AUSSIE MONTH with Jenn J McLeod
Describe yourself in one word:
Gypsy (given these days I live and write fulltime in a caravan).
Tell us about The Other Side of the Season:
The Other Side of the Season is my fourth country novel and a story about love—first love, family love and enduring love—set among a fictional banana growing area on the NSW Mid North coast.
When offering to drive her brother to Byron Bay to escape the bitter Blue Mountain’s winter, Sidney neglects to mention her planned detour to the small seaside town of Watercolour Cove and the local man who is claiming to be their grandfather.
Thirty-five years earlier, Watercolour Cove is a very different place for brothers David and Matthew and the teasing and tantalisingly pretty Tilly from the neighbouring property. When tragedy strikes in the winter of 1979, those who can leave, do, while one stays, trapped on the mountain and haunted by memories and lost dreams. That is until the arrival of a curious young woman, named Sidney, whose love of family shows everyone that the truth can heal, what’s wrong can be righted, the lost can be found, and . . . there’s another side to every story.
What inspired this novel?
Three themes came together to make this story my biggest and possibly the most emotionally impacting of all my stories so far.
- Nambucca Heads: This seaside town (NSW north coast) has a breakwall with hundreds of painted messages on the rocks—everything from happy holiday “The Smith Family was here 2004” type things to the more poignant “Forever loved”, “Will you marry me?” etc. As a writer, of course, I see stories of love and heartache on each painted boulder.
- The Coffs Coast: My home for the last twelve years and while it has everything (include a Big Banana) this is the place where the Great Dividing Range comes so close to the coast it ‘kisses’ the Pacific Ocean. Talk about romantic!!
- The Rule of Reflection: An artistic reference reminding artists that everything in life has a reflection. The reflection theme is also about how we see ourselves as well as how others might see us. This all led me to come up with the tagline: “Everything has reflection and there’s another side to every story”.
What are you reading right now?
Wild Chicory by Kim Kelly—92 pages of pure joy.
Number one thing to do on your bucket list?
I don’t do the bucket list thing. Rather than writing it down I just do it—hence my selling up and downsizing my life to live in a 24 foot fifth wheeler caravan so I can visit small towns and find inspiration for more stories. (Like the 3 months last year I spent camped in a paddock on a cattle property north of Rockhampton where I wrote my 2017 release.) Life can be short. Don’t spend it writing lists. Just do it. J
Best thing about being an Aussie?
Can’t decide on just one but I do love the safety and magnificence of my island home.
What you want readers to know about the romance genre?
Romance readers already know more than I do about the genre. All I can say is that the stories I enjoy reading and writing are those that have, at their heart, this notion: love that is meant to be will always find a way. I think that sums up all my novels.
What have you got in store for your readers in 2016?
A sea change! For my fourth novel, The Other Side of the Season, I’m taking readers from the country to the coast. Writing the story of three teenagers living in a small country town in 1979, then having them grow up, has been the most rewarding writing experience. As usual, my storyline took on a life of its own and those sneaky secondary characters (meant to support the narrative) ended up as some of my favourites. Jake and Pearl could not be more unalike and yet it’s that difference that makes their very contemporary romance such an important addition to the main storyline. So, grab your cozzies (swimmers, trunks, bathers, etc) and come to Watercolour Cove and you’ll discover . . . There another side to every story.
What were your big achievements of 2015?
My greatest achievement last year was actually someone else’s success! I am so excited that the young writer I’ve been mentoring will be published with Simon & Schuster in 2016. Title Labour of Love, the very personal surrogacy story is beautifully conceived and told—one for every woman—and an amazing, beautiful, touching memoir about a collective love. The author is Shannon Garner and I feel like a proud mother duck.
The Other Side of the Season
Jenn J McLeod
Everything has a reflection . . .
And there’s another side to every story.
When offering to drive her brother to Byron Bay to escape the bitter Blue Mountain’s winter, Sidney neglects to mention her planned detour to the small seaside town of Watercolour Cove and the local man claiming to be their grandfather.
Thirty-five years earlier, Watercolour Cove is a very different place. Two brothers are working the steep, snake-infested slopes of a Coffs Coast banana plantation. Seventeen-year-old David does his share, but the budding artist spends too much time daydreaming about becoming the next Pro Hart and skiving off with the teasing and tantalisingly pretty Tilly from the neighbouring property. His older brother, Matthew, has no time for such infatuations. His future is on the land and he plans to take over the Greenhill plantation from his father.
Life is simple on top of the mountain for David, Matthew and Tilly until the winter of 1979 when tragedy strikes, starting a chain reaction that will ruin lives for years to come. Those who can, escape the Greenhill plantation. One stays—trapped on the mountain and haunted by memories and lost dreams. That is until the arrival of a curious young woman, named Sidney, whose love of family shows everyone the truth can heal, what’s wrong can be righted, the lost can be found, and . . .
. . . there’s another side to every story.
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