Interview with Barbara Hannay

Barb HannayToday I’m talking to Barbara Hannay, author of sparkling, feel-good, emotional romance. Thanks for taking time to answer a few questions, Barb.

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.

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.

Zoe's MusterYou have your new book ‘Zoe’s Muster’ due for release on July 25th with Penguin. What do you love most about ‘Zoe’s Muster’?

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


Interview with HeleneYoung- Part 2

Welcome back to my blog for Part 2 of my interview with Helene Young. HELENE Young, Shattered Sky

Helene, you have a very interesting day job. Please tell us a little about it and how it influences your stories.

My day job involves flying twenty-nine tonnes of aircraft with four crew and seventy-four passengers up and down the east coast of Australia. Our network extends from places such as Horn Island, Mt Isa, or Mackay all the way through to Melbourne. I’m also involved in training our new pilots and conducting checks on our crews. I love having a tiny office with a spectacular view and I hope I share that with my readers.

My Border Watch series is based in an aircraft very similar to ones I’ve flown so I do draw on that technical knowledge for accuracy. The series is also set in North Queensland in the areas I’ve come to love so much.

You’re a very busy woman. Who in your life do you rely on for support?

Graham and Zeus keep me sane, fed, in clean and ironed clothes, and ensure I continue to laugh at myself. I’d be lost without them.

What does a typical day in the writing life of Helene Young look like?

Yikes! There is no such thing as a typical day. I write around my roster which changes every month and sometimes daily. I can’t be precious about where I write and my muse is not allowed to be temperamental! If I’m on a day off then I start ‘work’ at 7 am after Graham’s left for his job and Zeus has had a walk. I sort through emails, blogs, twitter and FB until about 9 am and then settle down to write. On a good day without interruptions I’ll manage five thousand words. On a day when life gets in the way it may be as little as a thousand, but every word counts!

You have your third book, Burning Lies, due for release in July. What do you love about this story?

I love Ryan. He is my favourite hero to date. I loved him in Shattered Sky and he grew so much he had to have his own story. Kaitlyn is perfect for him and she’s a wonderful single mum struggling to balance a career and a child. Burning Lies is also my tribute to the amazing volunteers who fight fires in Australia. Without them so many more people would lose everything.

Can you tell us any snippets about your current writing project?

My current WIP looks at international crime syndicates and how far they reach into every day Australia. The research has been fascinating! Ellie and Nick are two wonderful characters with a great deal of depth so it’s been interesting writing their story. It’s set in mid-northern NSW, an area where I spent time as a child during school holidays so it was lots of lovely memories!

 Where to from here? Where would you like to be in ten years?

You know that’s a great question! I’ve written a blog post for a guest spot in a couple of weeks about setting goals because so few writers seem to do it.

In ten years I’d like to have another ten books on the shelf.  I’ve put that out there in the universe now so I’m bound to honour it!!

I also plan to be on the deck of a yacht by the end of the year, living aboard in Cairns and flying part-time so I can write some more.

Thanks for joining us, Helene, and best of luck with Burning Lies!

You can check out Burning Lies and Helene’s other books here:


Interview with Helene Young- Part 1

Today I’m talking to romantic suspense author Helene Young.

HELENE Young, Shattered Sky 

Thanks for taking time to answer a few questions, Helene.

Bernadette, thanks so much for inviting me to chat with you. It’s great having such a vibrant community of writers in NQ RWA, albeit a widely spread group! Congratulations on your upcoming debut release! Exciting times for you.

Thanks, I can’t wait for the edits to arrive. Your first two books, Wings of Fear and Shattered Sky have seen you win reader awards for Romantic Suspense. Can you reveal what this means to you?

Thanks, Bernadette, it is lovely to win awards that are judged by readers not critics as is the case with the Romance Writers of Australia’s RBY and the awards from the Australian Romance Readers. At the heart of my writing is the aim to entertain, to take people on a journey with my characters, so awards like this mean the world to me.  When I’ve spent twelve months tapping away at the computer keys being able to connect with readers is the ultimate thank you!

Wings of Fear             

You began your writing journey in 1998. What made you start writing? Can you describe your writing journey up until ‘the call’? 

I’ve always been a bit of a writing dabbler. I wrote the obligatory angst ridden poems during my teens and early twenties and assumed one day I’d write a book. Life had other ideas and aviation captured my imagination so writing went onto the back burner. It was only in my mid-thirties when we moved to Cairns for a new job with an airline that I suddenly had time on my hands again. I started writing in my spare time and didn’t tell anyone what I was doing. When I finished my first manuscript I hid it in a filing cabinet drawer while I contemplated what I was going to do with it.

My husband found it while I was away in Brisbane with work and he was responsible for really pushing me to take the next step and submit. I did that and was politely rejected, but part of the rejection, and subsequent submission to an assessment agency, was the best piece of advice I’ve received in my writing career. Join RWA. I did that and my manuscript came second in the Emma Darcy Award in 2004.  It was beginners luck, but it was so motivational for me. I used the RWA contest circuit to hone my writing ability. The feedback was at times hard to take but I learnt so much, I toughened up and realised I had a long way to go. The RWA conferences were a source of inspiration and learning – and the camaraderie of Romance Writers is second to none!!

My fifth completed manuscript, Wings of Fear (Border Watch), was a finalist in the Golden Heart Contest with RWAmerica. Having that on my resume was enough to get a request from Hachette for the full manuscript. After taking Bernadette Foley’s advice and rewriting the manuscript I was offered a two book contract.

What technique/truth  have you learned in your writing journey that you wish you had known at the start?

Editing is the time when your work really starts to shine. I was so fortunate to have Bernadette as my editor. I learnt so much from her about my own writing and the process of editing.  I’m a committed pantser and I doubt I will ever be a plotter. I write my story and then I plot it out so I can tweak in the editing stage to ensure both conflict and tension are there.

For new writers I like to reassure them that the rules are there to guide them. Sure grammar and punctuation is a given, but POV, conflict, chapter length, narrative vs dialogue are all areas where opinions differ. I cringe when I hear presenters saying, ‘You must not’ or ‘You have to do it this way.’ Everyone has a different creative process and the rules will help you work out which ones are appropriate for you.

Hearing about a writer’s journey is always so fascinating. Be sure to watch out for part 2 of my interview with Helene when I ask her about her day job, her stories and her hopes for the future.

You can check out Burning Lies and Helene’s other books here: