Author Spotlight: Barbara Hannay
Describe yourself in one word:
What is your background with regard to writing?
I’ve been writing from the age of eight when I did the Brownies writers’ badge. In high school, English was always my best subject and I wanted to be a journalist, but this was the sixties and my father decided it wasn’t a very nice career for a lady, so I became an English teacher. I married a journalist , however. 🙂 Along the way, I wrote poetry, children’s stories and short stories for women’s magazines.
When did you first begin writing with a view of embarking on a career as a published author?
In 1993, I was teaching a unit of popular fiction to my Year Eleven class and I read my first Mills and Boon. It took me back to the classic girls’ stories I’d read in my teens which always included a romance and I knew I’d found my genre. I set to work on my first manuscript straight away.
Tell us a little more about Moonlight Plains:
This is a story with two connected time lines – a contemporary romance, featuring Luke Fairburn who also appeared in Zoe’s Muster and Home Before Sundown, interwoven with my very first historical romance.
Moonlight Plains centres on 1942 wartime Australia, most notably the character, Kitty Martin, who is sent inland to Moonlight Plains for her own safety. However as it would happen, certain experiences expose Kitty to tragedy, love, and heartbreak. What sparked this concept for you?
This is a story I’ve wanted to write for a very long time, ever since 1995 when Townsville celebrated VP 50 – fifty years after the end of WW2. As hundreds of US servicemen poured back into the city, stories of that era abounded and my imagination was captivated. I saw Townsville in a new and fascinating light and it was a vision I wanted to share.
Years later, young journalist Sally Piper is sent to Moonlight Plains to cover the story of a cattleman restoring his grandmother’s forgotten homestead. Sparks fly, secrets are revealed, and love is found. What was the most challenging aspect of writing this particular part of the story?
It was actually a challenge to make a contemporary peacetime romance as interesting and exciting as a wartime romance. In wartime, the source of tension is obvious. In a contemporary story, the author has to work harder.
What kind of research was involved in the planning of Moonlight Plains? Was there anything surprising that you learned during the research process?
Obviously, the historical aspects involved a lot of reading, as well as talking to older people who had lived in Townsville and the region during the war. I was very lucky that many people generously shared their stories. I think the most surprising thing I learned was that some young American pilots were sent off to off to fly Airacobras with only seven hours training. Yikes!! For the contemporary story, a builder friend was happy to talk to me about renovating old houses . He was a real bonus.
What one character trait will most endear both Kitty and Sally to your readers?
Readers have already commented about how much they like Kitty. She’s humble, strong and loving, despite all the difficulties life throws at her, and she becomes a great role model for her family. Sally is gutsy but vulnerable, which is my favourite combination for a heroine.
One thing you’d like readers to know about the romance genre…
These stories don’t have to be sappy, and many are grounded in a strong, realistic situations.
If you weren’t writing, what would you be doing?
Teaching, I guess. Or retired and travelling. 🙂
What’s next for you?
Another story with both a contemporary and a wartime romance. This time the heroines are a London debutante from 1939 and a female soldier returning from Afghanistan.
Favourite snack whilst writing?
Sounds boring, but it would be some kind of fruit.
What advice would you give your 16-year-old self?
Start writing now. You can do it.
What do you find easiest to write? And, the hardest?
I find deeply emotional scenes the easiest – and — always, I find endings the hardest. It’s such a challenge to make each new HEA feel original and fresh.
Favourite travel experience?
Rome – it’s so ancient and romantic and yet modern and sexy as well.
Number one thing to do on your bucket list: See snow.
Milk, dark or white chocolate? White – yes, I know it’s not really chocolate.
Red, white, bubbly? Red, if it’s very good.
Salty or sweet? Sweet.
Beach or mountains? Both, please.
Give or receive? Give.
About the Author:
Award winning author, Barbara Hannay, is a city bred girl with a yen for country life. Most of her 40 plus books are set in rural and outback Australia and they’ve been enjoyed by readers around the world.
In her own version of life imitating art, Barbara and her husband currently live on a misty hillside in beautiful Far North Queensland where they keep heritage pigs, hens and an untidy but productive garden.
In 1942, as the Japanese sweep towards northern Australia and allied troops swarm into Townsville, Kitty Martin is sent inland to the safety of Moonlight Plains. But when two American airmen crash on the isolated property, she is forced to grow up fast, coming face to face with tragedy, with love . . . and with heartbreak.
Years on, and Sally Piper, a young journalist, is sent to Moonlight Plains to cover the story of a cattleman turned builder who is restoring his grandmother’s forgotten homestead. Sparks fly between them, but Sally is struggling to let go of the past, and Luke has his eyes fixed firmly on the future.
What they uncover together is a shocking secret that has been kept safe for more than seventy years. Now the entire family’s happiness is at stake – or does the truth about the past hold a valuable lesson for the future?
From the internationally acclaimed and award-winning romance writer Barbara Hannay comes this breathtaking novel about finding love against all the odds. It will have you captivated from beginning to end.