Stella Quinn is a Brisbane author whose first book The Vet From Snowy River won the hearts of Australian rural romance readers. On July 6 her second novel, A Town Like Clarence, was released. She Society were lucky enough to receive a copy of this new book for review. Once I’d started reading I had to know more about this Brisbane author and her work.
I spoke to Stella on a very chilly first day of August, at The Brisbane Library Café, where it was perfect to warm up over a coffee and chat about Stella’s writing, her writing process and her latest rural romance. We are both latte drinkers with Stella choosing a skinny latte and me, a latte with almond milk.
Stella and I had met before, first at a local Writers Group Convention and then at several Romance Writers of Australia Conferences. These are always a great way to learn about the art of romance writing , connect with your people and meet and learn from some of the best in the business. Stella will be heading to Perth soon for this year’s conference. It was because of the Romance Writers Australia Conference that Stella’s publishing dream became a reality.
Stella is a self confessed writing competition junkie and seeing a flyer for a competition in her Romance Writers of Australia pack, she promptly entered. Much to her delight Stella’s story, set in the USA, became a finalist. Although it was not a winner that year she was contacted by Rachel Donovan from Harper Collins Australia. Rachel advised that if she could change the setting to Australia and add 30 000 words she might be on to a winner. Stella promptly changed the story and The Vet From Snowy River was born. It was a resounding success and ran to three print runs. This is major for a debut novel.
We had joked about the curse of the third book but Stella said it was her second book that came with a bit of anxiety. The first had been worked on for a long time and workshopped with other readers and writers. It was fully formed when it arrived at the publishers. For A Town Like Clarence it was only the publishers and Stella who had read it. However, publishers and editors know their audience and are full of good advice. Soon this second book baby was ready for publication.
A Town Like Clarence tells the story of Kirsty Fox, an only child who has had a nomadic childhood due to her Mum’s pokie addiction. Whenever things go wrong the little family runs away. They think the family is cursed and this is the only life Kirsty knows. As an adult she is a bush pilot with her own nomadic lifestyle.
After an incident which causes Kirsty to be grounded, she is handed an escape in the form of a suitcase inherited from the grandmother she has never known. Kirsty heads to New South Wales, to the fictional town of Clarence, to find out more. Her inheritance proves to be more than she had bargained for.
Joey Miles, is a former stockbroker, now farm owner, who is carrying his own baggage. He’s one of six children, born to hippies, Patty and Robbo Miles. The family are longtime residents of Clarence. Joey’s been away for a long time. So long that the family have learned to live without their eldest brother. Bearing the weight of the town’s pity over a long ago incident weighs heavily on Joey and he has been living a reclusive lifestyle working his new farm … that is until he meets the fascinating dark eyed, Kirsty.
Stella tells me that the character of Joey is named after her dog, which she says is romantic if you are a dog lover. Joey shows his softer side during interactions with his precocious and funny niece, Amy. He can bake, renovate and farm but has a lot to learn when it comes to tasks like whipper-snipping. You will fall in love with this character. It’s not long before Kirsty’s growing attraction to this kindly and handsome farmer grows into something more.
About the Author
I asked Stella how a city girl came to rural romance and she told me that surprisingly she had grown up in a small town in Papua New Guinea. She was a boarder at a Queensland school and many of her happiest times were holidaying on the farms and properties of her fellow boarders. Her sister also lives near Childers, the fruit bowl area, which led her to write about the macadamia farms in the book. She also spent a bit of time in country New South Wales working on a friend’s macadamia nut farm, where this latest release is set.
Stella had just arrived home from a holiday in the picturesque Queenstown when we meet. In Queensland she loves visiting quiet places with lots of time to read and plenty of natural beauty for her family holidays. She loves visiting Stradbroke Island and her parent’s home just outside of Hervey Bay.
I ask Stella what readers can expect when they pick up a Stella Quinn book.
“Imagine if the Virgin River books and the Sea Change TV series had book babies… they are the stories I love writing. If you like your romance messed up by life’s dramas, a dog at every back door, and townsfolk who meddle and manage, but in a heart of gold type way, then you’ve come to the right place.”
Stella’s advice for aspiring writers is to enter competitions, competitions, competitions! She also advises joining groups like Romance Writers Australia, Queensland Writers Centre and doing courses. You will learn something new through everything you do.
Stella is a plotter, who plans out her stories. She advises to not try to create a whole book straight away but to develop a good beginning, middle and end and these scenes will eventually all come together.In further books she plans to do even more character development before she starts writing.
What’s Next For Stella Quinn?
Next up for Stella is a sequel to The Vet From Snowy River which will be published in May next year, just in time for Mother’s Day. It will tell the story of Josh’s sister, Hannah, who is also a vet. To my delight she said there may be some follow up books set in Clarence down the track as well, with Joey’s sister Daisy’s story high on the agenda. With plenty of brothers and sisters and quirky townsfolk to choose from I’m sure rural romance readers will be looking forward to sharing more of the Miles and Fox family stories.
If you are looking for stories with heart, character and a little romance look no further than the lovely stories of Stella Quinn. They are a charming slice of Aussie life, which while still touching on important dramatic themes, manage to be warm hearted, feel good reads with a happily ever after. Grab a scone, a cuppa or a perhaps, a skinny latte, and enter the charming world of Clarence. A Town Like Clarence is out now and available in most good bookstores. I found several copies in Dymocks after our interview. Thank you to Stella Quinn for making the time to share her unique publishing journey with She Society.
Freelance writer, wife and mother of three sons, occasional supply teacher and aspiring romance author, Michelle Beesley can be most often found in a coffee shop chatting with friends or beside a rugby field cheering on her favourite teams.
Michelle is a prolific—albeit reluctant—traveller, keen walker, bookworm and yoga enthusiast who loves anything pink or sparkly (including champagne!).