My guest today on Espresso Tales is award-winning Australian author Wendy Lee Davies, whose rural romance, Good Enough for Love, is out now.
Wendy Lee Davies began writing romances as a lark after leaving her communications and editing job of many years.
She lives in Melbourne with her husband, but they’ll be relocating to country Victoria soon.
She enjoys cycling, especially cycle touring which she did a lot of in her younger, some say more foolish, years. Now that she’s older and wiser, Wendy is wearing out the bike paths around her home town, making good use of her amazing pedal-assist electric bike. She's also cycled most of the incredible rail trails available in Victoria, and one in New Zealand as well.
If she's not writing, or riding her bike, Wendy can be found enjoying a coffee in some cafe. Or taking landscape photographs. She’s been known, on occasion, to give long, detailed editorial comments on her writing friends’ latest endeavours. But don't worry. They do the same to her latest romance-in-progress, so everything sorts itself out in the end.
Megan: Wendy, welcome to Espresso Tales. Can I get you a drink?
Wendy: A mug of cappuccino please, with cinnamon sprinkled on top instead of the usual chocolate, if that’s okay?
Megan: I like the sound of that - I think I might give that a try too. Tell me about your latest release, that I believe won the Romance Writers of Australia Emerald Award for Best Unpublished Manuscript in 2017.
Wendy: It did indeed, though it was called a different name then. Good Enough For Love is a story about trust. It’s about feeling good enough, worthy enough, to warrant another person’s love and attention. It’s about facing up to your past and taking a chance on your future.
Megan: I'm reading it at the moment and really enjoying it. Is writing something you have always done? Like me, I believe your background is in communications?
Wendy: Well, it certainly seems that way. Like most writers, I’ve always made up stories. But I never took writing all that seriously until I enrolled in a Professional Writing and Editing Course held at the local TAFE college. That course changed my life. I was required to undergo a whole year of grammar because I failed to correctly identify the difference between a verb, noun and adverb when undergoing the entrance test. Doing that year of grammar gave me the foundations, and the knowledge, of how English worked. Something I’ve used daily, and something that’s vitally important for any storyteller.
I’ve been the editor of a forestry magazine and a technical writer producing detailed how-to instructions and that pesky help information found in computer programs. I was the senior editor for a major government department’s public website pages, all 5,000 of them, before starting my own communications and editing business.
So yes, I’ve been involved in writing, either as a writer or editor, in a professional capacity for way too long to mention here. But writing corporate news, or website content is very different to writing romances. And writing romances is much, much harder, in my opinion.
Megan: I agree with that! What inspires your writing?
Wendy: Anything and everything. I often observe coffee shop patrons, or people passing by, and wonder how my characters would behave if they were in front of me right then. Other times, I hear or read something that makes me sit up and take notice. For example, I half-heard a TV story about a small country town that hosts a zombie festival every year, swelling their numbers considerably. At the time, I was struggling with the plot and storyline of Good Enough. That half-heard snippet set off sparks within my brain that eventually became a major turning point for my hero.
But the reality is, I’m never very sure where my ideas or my characters come from. They sort-of spring up from within and hang around demanding attention until I get a chance to write their stories.
And doesn’t that sound simply crazy?
Megan: Not at all. I like to 'tuck' away little quirky things - you never know when they will come in handy. Do you have any rituals around your writing?
Wendy: The short answer is: I don’t! I know I should have, but don’t. It’s probably why I’m so slow writing full-length stories. Usually, I stare out the window for a while; make myself a coffee; check out what’s happening on Facebook; maybe head out and do some shopping; come back to my laptop … and eventually begin to write. In other words, I don’t get much done.
Other days, I jump out of bed and can’t wait to begin pounding away at the laptop keyboard. On days like that, I’m completely unaware of anything else around me. And I just keep writing and writing until the ideas run out.
But fantastic writing days like that happen so rarely. Besides, my husband would probably disown me if I forgot to kiss him good morning! And the good days of writing wouldn’t be so special if I didn’t have all those hard, difficult days beforehand to compare with.
Megan: What sort of books do you like to read when you're not writing? What was the last book you read?
Wendy: I like reading all sorts of books. Romance stories, of any genre, are my not-so-secret addiction. But I’m also a big fan of science fiction and authors like Asimov, Douglas Adams, Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C Clarke. I also enjoy stories by Harlen Coben, Lee Child and Matthew Reilly too. But the novels I constantly go back to is the Pern series about dragons and their riders by Anne McCaffrey.
I’ve just finished reading The Lady’s Disgrace by Callie Hutton. And the one I’m about to start, In the Heir by Ruth Cardello, is a contemporary billionaire romance story.
Megan: And what's next for you? What are you currently working on?
Wendy: I'm writing another book set in the same small town of Willow's Bend. It’s about the ex-military barman, Harry Dobson, and a visiting journalist, Samantha Wild. She's in town to cover the annual Valentines Ball. He's known around town as a heart-breaker. She’s not interested in anything other than getting out of women’s features and into that plum crime reporting role back in Sydney. He’s wondering what to do now his home, and no-one seems to need him. She believes everyone has secrets and she’s determined to uncover every unsavoury plot around. His whole family history is full of secrets and regrets, something he's trying to ignore so he can get on with his own life. These two characters are constantly thrown together by the town's citizen, but when she discovers the truth behind his past, all hell breaks loose.
Megan: Sounds like a great premise. Do you find you need to do a lot of research for your books?
Wendy: I do as little as I can get away with without sounding like I don’t know what I’m talking about. Research is not my thing. I know heaps of authors who love researching. I’m not one of them. With Good Enough, I looked up hotel licencing requirements online. I researched wills and what you’d need to do if you wanted to contest one. Oh, and I broke my ankle during the first long and detailed rewrite, so I can tell you that that experience featured heavily when Zach broke his ankle in the story. (Though I don’t recommend this as a means to gain authenticity.) So far, I haven’t done one minute of research for the next book. I’m sure I’ll have to, at some point. But so far, I’ve managed to get away without doing a thing.
Megan: Wendy, thanks for joining me and all the best with Good Enough for Love and your future projects.
Wendy: It’s been my pleasure. 😊
Good Enough for Love is available at:
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