Thanks for inviting me to be a guest on your blog, Bernadette.
You’ve realised a dream many of us have- to write for a living. How many books have you published? How many do you need to publish each year to pay the bills?
At the moment I have forty-one books either published or about to be published. I write three books a year. Until now that’s been 3 category romances, but I’m now writing single title books for Penguin as well, so I’m feeling my way, learning how much I can manage.
The publishing industry is changing so quickly at the moment it’s hard to make any predictions about earnings, and I haven’t been our sole breadwinner, but so far, we could have lived (modestly) off my earnings.
In the 4.5 years between your first manuscript rejection and ‘the call’ what steps did you take to achieve your dream of publication?
First, I read hundreds of romances. The genre was new for me and I had made the initial mistake of believing I could write a romance after reading just two. After that, I immersed myself in the genre, and developed a deepening love and respect for it. It’s important to “get” why readers love romance.
I kept submitting and being rejected and submitting again. Usually, you can’t be published without risking rejection, dealing with it and moving on. I simply aimed to make each submission better.
I joined Romance Writers of Australia, entered competitions and got helpful feedback. www.romanceaustralia.com
What technique/truth have you learned in your writing journey that you wish you had known at the start?
I’ve realised that writing’s like life. You keep finding out that there’s more to learn, and it doesn’t get any easier – just different. J It’s also a bit like falling in love – incredibly exciting and fulfilling at first and then day to day challenges creep in, but you make a commitment because you know you can’t live without it.
What is the best part of writing romance? Is there a down side to your job?
I’ve made the most wonderful friends through my writing. I’ve also loved travelling overseas to conferences and having experiences like the fabulous Harlequin black and white ball in the Starlight Room at the Waldorf Astoria in New York.
The downside for me would be the loneliness of writing. Thank heavens for email. J
Your ‘sweet romances’ are much loved. For those of us who don’t understand HMB categories, what can a reader expect from a Barb Hannay ‘Sweet’ romance?
Thanks Bernadette. My stories usually have a strong emotional element, something personal and important to the characters. My heroines are every day women you might know and my heroes are nice guys, not necessarily mega rich, but able to provide. I walk a thin line between fantasy and reality. I guess my characters’ situations are realistic but the romance is mostly fantasy.
I really enjoyed being able to include extra characters and to explore the world beyond the central couple. I also loved structuring a longer book and interweaving three women’s different reactions to the same situation.
Where did your love affair with ‘the bush’ begin?
I grew up in Brisbane in the foothills of Mt Coot-tha, so exploring creeks and the bushland was an important part of my childhood. But I think my real love of the bush came when our children were small and we spent so many holidays camping and canoeing. A friend owned a beautiful cattle property on the Burdekin River near Charters Towers and that has been a huge inspiration.
Can you tell us anything about your current WIP?
I’m working on a sequel to Zoe’s Muster, telling the story of Bella and her aunt, Liz, who’ve been living overseas. It’s a ‘coming home’ story, once again set again on Mullinjim station.
Who in your life do you rely on for support?
My husband Elliot gives me massive support, as a brainstorming partner, sounding board, morale booster. He’s wonderful and I’m very, very lucky.
Having achieved the goals of publication and then writing for a living, what do you dream of now?
A movie deal. No, just kidding. I simply hope to keep building my readership and to write stories they’ll love.
Thanks for joining me on my blog today, Barb and best of luck with ‘Zoe’s Muster’ – out today! For more of Barbara’s fabulous books and her writing life head to http://www.barbarahannay.com/