Why romance?

Romances, like coming-of-age stories, deal with one of the most dramatic and risky times of the human lifespan: choosing a mate. Choose wisely, and happiness may result; choose badly, and we get misery. Many of us have experienced the misery, but we still like to be reminded of the courtship phase, that thrill of meeting someone and thinking, “Could this be the one?”

Could this be the partner who will help protect and provide for us when we’re at our most vulnerable; who’ll share the housework – not as a “help” but because it’s their job as a human being; who’ll stay fit and good in bed; who’ll share our sense of humour; who’ll put us first – but can care for others, too?

With 3.5 billion females on the planet, logic tells us that we can’t all find that perfect partner or, at least, not in the same person continuously. Most of us have “settled” for someone all-too-human, someone with irritating habits, a little selfish at times: people like us. We’ve had to develop our own qualities to keep seeing the good in the person we wake up with, qualities such as patience, tolerance, forgiveness and a willingness to let go of mistakes, both ours and theirs; as well as a sense of humour. We’ve had to become the kind of person we want our partner to be.

In reading romance, we relive the time when everything was at risk. We hope that something good will come of it, and fear that maybe the person we’re falling for is not the one we want them to be. We remember that extraordinary high called “limerance”, and the agony of not being sure it’ll work out. Except, in romance novels, we know it will work, because it’s fantasy.

My debut romance, Snowy River Man, is about more than limerance; it’s about love, and the qualities a couple need to create a happy life together. It’s a story of what happens when two people who have seen the worst in each other are given a second chance.

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This is the fourth in a series of guest blog posts I wrote for the release of Snowy River Man. A version first appeared on Love Reading Romance blog and is reprinted here with permission.

An Aboriginal psychic heroine?

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the psychic element in Snowy River Man. In this post, I discuss the inspiration for the heroine.

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It’s not stated overtly in the novel, but there are hints that the heroine, Katrina, is part-Aboriginal – as well as psychic. So how did this come about?

I’ve written elsewhere that the inspiration for Katrina being psychic comes from my own family, but I haven’t discussed her part Aboriginality – or the weird coincidences that happened after I’d first drafted the story.

I wrote Snowy River Man after staying with my partner in a fishing shack on the shores of Lake Eucumbene. I was fairly confident about the setting – all except for the hero Jack’s house, a nineteenth-century two storey mansion. Was such a place realistic for that area? We decided to scout round Snowy River Shire looking looking for something like it.

We drove and drove, covering hundreds of kilometres without result. Nothing as grand as Jack’s house appeared. Most of the places we saw were single-storey weatherboard homesteads and falling down huts, or modern buildings. After we’d driven in a big loop, we came back towards Adaminaby, and out near the tiny airport saw a two-storey mansion, just as I’d imagined. It was surrounded by tall trees and not far from the river, like in my story. At my partner’s prompting, we drove up the long driveway and knocked on the door. A caretaker and his wife answered and, once they knew I was writing a book, invited us in. To my surprise I discovered Patrick White had stayed there in his youth, and the house was now owned by a Greek tycoon. I was thrilled to learn that, like my story, it had a ballroom.

On a hunch, I asked, “There isn’t another, newer house across the valley, is there?” I was thinking of the home my hero Jack had built for his mother-in-law.

“Oh, you must mean the Farleys,” the caretaker said. “They’re our neighbours.”

I nearly choked. In the early draft of the novel, I called my hero “Jack Farley”. (After this, I changed it to “Fairley”.)

Still stunned by the coincidence, we extended our drive and drove up to the Yarrangobilly Caves. There we came across a plaque commemorating a nineteenth-century indigenous man who could well have been the ancestor for my character Murray Tom. The man’s name? “Murray Jack.”

It seemed, somehow, I had some deep connection to the land and this story.

When I came back from our holiday, I spoke to a friend who was often mistaken for Koori, even though he grew up in a “white” family. He told me he used to have dreams in which a tribal elder appeared and spoke to him. An idea started to form. I’d given Katrina the surname “Delaney” to suggest a Celtic heritage (like mine), one which might help to explain her psychic gift. I looked up the name and found it’s also a surname among indigenous Australians. I wondered whether it might be okay to imply Katrina had indigenous heritage. I talked it over with an Aboriginal friend here in the Blue Mountains – the one who encouraged me to establish the Australian Women Writers challenge. I mentioned my desire to create a subtext for the story, a way of questioning the settlers’ legitimacy in occupying and possessing the land. (An ambitious aim for a category romance!) She thought it was a great idea. She also told me I’d get the story published, and she was right. She’s also a bit psychic.

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This is the fifth in a series of guest blog posts I wrote when Snowy River Man was published. A version of this post first appeared on Write Note Reviews and is reblogged here with permission.

It runs in the family

imageThe heroine in Snowy River Man, Katrina Delaney, isn’t an ordinary romance heroine. For one thing, she has psychic dreams. And she hates it. Hates it because it reminds her of the time she had a breakdown and ended up in a psychiatric ward, an event pivotal to the story. What Katrina, her mother and the doctors didn’t realise was her “breakdown” was part of the awakening of her psychic gift. This gift later helped her locate missing children – including the son of the hero, Jack Fairley, a wealthy mountains grazier.

So how it I get interested in psychic phenomena?

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve heard stories of psychic dreams. My nana had them. One morning, she woke up after dreaming of an old family friend who’d been missing for years. “I’ve been up in the Pilligar Scrub,” he told her. Nana was so convinced the dream was real, she tried to find the place on a map. Weeks later, the old friend turned up in my grandfather’s office in the city and announced where he’d been: the Pilligar Scrub!

My dad also had psychic dreams. Sometimes it was just the answer to a problem he’d been working on. (He was a mechanic and would dream of what was wrong with an engine.) But other times…

When I was little, Dad used to take us kids to Mass and we’d fill the whole pew. (There were ten of us back then.) We made so much noise, fidgeting and squabbling, that the old priest told my father not to bring us unless he could make us behave. Dad never went back. Years later, we were holidaying up at Forster in a caravan park and Dad had a dream. “Keep taking the little ones to Mass,” he heard a voice say. Dad discovered later that was the night the old priest died.

I’ve had my share of psychic dreams, too, some to do with the writing of Snowy River Man, but I’ll leave that for another time.

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This is the third in a series of blog posts I wrote when Snowy River Man was released. A version first appeared on Book Muster Down Under and is reblogged here with permission.

The Lost Child

Lost by Frederick McCubbin, 1886

Lost by Frederick McCubbin, 1886

Snowy River Man opens at a country rodeo, with mountains grazier Jack Fairley riding a brumby stallion. When he finishes his ride, he looks around and discovers his six-year-old son Nick has disappeared. Jack lost his wife when Nick was still a baby and he’s terrified the boy has wandered off into the Snowy Mountains wilderness.

The story of the “lost child” is an enduring motif in Australian culture, but it also has a special meaning for me. When I was three and my mother was in hospital with her tenth child (yes, we’re a big family!), my aunt took me and my older brothers and sisters down to a harbourside netted pool to swim. While my aunt was minding the 18-month-old, I paddled on the shore. As the late afternoon shadows crept, I looked back at the beach and I couldn’t see my family. I thought they’d gone home without me. So I walked. I walked up the hill for a couple of kilometres till I arrived back out our old Federation bungalow and found no one there. After that, I had a terror of getting lost. I remember the horror of looking around and not finding the person you want to see. I’ve used those emotions in this story.

The motif also has a deeper resonance. While I was writing Snowy River Man, there was a lot in the press about the stolen generations, and the anguish of mothers losing their children. It’s a national shame and the injustice of it still impacts on current generations of Aboriginal people. When I chose to hint that my heroine, Katrina, was part-indigenous, I wanted to gesture in some way towards the stolen generations, but also to make it personal. I’ve never lost a child, but I did lose the opportunity to have one, and have endured that grief. I know what it’s like to yearn for a baby in my arms, to look at the children of my ex-boyfriend and current partner and wonder what might have been.

In Snowy River Man, I take “what might have been” and give it a happy ending.

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This is the second in a series of blog posts I wrote when Snowy River Man was published. It first appeard on Book’d Out and is reblogged here with permission.

Snowy River Man – $0.99 Mother’s Day special

Snowy River Man is currently on sale from Amazon Kindle Australia for only $0.99 – a special discount for Mother’s Day.

If you don’t already have a copy, I hope you’ll take advantage of this special. Or maybe your Mum would enjoy it as a gift? My mum read it on an iPad I loaned her a few weeks ago, and she loved it – and she wasn’t just saying that just to please me. She started reading at 9pm and stayed up until she finished it after midnight.

The reviews on Amazon US have been very favourable – almost all 5-star. If you haven’t read it yet, why not give it a go?

Here’s the link: http://www.amazon.com.au/Snowy-River-Man-Lizzy-Chandler-ebook/dp/B00S493CSQ

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Snowy River Man’s setting: the inspiration

On the road out to Angler’s Reach on Lake Eucumbene (where Murray Tom has his cabin)

When Snowy River Man was published in February, I wrote a number of author spotlights for various blogs. Over the next little while, I’ll be reblogging a few of them here.

The first is about the inspiration for the setting.

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When I was a born, there was a record heatwave. Mum and Dad packed us kids into a bus and we all headed south to Jindabyne where it was cooler. Along the way, we stopped at Lake Eucumbene on the northern reaches of the Snowy River Shire.

In the early 1960s, to make way for the lake as part of the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Scheme, the old town of Adaminaby was flooded. As residents moved to higher ground, they left pubs, churches, shops and houses to the rising tide. My family must have talked about that sunken town for years afterwards. Or maybe I read about it for a school project. I don’t know. But the idea of a ghost town hidden underwater haunted me.

Years later as an adult when I visited the site, and saw the skeletal remains of gum trees reaching out of the water, I had the weirdest sense. It was as if I could see through the depths to the old town – to a time of bullock carts, prospectors and settlers, and before that, to the indigenous tribes who had inhabited the area. I knew I had to use that setting in a story. Eventually, the story became Snowy River Man, which features a child who is fascinated with the lake and what lies beneath.

Snowy River Man starts with a country rodeo and grazier Jack Fairley riding a brumby stallion. By the time he finishes his ride and looks around, his six-year-old son Nick has disappeared…

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A version of this post first appeared on All the Books I Can Read blog and is reblogged here with permission.

Launch giveaway winner announced

imageThe winner of the launch giveaway for Snowy River Man is Catherine McLean.

Catherine originally entered Book’d Out’s Australia Day Blog Hop giveaway, so I’m glad she won this time round.

So far, Snowy River Man has attracted several 5-star reviews on AmazonUS and an average of 4-stars on Goodreads.

If you do read and enjoy the book, I’d encourage you to write a review. It helps to get the word out there.

I’m surprised – and gratified – how many readers have found the book engrossing. Here’s what some have had to say:

I read this book in one night, it’s a real page turner, the plot is full of suspense, mystery, and when you’re sure of what is going to happen next, the author changes the direction and leaves you again, desperate to know how things are going to resolve! (Julia Damatto)

There is a lot of plot packed into Snowy River Man, which made for a fast, page-turning read. (Sam Still Reading)

I guess my love of suspense shines through. Even a confirmed crime reader enjoyed it. (You can read her review here.)

For everyone who missed out, you can buy Snowy River Man for around the price of a cup of coffee from Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon AustraliaBarnes and NobleBooktopiaBookworld, Google Play,iBooks StoreKobo, and the publisher: Escape. Remember, it’s in ebook format only.

Thanks for participating and happy reading!

Cheers
Lizzy

Today’s the day – Snowy River Man released!

imageMy debut romance novel Snowy River Man is released today.

Snowy River Man is the story of city girl Katrina Delaney who dreams of a missing boy. She discovers it’s the son of a man she met years ago with whom she had a one night stand, Jack Fairley, a grazier from the Snowy Mountains Shire. Katrina is determined to help find Jack’s son, despite the painful memories that begin to surface, taking her back to a time in her life she would rather forget.

Here’s what one reviewer had to say:

I thoroughly enjoyed Snowy River Man which is the debut novel for Aussie author Lizzy Chandler. A nice mixture of suspense and romance, with a gritty plot and delightful characters; the word pictures painted of the countryside around the Snowy Mountains, the chill in the air, the blackness of the night sky plus the vividness and brightness of the stars – all was exceptionally well done… I have no hesitation in recommending Snowy River Man highly, and will be looking out for the author’s next title with interest. (Read the rest of the review here)

You can buy a copy of Snowy River Man at Booktopia, BookworldAmazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon AustraliaBarnes and Noble, iBooks Store, Google Play, Kobo, and Escape. (Note, it is available as an e-book only.)

I’ll be posting my about the writing of Snowy River Man over the next few weeks, but I can’t mark today without acknowledging my partner, and my friends and family. You’ve all watched me pursue my dream of publication for many years – years which have seen me abandon the dream and return to it time and again. Without your love, support and encouragement, I would never even have re-submitted this novel, let alone seen it published. Thank you – and I hope you enjoy the story!

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If you’d like a chance to win an ebook copy of Snowy River Man, you can enter this giveaway here.

First review of Snowy River Man – and it’s 5 star!

imageSnowy River Man, my debut romance novel, is being released on Sunday and the first review is out.

Over the past few years, I’ve heard a lot of warnings from authors, “Don’t read the reviews!” But when someone tags you on Facebook and says they loved your story, it’s very tempting to check out what they have to say. And I’m glad I did!

Brenda, a Goodreads librarian, writes:

I thoroughly enjoyed Snowy River Man which is the debut novel for Aussie author Lizzy Chandler. A nice mixture of suspense and romance, with a gritty plot and delightful characters; the word pictures painted of the countryside around the Snowy Mountains, the chill in the air, the blackness of the night sky plus the vividness and brightness of the stars – all was exceptionally well done. I did feel the ending was a little rushed, but I have no hesitation in recommending Snowy River Man highly, and will be looking out for the author’s next title with interest. (Read the rest of the review here)

For a first review, it couldn’t get much better and I’m thrilled. I’m so glad someone loved my characters and setting. When I read it out to my mum she said, “That sounds like a book I’d like to read!” I’ve always been a bit nervous about my family reading my work, but maybe it’s time to get her an e-reader?

Snowy River Man will be available from this Sunday, 22 February. You’ll be able to buy a copy at Escape, Booktopia, Bookworld and Amazon. (How come they’re all different prices?) I do hope you’re temped to read it.

Note: Book bloggers can still request a review copy on Netgalley for another four weeks, but you must use this link because it won’t appear on a search. Let me know if you have any trouble!

And the winner is…

Snowy River ManThe winner of my Australia Day Blog Hop Giveaway is…

Womblywoo from Australia!

Womblywoo has been contacted by email with instructions how to download a copy of Snowy River Man from Netgalley.

There were 50 eligible entries. Each name was given a number – or numbers, if they were eligible for more than one entry in the draw – and the winning number was chosen via a website random number generator. Womblywoo was assigned the winning number, 34.

Random number generator resultThanks everyone who entered and commiserations to those who didn’t win. Maybe you can let me know if you had better luck elsewhere in the blog hop? I’d love to know.

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