It is a pleasure to warmly welcome Kaye Dobbie to my blog, Mrs B’s Book Reviews for A Tea Break with Mrs B, a short form author interview series. Kaye’s new book was released last week and to help celebrate the release of The Road to Ironbark, we sat down for a chat. Thanks Kaye!
What is your drink of choice as we sit down for a chat about your new book?
A glass of Passing Clouds Chardonnay would be nice, Mrs B.! Thank you for inviting me to chat with you. We can sit in the beautiful garden at the historical Goldmines Hotel in Bendigo.
Can you give us an overview of your writing career to date?
I’ll try not to make it too long but I started writing when I was a teenager. It wasn’t until I won a short story contest at 18 that I thought that maybe, perhaps, I could make a living out of my favourite hobby. Over the years I’ve written under several non de plumes. Deborah Miles was my first, when I wrote for Mills and Boon, then Lily Sommers when I wrote my Australian historical books. Sara Bennett was the name I used for Avon/Harper Collins romances (Medieval, Regency and Victorian), and Sara Mackenzie also with them (paranormal, time travel romance). Sara Mackenzie got me a nomination for the RITA award (Romance Writers of America) for paranormal romance. And now, Kaye Dobbie, writing Australian Women’s Fiction for Mira.
Can you tell us what inspired the creation of your new book, The Road to Ironbark?
The idea of bushrangers taking a group of people hostage has been in my mind for years, but it never quite seemed the right time to write it. Then I paid a visit Dunolly, where my parents owned a bakery. Dunolly is a little town in central Victoria, which is packed full of goldrush history. The old buildings have been preserved and when I lived there I used to imagine Cobb and Co coaches thundering down the main street. The Road to Ironbark began to take shape.
Are you a plotter or a pantser? Did you have a set outline of The Road to Ironbark before you sat down to write this novel, or did you allow this book to take shape during the writing process?
I’m not a plotter. I have tried (Boy, have I tried!) but even if I plot a book out in intricate detail I’ll end up bored and writing something completely different. Rather than a pantser I like to think I’m a discovery writer. I do begin with an idea, a beginning and an ending, and maybe a few characters and background. But it can change radically as I go along. During the creation of my book I discover the characters and the story, and then over several rewrites it takes shape.
Why did you decide to set The Road to Ironbark in late 1800s Victoria?
I’ve written a couple of books about the early goldrush years, and although that does feature in this book, the story is set a bit later, in 1874. The 1870s was the time when the railroad was coming through Victoria and taking over the old Cobb and Co routes. Aurora Scott, the heroine in Ironbark, finds herself in dire straits as her business begins to dry up.
What are the main themes present in The Road to Ironbark?
The importance of family is one of the themes in the book. Aurora and her missing sister. Melody coming home and her efforts to solve the death of her mother. Most of my books seem to have a ‘coming home’ or a ‘search for a place to belong’ theme.
What is one thing that you really hope readers will take away from the experience of reading The Road to Ironbark?
A sigh and a smile. An ‘I really enjoyed that’ feeling. I want to give them a few hours away from their daily worries and take them to another place and time. And maybe a new appreciation for Australian history and an urge to read more of it.
Have you developed any quirks or habits while writing your books?
I have discovered I’m a very visual writer. I usually make a pinterest board for each book I write so that I can ‘see’ my characters. Just doing that seems to help me write about them.
How has your writing process been affected by COVID-19?
I found COVID-19 made a big difference in the beginning. I was so distracted by everything, the rolling news coverage, and worrying about my loved ones. The second wave (here in Victoria) is even worse, but maybe you can get used to anything given time, because I seem to be back to writing. Or maybe it’s a bit of an escape from the reality around me.
What book or books do you recommend that I add to my reading pile?
Lately I’ve been reading a lot more (COVID). I enjoyed Sarah Barrie’s thrillers set in Tasmania, the Quarantine Station by Michelle Montebello, and I have Barbara Hannay’s latest. Anne Gracie is always fabulous, I need to catch up with her brides. But if you want to read another dual timeline story from another Central Victorian writer then I’d recommend Nicole Hurley-Moore.
What are you working on writing wise at present?
I self publish under my Sara Bennett and Sara Mackenzie pennames, and I am currently finishing a novella in a paranormal series. My next Australian book is due next year and that will be another dual timeline, this time set in Tasmania.
Thank you for the lovely tea break and chat Kaye. Congratulations on the release of The Road to Ironbark.
A daring hold-up. Passion. Revenge. A mystery that will echo through the centuries. A compelling romantic adventure, perfect for readers who love Darry Fraser.
1874,The Victorian Goldfields
In the town of Ironbark, Aurora Scott faces ruin as the railways supplant the Cobb & Co coach line, the lifeline of her hotel. Aurora is no stranger to adversity; the formidable publican has pulled herself from a murky past to build a respectable life in Ironbark. But when bushrangers storm the hotel, taking hostages as leverage for the Starburst Mine’s payroll, Aurora has more trouble on her hands than she can handle.
This is no random act, but a complex scheme of revenge. The gang turn on each other. Shots ring out. And when the dust settles, the money has vanished, and so has Aurora Scott…
After 150 years, the mystery of the missing payroll has passed into folklore. And when journalist Melody Lawson helps her brother prepare for the town’s annual Gold Hunt Weekend, she is just as drawn into the past as the tourists. But with a surprise inheritance her own family history becomes a puzzle, bound up with the fabled payroll – and as Melody follows the clues, danger mounts…
The Road to Ironbark by Kaye Dobbie was published on 5th August 2020 by Mira -AU. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
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