Monday, 11 July 2016

Giving Winter a Voice

with Jenn J McLeod

Anyone who’s read my novels will know I’m inspired by the seasons.  

Moving to the country years ago first opened my eyes and ears to the wonder, and sometimes the wrath, of Mother Nature. Since opting for the gypsy life in 2014 to live fulltime in a caravan, Mother Nature and I have been getting re-acquainted. With my days mostly spent outdoors, and my nights with not much between me and the elements, I’ve realised how many sounds, sights, smells and sensations I was missing whilst cosseted by four brick walls and a tile roof. I also discovered what a sensory (and stress) overload the perfect storm of lightning, thunder, wind and hail can be as it hits the camp site!

 My first book, House for all Seasons—a four-part story of four women who return to their hometown to spend a season each in an old house—allowed me to dabble and experiment with writing each season. It was at this time, as part of the RWA Bootcamp experience (2009, I think!) Rachel Bailey put me in touch with Lisa Chaplin who taught me four important letters that nag me through every draft of every manuscript: PMIP (Put Me In the Picture). It makes me ask myself constantly: Where are my characters? What are they doing? What are they seeing, hearing, feeling? I worked on this in Simmering Season — as the name implies the setting was a sticky, steamy, stormy season—while for the setting in Season of Shadow and Light I immersed myself in a summer flood event in a small country town.

 This year, taking readers from the country to the coast for a sea change, you might expect a summer setting, but as you’ll discover when you read The Other Side of the Season, I prefer to not do what’s expected. *nudge/wink*

 I think I’ve finally got the hang of it with reviews for The Other Side of the Season focusing on setting-like this one on Goodreads.

“Small town fiction is Jenn J Mcleod’s speciality and again this aspect of her novel receives her expert treatment. The Other Side of the Season exudes a strong sense of place. From the majestic Blue Mountains, to the tropical banana plantations and tranquil coastal beauty of Watercolour Cove, McLeod’s setting descriptions have the power to transfix any reader.

The Other Side of the Season contains an intricately crafted plot that deftly combines high family drama, secrets, love and abandonment. Woven into these main themes are issues explored with great care and attention to detail, such as the Australian art industry, imprisonment, albinism, mental illness and the impact of institutionalised child abuse.

Jenn J McLeod descriptions of scenery and artworks shows she sees the beauty around her and can put this passion into words. Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28452625-the-other-side-of-the-season

With the exception of last year’s three-month stint living in a paddock on a Brahman cattle station north of Rockhampton, I’ve been living in my caravan by the beach. I’ve loved winter by the sea, I’ve felt spindrift on stinging skin and had blustery winds that turn hair and scarves into a tangle. And I’ve loved an opportunity to add some of my dad’s lines to my novels, like this one:

 “This sea breeze is nothing. Wait til we get a good southerly buster. Them winds will likely blow an apple through a tennis racquet.”

 Have you read many Australian books set in winter? I hadn’t, so I was keen to give winter a voice and let it shine, because some seasons seem to get all the attention: like spring—always too pretty and perfect. Summer can be typical of many Australian novels, while autumn’s colours can be alluring, But it’s the gnarly, grey and wintery backdrop that makes scenes pop off the page:

 “When she arrived at the car park there was a stretch limo, the driver safely cocooned inside, while down on the beach a bride and groom, blissful and barefoot, were posing for a photographer and laughing as the wind played havoc with layers of lace and chiffon. On the sand, children in jumpers and swimsuit bottoms built castles and others ran from the water shrieking with the cold, before joyfully skipping back in again.”

 I love to love . . . winter here in Australia. Time to snuggle up in bed with a good book.

I love to learn about other authors and anything writing.
I love to laugh at anything really. 
Image result for laughing horse
Book information and BUY links - www.jennjmcleod.com/book-room  

Connect with Jenn on Facebook www.facebook.com/jennjmcleod.books and Twitter @jennjmcleod or join in the discussion at Readers of Jenn J McLeod Facebook group (no cat memes allowed!)



[image provided Andrew Wyeth quote]

14 comments:

  1. You are so right Jen. We focus a lot on our summer lifestyle here in Australia that the other seasons often go unnoticed. Thanks for a great post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wishing it was summer now as I head to Mudgee Readers Fest with zero temps overnight!!!!!

      Delete
  2. Funny...I'd never thought about it before but in every Aussie set book I've read (and I'll admit I've not read as many as I'd like) they are set in spring or summer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I once aske Face book the question and readers came up with a few, but as Cassandra said, Australia is very beachy, summery, springy for many. :)

      Delete
  3. Great post, Jen. I think all of the Aussie-set category romance ones I've read are set in the warmer months. The longer books' seasons depended on the genre. For example, rural romance which has a serene tone is spring/summer, whereas many romantic suspense and paranormals, where danger abounds, are set in autumn/winter.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think some romances call for hot sweaty bods, Enisa!!!!!

      Delete
  4. I adore books set in winter, here in Oz or anywhere. The change is refreshing and relaxing for me, mainly because I'm a winter person myself. I love the idea of being outside - all rugged up - and experiencing those winds and also the lovely winter sunshine we get here. Then I also love the idea of coming inside to a nice fire and hot drink and snuggling in with a good book for a cold night. Bring it on, Jen, love the idea!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That was my thought exactly when I decided to write this seaside story in winter. Nothing better that a wild wintery surf, too.

      Delete
  5. Hi Jenn. I think Romance naturally lends itself to lush, warm settings that reflect the heat and passion of a developing relationship, but there's certainly a lot to be said for the contrast that Winter provides. I also love Lisa Chaplin's PMIP. Great advice for any writer!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Marilyn, I have never forgotten that advice. Excellent.

      Delete
  6. Hi Jenn, Thanks for being our guest blogger and for making us think about the seasons. I tend to think of summer when setting a scene but I do love the wintery scenes I've read in other books. A season can give a different feel to everything.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No worries, Karen, and thx for the old nag laughing pic . hehehehehehehehe ;)

      Delete
  7. Hi Jenn, I haven't thought much about the seasons books are set in before, but with reflection, I find winter is the least used season in the novels I have read. Yet it is such a romantic time - warm fires, blustery gales, the joy of sheltering with one you love ... I will try to think more about the impact of the seasons on the developing romances in the novels I read.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Those things def are romantic, Sharon. I agree. Thank you for posting.

      Delete

We love getting comments. Why not leave one?!