Joy Rhoades, Author of The Burnt Country on being Drawn to Stories about the Bush, Country and Community

Joy Rhoades, Author of The Burnt Country on being Drawn to Stories about the Bush, Country and Community

About the author:

Joy Rhoades was born in Roma in western Queensland, with an early memory of flat country and a broad sky. Growing up, she loved two things best: reading and the bush, whether playing in creek beds and paddocks, or climbing a tree to sit with a book. Her family would visit her grandmother, a fifth generation grazier and a gentle teller of stories of her life on her family’s sheep farm.

At 13, Joy left Roma for Brisbane, first for school and then to study law at university. After graduating, she worked all over: first Sydney, then London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo and New York. It was in New York that she completed a Masters in Creative Writing at the New School University, and wrote much of The Woolgrower’s Companion, a novel inspired in part by snippets of her grandmother’s life and times.

She now lives in London with her husband and their two young children, but she misses the Australian sky.

Buy a copy of The Burnt Country here. // Read a review of The Burnt Country here.

Joy Rhoades shares with us how her childhood in country QLD has influenced her writing?

The marvellous American novelist, Willa Cather, said that most of the basic material a writer works with is acquired before the age of 15. I often think of that because I was about 14 when I left the bush. I went away to boarding school, 1000 km from the small town where my parents lived.

I missed home with an almost physical longing. In a good season, there’s no place more beautiful, no light more golden, than the going down of sun over good country. Bush people scratch their heads at the thought of city life, their love of the land unwavering. But since my early teens, I’ve been away from the bush, a city dweller of the type pitied by country folk who live under a big sky.

Because for me, life in the bush is seductive but cruel, fortunes determined by unreliable rains and unforgiving commodity prices: beef, wool, wheat, cotton. Calamity is a constant, striking a blameless family or even a community, farms, businesses wiped out by a quirk, a tic in a weather pattern. I swore that when I grew up, I’d get away, that I’d have a livelihood controlled mostly by me and my performance, not at the whim of weather gods with their nasty sense of humour.

For the longest time, that’s what I did: I had a job that didn’t depend on good fortune. I trained as a lawyer in Brisbane. My lawyering took me to Sydney and then around the world: London, Asia, New York and London again. And it’s interesting work. But all that while, I was writing stories on the side, stories about the bush: the light, the dirt, rain and even fire. Perhaps that writing began as a solace of sorts, an escape from the city, if only on the page. I was drawn to stories about the bush, of country and community and connection and they shaped themselves into The Woolgrower’s Companion, a best selling debut. Soon, Penguin commissioned me to write another book, The Burnt Country.

I’m a full time writer now, with all the challenges and wonders that brings. It’s passion that binds me to writing, just as it’s passion that binds bush folk to the land. And I’m still not at the whim of the weather, but instead I’m dependent on whether my publisher sees a demand for my kind of books, and on whether readers like what I write. I see the irony in that. For it’s no longer the weather gods that impact my livelihood, but the book gods. Passion demands its price.

 

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                      Publisher details

                      The Burnt Country
                      Author
                      Joy Rhoades
                      Released
                      06 August, 2019

                      Synopsis

                      The Burnt Country is an enthralling story of integrity, resilience and resistance, from the author of the bestselling The Woolgrower’s Companion.The stunning new novel from the author of The Woolgrower's Companion, whom the Australian Women's Weekly described as ‘a wonderful new voice in literary rural fiction'.A scandalous secret. A deadly fire. An agonizing choice.Australia 1948. As a young woman running Amiens, a sizeable sheep station in New South Wales, Kate Dowd knows she’s expected to fail. And her grazier neighbour is doing his best to ensure she does, attacking her method of burning off to repel a bushfire.But fire risk is just one of her problems. Kate cannot lose Amiens, or give in to her estranged husband Jack’s demands to sell: the farm is her livelihood and the only protection she can offer her half-sister Pearl, as the Aborigines Welfare Board threatens to take her away.Ostracised by the local community for even acknowledging Pearl, Kate cannot risk another scandal. Which means turning her back on her wartime lover, Luca Canali ...Then Jack drops a bombshell. He wants a divorce. He’ll protect what’s left of Kate’s reputation, and keep Luca out of it – but for an extortionate price.Soon Kate is putting out fires on all fronts to save her farm, keep her family together and protect the man she loves. Then a catastrophic real fire threatens everything . . .
                      Joy Rhoades
                      About the author

                      Joy Rhoades

                      Joy Rhoades was born in Roma in western Queensland, with an early memory of flat country and a broad sky. Growing up, she loved two things best: reading and the bush, whether playing in creek beds and paddocks, or climbing a tree to sit with a book. Her family would visit her grandmother, a fifth generation grazier and a gentle teller of stories of her life on her family’s sheep farm.At 13, Joy left Roma for Brisbane, first for school and then to study law at university. After graduating, she worked all over: first Sydney, then London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo and New York. It was in New York that she completed a Masters in Creative Writing at the New School University, and wrote much of The Woolgrower's Companion, a novel inspired in part by snippets of her grandmother’s life and times.She now lives in London with her husband and their two young children, but she misses the Australian sky.

                      Books by Joy Rhoades

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