I am super delighted today to be able to feature on my blog one of my very good friends, Marnie St. Clair. She has her first novel, No Place Like You, out with Escape. It’s a lovely rural romance set in country Australia, with characters that will truly touch your hear. I loved it and I know you will too.
But, before you rush off to buy it, let me introduce you to Marnie and let her tell you a little bit about herself and her new novel.
Hi Marnie. 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 with Escape, No Place Like You.
MSC: Thanks for having me, Leisl!
LL: Can you tell us a little bit about your new novel?
MSC: No Place Like You is a contemporary romance set in a fictional country town a couple of hours west of Sydney. It was somewhat inspired by my mother-in-law. Much to her horror—I don’t think she pictures herself as a romance heroine. She spent most of the year in Sydney’s North Shore (weirdly, she boarded at PLC even though she lived in the same suburb), but every summer her family migrated to their property somewhere in the vicinity of Bathurst. This is pretty much the backstory of my heroine Lily, and by default, my hero Josh—the station manager’s son, who lived on the property year-round. The book is a little about class differences and a lot about forgiveness.
LL: Is this a standalone novel or are you planning a little bit of a series?
MSC: A second book is in the works, featuring Kate and Saxon, who now have to deal with the aftermath of their delightful interlude in No Place Like You.
LL: Authors are always being told it’s best to diversify in this ever changing publishing environment. Do you write only contemporary romances with a rural flavour, or do you also write in other genres too?
MSC: I adore crime and tend to gravitate towards adding just a dash of something mysterious. Or sometimes a bucket-load. See next question…
LL: What are you working on currently?
MSC: I am currently polishing up a fast-paced and fun mystery romance Blue Illusion, which pits a street-wise femme fatale against a charming rake of a PI in the hunt for a long-lost sapphire necklace. It’s planned as the first in a series of five featuring the detectives at de Crespigny Investigations.
LL: Sounds intriguing. Actually, I’m being coy, I know it’s good as I’ve read the first one! Can you share with us your ‘Call’ story?
MSC: Picture this. We’re in the deep dark depths of the summer holidays. I’m just back from taking my girls to a chocolate festival at the Immigration Museum (a fabulous tasty cultural experience). There’s an email from Kate Cuthbert from Escape in my inbox, saying she loved No Place Like You and was interested in acquiring it. Already high on choc-related sugar and caffeine, I add copious quantities of adrenaline and Aussie bubbles. Leisl, you know I struggle for calm at the best of times…
LL: LOL. That doesn’t sound like you at all! How long have you been writing for and what led you to being published?
MSC: I started playing around with writing after the birth of my younger daughter in 2007. Quickly realised I needed help and joined the RWA in 2008. Found my lovely and amazing writing group in 2009. Finally decided I did actually want to finish something and get published around 2012. Pitched something woefully underbaked at the RWA conference in 2013. Spent another year redrafting my manuscript and finally felt it was ready to resubmit at the end of 2014. Voila, No Place Like You.
LL: What do you think is the best advice you could give to a new writer with an aspiration to being published?
MSC: Hmm, tough one. Something like, have faith and push through. Honestly, everyone thinks their first draft is shit—first drafts are shit—but just keep pushing through to the end. Don’t worry if you get there and it’s a mess—your story is in there somewhere. Have faith and revel in the torture of redrafting.
LL : What inspires you to keep writing? Where do your writing ideas come from?
MSC: Reading, I would say. When you read a book that elicits a full-body visceral reaction, whether it’s fear or gleeful anticipation, lust or love, I’m like, I want to do that. Also, although I don’t think of myself as overly nurturing, I have a strong desire to comfort. Books can hold your hand through difficult times, and I feel compelled to offer something like that.
Writing ideas? Who knows? To (mis)quote Keith Richards: they’re all up there—stick your antennae up and wait.
LL: What are Marnie St Clair’s pet peeves? What are your favourite things?
MSC: Pet peeves. You know, I really hate smug. I thought this must be universal, but talking to a friend the other day, she didn’t get the smug thing at all—she hates self-pitying whingers. Wow. I’m totally fine with self-pitying whingers. In fact, most of the time… Wait, was she trying to tell me something?
Favourite things. Fragrant flowers. Baltic linen. Winter boots. Sand and stars. Mongolia, for some inexplicable reason.
LL: I’m with you on the flowers, winter boots and stars. Can take or leave the linen and sand. Mongolia – I think it would be fascinating.
Thank you so much for being a guest on my blog today, Marnie. It was fun finding out a little bit more about you and your writing.
I grew up in country NSW but now live in a lovely leafy suburb of Melbourne with my weather man husband and two gorgeous daughters. Apart from a deep and abiding love of all things romance, I have a wide array of unusual and embarrassing passions including playing Bridge, growing succulents, visiting deserts and getting down on the Zumba floor. No points for guessing which is the embarrassing one.
You can find out more about Marnie at: marniestclair.com