by Louise Forster
I love writing romance because it can take me—and a reader—anywhere, in any genre, and in all kinds of weather. I find it exciting to utilize country towns I’ve visited, with loveable characters that I’ve talked to; towns such as Mudgee, Glenn Ines and Armidale.
People in country towns have a unique dry, Aussie humour, which is a great tool to bring depth to characters. I live in a small town; it has one pub, one general store, a post office and various businesses, including a vet. The same vet performed surgery on our desperately ill dog, and he allowed us into theatre as his mate and fellow vet recited bush poetry.
For my next book, Tumble Creek (due for release on April 25, ANZAC day), I needed specifics on breaking and entering. Yep, the heroine has decided to deal with a certain problem herself. She’s up to no good…well, not really, but she felt strongly that she had to do something and didn’t know it was illegal, and she’s dating a police officer. I had to get my information correct so I rang the local police station on three separate occasions and talked to different officers each time. And each time we joked about them being interrogated. But while I questioned them, they were serious and considered their answers carefully. They never thought I was a crazy woman about to go rob someone and needed to know the legalities before I started. It being a small town, they knew where I lived. Thankfully, no paddy wagon, sirens blaring, came screaming up the drive to get me.
Country people are happy to stop and have a yarn about anything. There is a certain etiquette one must follow when you need information. Even if you’ve known them all your life you don’t run off at the mouth about your problem. With genuine interest—because they can smell a fake a mile off—you ask how they are going. How’s the family? Are the cattle prices good? Are they getting enough rain? Then gently ease into the questions you’d like to ask. People on the land enjoy a chat, and explaining what happens on the land. They love to help out with what you’re doing.
They also want to know why you’re asking. ‘Oh, you’re writing a book.’ They give you the semi-profile-squinty-eye and say, ‘Don’t put me in it luv, will ya.’ Having given them my assurances, and letting them know the town has a make-believe name, there’s a sigh of relief and genuine wishes of ‘Good luck, hope it’s a huge seller’.
‘When you’re famous, you can throw us all a barbeque…we’ll bring the beer.’
So the reason I write small-town, you could say rural, contemporary romance is all of the above. But mostly it’s the people I meet through my research; they help me learn more about the country we live in.
And there’s always something new to learn.
All is not what it seems in this sleepy, small town…