It is a pleasure to warmly welcome Jacquie Underdown to my blog, Mrs B’s Book Reviews for A Tea Break with Mrs B, a short form author interview series. To help celebrate the release of The Stockman’s Daughter, we sat down for a chat. Thanks Jacquie!
What is your drink of choice as we sit down for a chat about your new book?
Thanks for having me for tea. I am drinking dandelion chai tea with macadamia milk, which is my new drink of choice after recently giving up coffee (I can hear the dedicated coffee drinkers gasping from here).
Can you give us an overview of your writing career to date?
My interest in writing started almost twelve years ago with some lacklustre first attempts. After six years of learning the craft more, writing, writing, writing, and completing post-grad studies, I finally got published. However, I would say my ‘career’ as such, did not really feel like a career until I decided to self-publish The Secrets Mothers Keep a couple of years ago. That was when my books really started to take off and find an audience. I’m currently working on my twentieth novel, and I now spend full-time hours writing, editing, formatting, promoting, creating covers, publishing and handling the business side of being an author.
Can you tell us what inspired the creation of your new book, The Stockman’s Daughter?
My husband was working in the small coastal town of Hay Point. I drove up to the Mackay region to visit him one weekend and passed myriad expansive farms along the way. The sun was setting, the sky was full of colour and the landscape was lush. I knew I had to recreate the splendour of that region and set a book there. Along the way, there was a small bridge that traversed a murky creek aptly named Alligator Creek, and that specifically inspired the crocodile scene in the book.
How different was the experience of writing The Stockman’s Daughter, compared to your other novels?
The Stockman’s Daughter was my first real foray into rural romance. I have explored small-town fiction before, but never a story that focuses on farming. I had to conduct hours and hours of research to be able to authentically write about and portray life on a cattle farm. The more I learned, the more I fell in love with that lifestyle. Hopefully, all that research shines through.
What are the main themes of your new novel?
As with all good romance, the overarching theme is love conquers all. But beneath that, The Stockman’s Daughter is about discovering what’s truly important and being brave enough to follow your heart even if that means breaking traditions or rules.
Did you have an affinity with a particular character in The Stockman’s Daughter and why?
I always fall in love with my characters, especially my heroes. Ryder Leckie was a stand-out character for me. His responsibility level, his ability to wear his heart on his sleeve despite the tough environment he works in, as well as his quiet dominance, were all incredibly appealing. Although, Maddy Carmichael really stepped up at the end of the book and won me over with her courage and selflessness.
What is one thing that you really hope readers will take away from the experience of reading The Stockman’s Daughter?
I would love them to be able to escape to Bunderdoo Farm and enjoy their time spent with Ryder and Maddy. With the way the world is right now, that’s my biggest hope.
Have you developed any quirks or habits while writing your books?
I always plot the entire story out beforehand; however, that doesn’t always mean I will follow that outline to the letter. And I like to get the first draft down as quickly as possible while the story is strong in my mind, which means the first draft is usually in bad shape when finished. I then do many redrafts, refining the story, details and writing. I write in the morning because by the afternoon my brain is mush and I usually go off track. I always have a hot beverage to reach for while writing. I get up and walk around the house doing odd chores when I need to think. When near the end of my first draft, I do massive writing days, sometimes writing 5000 – 10 000 words in a single day, and all my usual responsibilities are brushed aside. At this point too, I am almost constantly pre-occupied, no matter what else I’m doing, by the story I’m weaving, and always lost to that world, until I write the end.
How has your writing process been affected by COVID-19?
My writing process hasn’t really changed (because I’m an introvert who works from home under usual circumstances), but I am more mindful of offering an escape for my readers, so that translates as more light-hearted stories.
What book or books do you recommend that I add to my reading pile?
I’ve been on a domestic thriller/crime fiction spree with my reading lately. I highly recommend Dervla McTiernan’s The Ruin, The Scholar and The Good Turn.
What are you working on writing wise at present?
I’m currently writing the fourth book in my Mercy Island series called Always Be Mine. I think it will be the final book in this series (but, there is always a possibility for another one). I am then going to work on an idea I have for another domestic thriller.
Thank you for the lovely tea break and chat Jacquie. Congratulations on the release of your new book, The Stockman’s Daughter.
Some rules are meant to be broken…
Maddy Carmichael was born and raised on the land, destined to one day take over the fourth-generation cattle farm from her father. She’s worked hard all her life to learn the ropes and make a real contribution. But her traditional-minded father continues to overlook her.
Ryder Leckie loves the small Victorian town of Woodford Creek. He works hard managing a farm in the local region. But when his boss’s brother has a riding accident, he is sent to Central Queensland to temporarily help the Carmichaels out. A new adventure, despite his sense of obligation back home.
The last thing Maddy wants is some unknown man coming in and running her farm, and she’s not afraid to let Ryder know. But when farm life throws up trials even too big for her, she is forced to rely on Ryder’s strength and knowledge.
What starts as a working partnership turns into something much deeper. But fraternising with the stockman’s daughter is against the rules. When Maddy’s furious father discovers what clandestine activities Ryder and Maddy have been up to, Ryder is sent packing.
When all seems lost, Ryder must fight for the woman he loves, but that means having the courage to take the biggest risk of his life. When leaving her destiny behind feels impossible, Maddy has to discover that following her heart will lead her to where she needs to be, even if that means starting a legacy of her own.
The Stockman’s Daughter by Jacquie Underdown was published on 24th July 2020. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
Connect with Jacquie here: