Welcome Jenn J McLeod!
I am happy to welcome back Australian author, Jenn J McLeod to Book’d Out today. During her visit around this time last year she was celebrating the release of her debut novel, House of All Seasons, which earned her the position of the 5th best selling author on the official Nielsen Bookscan list for 2013.
In Simmering Season, devoted mother, sole breadwinner, and now local publican, Maggie Lindeman is back in Calingarry Crossing with her teenage son to sell the family pub, hoping to turn their lives and finances around. The trouble is, the girl people once called Magpie is so busy protecting everyone else she has no idea the perfect storm is heading her way, until her past and present converge with the unexpected to blow the lid off a lifetime of secrets.
My review of Jenn J McLeod’s second heartwarming novel can be found HERE at Book’d Out, but first please enjoy this guest post from Jenn…
Who Am I?
First of all, the very flexible female in this is picture is NOT me.
The characters in my books are also… NOT me.
It’s common, however, for a reader to assume an author might write themselves into their novel. Having four lead female characters in House for all Seasons I’ve been asked quite a few times: “Which one are you?”.
The thing is, I can no more write myself into a story than I can do the upside-down splits on a balance beam. I like my fiction to stay fiction and prefer to find the physical attributes and mannerisms of a character by loitering in my local shopping mall or having coffee in a cafe. (Tough research that simply must be done!) I doubt I will ever be one of my characters, although Poppy Hamilton (House for all Seasons) and I are both just shy of six feet tall.
But wait! Hold on! Rewind. I’ve just read this draft blog post aloud to a friend who knows both House for all Seasons and Simmering Season very well and it would appear I may have unconsciously modelled ‘bits’ of both books on myself after all. Apparently I have very definite opinions on certain subjects and, according to my now ex-friend – hehehe! – more than a few likes/dislikes that I share with considerable passion from time to time. I am being told right now, in fact, that some of these philosophies have trickled into my plots, finding their way into my characters attitudes!!
Okay, so I have a strong moral code and I’m passionate about certain subjects. (In Simmering Season I guess you’d say reality TV gets a flogging and young driver behaviour gets a very necessary flagging.)
In light of this discovery about myself and my stories, perhaps it’s not surprising that my latest dedication reads: “To my dad — my moral compass in life — for letting me travel my own path through life, for loving me no matter how I strayed, and for letting me make my own choices even when you didn’t understand them”.
My Simmering Season characters – especially Maggie Lindeman, Calingarry Crossing’s local publican – are forced to examine their chosen paths when a school reunion brings home more than memories, and the past and present converge with the unexpected to form the perfect storm, blowing the lid of a lifetime of small town secrets. I think readers will relate to Maggie – a woman juggling way too many things at once (like most mothers) and trying to do it all. She has a few conflicts to overcome and right now I have my own …
Preparing this blog post has sparked a friendly but lively discussion over a bottle of red and I am forced to finish by conceding…
It took someone who knows me well to point out those ‘aspects’ I’ve woven into Maggie’s story. I won’t admit to which ‘aspects’ in particular, except to say …
Those blasted blocks of wood were my nemesis at school — and also Maggie’s.
We learn this about Maggie at the school reunion. The DJ has just cranked up the volume in the auditorium, the hired mirror ball is hypnotising a few eager couples into thinking they can dance, the strobe light exaggerating the jerky dance movements of mid-life bones that haven’t boogied for years. Maggie heads outside to cool down and, ironically, the only place she can find to give her stiletto-sore soles a break is the balance beam outside the old gym apparatus shed. Not her favourite place at all.
Maggie never enjoyed sports period and she never understood how learning to balance on a lump of wood might prepare her for anything to do with life after school. It hadn’t helped her balance a career with marriage and motherhood; that was for sure.
Like Maggie, I hated P.E class. I may even have developed my storytelling talent by making up reasons why I might be excused from participating. I’m not sure which I hated more: blue gym mats for tumbling upside down, parallel bars and rings for swinging upside down, and monkey bars for hanging upside down. If we were meant to climb monkey bars would we not have all been born monkeys? (Hmm, that’s a whole other discussion, and another bottle of red, for another time, I’m told!)
Simmering Season is available to purchase from