Today I am thrilled to have a fellow Escape Publishing author, Renee Dahlia, as a guest on my blog. She’s agreed to answer my 10 author questions.
LL: Hi Renee. Thanks for being a guest on my blog. It’s really exciting to have you here for the first time to celebrate your new release: MERINDAH PARK. Can you tell us a little bit about your new novel?
RD: MERINDAH PARK is a rural romance set on a horse racing farm in Victoria. The hero, John, travels to Japan to buy a horse for the farm, and meets a veterinarian, Toshiko. She travels with the horses back to Australia. John’s father was a gambling addict who nearly lost the farm, and when John discovers Toshiko is a professional punter, tensions rise. This book is partly set in Japan and party in Australia.
LL: Sounds really interesting. Is this a standalone novel or are you planning a little bit of a series?
RD: This is the first book in a four book series, with the next one due to come out with Escape Publishing in August 2019. Merindah Park is owned by four siblings, John, his brother Shannon (book 4), and twin sisters Rachel (book 2) and Serena (book 3). Rachel and Serena are both jockeys, while Shannon is a horse trainer. This series is quite global for an Aussie rural romance, reflecting the global nature of horse racing.
LL: It sounds like you’re writing about something you know a lot about. I think that’s a really important element of writing – being able to identify with something in the novel you are writing to give it authenticity.
Another really important aspect of writing now seems to be the ability to diversify. Do you write only contemporary rural romance, or do you also write in other genres too?
RD: I also have a historical series with Escape Publishing, and am indie-publishing a contemporary series set in Sydney (the first one came out in February, and the next one, Liability, is due out in June).
LL: What are you working on currently?
RD: I’m writing a historical set in Wales in 1919 – it’s the first in a follow up series to my Bluestockings, featuring the three daughters of the three heroines from the Bluestockings.
LL: Sounds fascinating. I love a good historical romance. Can you share with us your ‘Call’ story?
RD: Before I wrote romance, I wrote non-fiction for the horse racing industry for over a decade. After ghost writing a biography, I thought I’d have a crack at fiction, and why not write the genre I most love to read? It took me a year to write and re-write that first novel (with much help from RWA’s online courses), and I pitched it to Escape at the 2016 conference. They liked it and published it as To Charm a Bluestocking, and I wrote three more books in that series (two of which they published). The other is a Christmas story featuring a side character that will get published (either by Escape or myself) one day! I realise I’m incredibly lucky to have my first ever novel published, and it wasn’t until I’d written my fourth book that I got a rejection. They happen to every writer at some point!
LL: You’re not wrong. I think many writers think when they get that first book published that means they’re in, but it’s simply not the case. There are so many reasons why a book might not be suitable, many of them having nothing to do with the quality of the writing. That brings me to the next question – What do you think is the best advice you could give to a new writer with an aspiration to being published?
RD: Learn! Write in the genre you love to read because you’ll understand the tropes and what other readers like too. Keep practicing and keep learning – there is always new aspects of craft to improve at.
LL: Great advice. What inspires you to keep writing? Where do your writing ideas come from?
RD: I have a never ending flood of ideas – the file of ideas on my computer is much longer than I’ll ever have time to write! I’m very new to writing fiction (having started in 2016, with my first book published in 2017), and I still love it. I’ve always been a storyteller, and I love listening to other people’s stories too.
LL: Tell us a little bit about yourself and what led you to writing?
RD: I had to be dragged kicking and screaming into writing. At primary school, a teacher infamously wrote on a report that “Renee would be a good writer if she wrote about more than just horses.” I can’t credit that with putting me off writing – but I do find a petty joy in having spent a decade of my career writing about horses! I studied physics and maths at university (working as a racehorse strapper so I could afford to eat), and only much later did I end up writing. My first articles were data analysis based – take a horse racing theory, investigate the statistics, and write a magazine article.
LL: Wow, that’s quite some journey. What are your pet peeves?
RD: Pet peeve – the rise of the anti-science social media meme.
Science has given us this modern world where we have medicine to keep us alive,
the internet, and so many other wonderful things that make life great. Why do
people ignorantly fight it?
LL: That annoys me too. What are your favourite things?
RD: My favourite things – finding missing history. History is mostly written by white men, and there are so many stories out there written in the footnotes, or missing completely, that can be discovered and unveiled with a little work. I also love horses, cricket, summer, and beer!
LL: I can get onboard with everything there expect the cricket and the beer!
Thank you so much for being a guest on my blog today, Renee. It was fun finding out a little bit more about you and your writing.
You can buy Renee’s novel, MERINDAH PARK from:
enée Dahlia is an unabashed romance reader who loves feisty women and strong, clever men. Her books reflect this, with a side-note of dark humour. Renée has a science degree in physics. When not distracted by the characters fighting for attention in her brain, she works in the horse racing industry doing data analysis and writing magazine articles. When she isn’t reading or writing, Renée wrangles a partner, four children, and volunteers on the local cricket club committee as well as for Romance Writers Australia.
You can find out more about Renee at: