Welcome to my very first blog of 2012!
The last couple of weeks I have been basically shackled to my desk and getting stuck in, knee deep, to my Jacaranda edits. I have really enjoyed the trip back through the manuscript and have emerged on the other side of it feeling quite chuffed with the final outcome. I hope you will be, too, when you get your hands on a copy.
Release date is May 31st. Only 5 months to go! Yeeehaaaa!
Today's guest on Awesome Aussie Authors is the fabulous country gal, Jennifer Scoullar. She is a fellow Penguin author and such a warm and wonderful lady. I am really excited to be chatting with her today about her debut novel, Brumby's Run. I cannot wait to delve into her written world. I reckon it is the type of novel that we keep me up until all hours of the night....and well into the wee hours of the morning.
Welcome, Jennifer, and thanks for joining us today.
Where were you born, raised, schooled and what was the most mischievous thing you did when you were a child?
I was born in Melbourne, and went to school there. My family had a house in Gardenvale, but we also had a property in the mountains. That’s where I kept my horses. I was horse mad then, and still am. As a teenager, I escaped town as often as possible. When I married, we went to live on the farm permanently, and I’m still there today.
The most mischievous thing I did as a child, was to steal a cockatiel that belonged to the Head Mistress of the boarding house at school. It was kept in a tiny cage, without even enough room to extend its wings. The poor bird used to move to one side of the perch to spread one wing, then have to scrunch across to spread the other. My wonderful dad didn’t get mad at me at all. Instead he built Bokums a large flight cage, where he could learn to use his wings. Eventually, dad found Bokums a home in a spacious aviary with other cockatiels. My dad was a very kind man.
How long did it take you to get published and how did you feel when you were told you had a contract?
I’d been writing for six years before being offered a contract with Penguin. My first novel Wasp Season, is an environmental thriller. It was published in 2008 by Sid Harta, a small Melbourne press. I pitched Brumby’s Run to a Penguin publisher at the 2011 RWA Conference in Melbourne. Two months later I was offered a contract. It was truly the best feeling in the world. I printed out the Penguin letter of offer and carried it around with me, just to remind myself it was real. No cover picture for Brumby’s Run available yet.
What time of the day/night do you prefer to write and where do you like to write?
I write wherever and whenever I get the chance. When you’re busy it pays to be flexible. My favourite place to write is in my little office space, just off the lounge room. But with teenage boys, it’s very often too noisy there. Next best is my bedroom, or the stable. Horses don’t interrupt as much. The beer garden at the local pub is also pretty good.
Alternative Office - 1 have more privacy here!
Sheba, my writing companion – she doesn’t mind me reading aloud
Can you tell us a little bit about your upcoming book? And what date it will be released?
Brumby’s Run is a novel about love, mistaken identity and the fabled wild horses of Victoria’s high country.
Twin baby girls, Samantha and Charlie, are separated at birth. Charlie remains with her teenage mother in the small upper Murray town of Currajong. By contrast, Samantha grows up in all the wealth and privilege of Melbourne’s Toorak. When Charlie falls ill, Samantha discovers that not only is she adopted, but that she has a sister. She also discovers they share a love of horses; Charlie is a champion camp drafter, and Sam is a contender for the national dressage squad.
During Charlie’s long recovery in Melbourne, Sam goes up country to look after her sister’s property, Brumby’s Run. City girl Sam finds a rundown parcel of land, mongrel country on the edge of a national park.
This new life, Charlie’s life, intrigues her, and the romance of the mountains casts its spell. Bit by bit, Sam falls in love with Charlie’s work, with her horses - and with Drew Chandler, her sister’s former lover. Sam begins to wish that Charlie might never come home.
No exact release date yet, but I expect it to be late in 2012. Will let you know when I’m certain.
Where do you find inspiration for your stories?
Inspiration for my stories comes from the flora, fauna and characters of the Australian bush. I must admit that animals are my first love. I’ve always held a deep respect and passion for the natural world. The works of classic Australian poets, like Banjo Patterson and Adam Lindsay Gordon, are also great catalysts for ideas. My forthcoming novel, Brumby’s Run, was inspired by the Banjo Patterson poem of the same name.
I love pies. I also love bush tucker recipes, and homemade Bunya Nut pies beat others hands down. Bunya nuts are tastier than chestnuts, and are great in both savoury and sweet dishes. They’re a bit hard to come by, outside of Queensland. But you can buy them online from the Australian Produce Company, and store them in the freezer. (see link below.)
My next novel, Firewater is set in the Bunya Mountains on the Darling Downs, where these nuts have been a local delicacy for thousands of years.
Here’s a Bunya Nut Pie recipe to try: (suitable for vegetarians)
Ingredients: 500 g Bunya nuts,
1 chopped onion,
2 sliced leeks,
2 chopped heads of broccoli,
1 sliced sweet potato,
1 cup chopped mushrooms,
1 thinly sliced carrot,
1 diced capsicum,
2 sliced tomatoes,
1 free range egg,
2 dobs of butter,
2/3 cup cream,
200 g grated cheese
garlic, cumin, allspice, salt and pepper.
1. Boil bunya nuts for ten minutes. Open shells while they are still wet.
2. Cool, chop roughly and use a food processor to grind half of them into flour. (Keep remaining half aside.)
2. Add 1/3 cup of cream. Stir over heat until mixture has the consistency of pastry. Add a little SR flour if necessary.
3. Cool, then press pastry mixture into a large, greased spring-form pan.
3. Mince remaining 200 g Bunya nuts.
4. Steam leeks, broccoli and sweet potato.
5. Melt butter in frying pan, stir-fry mushrooms and allspice. Remove from pan. In same pan fry, one after the other: bunya nuts with garlic and cumin, onion, carrot, and capsicum. Fiddly but worth the effort.
4. Assemble pie by layering leek, nuts, sweet potato, mushrooms, carrot, onions, and broccoli.
5. Beat remaining cream, egg, salt and pepper together.
6. Pour cream-egg mixture over pie. Put cheese, nuts, tomatoes and capsicum on top.
7. Bake at 200 C for 45 minutes. Scrumptious served
with a garden salad! A real special occasion pie.
And for dessert? I can’t go past a fresh vanilla slice.
Who is your favourite Australian?
My favourite Australian is author Elyne Mitchell OAM, who died at Corryong in 2002. Her novels were responsible for my early love of reading, and of nature. They describe eastern Australian landscapes, brumbies and wildlife in such loving detail, and with great beauty.
What is your favourite Aussie saying?
Darryl Kerrigan from The Castle has given me my favourite Aussie saying – ‘How’s the serenity?’ I sometimes ask my dogs this question, when sitting out on the verandah in the evening. I also like, ‘Tell him he’s dreaming.’ This one works well with teenage boys ...
Where would be your ideal place to holiday?
Any one of Australia’s beautiful wild places.
Thank you, Jenn, for allowing us a little sneak peak into your world. Being a huge fan of chestnuts I must say I love the sound of your Bunya Pie. I will most certainly be trying this one out. Congratulations on being signed with Penguin. Really looking forward to the release of Brumby's Run.
You can visit Jennifer at her website....
Next week on Awsome Aussie authors we have the talented Fiona McCallum.
Thought for this week
"If you sometimes feel like you are nobody remember the old saying....nobody is perfect...therefore, remind yourself at this low moment that you also must be perfect!"
Until next week, keep dreaming and smiling