Karlene blakemore-mowle is a macksville author who has been writing for American publishers and had three titles published Last year, before securing a contract with Allen & Unwin. Her newest novel, north star, is due to be released in april …
What is your background as a writer?
I guess the only background I’ve had as a writer, was that I was always an avid reader. Writing and reading tend to go hand in hand for me. I do both to excess! For as long as I can remember I’ve written stories, and it’s been a dream come true to finally become published.
I belong to a wonderful writing group called the Four Points Author Network. We’re lucky to have the amazing Bronwyn Parry, an award winning author who lives in Armidale, as well as Fiona McArthur, who’s written over twenty medical romances for Mills and Boon in our group.
The compass is our logo, because we travel from all points of it to meet up each month. Others come from as far away as Johns River, Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour and Armidale. I’m very lucky to have such a great group of writers to draw inspiration from.
Tell us about your style of writing.
My latest books are classed as Rural Lit. If you’ve heard of Chick Lit and Hen Lit, you’ll know what I’m talking about – but if all that’s too confusing, I just write stories set in rural Australia. I fell in love with The Thorn Birds, when I was young, loving the strong Australian characters, plenty of romance, mixed in with a bit of drama and suspense.
More recently, McLeod’s Daughters and the wonderful Rachel Ward’s Rain Shadow series on the ABC are the kind of sassy characters and themes that are similar to the style I like to write. I base a lot of my stories in small rural towns, because these are the places where I’ve grown up and still live in today.
You’ve just secured a publishing deal with Allen & Unwin and will be releasing your new book North Star in April. Tell us about this process and the book itself.
I was extremely lucky to get my book in front of an editor at Allen & Unwin, as most Australian publishing houses require you to have an agent before they accept your submissions. I’d heard about a Friday pitch session Allen & Unwin did once a week and decided to send them in the first chapter of North Star. They emailed me and asked to see the full manuscript, and within a few weeks I was offered a contract for the book. Of course, this all sounds very calm and professional – but the day I was told they’d accepted it, I was a blubbering mess!
I’m so lucky to be working with such talented people at A&U. North Star has become a fantastic story since working through the editing process. It was almost as though the book came to life and kept wanting me to tell more of the story, so a whole new sub plot developed as a result while I was editing. It still amazes me how lifelike the characters have become.
The story revolves around Kate, a thirty- something-year-old recently divorced mother of two children who is forced to return to her home town after running away when she was fifteen years old.
I guess, really, it’s a book about relationships. It deals with a lot of mother /daughter issues – those dreaded teenage years! Relationships with kids after a divorce and how it affects the whole family unit during and after the process. But there’s also a lighter side to it, with a new romance for Kate and re-establishing her childhood friendship with Jenny, her next door neighbour, whom I just loved writing – we all need a best friend like Jenny in our lives!
Here’s the official blurb: After a bitter divorce, Kate and her battle-scarred kids escape to the vast but rundown property of North Star. It doesn’t take long for her to realise that she’s going to need every ounce of determination to restore the homestead to its former glory and fulfill her dream of turning it into a bush retreat. Can Kate face her demons and put her past to rest to find happiness and her true destiny?
What are some of the other books you’ve had published?
I started out writing romantic suspense, which are books with a bit of action as well as romance, and I really enjoy writing this genre. I have three romantic suspense currently published with American publishers.
Fallout is set in Townsville and is the story of Tully Chambers, a Detective on the run from the mob.
Operation Summer Storm finds nurse Summer Sheldon hiring a bunch of mercenaries to rescue her photo journalist sister from a hostage camp in Cambodia.
And my latest book, yet to be released, is the sequel to Summer Storm titled, Operation Willow Quest, which is the Story of Willow Sheldon, the journalist from the previous book, who gets into trouble while tracking down an arms dealer in South America.
I’ve also got another rural fiction title, The Cattleman’s Runaway Bride, which is set in Armidale and tells Rilee’s story as she sets about buying back her family farm, sold out from under them years before.
Book shops can order in these titles if you can’t find them.
What keeps you motivated?
My love of writing. There’s always so many stories buzzing around my head; I struggle to keep up with them all!
What else can we expect to see from you this year?
I’ve been given the go ahead for a second Allen & Unwin book, which will go through the editing stage later this year, and I’ve got a third book that I’m still writing – so there’s more to come.
Where can people find your books locally?
Pages book store in Park Beach Plaza have been really supportive of my previous titles and in Macksville, the wonderful girls at The Hilltop Movie Castle have my books for sale – and I have to give them a big thank you for all the support they’ve given me over the last year. They’ve hosted my first two book launches and they make fantastic coffee in their café too, just quietly!
North Star will be available in all good book stores, Big W, Kmart and Target nationally.
Thank you Karlene.