Read our Q&A with Bestselling Author Mary-Anne O’Connor

Read our Q&A with Bestselling Author Mary-Anne O’Connor

Briefly tell us about your book.

Sisters Of Freedom is the story of the three Merriweather sisters who strive for independence, the right to vote and to live ‘a life that matters’ in 1902. Yet how can they have love, marriage and motherhood at the same time? Set in Australia in genteel Hornsby and the wild riverlands of the Hawkesbury, the story takes you on an adventure filled with danger, romance, tragedy and triumph, and I hope it keeps you guessing until the end.

What inspired the idea behind this book?

My sister used to own the house in which it is set, Kuranda, a beautiful, turn-of-the-century residence that was the original home of the Tillyard family who inspired this tale. Like the Merriweathers, the mother and daughters were passionate feminists and the father was a professor. I loved the idea of them running down the staircase, clutching their bonnets and placards, off to a rally to defend the rights of womenkind. Very inspirational.

What was the research process like for the book?

Extensive, yet fascinating. I found out so many interesting and shocking facts as I went along, including the fact that women became the ‘property’ of men when they married and could no longer work in a professional role, take out a bank account or have any custodial rights to their children if they left an abusive husband. It made me understand that women didn’t just want the vote, they wanted the power to have a say in the laws that govern them. We’re still fine-tuning that.

Does the creative process get easier for you with each book?

That’s an interesting question. I suppose my answer would be that for me, it was, and is, never hard to be creative. However, it is hard trying to braid ideas together into one cohesive plait, so to speak. Sometimes I physically start drawing in the air saying ‘so if that happens to her and he says that it would mean she didn’t have to do this, which made him feel like that…’ etc. Keeping control of my multiple threads is a big challenge, indeed. That hasn’t changed and I don’t suppose it ever will but it’s so much fun, really. Like solving a crazy riddle of my own making.

What is something that has influenced you as a writer?

Not a something but a someone: my mother, Dorn Best. When I was growing up, she had an extensive library, much of which I have inherited, and she and I loved nothing more than to curl up with a good book. She had wonderful taste and I read most of the classical fairy-tales, Enid Blytons and Roald Dahls as a child. Then Mum introduced me to adult heroines: Elizabeth Bennet, Jane Eyre, Anne in her Green Gables and Josephine March, and heroes like Atticus Finch and the brilliant yet tragic Hamlet. We also shared a great love of classic movies and immersed ourselves in wonderful moments on-screen – truly beautiful spoken lines that stay with you forever. My mother gave me the gift of words, teaching me to speak, inspiring me to read then encouraging me to write. She has been my ardent supporter, my avid believer, my friend, my inspiration and yes… my greatest influence.

Reviews

Your Preview Verdict: Sisters of Freedom by Mary-Anne O'Connor

Review | Preview

22 April 2021

Your Preview Verdict: Sisters of Freedom by Mary-Anne O'Connor

    Passionate and Empowering: Read an Extract of Sisters of Freedom by Mary-Anne O’Connor

    Review | Extract

    21 April 2021

    Passionate and Empowering: Read an Extract of Sisters of Freedom by Mary-Anne O’Connor

      Sisters of Freedom is Another Marvellous Australian Historical from Mary-Anne O’Connor

      Review | Our Review

      20 April 2021

      Sisters of Freedom is Another Marvellous Australian Historical from Mary-Anne O’Connor

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          Publisher details

          Sisters of Freedom
          Author
          Mary-Anne O’Connor
          Publisher
          HQ Fiction
          Genre
          Historical Fiction
          Released
          07 April, 2021

          Synopsis

          Sydney, Christmas, 1901. Federation has been achieved but Australian women are yet to gain the right to vote in their new nation's elections and have a say in the laws that govern them. Bolshy, boisterous Frankie Merriweather is a fervent advocate for women's rights, determined to dedicate herself to the cause, never marrying or becoming a mother. She can't understand her artistic sister Ivy, who wants a life of ease and beauty with her soon-to-be fiance, law student Patrick Earle. Meanwhile, their married sister Aggie volunteers in an orphanage, decrying the inequality of Australia's social classes ... and longing to hold a baby in her arms. When an accident takes Ivy, wounded and ill, into the violent and lawless zone of the Hawkesbury River, a year of change begins. Ivy's burgeoning friendship with her saviour Riley Logan, a smuggler, and his sister, the poverty-stricken but valiant Fiona, will alter the lives of all three women forever.
          Mary-Anne O'Connor
          About the author

          Mary-Anne O'Connor

          Bestselling author Mary-Anne O'Connor has a combined arts education degree with specialties in environment, music and literature. After a successful marketing career she now focuses on writing fiction and non-fiction as well as public speaking.Mary-Anne lives in a house overlooking her beloved bushland in northern Sydney with her husband Anthony, their two sons Jimmy and Jack, and their very spoilt dog Saxon. Her previous novels are Gallipoli Street (2015), Worth Fighting For (2016), War Flower (2017) and In a Great Southern Land (2019).

          Books by Mary-Anne O'Connor

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