I am thrilled to welcome Cathryn Hein back to Book’d Out today to celebrate the release of her fourth rural romance novel, Rocking Horse Hill. Cathryn’s first three novels, Promises, Heart of the Valley and Heartland were finalists in the 2011, 2012 and 2013 Australian Romance Readers Awards. In September she will release The French Prize, her first romantic adventure story.
Cathryn Hein was born in South Australia’s rural south-east. With three generations of jockeys in the family it was little wonder she grew up horse mad, finally obtaining her first horse at age 10. So began years of pony club, eventing, dressage and showjumping until university beckoned.
Armed with a shiny Bachelor of Applied Science (Agriculture) from Roseworthy College she moved to Melbourne and later Newcastle, working in the agricultural and turf seeds industry. Her partner’s posting to France took Cathryn overseas for three years in Provence where she finally gave in to her life-long desire to write. Her short fiction has been recognised in numerous contests, and published in Woman’s Day.
Cathryn currently lives at the base of the Blue Mountains in Sydney’s far west with her partner of many years, Jim. When she’s not writing, she plays golf (ineptly), cooks (well), and in football season barracks (rowdily) for her beloved Sydney Swans AFL team.
About Rocking Horse Hill
Who do you trust when a stranger threatens to tear your family apart?
Ever since she was a little girl, Emily Wallace-Jones has loved Rocking Horse Hill. The beautiful family property is steeped in history. Everything important in Em’s life has happened there. And even though Em’s brother Digby has inherited the property, he has promised Em it will be her home for as long as she wishes.
When Digby falls in love with sweet Felicity Townsend, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, Em worries about the future. But she is determined not to treat Felicity with the same teenage snobbery that tore apart her relationship with her first love, Josh Sinclair. A man who has now sauntered sexily back into Em’s life and given her a chance for redemption.
But as Felicity settles in, the once tightly knitted Wallace-Jones family begins to fray. Suspicions are raised, Josh voices his distrust, and even Em’s closest friends question where Felicity’s motives lie. Conflicted but determined to make up for the damage caused by her past prejudices, Em sides with her brother and his fiancée until a near tragedy sets in motion a chain of events that will change the family forever.
My review of this delightful rural romance will appear later today, in the meantime please read on to learn more about Rocking Horse Hill and Cathryn Hein.
Q: What five words would you choose to describe Rocking Horse Hill?
Cathryn: Dramatic, sexy, atmospheric, emotional, donkeyed!
Q:What was the first element of inspiration for the story of Rocking Horse Hill?
Cathryn: I was going to say Mt Schank, an extinct volcano south of my home town of Mount Gambier in South Australia. But the truth is I was riding my exercise bike and thinking about a newspaper article I’d read the day before, about women who fall in love with long-term jail inmates. One thing led to another and next minute I was off the bike and scribbling down notes. The story is nothing about that, by the way. That just triggered it all off!
Q: What is your favourite scene in the novel?
Cathryn: I can’t tell you! It’s such a pivotal scene that I can’t even give a hint because it will spoil the story. What I can reveal is that I wrote it fast and breathlessly.
But I do have another that I can talk about. There’s a scene at Camrick, the magnificent Wallace-Jones town mansion, where Em walks Josh to his car. As she swings past to leave, he reaches out and grabs her hand. What she says in response changes things between them. It’s lovely. Makes me sigh just thinking about it.
This is the lead up…
The wind had died down, leaving a night lit by Camrick’s warm glow. The gravel of the drive crunched underfoot, punctuating their lack of talk.
He leaned against the back of his ute and crossed his arms. ‘Nice evening.’
‘Do you mind that I came?’
‘No, not at all.’
‘Then you’re glad?’
She squinted at the sky. ‘Digby would have appreciated it.’
‘I didn’t ask about Dig, Em. I asked about you.’
Q: What is on all those post it notes?
Cathryn: Ooh, all sorts of things! Anything from writing reminders, character notes and the like – they tend to hang off the whiteboards on my left…
While on the right, under the window sill, I keep promo ideas and website, computery type things.
As you can see, I’m a bit of a post-it lover. They’re just so handy!
Q: I know you are a bit of a foodie, as evidenced by your regular blog feature Friday Feast, what recipe would you pair with Rocking Horse Hill?
Cathryn: Moelleux au chocolat! Or chocolate fondant. Em serves it to Josh the first night he comes for dinner. Besides being delicious, it’s a perfect metaphor for the way they feel about one another: set on the outside but gooey on the inside!
I’ll be sharing the recipe on Friday Feast this week, so keep your eyes out for that one.
Q: What are you working on now, or what can we expect next?
Cathryn: Right now I’m working on the second draft of The Falls, my 2015 rural romance. The heroine of that one is Teagan, one of Em’s, from Rocking Horse Hill, best friends. As for my next release, that’s a romantic adventure called The French Prize. It’s out in September and I can’t wait. I’m so excited about this book! There’s a romantic legend, an ancient sword, a sexy French hero, a clever and gutsy Australian heroine, and a cruel and dangerous enemy. It’s an adventure-filled page-turner.
Q: Can you please share three of your favourite novels by Australian women writers?
This is really hard because I’ve read some truly incredible books by Australian women, across all sorts of genres. It pains me to have to choose because I want to include them all, and because what comes to mind as a favourite right now might be surpassed by another tomorrow. It depends on my mood!
But here goes…
The First Man in Rome by Colleen McCullough. Her Masters of Rome series is incredible. I’ve read The First Man in Rome maybe 6 times and it’s a monster-sized book. Only packing tape keeps my copy held together now. I’m just fascinated by the era.
The Rain Queen by Katherine Scholes. Oh, this book! Romantic and sweeping and an amazing story. I read The Hunter’s Wife before I read this and thought that nothing could top that, but The Rain Queen did. I’m a sucker for African stories though. It’s another big fat book too. I’m reading Scholes’s latest, The Perfect Wife, at the moment.
The Shifting Fog by Kate Morton. Or anything else by her. She writes so beautifully! The stories are completely compelling with their mystery and atmosphere. They have that wonderful Gothic feel that I adore. I’ve loved all her books. The opening of The Distant Hours? Magical!
Q: What is your preference?
Coffee/Tea or other?
Both! I have a cup of Irish Breakfast tea first thing then swap to rather strong lattes for the rest of the morning. Although I usually only have a couple a day. On the odd occasion I have a post lunch or evening coffee it’s straight espresso.
Beach/Pool or River?
Pool. You don’t usually find sharks in them.
Slacks/Jeans or Leggings?
Butterfly/Tiger or Giraffe?
Giraffe, because I’m height challenged!
Swings/Slide or Roundabout?
Swings. Wheee! That swooping feeling? It reminds me of teenage love. One glance, one word, one breath taken in the same room as your crush and it felt as though your entire innards were about to sweep out of your body and take flight. Completely agonising, of course.
Rocking Horse Hill is available to purchase from