Author Spotlight & Giveaway! Mandy Magro

1. Welcome Mandy! Congratulations on the release of your first book, Rosalee Station. Can you tell us a little about this book?

Thanks, it’s very exciting knowing my first novel is now on the shelves!

Rosalee Station is about a feisty but loveable woman, Sarah Clarke, and her amazing journey from her family’s fruit farm in Mareeba to the wide open spaces of a cattle station in the heart of Australia. Here, in the outback, she discovers a secret that tears her world apart. Somehow, she finds the strength to stay on at Rosalee Station and the choice to do so will change the course of her life forever. From the thrill of a wild bush rodeo to falling head over heels in love with a sexy cowboy, this novel takes you to places that will sometimes warm your heart and at other times make you laugh out loud. 

2. Do you follow a regular writing schedule? What is a typical day like for you?

My mornings are normally spent running around like a chook with its head cut off. I’m a clean freak so I like to get my home in ship shape, get my little girl settled with her breakfast, and then I sit down and check my emails with a cup of strong tea and a few pieces of toast. After that it’s off outside to let my 2 Staffies out of their kennel, release the chooks from the hen house and do any odd jobs that need completing around the farm. I try and fit in a run on my treadmill but sometimes, most of the time, this doesn’t happen, well like I said I try! One thing I certainly do fit in every day is my half hour meditation, it is pure bliss. I normally only write on Wednesdays and Fridays, when my darling little girl is in day care, as I need the house to be absolutely silent when I write. I look forward to those days, where I can lock myself in my make-shift office and delve into the world of my characters.

3. How long did it take you to write your first novel?

Rosalee Station took me about 6 months to write. I had so many ideas for the storyline that once I started typing I found it hard to stop.

4. Did you always want to become a writer?

 I wish I could answer yes to that question but to be honest I had only seriously considered writing a novel the day I sat down to write Rosalee Station.  I’d had fleeting moments before this where I day dreamed about writing but never really took much notice of the little nudges that my instincts were giving me. What was the deciding factor was the day I turned the last page of Fiona Palmer’s novel, Family Farm, and I realised with despair that I had no more rural novels left to read, I had read them all! Then I had a crazy thought, maybe I could write one myself, especially after all the exciting adventures I have experienced in the outback. So, that is what I did and here I am today, ecstatic that my novel has been published by Penguin.

 

5. Where did you get the inspiration for your first novel, and how do you come up with new ideas for subsequent novels?

The inspiration behind Rosalee Station comes from my personal experiences as a station cook, fruit farmer, helping with the bulls behind the chutes at rodeos and generally living in the country. Sarah, the main character, is a heck of a lot like me, even down to the curly blonde hair. I felt powerfully driven to tell a story about the outback that I had lived and breathed myself. Of course there is a large amount of fiction in the novel but the heart and soul, the essence of the smells, sights and sounds emerged from deep within me and the passion that I have for the Australian outback, I feel, shows through in my writing. As for subsequent novels, I did worry about not being able to come up with ideas as I was editing Rosalee Station, but they did and too many all at once, I found I couldn’t write them down fast enough and had stick it notes everywhere.  I cannot say I really suffer with writer’s block too often, for this I am blessed. I have names and storylines plotted out for another 2 books after Melaleuca Homestead.

6. How important is the setting in your novels, do you find it is like a character in itself?

The setting is extremely important to me. It creates the landscape from where my stories are told and allows the reader to truly get a feel for the characters and their lives. I like to give as much detail as I can, really paint a picture of the surroundings, so the reader feels as though they too are wearing an Akubra, pulling on their boots and mustering wayward cattle.

7. Where do you write, what does your writing space look like?

Well, at the moment my office is in the corner of my bedroom, meh!  I have a book of Australian Slang at the ready for when I am writing, a little ceramic pot full of pens (and everything else you could imagine!), a black and white photo of my Mum and Dad’s wedding day and paperwork neatly stacked into a filing draw on top of the desk which includes ideas and drafts for future books. Drew, Chloe and I live in a little 2 bedroom cottage so until we build our house there is limited room for the computer. When I feel house-bound I will grab the lap top and toddle off outside under a tree to do some writing which can be very inspiring, if I can dodge the blowflies! I dream about the day I’ll have an office with plush carpet underfoot, a whole wall devoted to being a bookshelf and a big leather chair that I can sit comfortably in while I type, oh, and of course a view out of a big bay window of horses and cattle.

8. Apart from writing, what are your hobbies and interests?

 I love to cook, and eat! I really adore it when I get to go to a fresh fruit and vegetable market and then come home with all my goodies and cook a superb meal. I find it relaxing and satisfying.Readingis also high on my list of interests and when I’m not writing I enjoy sticking my nose into a book and letting another author take me into their world, its wonderful!  I also enjoy having days out down in the “big smoke” (Cairns) where I can visit the beach, go to the movies, do some shopping and catch up with family and friends over a yummy vanilla latte.

9. Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring writers out there?

Don’t ever give up on your dream of writing. Remember, if you don’t risk anything, you risk even more. Breathe your writing, live it, love it. Write as much and as often as you can, even if it feels like you are babbling at the time. It will put your creative ideas in motion. This in turn will drive you to write more, to feel the passion of your unique craft. Be true, write about things that you have experienced and really mean something to you as this will be what appeals to your readers. Reach out to other authors, most of them will be happy to answer any questions you have. Surf the net; it will connect you with people who will support you, especially for those of us in remote areas. Read read read! Others writer’s works will inspire you. Never give up, be brave, be driven, be fearless, believe in yourself-you can do it!

10. If you could go anywhere, be anyone, do anything for 24 hours, what would it be?

Firstly, I would love to be a world class bull rider and feel what it’s like to make the 8 seconds on a one tonne bucking bull. It would be a massive adrenaline rush! Secondly, I would love to go to an enchanted tropicalIsland, get a massage, pull up a sunlounge and read a book whilst sipping on exotic cocktails all day long. Can I be cheeky and ask for more than 24 hours!

11. What’s the next project you’re working on, and how many other manuscripts do you have in the pipeline?

My second novel, Jacaranda, is in the hands of my wonderful publisher at Penguin, awaiting editing. At the moment I am in the process of writing my third novel, Melaleuca Homestead. It’s a story of hope, devastation, loss, triumph, the will to live and the power of love carrying you through a time in your life when you didn’t think you were going to make it. All set in the wonderful Australian countryside of course! I have ideas for my next two novels running amok in my mind so there are still plenty more stories to be told.

12. Where can readers find out more about you and your books?

At my website, http://mandymagro.com

**To WIN a signed copy of Mandy’s novel Rosalee Station, please answer this question by commenting below: ‘What do you like about books set in rural Australia?’

*Competition closes Monday 6th June.

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37 Comments

  1. Congrats on your debut novel, Mandy!

    I’m looking forward to reading about rural life to the west of Cairns – love heading out to Dimbulah and Chillagoe.

    Eight seconds on one tonne of bucking bull sounds like an exhilarating ride! Have to admit your second choice of 24 hrs of bliss sounds more relaxing 🙂

    Reply
    • Thanks Helene. You are so supportive of the writing community and I really admire you for that, and your brilliant writing of course! 🙂

      Reply
  2. Hi Mandy
    Loved your website and enjoyed the excerpt from Rosalee Station. Can’t wait to read the rest. I really love your use of Australian slang! We are gradually losing our Australiah bush identity so keep that dictionaryof slang next to your desk! Congratulations on your first book.
    Annie

    Reply
    • Hi Annie, I am so proud of our Aussie lingo, much like yourself! I promise to keep it alive in my writing. Thanks for your message of congratulations and I really hope you enjoy the novel when you get to read it. And in true Aussie spirit…cheers mate!

      Reply
  3. Kylie Griffin

     /  May 30, 2011

    Hi Rosalee,

    You struck a real chord with me talking about the outback and living on a station. I’ve lived in rural Australia all my life and love the everything about it – the bush, the plains, the mountains, the scrub, the animals and nature’s weather. There’s a lot of pleasure to be had from watching a storm roll over the hills and break across the plains.

    I grew up on a small cattle farm (where I spent most of my time helping dad fence, groom/work stud cattle & make silage), helped at a dairy, gave roust-abouting on a sheep station a go and I’ve farm-sat for friends during calving time (pulled my first calve there).

    So, the idea of picking up a book with a country setting makes me feel like I’ve gone home. A real nice feeling. 🙂

    Reply
    • Hi Kylie, you have a beautiful setting where you live by the sounds of it and I love the fact you see so much beauty in the outback.Thanks for taking the time to message me. 🙂

      Reply
    • Kylie Griffin

       /  May 31, 2011

      Mandy,

      My deepest apologies for calling you by the wrong name (head smack!) – my only excuse – I have a brain like a sieve at the moment, on deadline. Rosalee is a lovely name though! LOL 😀

      Reply
  4. Congrats on th release of Rosalee Station Mandy. Can’t wait to read it. I cannot believe you can have kids, be a writer and a clean freak – you are a true inspiration!

    Reply
    • Hi Rachael, thanks! Sometimes I wonder how I find the time to do it all but when you have a passion for something you make the time! 🙂

      Reply
  5. Hi Mandy,
    Lovely interview. I spent many years on the edge of the outback on a sheep and cattle station. Reading a novel set in the rural areas of Australia remind me what tough, gusty, fairdinkum Aussies are all about. I love their spirit, their courage and strength. It takes a special person to live and succeed in the outback.
    All the best,
    Suzanne 🙂

    Reply
  6. Fiona Palmer

     /  May 30, 2011

    Great interview Mandy. So excited that your book is finally out there. Like you say, there is just not enough rural books to feed our need lol. I love having a clean house…but now starting to realise I just can’t do it all…well I could if I took my head out of a book and cleaned instead 🙂 Can’t wait to come and visit Cairns and hopefully catch up with you!

    Reply
    • Hi Fee! Yeah I hope all our dates match up so we can catch up whilst you are over this way! Shame you are not here on the 10th of September as there is a wonderful Book fair in Yungaburra, not far from here, that about 5000 people are expected to attend. I am going to have a stand there and I cannot wait! I met the lady that runs it on Saturday night at the launch and she is lovey. She was thrilled to hear I am mates with you and asked me to tell you that she would love you to be a part of the fair one year when you can make it over. Big hugs to you!

      Reply
  7. Suz Hamilton

     /  May 30, 2011

    What a beautiful interview. Thank you, Mandy for sharing your journey. The best thing I enjoy about books set in rural Australia, is the depection of a life so different from urban life, the hardships people suffer, mainly in silence (unless the media gets hold of it) and lastly, it takes me back to when I lived in outback Queensland and in the Northern Territory. I’ve always felt the true heart of our great country lies in the red land surrounding Uluru. Hope your book goes well for you.

    Reply
    • Hi Suz, what a lovely response! Thank you for the snippet into your thoughts on the outback and what you love about it. 🙂

      Reply
  8. Hey Mandy, great interview!

    My father’s first job was at a rodeo, plus my uncle (my dad’s brother), was a horse handler and groomer.

    Although mostly bought up in the city, I was born in the country, and spent a lot of my childhood visiting family there.

    I simply adore outback stories, and I’m sure my early life has influenced that.

    I have a lot of respect for those who live in the outback and on stations, and can only imagine the hard work and personal sacrifices they make.

    Reply
    • Hi Cheryl,
      Thanks you for your lovely and inspirational message. How exciting that your dad’s first job was at a rodeo. 🙂

      Reply
  9. Louise Reynolds

     /  May 30, 2011

    Hi Mandy,
    I enjoyed your post and finding out more about you. We drove through Mareeba just last weekend. We were in Cairns for a conference and hired a car to visit Daintree then came back down through Mareeba. Strange how I’d never heard of it before and all of a sudden twice in one week.
    As to your question, I’m totally an urban animal, living in the inner suburbs of Melbourne but I think I’ve got that same yearning many of us have for the bush and outback. Maybe it’s something in our national psyche? And a steady diet of Lawson, Banjo and CJ Dennis as school children just reinforces that. We love to camp in the outback and get away at least once a year. Big skies, big spaces, wide horizons. What’s not to love. All the best with your book and sorry for the long post. Got carried away 🙂

    Reply
    • Hi Louise, I love your long post, thank you!

      How wonderful that you get away to the country every year to indulge in the magic that it has to offer, good on you! 🙂

      Reply
  10. Vicki Lee

     /  May 30, 2011

    Congratulations Mandy,
    I love rural life so much – the family quit the inner city over a decade ago to be out here full time, instead of just the holidays. While the concrete jungle (city) has its attractions, it lacks the sense of community you find in smaller country towns. The air is cleaner, no industrial noise, plenty of animals and wilderness… What’s not to like about rural locations?
    Okay- there are raging bushfires but you have all year to plan for that

    Reply
    • HI Vicki,

      Thanks! Love your post, it shows your passion for the outback. I totally agree with you, there is so much to love about rural locations! 🙂

      Reply
  11. Noreen

     /  May 30, 2011

    Congrats on the sale of your first novel. Looking forward to reading it. I worked in the outback as a remote area nurse and attended a number of rodeos in my day. My kids all loved the movie ‘8 seconds’. Used to help with the mustering, branding etc when we had our own cattle. Love the smell of the bush, listening to the crows and watching the sun shimmer in a haze on a very hot day.

    Reply
    • Hi Noreen, what a beautiful post! Thank you for the insight
      into the things you love about the outack.I love the movie “8 seconds” also. A brilliant film. 🙂

      Reply
  12. I love the smell and light, the hard outback stories that tell it like it really is, the characters who are unspoilt.
    It’s a lovely genre.
    Cathleen Ross

    Reply
  13. kees2create

     /  May 30, 2011

    Hi Mandy,

    Congratulations! Stories about the Outback are what lured me to Australian shores. My first purchase was a book of Aussie slang 🙂 There is nothing to beat the Aussie spirit of survival in one of the toughest of climates in the world. Not to mention the adventure and of course, one’s very own Outback hero. It’s on my to-read list …

    Reply
    • Hi. I really enjoyed reading your post, thanks! It is wonderful to hear that outback stories are what lured you to our shores, fantastic! 🙂

      Reply
  14. So many great comments, thanks everyone! The comp isn’t closed until Monday 6th June, so share this post with your friends and encourage them to enter!
    I can’t enter, but I will say that what I like about rural books is that they have a sort of raw, ‘realness’ about them – nature doing it’s thing, and the people that live and share in this amazing landscape. I like the simple beauty of it all.
    🙂

    Reply
  15. Raven

     /  June 1, 2011

    The best thing about stories set in the outback is that there is less superficiality for the characters to hide behind. They are raw and real!
    Ps: Mandy, I work in a bookstore and, surprise surprise, on the very same morning that I read this interview, I walked into the store and yours was the first book I laid eyes upon! The cover is gorgeous and I can’t wait to read it.

    Reply
    • It’s always wonderful to hear from people saying that they cannot wait to read Rosalee Station. It gives me a warm fuzzy feeling of pure happiness!I must admit I reckon the cover is gorgeous because the man is just a hunk! 🙂

      Reply
  16. Cyndie

     /  June 3, 2011

    It makes me travel to the outback! I don’t know rural Australia that much, but I would love to have the opportunity to check it out myself.

    Reply
    • Mandy Magro

       /  June 4, 2011

      Hi Cyndie, Cheers for your post. Lovely to hear it makes you want to travel to the outback!It is such a magical place. Mandy 🙂

      Reply
  17. Chris

     /  June 3, 2011

    Nice giveaway, I would like to read this book. I grew up in outback QLD but I’ve lived in Sydney for many years now. This book would most likely refresh my memory about my early years.

    Reply
    • Mandy Magro

       /  June 4, 2011

      Hi Chris, Thanks for your comment. I am sure that Rosalee will do a good job of refreshing your memory of the outback! 🙂

      Reply
  18. Thanks everyone for your fantastic comments, and thanks Mandy for being our guest 🙂

    The competition has now closed, and the winner has been notified via email.

    🙂

    Reply

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