Talented Australian author Kaye Dobbie is finding her feet as a published author using her own name and her second Kaye Dobbie novel has just released with Harlequin. We were lucky enough to be involved in the blog tour for the release, today we have an interview with Kaye where we learn a little more about her career and the new book.
Hi Kaye and welcome to Beauty and Lace, thanks for talking to us.
What is the first thing you remember writing?
Thank you for inviting me to Beauty and Lace!
Well, we’re going back a while, but when I was a child I remember reading Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott, and in the book one of her characters, Amy March, writes a will. So I wrote a will. I left various favourite things to my three brothers, and they weren’t impressed because most of those favourite things were dolls.
Can you tell us a little about your journey to publication?
My first published stories were in the Australian Women’s Weekly, and my first book was published by Mills & Boon (Harlequin), in London. I was lucky. I only had a few rejections. But I think being rejected, although it hurt, actually taught me to be a better writer. After my five Mills & Boon books, I wrote for various Australian publishers, and then made my move to Avon in the USA. The years at Avon were a real learning curve for me, but again I feel I gained an awful lot and I’m a better writer for it.
Now I’m with Harlequin Mira, so I suppose in a way I’ve come full circle.
The latest release is Sweet Wattle Creek, can you tell us about the book?
Sweet Wattle Creek is a small town in Northern Victoria, and the book has two main time frames. In 1986 I tell the story of Sophie and her son Dillon, who are hiding out in the town from a particularly traumatic situation. Sophie is the local reporter, and involved in the upcoming 100 year celebrations. She finds a wedding dress on the front steps of the newspaper office and so begins her search to discover the story of its owner, Belle. In 1931 Belle has just arrived in Sweet Wattle Creek to claim her inheritance, The Grand Hotel. She doesn’t plan to stay, she just wants to understand about her past, but gradually the town and its people claim her.
What inspired the story?
I’m not sure it was any one thing. I started off with Belle arriving on the train, and then the other characters came along, and I remembered a few family stories I had heard–such as Sir Charles Kingsford Smith travelling around Australia with his aeroplane shows. The characters began to ‘talk’ to me, and once that happened I knew I had a book.
Does the hotel actually exist?
Only in my imagination, but it’s modelled on lots of old hotels I’ve seen over the years.
Can you tell us a little about your writing process?
It’s slightly chaotic. I’ve tried all of those tips that say you must plot out the story first, and write to a schedule, but I struggle. I find I have to go through certain phases to write a book, which include long periods when you might think I’m doing nothing, but actually I’m mulling. And then when I start the book I have to do quite a few drafts before I’m happy, and often the last draft bears little resemblance to the first. I’m a bit of a perfectionist too, so when I start taking commas out and putting them back in again, then I know I’m done.
You read widely across genres, what leads you to write romance?
I’m a terrible softy who loves a happy ending! And I always think a story is better for a romance, even a small one, because who doesn’t enjoy reading about falling in love?
Over the years you have written under different names, can you tell us why you chose pseudonyms?
I’m a very private person, and at first I just felt more comfortable writing under a pseudonym. Then as I changed styles the publisher preferred I use another name, so as not to confuse my readers. But it can be confusing for me when it comes to book signing. I have to take a moment to remember who I am.
Are you working on anything new you can tell us about?
I’m currently working on my third book for Mira, and after a couple of false starts all seems well. This is a book set in the 1930s and the 1990s, and there’s possibly a little bit more action in it than the last one. But all of my books are character driven, and once I find the voices of my characters they tend to do the work for me.
What are you reading at the moment?
I’ve just finished reading Tapestry by Fiona McIntosh, and Northern Heat by Helene Young, and now I’ve picked up the latest Val McDermid, so I do like to mix it up.
Which childhood book or author was your favourite and has stayed with you?
When I was a bit older I loved Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters and Georgette Heyer–real classics. But I think my favourite book as a younger child was Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. I loved the idea of the little girl finding herself in unfamiliar places and struggling to survive. In my own way, I think I’m still rewriting that story.
Thanks for your time Kaye, and good luck with the rest of the tour and the release of Sweet Wattle Creek.
I devour books, vampires and supernatural creatures are my genre of choice but over the past couple of years, I have broadened my horizons considerably. In a nutshell – I love to write! I love interacting with a diverse range of artists to bring you interviews. Perhaps we were perfect before – I LOVE WORDS!