AWW Feature & Giveaway: Jennifer Scoullar and Brumby’s Run

Welcome Jennifer Scoullar!

Jennifer Scoullar is an author of Australian rural and environmental fiction. Writing is in her blood.  her grandfather was editor of the newspaper at Wood’s Point in its heyday, her mother, Alice, was a great story teller.  Jennifer’s great aunt, Mary Fullerton, was a novelist and poet, and a friend to Miles Franklin but it was her father, Doug that gave her the deep appreciation and respect for the natural world that she shares in her fiction. Jennifer, a lawyer at one time, now writes and lives with her family on a property in the southern Victorian ranges.

Jennifer’s first published novel, Wasp Season, a contemporary environmental thriller set in the chaotic and sometimes violent aftermath of divorce was published in 2008.  Jennifer’s second novel,  Brumby’s Run, has been released this month by Penguin, and will be launched in August at the Melbourne Writer’s Festival. Brumby’s Run is a a story about love, mistaken identity and the fabled wild horses of Victoria’s high country. She is currently working on her fifth book, working title Firewater, a novel with an environmental theme, set on Queensland’s beautiful Darling Downs.

My review of Brumby’s Run will be published later today, I adored the majestic setting and fell in love with the wild Brumbies. Now. Jennifer shares with you her journey to publication. Read on…

My Journey To Publication

I’m a late starter at this writing game, in my forties before I became serious about completing a novel. A nerdy, bookworm of a child, I was always writing stories and poems. I began my first novel at eleven – some sort of a plagiarised version of The Silver Brumby by Elyne Mitchell. Anyway, I thought it was terrific. I wrote three chapters, before losing the manuscript, and crying for at least a week. I knew I’d grow up to write books.

But life got in the way. Thirty years later, and I finally heard that annoying, nagging voice … that voice of me as a child, reminding me that I was supposed to be a writer. It had been there all along, but I hadn’t been listening. I’m very grateful for that voice. In his wonderful essay ‘Why I write’, George Orwell says, “If a writer escapes from his early influences altogether, he will have killed his impulse to write” (He also said ‘never use two words when one will do’. More good advice.) So I picked up a pen. It was like coming home.

It took me two years to finish my first novel, Wasp Season, an environmental thriller set in the chaotic and sometimes violent aftermath of divorce. While I wrote, I also read a lot, trying to identify the elements of a good story. The most important one, for me anyway, was that authors needed to have something to say. Now this might seem self-evident, but think about it. Have you ever been bailed-up by someone who can talk and talk and talk, but really, has nothing to say? You begin to look for escape routes, ways to politely excuse yourself. It’s easier than that for readers. If a novel isn’t animated by a powerful theme, then the reader will just close the book. The authors I loved most all wrote from the heart. They reached through the pages and gripped me. I cared about their characters, suffered  with them, hated them and loved them. So my first goal was to let my passions power the story and make it worth the telling.

I finished Wasp Season, and realised that passion wasn’t enough. I had a lot more to learn about the craft of writing. So I joined the Year of the Novel program at Writer’s Victoria, with the well-known novelist Andrea Goldsmith. Not only was she a wonderful teacher, but through the program I met a terrific assortment of likeminded people. We formed a writing group, the LLG’s (Little Lonsdale Group) that is still going strong. There’ve been some remarkable successes. Margareta Osborn (who’s already been one of your featured authors) is a member, along with Kathryn Ledson, who’s debut novel Rough Diamond is due for release by Penguin early next year.

I wrote two more novels, managing to get Wasp Season published by a small press along the way, and being shortlisted for a few awards. I was even offered representation by the Curtis Brown Literary Agency on the strength of my second manuscript, but I still couldn’t crack any of the major publishing houses. Then fellow rural author Margareta Osborn suggested I go to the 2011 Romance Writer’s Conference in Melbourne, where I could pitch directly to editors.

Now, all I needed was a novel to knock their socks off. I already had two manuscripts with Curtis Brown. Maybe I needed something fresh, something that fused my passion for the land with an equally passionate love story. It was January, and the conference was in August – eight months. I could only try. Thus Brumby’s Run was born.

I wrote and wrote, revising as I went, and had a polished first draft just in time for the conference. I agonised over my pitch, practised ad nauseum and was sick with nerves. I’d scored appointments with two editors. They were both so friendly and natural, and did everything they could to put me at ease. Best of all, both of them took my full manuscript

Then, after several encouraging emails from Belinda Byrne, she asked to meet me, and in October last year I received an email headed Penguin Letter of Offer for Brumby’s Run. At last! … I printed that letter out and carried it with me for weeks, looking at it occasionally to check it was real. It still sometimes seems like a wonderful dream.  Andrea Goldsmith will officially launch Brumby’s Run at this year’s Melbourne Writer’s Festival, Saturday 25th August, 2.30 pm. All welcome!

Thank you Jennifer, for sharing your path. I wish you much success with Brumby’s Run and your future projects!

Jennifer can be found at JenniferScoullar.comTwitter

Click here for your chance  to win 1 of 2 copies of Brumby’s Run at Goodreads.

(Australian Residents only)

Brumby’s Run is available to purchase

@Penguin I @BoomerangBooks I @Booktopia I @Amazon {Kindle}

via Booko

7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mystica
    Jul 10, 2012 @ 12:18:37

    I’d like to be entered with an Aussie address. The word even Brumby somehow conjures up Australia.

    Like

    Reply

  2. Helene Young
    Jul 10, 2012 @ 15:50:49

    Lovely to learn more about your writing journey, Jennifer. Congrats on the release of Brumby’s Run!!

    The conferences run by Romance Writers of Australia provide such great opportunities to have our work noticed and the support from the other writers is wonderful!! Look forward to catching up at this year’s conference.

    Like

    Reply

  3. Trackback: Review: Brumby’s Run by Jennifer Scoullar « book'd out
  4. The Australian Bookshelf
    Jul 10, 2012 @ 18:38:12

    Congrats Jennifer! What a wonderful success story… i really enjoyed Brumby’s Run.

    Like

    Reply

  5. Jennifer Scoullar
    Jul 10, 2012 @ 19:11:47

    Thanks very much guys!

    Like

    Reply

  6. Trackback: AWW Feature: Q&A with Kathryn Ledson « book'd out

I want to know what you think! Your comments are appreciated.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s