Guest Post: Jenn J. McLeod and House of Wishes

 

 

I’m delighted to welcome Jenn J. McLeod back to Book’d Out today to celebrate the release of House of Wishes.

You can read MY REVIEW  here.

xxxxxx

A story for mothers, daughters, fathers and sons: about the choices we make, the connections that matter, the secrets we keep, and the power of a wish.

Dandelion House is ready to reveal its secrets.

Dandelion House, 1974

Two teenage girls—strangers—make a pact to keep a secret.

Calingarry Crossing, 2014

For forty years, Beth and her mum have been everything to each other, but Beth is blind-sided when her mother dies, and her last wish is to have her ashes spread in a small-town cemetery.

On the outskirts of Calingarry Crossing, when Beth comes across a place called Dandelion House Retreat, her first thought is how appealing the name sounds. With her stage career waning, and struggling to see a future without her mum, her marriage, and her child, she hopes it’s a place where she can begin to heal.

After meeting Tom, a local cattleman, Beth is intrigued by his stories of the cursed, century-old river house and its reclusive owner, Gypsy. The more Beth learns, however, the more she questions her mother’s wishes.

When meeting Beth leads Tom to uncover a disturbing connection to the old house, he must decide if the truth will help a grieving daughter or hurt her more.

Should Dandelion House keep its last, long-held secret?

xxxxxx

Jenn J. McLeod

I confess to having a little trip down the Book’d Out memory lane before choosing my guest blog topic for today. When I found this very relevant excerpt from the 2013 House for all Seasons Q&A with Shelleyrae, my 2019 blog post was sorted.

In 2013, Shelleyrae asked this question about the setting in House for all Seasons:

Are Dandelion House and Calingarry Crossing based on real locations?

My answer at the time was . . .

I wish! Isn’t Dandelion House wonderful? It’s stuck out there in the middle of nowhere. The early draft did feature the house more, until the girls’ stories took over and the purpose of the house changed. Perhaps one day I’ll write a prequel that shows more of Gypsy and her life with Willow at the house, and her connection with Eli and people in town.
Hmm . . .
(I went on to write in that 2013 post) That’s got me thinking!

I’m excited to announce I finally stopped thinking and started writing book #6, House of Wishes, which means after four novels for Simon & Schuster and a fifth for UK publishers, Head of Zeus, I’m ready to take readers back to Calingarry Crossing and to Dandelion House with a third standalone story.

Walt Disney is quoted as saying, “Always leave them wanting more.” And I know readers want more stories set in Calingarry Crossing/Dandelion House because since 2013 I’ve been getting emails from people wanting to know the location so they could visit. For House of Wishes, I’ve had a blast reliving the mid-1970’s and I hope readers who are familiar with Calingrarry Crossing enjoy going back, while those new to my books—who enjoy their contemporary fiction with a backdrop of country life—will come home to the country and Gypsy at Dandelion House.

During the early stages of story development for House of Wishes, I would jokingly refer to the storyline as a sprequel. (i.e. not really a prequel and not exactly a sequel.) By the end, I’d written a loosely linked Calingarry Crossing story that no publisher was likely to want. I’d moved away from my original publishing house and no matter how subtle the link, no publisher would be interested in a novel connected to a previously published title. (That’s despite House for all Seasons being #5 top-selling debut fiction novel in 2013.)

So, I had a choice to make. Do I drop the story and write something on-trend, or do I stay with the book of my heart—as they say in the biz—and try self-publishing? While the latter would be risky and a huge step outside my comfort zone, you can’t score goals from the sidelines. Having watched author friends self-publish for years, I was keen to see if I could do the same, knowing the experience—successful or otherwise—would allow me to provide a more balanced view of publishing pros and cons to the aspiring writers I mentor.

As always, the hardest part is deciding to move forward, and while sticking my neck out on this occasion has been both daunting and enlivening, I could not be more proud of the end result. I also hope I’ve inspired others on the sidelines to give author-publishing a try.

Although I don’t consider myself a risk-taker, the last fifteen years has seen me make a few risky choices:

• I quit a cushy corporate career to buy a café in a small seaside town, even though I’d never worked a coffee machine. I mean, how hard could it be? (Okay, pretty hard!)

• I sold everything I own (and I mean everything) to downsize into 25 foot of caravan and hit the road.

• I’ve free-camp in Wolf Creek, driven The Nullarbor and Great Australian Bight (twice), swung across the Daintree rainforest on a zip line and snorkel with turtles and sharks on the Great Barrier Reef.

But THE biggest bucket list item by far—both daunting and enlivening—was taking a story idea in my head and turning it into a book in my hands.

As Shelleyrae points out in her reviews of House for all Seasons and Simmering Season, the themes in those standalone stories see characters making peace with the past in order to move forward. In a way, I’ve had to do the same with my writing career and whenever I questioned my ability to see House of Wishes through to publication, I reminded myself the turtle only progresses when they take a risk and stick their necks out.

It’s kind of fitting, therefore, that I’ve turned Myrtle the Turtle (my mobile home) into Wild Myrtle Press to bring another standalone Calingarry Crossing story to the world. A story about mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and about the choices we make, the connections that matter, the secrets we keep, and the power of a wish.

__________________________

 

House of Wishes is available from 19th November.

For more information and special pre-release prices on both print and ebook, visit www.jennjmcleod.com

Also by Jenn J. McLeod reviewed at Book’d Out 

 

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mic
    Nov 14, 2019 @ 10:31:34

    Great Post! I can not wait to read this one, I’m already stalking the postie because I have it ordered 🙂
    And then I’ll go back to the ones I missed to get all caught up.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  2. Night Owl Book Cafe (@nightowlbcafe)
    Nov 14, 2019 @ 10:50:53

    looks really wonderful and emotional, great guest post. thank you for introducing me to this book

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  3. Trackback: Review: House of Wishes by Jenn J. McLeod | book'd out
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