A Tea break with Mrs B · Interview

A Tea Break with Mrs B: Penelope Janu

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It is a pleasure to welcome Penelope Janu back to my blog, Mrs B’s Book Reviews for A Tea Break with Mrs B, a author interview series. To help celebrate the release of Clouds on the Horizon we sat down for a chat. Thanks Penelope!

Hello Penelope. It is my pleasure to welcome you back to my blog, Mrs B’s Book Reviews. I greatly appreciate the time you have provided to answer a few questions. To begin, can I interest you in a cup of Darjeeling again, or would you prefer another beverage?

Thank you for having me to tea yet again, Mrs B. A cup of Darjeeling would be delightful!

What writing and publishing highlights have you experienced this year?

In January 2022, Clouds on the Horizon, my fourth rural title, was released. Having a new novel out gives me an opportunity to connect with readers who have enjoyed my previous books, while finding new readers too. It’s always an exciting time. And in April this year, the sparkling new addition of On the Same Page will be released by HarperCollins. A busy year with quite a few highlights!

Can you describe your new novel, Clouds on the Horizon in a sentence?

Phoebe Cartwright, a small-town occupational therapist who treats children with sensory differences, and Sinn Tørrissen, a meteorologist and oceanographer, join forces (and clash wills!) in an uplifting story of intrigue and romance.

What topics do you explore Clouds on the Horizon?

After a very difficult childhood, Phoebe Cartwright is independent and resilient, but in the course of this story she’s forced to face number of challenges that not only threaten her personal safety, but also the protective wall she’s built around her heart.

I often have environmental themes in my novel, and Clouds on the Horizon is no exception. I did a great deal of research on weather and weather patterns to write this book, so for commentary on the current La Niña weather event on the east coast of Australia, I’m becoming the go-to person in my household!

Are the characters in Clouds on the Horizon inspired by any real-life figures?

Phoebe’s profession as an occupational therapist was inspired by real-life people and events—allied health professionals I have had the privilege of connecting with in a personal and professional capacity.  In the acknowledgments to Clouds on the Horizon, I mention my eldest son, Ben, who inspired the (rather delightful!) child Benjamin in this novel.

Can you tell us about the small country town featured in Clouds on the Horizon?

My family spent many adventurous holidays in the Central West of NSW, some of these on a large wheat and sheep farm owned by a family we came to know well. The closest town to the farm was Yeoval, which has a handful of shops and services, including a community hospital.  My fictional town of Warrandale is inspired by Yeoval and other small towns and properties in the district.

What is one thing you would like your audience to take away from the experience of reading Clouds on the Horizon?

A number of us have experienced particularly difficult times in the past two years, which has brought home to me more than ever the joy of ‘disappearing into the pages of a book.’ Sitting down to write Clouds on the Horizon and follow Phoebe, Sinn and the small-town characters of Warrandale was akin to my very own escape to the country, and happier times. I hope readers share this experience as they read Clouds on the Horizon—a thought provoking story with a hopeful ending that draws them into its pages.

How will you celebrate the release of Clouds on the Horizon?

In the week that Clouds on the Horizon was released, large celebrations and book events were impossible, but I had a lovely celebration with my family. They are a very important and supportive part of my writing life, and this was an opportunity to let them know how much I appreciated them.  A number of people sent celebratory flowers (unexpected but very gratefully received) and I have been able to join readers for an on-line release (there are other on-line events coming up).  In the next few months, I hope there’ll be more opportunities to meet readers in person.

What does a typical writing day look like for you?

I’m generally awake by six o’clock, and my husband brings me a cup of tea (invariably Darjeeling). Now that I don’t have children to get off to school, I generally write until nine o’clock. Other work, a swim at the beach or a walk, tend to take up the rest of the morning, but I return to my desk early in the afternoon and work for another few hours, often on research activities, and doing ‘author admin’ tasks. On most days, I fit in another writing hour in the evenings (generally while cooking dinner), reviewing what I’ve written that morning so I can sleep on it. I often find the essence of ‘what should happen next to carry the story forward’ occurs while I’m asleep.

What writers inspire you?

A number of authors have changed the way I think about the world, provided an escape from reality when times were difficult, and allowed me to dream of better things. They’ve provided comfort and laughter and heartache and inspiration—together with page-turning nights with wonderful stories I’ll never forget. 

In the past few years, I’ve been lucky enough to meet many writers who have inspired me as colleagues and friends. I met Pamela Cook (after having enjoyed her early titles Blackwattle Lake and Close to Home) not long after my first novel, In at the Deep End, was released. I was seated by myself at a conference when Pamela invited me to join her and her friends for lunch. Five years later (and many novels later for both of us!) I’m fortunate to count Pamela, still a paragon of generosity and kindness, as a very close friend.

What books are on your to-be-read pile?

I’m currently reading George Saunders’s recent non-fiction book on writing, A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, which I’m thoroughly enjoying. On my fiction list are Danuka McKenzie’s Banjo prize winning novel, The Torrent. The book has been highly recommended by many early readers and will be released in February. I’m also looking forward to Victoria Purman’s The Nurses’ War, to be released at the end of March. I’m extremely confident that this book, like all Victoria’s historical fiction novels, will be thoroughly researched, create memorable characters, and be beautifully written. I’m also making a call on the cover of The Nurses’ War—I predict it will be one of the best covers of the year!

Are you currently writing a new book?

Always! I’ve already submitted Shelter from the Storm to my publisher and hope it will be published in January 2023, and I’m currently working on my January 2024 book. These are both rural romance titles, and I hope that readers will enjoy them very much.

Thank you for taking the time to visit Mrs B’s Book Reviews Penelope and congratulations on the publication of Clouds on the Horizon.

Thank you so much for having me here, Mrs B. I hope you have a very happy reading year (and thank you for the Darjeeling).


A rural story that has it all … simmering romance, international intrigue, a complex heroine and a swoon-worthy hero. What’s not to love?’ Karly Lane, bestselling Australian author

Will a misunderstanding and past trauma stand in the way of profound attraction? Immovable determination meets irresistible charm in this delightful rural romance from an award-winning and much-loved author – for readers of Rachael Johns, Karly Lane and Fleur McDonald.

When Phoebe Cartwright finds Sinn Tørrissen, a naval officer and meteorologist, frozen half to death in the middle of a thunderstorm, she believes she’s saved his life. Sinn, unfailingly competent and infuriatingly arrogant, disagrees. In Phoebe’s small country town to track down the members of an illegal horse-racing syndicate, the last thing he needs is to become entangled with Phoebe.

A much-loved member of her community, the prickly and independent Phoebe is used to solving other people’s problems. So when she learns her younger sister could be implicated in their father’s dishonest accounting for the syndicate, she insists on working with Sinn to uncover the truth.

Sinn is both confused and entranced by the passionate Phoebe and in spite of her resistance, Phoebe finds herself drawn to him. But Phoebe is determined to protect her sister above all, and the secrets she cannot tell Sinn threaten to sweep his investigation – and their romance – way off course. With clouds building on the horizon, can Phoebe and Sinn weather the gale and find in each other a shelter from the storm?

Clouds on the Horizon by Penelope Janu was published on 5th January 2022 by Mira – AU. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.


Connect with Penelope here:

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