It is a pleasure to welcome Julie Holland to my blog, Mrs B’s Book Reviews for A Tea Break with Mrs B, an author interview series. Thanks Julie!
What is your drink of choice as we sit down for a chat about your new book?
I guess it’s a bit early in the day for a G’n’T, so a chai latte please.
Can you give us an overview of your writing career to date?
I’ve always loved writing, from compositions at school to commissioned magazine articles. Then came a series of beginner readers and a chapter book that were picked up by publishers. My inspirational verse, and a little book incorporating many of them (A Nest Twice Built) were really the proof that people reacted favourably to my writing. It was wonderful to experience how I could make a positive difference to how someone felt or saw the world. And now I write contemporary fiction novels.
What kick started the creation of your novel, That Summer in Nautilus Cove?
I wanted to ‘extend the feelgood vibe’, if you like, from my shorter stories and verse. It seemed a natural progression to novel-length books – little did I know it wasn’t that easy! But I love the process and there is nothing so fulfilling as seeing a final quality product.
What themes and issues dominate That Summer in Nautilus Cove?
The main theme is: What do you pack to pursue a dream, and what do you leave behind?
I write about mature-age women and the many decisions that have to be confronted at that time of life. It can be called ‘the sandwich years’ because often you’re caught between the demands of children and aging parents. Other decisions about finances, relationships and location also abound. I wanted to address Marnie’s strained relationship with her sister too, so that over the course of the story the reader can see Marnie’s outlook shift to being more accepting of their differences. I try to leave the reader with the impression that it isn’t all over after you reach fifty-plus, that there are still fun challenges, new interests and friendships (and sex) if that’s what you want. Certainly for Marnie, if there was to be romance, there also had to be trust and respect.
Did you undertake any research to bring That Summer in Nautilus Cove to life?
Memories and experience to a degree, because I did make the sea-change from Melbourne to Noosa, and I do own a homewares store which was a totally new occupation for me. Hence the retail references. I have always been a keen observer and listener so sometimes situations that have been stored away just seem to fall onto the page.
Where did the inspiration for your characters come from?
They are a compilation of people I know and have known. I love the various characters in a small community, the quirkier the better. However, I am careful not to be too specific or make anyone recognisable if they’re from the real world. I must admit my inspiration for Harry was an older Matthew McConaughey, and for my current WIP I’m channelling Kevin Costner.
Can you give us an insight into the setting base for That Summer in Nautilus Cove?
Nautilus Cove is loosely based around my hometown of Noosa. I wanted a sea-change environment for Marnie, where she had the space to rethink her life but would also need to make a few personal changes to fit in. The humidity and more relaxed way of life are new to her, having come from a demanding corporate job in the city. Who doesn’t recognise the salty feeling after a beach stroll or the magical silence within a national park, the romance of a sunset viewed from a bobbing boat or the joy of finding a surf-washed shell – all of these can be experienced, even as an armchair traveller, in Nautilus Cove.
What key ingredients are essential to crafting a contemporary fiction novel?
They say that contemporary fiction should give readers a window into a corner of the every day. I agree and aim to cover modern-day issues without becoming too depressing. I’m a HEA writer.
What is one thing that you really hope readers will take away from the experience of reading That Summer in Nautilus Cove?
Apart from enjoying my style of writing and looking forward to future stories, I hope that each reader keeps that warm feeling deep inside that anything is possible, at whatever age.
What writers have inspired you to become a published author?
I loved Joanne Harris’s Chocolat and all of Sarah Winman’s stories because of the interesting characters and the slight magic realism component. The messages in Mitch Albom’s books challenge how you think and urge you to contemplate a different world, yet have a certain simplicity. Although I’ve always been an avid reader, I now take away so much more from words and a story than I used to, and I hope I combine all those gentle talents as an author.
When you are not writing, what do you enjoy doing?
I paint (badly) and love photography.
What book is next on your reading pile?
I rarely re-read a book, yet am doing just that – Nicole Mones’s The Last Chinese Chef. I’m not too sure why except that I loved it the first time around, but will trust my instinct.
What are you working on writing wise at present?
I am pulling together a few more inspirational verses for a possible Volume II collection, but am concentrating on editing my second contemporary fiction novel. It’s called Here-After, is set in South Melbourne and includes a ghost. There’s that magic realism creeping in!
Thank you for the lovely tea break and chat Julie. Congratulations on the release of your new book, That Summer in Nautilus Cove.
Thank you so much for having me.
Marnie Fawkner just wanted to escape the demands of adult children, job hunting and selling her house.
So when Marnie’s sister, Libby, asks her to mind her house and dog, Marnie jumps at the chance. Who would knock back a couple of easy weeks in Nautilus Cove, a popular coastal town in sunny Queensland? She never expected a simple favour would change her life.
When Libby delays her return, Marnie reluctantly steps in to manage Libby’s homewares store, Whimsy. What could possibly go wrong?
Marnie finds that Nautilus Cove is offering her more than just a temporary escape – an intriguing sculptor called Harry Mitchelton for a start. It is here, whilst tackling personal change, welcoming new friends and second-chance love, and embracing the chance to start over, that Marnie confronts what she needs to pack to pursue her own dreams.
That Summer in Nautilus Cove by Julie Holland was published on 26th March 2021. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
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