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, Turn Left for Home, is Susanne Bellamy.
Born and raised in Toowoomba, Susanne is an Australian author of contemporary and suspense romances set in exciting and often exotic locations, and rural romance set in Australia. She adores travel with her husband, both at home and overseas, and weaves stories around the settings and people she encounters.
Her heroes have to be pretty special to live up to her real life hero. He saved her life then married her.
Susanne is a member of the RWA and was a finalist in their 2011 Emerald Award. She placed third in the 2015 Pan Macmillan short story competition with Chez Romeo. Mentoring aspiring writers, and working as a freelance editor keeps her off the street! She loves connecting with readers and fellow writers.
Hello Susanne. 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?
Tea – a good strong English Breakfast, with carrot cake to accompany.
Can you tell us what genres you write for and how many books you have had published?
I write mostly rural romance, often with a dash of suspense. I’ve also written contemporary, a modern historical (set in Hawaii in 1960), and one romantic suspense, ‘High Stakes’, which is set in Nepal.
By the end of this year it will be nineteen full length novels and six novellas.
Turn Left for Home, your latest book will be released at the end of March. Can you describe it in just a sentence?
Those who are silent observe the most.
Turn Left for Home is book #3 in the Home to Lark Creek series. Can this book be read as a standalone, or does it need to be read in series order?
As with each of my series, stories can be read as stand alone books, but it’s so much fun getting to know a community and following their lives that most readers love getting the whole experience.
How long did it take you to write Turn Left for Home?
The first draft began on the first day of the new year. I committed to writing a minimum of one thousand words every day and did, with the exception of a family trip to Brisbane. It’s a sixty thousand-word book that I drafted in six weeks. Then there are edits to be done, but all up, I’d say less than two months.
Did you need to undertake any research to bring Turn Left for Home to life? How did you incorporate this research into your book?
One of the secondary characters is severely hearing impaired and signs so I researched sign language and watched videos of signed conversation.
Can you tell us more about the inspiration for the stunning Australian setting of your novel?
After my ‘Hearts of the Outback’ series, I decided to write my next series closer to home. The location of Lark Creek is a blend of country towns I’ve been to in southern Queensland. Last year, my husband and I went on our Rotary Club’s Long Weekend Getaway, following instructions to find our way from one stop to another. Both of us thought we knew our region fairly well, but the event took us to hidden gems of towns and into countryside we hadn’t seen before. Places that had been no more than names on maps came alive for us. We live in a wonderful country, if you take the time to get out and experience it.
What ingredients do you feel are necessary to compose a successful romance narrative?
First and foremost it’s about the people. Strong characters who don’t always know they are strong; flawed characters who acknowledge their failings and try to do and to be better; vulnerable characters who discover hidden strength. In short, characters who meet and may clash at first, but who discover that together, they are better versions of themselves.
What was the most challenging and rewarding aspects of writing Turn Left for Home?
Kaden Roscoe was my biggest challenge. He is a teenager who is also hearing-impaired. I know teenagers well, having taught for many years, but the complication of a teenager who cannot hear and hasn’t been taught to speak was challenging. I love how he evolved and am really happy with his story.
What do you hope readers will take away from reading Turn Left for Home?
Early readers have described it as ‘the best one yet’. I hope readers will get a ‘feel good’ vibe by the end, and maybe have a little more idea of some of the challenges facing those who are hearing-impaired, if they don’t know anyone like Kaden.
How do you plan to celebrate the official release day of Turn Left for Home?
I like to raise a private glass of a good single malt whisky to my new book baby. Sometimes I’ll go out with friends and toast my latest release. For ‘Turn Left for Home’, I’m planning a small competition for readers, although currently I’m deep in edits as well as keeping to my writing schedule. Need to get my act together!
You have published a number of rural fiction novels. What attracts you to this particular genre?
A strong sense of community and family in the context of what can be a physically challenging environment. Perhaps, coming from what used to be a large country town, I identify more with rural attitudes.
How has your writing evolved since your first published novel?
Less ‘purple prose’! LOL. When we start out we think we have to give so much detail or the reader won’t ‘get’ the scene. In reality, the challenge is to be selective and convey more by giving less, and focus on the characters – their goals, motivations and conflicts.
Can you tell us about your creative working space, where do you write and is there anything vital you need to get started?
I have two places where I almost always write; one is my mother’s recliner chair, and the other is my walking desk. Walking kick-starts the creative side of my brain and I usually reach my word goal for the day while walking.
Occasionally I will start with a ‘Dorothea’ session if I’ve been struggling with a scene. This is fifteen minutes of free-flowing writing on whatever comes and usually unblocks me. Most often, I begin by ‘clearing the decks’ of emails, checking rankings and a chat with good friend, Annie Seaton. We share the good, the bad, and the ‘what the heck do I do here’ moments. Writing is never solitary when you’re connected to a good friend.
Aside from writing, do you have any interesting hobbies?
I have had a number of creative hobbies, which used to offer stress relief from work. Now, if I do them, they are most likely to be in the company of friends with similar interests. Oh, and wine! Always share a bottle of wine!
These hobbies have included: knitting, cross-stitch, beading/jewellery making, scrapbooking (the physical albums rather than online albums)
What is next on the horizon for Susanne Bellamy?
Do you have any writing projects you would like to share with us? August will see the release of my next book in the bestselling ‘Bindarra Creek Romance’ series. This new series is ‘Bindarra Creek: A Town Reborn’. My working title is ‘In the Heat of the Night’, appropriate, as the hero is the fire captain, Kel Jones.
‘Cinnamon Kisses’ (title may change) will head off to Harlequin Escape in April for a Christmas release, and I’ll be writing a single title and a cosy mystery in the second half of this year.
What 2019 book releases are you most excited to read?
Annie Seaton’s ‘Undara’.
Finally, wrapping up our tea themed interview, who would you most like to share a pot of tea with?
I’m a huge fan of Margaret Atwood. I’d love to sit and talk about Shakespeare and writing with her. She’s my literary hero, not just for the beauty of her writing, but for her intelligent and insightful observations on society.
Thank you for taking the time to visit Mrs B’s Book Reviews for Tea with Mrs B Susanne. Congratulations on the publication of Turn Left for Home!
When young Kaden Roscoe breaks into Anna Wilkins’ cottage, he sets off a chain of events that puts her on a collision course with the new lawyer in town.
Jack Donaldson takes on the case, but the last thing he expects—or wants— is to share the care of a troubled teenager with this feisty woman.
When trouble comes to their door, can Jack and Anna work together to keep Kaden safe long enough to testify?
Turn Left for Home by Susanne Bellamy is published on March 31st 2019. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
Connect with Susanne here: