About the author
When Jenn J. McLeod quit Sydney’s corporate communications chaos, she bought a little café in a small town and ran a unique, dog-friendly B&B in country NSW. Home for this nomadic novelist now is a fifth wheeler caravan, and Jenn spends her days writing heart-warming tales of Australian country life. Jenn’s debut, House for all Seasons, came in at #5 on Nielsen’s 2013 Best Selling Debut Novel list, and Jenn has since published five novels, with the latest, A Place to Remember, released in March 2018.
You’ll find Jenn on her website, and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, where she shares travel pictures and chats about her ‘Paddock To Print’ philosophy that encourages readers to buy Australian-made fiction.
Words // Jenn J McLeod
Mums! I love ALL mine.
It was my real-life mum, Shirley, who instilled in me the love of storytelling when I was young. She was a big Mills & Boon reader and those lightweight books with pink roses on the cover had littered our lives. They were everywhere: on the kitchen table, shoved in the car’s centre console, hidden in caravan cupboards.
Mum wasn’t surprised I ended up being a published author (even if it did take me five decades to start trying) because my early scribblings had been a great source of amusement, evidenced by the fact she’d squirrelled examples away, which I only discovered in 2013. With Dad a jazz muso (and Mum his #1 fan) they often left me in the care of big sis, Kris, and came home to my scribbled stories.
Some of the things I wrote! I still have the occasional ‘spazim’, and I’ve never been able to stomach a ‘lettuce and cotshinel (cochineal) omlet’, but my storytelling (some might call it tattletaling) has improved, and I’m grateful to the writer’s unsung literary hero/heroine (a.k.a. The Editor) for correcting my gramma, grammer, grammar.
Mum would be proud of every book I’ve published and while I wish she’d made my debut book launch and Mother’s Day in 2013, she was there in spirit with her name forever on House for all Seasons’ dedication page. I was thankful advance copies did arrive in time to show Mum, but by then she’d been moved into a high care home, so I wasn’t sure what she’d make of me thrusting a book under her nose.
‘This is yours, Mum,’ I said, putting a copy on her lap. ‘I wrote it. See my name?’
She said nothing, her confusion clear, and my hopes plummeted. We sat there in silence and while she continually caressed the embossed title, I wanted to imagine her fingers stroking the face of her new-born five decades earlier—the one who would grow up to write novels.
It’s said of writing and publishing: “The moment you decide to quit, the magic happens”. It was true that day. I was about to give up and relieve Mum of the book when she raised it in both hands, rattled it a little, and with a waggish grin said, ‘It’s a heavy one, isn’t it?’
Mum’s been gone since 2013, but the best thing about being a writer is she lives on, with traces of her in every mother-daughter story I’ve written, and in my characters’ cheeky sense of humour. So, dear reader, next time one of my fictional mums says something to make you giggle, you can thank Shirley for being Shirley. I thank her every Mother’s Day—and every other day, too).