling Moscato (or three).
Can you tell us about your journey to publication?
I began writing my first novel, Don’t Mean a Thing, in 2015. It took about a year to finish it then I pitched it at the RWA conference in 2016. Both publishers requested the full manuscript but I chose not to send it to them. I decided that what I wanted more than a traditional publishing deal, was to have a book launch party with physical copies of my book in the town that they were set before our family moved away. A friend of mine in the US had been talking about starting a publishing company so I approached her and in November 2016, Kindred Ink Press launched with my debut novel.
From there, I’ve had stories published with two other Aussie small publishers and I’ve indie published several books. I love being hybrid – a blend of indie and traditional publishing.
How do you balance life with writing?
Some days, not very well. Especially during the school holidays when I either don’t write at all or let the kids have way too much screen time so I can get some words down.
Can you tell us about your creative working space, where do you write and is there anything vital you need to get started?
Since we moved house, most of my writing gets done in the car between work shifts. I don’t have any rituals but I do like a cup of coffee while I’m getting started. When I write at home, I try to vary where I sit so I’m not stuck in the same posture the whole time.
Aside from writing, do you have any interesting hobbies?
I love swing dancing. It’s the hobby that inspires many of my stories. Unfortunately, there’s nowhere to dance in the town I’m currently living but with Hubby in the Air Force, we move every three years so that may change in the future.
What is next on the horizon for Renee Conoulty? Do you have any writing projects you would like to share with us?
I’m currently working on the edits for the sequel to Don’t Mean a Thing. It’s set in the same Darwin, military, swing dancing world with a Navy heroine this time. I’m hoping to have this out later this year with Kindred Ink Press.
What 2019 book releases are you most excited to read?
I’m dying to listen to the audiobook edition of Tess Woods’ next novel – Love and Other Battles. I’ve already had a sneaky read and loved it but I adore her books in audio so her publisher better do one!
Finally, wrapping up our tea-themed interview, who would you most like to share a pot of tea with?
My husband. Sharing a pot of tea is a great time to slow down and connect. And seeing a delicate teacup in my 6 foot 2, alpha male hero’s hands makes me smile.
Thank you for taking the time to visit Mrs B’s Book Reviews for Tea with Mrs B Renee. Congratulations on the publication of Swinging Through Life: A Flash Fiction Collection!
Connect with Renee here:
I am offering 1 lucky reader an opportunity to win an e book copy of Swinging Through Life: A Flash Fiction Collection, by Renee Conoulty. Simply subscribe by email to my blog and leave a comment below on this post to be entered into this fabulous competition! Good luck!
*Competition open Internationally. Closes Wednesday 27th March 2019, 11pm (WST).