I am Jenn J McLeod, Australia’s nomadic novelist. In 2014 I sold my house and everything I owned and now live full time on the road in a 25-foot caravan I call Myrtle the Turtle. We are travelling the country, looking for inspiration for more small-town stories. I started out on this publishing journey around 2008. My first published novel was House for all Seasons and it was #5 top-selling debut novel in Australia in 2013. It’s the story of four estranged friends who, after 20 years, are bequeathed an old house in the town of their youth, Calingarry Crossing. It’s a requirement that each woman returns and stay a season in the century-old Dandelion House where they each discover something about themselves and about each other. I went on to write four ‘seasons’ novel with a four-book deal with Simon & Schuster publishers: Simmering Season, Season of Shadow and Light, The Other Side of the Season.
A Place to Remember is my first romantic saga and is published worldwide through Head of Zeus (UK).
“This was the view from my writing desk most days!”- Jenn J McLeod (Source: Jenn J McLeod)
My women’s fiction novels explore relationships (friends, family, and lovers) and contemporary country life in small-town Australia. To me, every book needs to be a journey for the characters and for the reader. I love a small-town setting where everyone knows everyone and keeping a secret is almost impossible!
I also use motifs to assist with my storytelling. The dragonfly is particularly poignant in A Place to Remember and while experiment with different aspect of each novel (like structure and point of view) a reader recently pointed out that all my books have food in them (not sure what that says about me!) and the last two novels have had strong art themes. In A Place to Remember I explore acquired savant syndrome and the relationship between portrait artist and sitter.
My Book Room has 30-second book trailers and blurbs on all five books.
The seasons and the landscape inspire me. Setting is equally as important to me as my characters. I want a reader to live and breathe my characters and I want to fully immerse every reader in the setting, so they know the taste of country dust in the dry and the bitter ocean breezes of an Australian winter by the sea. I’m an Australian author unafraid to ditch the romantic, the quintessential, and the charming to celebrate our ruggedness and I like writing about rural women with strength and humor. Colleen McCullough was my introduction to Aussie authors writing in this romantic saga genre, and the harshness of the setting that is her Drogheda (The Thorn Birds) is beautifully woven throughout her storytelling. That kind of powerful storytelling is what I was aiming for with my latest release, A Place to Remember, and to achieve this I lived on a 5th generation cattle station in central Queensland while I wrote the story. For 3 months I was literally camped in the middle of a paddock — a witness to both the romanticism and harsh realities of life on the land. As a author who likes to write authentic and relatable stories, balancing both these aspects is important to me. My vision board helped me remember the setting while editing. You can check it out here.
Absolutely! I am a changed woman – not so much from writing but from the publishing process. I’ve developed a thick skin (every author needs to) and I’m more open and understanding of editorial notes these days! I’ve also had to learn to be patient. The writing/publishing business operates on their own schedule and a writer needs to wait it out when things are going slow and speed up when those impossible deadlines come in.
After five published novels, I find myself less worried about what others think. I’m happy to know with each novel I’m getting better at what I do. (The ‘best yet’ comments in reviews for each book I’ve delivered have told me that much.) Read the reviews on Goodreads.
Source: Jenn J McLeod
A Place to Remember is a romantic saga set on a fifth-generation cattle station in Queensland’s Capricornia region (where it’s said “the cowboys meet the coast”!)
The novel has not one love story – but two.
Two determined and resilient women – a mother (Ava) and daughter (Nina) — who, three decades apart, experience love and heartache on the same central Queensland cattle station.
Ava and John are two people meant to be together. Instead, the affair between the station cook (Ava) and the Tate’s young son (John, seven years Ava’s junior) is tragic, heartbreaking, and triggers three decades of secrets and lies.
Ava is now a grandmother in her fifties and a successful businesswoman who returns to Ivy-May Station to see John, only to find she’s nothing more than a stranger at his door.
When Nina, Ava’s 25 year-old daughter, finds a portrait of her mother and the note reads: “I painted you from memory” Ava is compelled to admit to the ill-fated affair thirty years before, and what happened to John.
Although a terrible tragedy lies at the heart of this story, I admit to having lots of fun writing various scenes involving Nina, whose determination to meet the man her mother has never stopped loving leads her smack bang into her own conflict with the man’s son. But while uncovering the facts, Nina finds herself falling under the spell of the Ivy-May Station and trying to decide if her own future is more important and if revealing the truth will hurt more than it heals.
A Place to Remember is published by the UK’s Head of Zeus and I had the joy of working with the same editor who has worked with Maeve Binchy over 23 books and was also responsible for the success of Colleen McCulloch’s The Thorn Birds – an Australian classic that I’m proud to say A Place to Remember has been compared to.