This month one of our top book club reads is Stormbird by, Karen Turner.
Karen took some time out to chat with Beauty and Lace. Read on to learn more about her:
Thank you Karen for this opportunity to chat with you.
Thanks for inviting me. I love a good chat!
As you know, some of our Beauty and Lace Book Club members are currently reading and reviewing your latest book, Stormbird. Our members always like to know a little bit more about the authors whose books they are reading, so can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hmm where to start? Well, I was born in Australia. My mother was English and my father was Italian. I feel very at home in both countries and have lived in both, as well, I’m definitely an Aussie at heart.
I’ve always adored books and was an avid reader from a young age. I love coffee, chocolate and running. I’m passionate about animals and have been a strict vegetarian for over 30 years.
I am married to Stuart, a wonderful and very supportive man – we recently celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. We live in regional Victoria with two rescue cats.
I enjoy baking bread and have a sour dough starter that is about five years old. We never buy bread, I make all our bread by hand. I also love to bake cakes and biscuits but Stuart complains that he eats too much and has to exercise more to burn it off.
My favourite day would be spent in a sunny garden filled with birds and bees, reading a good book and enjoying a glass of Prosecco.
Stormbird is the third book in the Broughton Hall series, but I understand it is very different to the first two books.
Long before I started writing the trilogy, I knew the third would be very different. The first two books, Torn and Inviolate, are set during the Regency period (early 19th century) while Stormbird was set during World War 2. What connects them is that they’re all set in the same house.
In the earlier two books, the house is in its heyday, a lovely estate with land and tenants. This was a time when correct etiquette was paramount and young ladies were bound by strict social morays. My character, Alexandra, discovers that unlike her brothers, she has limited options in life. On top of this, she falls in love with a very inappropriate man, and her mother contracts her to marry a man she detests. But she is a strong-willed young lady, determined to walk her own path. How does that work out for her? I’m not telling – you’ll have to read it!
The third book, Stormbird, is set in 1941. Jessica, a young war widow is raising her children alone and living in the same house, which is now in disrepair with much of its land sold.When Jessica discovers a journal written by Alexandra (from the first books) she realises that while they are two very different women, and over a century separates them, they faced similar difficulties and societal restrictions that they struggle to overcome. They meet through Alexandra’s journal, and when Jessica is faced with an unimaginable dilemma, she finds comfort in Alexandra’s messages from the past.
I had the idea for the full story years before I felt brave enough to write it, and I’ve been quite surprised (and a little overwhelmed) by how much readers have loved it!
Are you a dog or cat person?
When I have a dog, I’m a dog person. When I have a cat, I’m a cat person. The two cats I currently have are my babies. As I work from home, they’re always with me – I call them my receptionist and secretary, but they do a lot of sleeping on the job!
When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be an author. As a child, I used to write my own little storybooks. I wrote stories about my brother, my pets, my school friends, etc. I would illustrate them (very badly), staple them together and put them on the book shelf in my room. I had quite a library of them!
Do you have a dedicated writing space, and what time of day do you prefer to write?
I have an office at home that looks out onto a garden with wonderful native animals and birds; parrots, honey-eaters, ducks. There’s a mob of kangaroos that hang out here and I have the occasional snake and echidna too! I keep water bowls, and native plants for the birds to eat – the roos keep the lawn mowed.
There’s no particular time of day for me to write, but I do need to make sure I have no chores around the house or any other distractions. I put on music, make a cup of coffee and get stuck in.
When I’m at the pointy end of writing a manuscript, that is, I’m working through a final draft before sending it off to my editor, I rent an apartment in Rome and move over to Italy on my own for a few months. I enjoy this because it frees me from daily responsibilities, and enables me to really immerse myself in the book to get it finished. A couple of days a week I volunteer at an animal shelter in Rome – it gets me away from my desk and I feel I’m giving something back to a city that I love so much.
I notice that Stormbird was originally published in 2018 by Fisher King Publishing, but recently republished by yourself, why was that?
Fisher King Publishing produced a beautiful book and we had a terrific working relationship. They are based in Yorkshire, England, near to where my books are set.
It’s important that a publishing company focus their attentions on the latest releases. After Stormbird had been in stores for a couple of years, they understandably had more pressing priorities.
The problem for me was that I had loads of ideas for marketing and promotion, which was easy as Stormbird was my only concern. For Fisher King, Stormbird was one of many books they were responsible for.
Meanwhile, I have my own media team here in Australia. We had been successfully marketing my other books, Torn and Inviolate for a number of years so I wondered if we could take over the marketing for Stormbird too.
When I approached Fisher King and requested they release me from my contract, they graciously agreed. The rest is history!
What’s your favourite ice cream?
There’s an amazing gelateria near where I stay in Rome. They make an incredible chili-chocolate ice-cream that I’m completely addicted to. I love it so much that I bought an ice cream churn and make my own version at home. It’s not as good though!
What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
Firstly, just get started. Don’t worry about the quality of your writing – no first draft is perfect. Just write and worry about polishing it later.
Secondly, regardless of how well you write, you should always engage a professional editor. All writers make mistakes; an editor will help with structure and continuity along with the usual typos and grammatical errors. If you’re serious about your writing, respect your future readers and your work enough to make it the best it can be!
Are you currently working on a new book? Can you tell us a little bit about it?
Yes! I’m very excited because I’m working on a book set in the Victorian Goldfields. It’s the first book I’ve set in Australia so my research is taking me to some entirely new places.
The book is going to tell the story of a woman on the Ballarat gold fields whose husband disappears leaving her to raise their daughter alone in a very male-dominated world. A lot has been written about this period in our history, but generally from a man’s point of view. I was very interested in the difficulties faced by women during this time, particularly women alone; how they lived, survived and raised their children. There was no welfare or support as we know it today, so my character must call on her wits and courage to survive.
Where can our readers follow you, and purchase your books?
Readers can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, or my website. I have a newsletter too that can be subscribed to via my website. Subscribers will receive a monthly update from me, along with subscriber-exclusive offers and giveaways.
Thank you once again for taking the time to chat with us.
Thank you – it’s been a pleasure!
Want 20% off Stormbird by Karen Turner? Use the code Beauty&Lace at www.karenturner.com.au/Books
I love to read, for many years my passion has been science fantasy but recently I’ve discovered many fabulous Australian women authors and am devouring all the new genres I am being exposed to.
In addition to reading and reviewing books I enjoy photography, spending time with my husband, daughter, grandson, 2 dogs and a cat and am an aspiring author.