The Horseman is the latest of your contemporary rural romance novels, and you just had a big release month! Tell us about your book, and why it’s striking such a chord with readers around Australia.
Peta Woodward, a Melbourne emergency doctor is injured on a cathartic solo trek through the High Country, and is most reluctantly rescued by a local horseman, Craig Munroe. While Peta heals, she becomes involved in his small hometown, which is in the grip of a crime spree, and the dramas surrounding the return of Craig’s nemesis who wants to be the next parliamentary member for the area. The story follows Peta and Craig’s romance, unlikely friendships, the catching of the theives and a new era for the town.
Without speaking directly for readers, the feedback I have had is that readers connect with the High Country setting, the themes of natural horsemanship and the life-and-death drama through the story. For me, the story comes from a place deeply connected to my horse-filled childhood, where the horses meant more to me than people. Perhaps that shows somehow! I also think that the High Country itself resonates with many readers because narratives like The Man From Snowy River and The Silver Brumby are so in the public conscience.
Meanwhile, your SF interests are currently directed into a creative writing PhD. Given your interest in a variety of genres, what was it about SF that made you choose it for this project, and what’s exciting you right now about your PhD-in-progress?
SF is my native genre. I had a particular project in mind for the PhD (a time-travel story with alternate history, Edison vs Tesla, and a die-hard style building lock-down). I also wanted to study craft techniques in some of my favourite sci-fi thrillers for the exegetical component, so the choice was easy. SF gives you the ultimate flexibility to play with the real world, to blend it and reshape it, and make metaphors and references and be unapologetic. Right now I’m most excited by being able to write action taking place in an altered Victorian setting, and pulling apart works by Michael Crichton, Neal Stephenson and Andy Weir as to how they handle their technical world-building. It’s really challenging, but I’m determined to come out the other side a better writer and with a good story.