Briefly tell us about your book.
For readers of The Postmistress, The Goldminer’s Sister takes you back to Maiden’s Creek, a small gold mining settlement in Gippsland. It begins with the arrival of Eliza Penrose, the sister of one of the characters in The Postmistress. Determined to solve the mystery of her brother’s death, Eliza takes on the position of the schoolmistress in the town’s only school, and soon encounters Alec McLeod, a Scottish engineer with a tragic past.
As the mysteries around her deepen, Alec becomes her closest ally and they find themselves up against men whose lust for wealth is greater than the ties of blood.
The Goldminer’s Sister crosses genres, between historical romance and historical mystery. Please don’t worry if you haven’t read The Postmistress – although the town and secondary characters continue across both books, the story itself stands alone.
Does the creative process get easier for you with each book?
This will be my eleventh published full-length novel and with my hand on my heart I can say it does not get easier. I have never been a plotter, preferring a more organic approach to my writing, but organic does not work when you are faced with contract deadlines and hungry readers, so I have had to force the process along a little to avoid the temptation of dark corridors, dead ends and rabbit holes. Unfortunately, just when I think I have worked out an efficient and effective process, the next book comes along but what worked for the last books does not work for the new book and it is back to square one!
How does it feel to hold your book in your hands?
Can I say that this is a feeling that never grows old? We refer to our new books as ‘book babies’ and that is just how it feels. Here in my hand is the product of a tiny kernel of an idea that came to fruition over the course of the year. It is going to bookshops and libraries … people are going to read it on trains, the beach, curled up in front of the fire, and they are going to either love it or hate it. Of course, there is a terrible underlying fear that the readers are going to hate it and, like all babies, it hurts to be told it is anything less than perfect so we wait for those first reviews with bated breath!
How did you think of the title of the book?
I have to confess I did not think of the title for the book! I’d originally called it The Schoolmistress as a working title but my publisher was looking for something a little more gold related, so we brainstormed titles at short notice on a particularly fraught day when my youngest granddaughter was born and I was looking after her big sister. Between wrestling the three-year-old and my husband, I think my editor and I were still emailing each other at the hospital! Mercifully we settled on The Goldminer’s Sister and it is a complete coincidence that my youngest grandchild is called Eliza!
Are you able to switch off at the end of a day of writing? If so, how?
I have never been an evening person … even as a student I could not work late into the night. I like the routine of working through the day and switching off the computer by six in the evening. It might make me sound old and boring, but I am afraid my downtime in the evening is TV, a cat on my lap and a jigsaw on my iPad. However, during ‘iso’ I rediscovered my love of needlework, particularly quilting, and I set myself the task of finishing some of the many UFOs (UnFinished Objects) in my cupboard. Unfortunately, I have been unable to convince the elderly cat that I require my lap for sewing not him so every evening is now a tussle between a quilt and a stubborn cat, which is not particularly relaxing.