By MC D’Alton
With more than twelve million copies sold worldwide, Barbara Hannay’s novels have earned her five RITA nominations from Romance Writers of America and she won a RITA award in 2007.
She is also the recipient of two Romantic Book of the Year awards in Australia.
Barbara lives with her writer husband on a misty hillside on the Atherton Tablelands in Far North Queensland.
Barbara’s recent novel, The Summer of Secrets is a multi-generational saga that combines a contemporary romance with a mystery, as well as a historical thread from England during WW2.
Sydney journalist Chloe Brown is painfully aware that her biological clock isn’t just ticking, it’s booming. When her long-term boyfriend finally admits that he never wants children, Chloe is devastated. Impulsively, she moves as far from disappointment as she can – to a job on a small country newspaper in Queensland’s far north.
The little town seems idyllic, a cosy nest, and Chloe plans to regroup and, possibly, to embark on single motherhood via IVF. But she soon realises that no place is free from trouble or heartache. The grouchy news editor, Finn Latimer, is a former foreign correspondent who has retreated after a family tragedy. Emily, the paper’s elegant sixty-something owner, is battling with her husband’s desertion. Meanwhile, the whole town is worried when their popular young baker disappears.
As lives across generations become more deeply entwined, the lessons are clear. Secrets and silence harbour pain, while honesty and openness bring healing and hope. And love. All that’s needed now is courage…
Q. Where did the idea for your book come from?
I’ve wanted to write a story based around a small country newspaper for ages. Many years ago, my husband was a journalist in a country town, so he’s been part of my inspiration. Also, the Summer of Secrets hero, Finn Latimer, was a secondary character in my previous book, The Country Wedding and while I was writing that book, I was so aware of him, waiting in the wings, itching for his own story. LOL.
Q. Why do you write romance?
I blame the books I loved as a girl – the Anne books, Little Women, Daddy Longlegs etc. They all contained romantic elements. And although I tried many genres and styles in my early writing days, it was only when I turned to romance that I felt “at home”.
3. Is there anything which sets it apart from any other book in the genre?
The combination of a contemporary story with a historical thread isn’t totally unique, but it does make it a little different. There’s also a touch of crime and mystery and a romance for a woman in her sixties, as well as for the younger couple.
Q. What, if any, were the challenges you faced writing your book?
In this story, I also highlight the little known bravery of the young women who piloted huge bombers during WW2, flying them, with minimal training and instruments, from the factories where they were made to the airstrips in England where the RAF were based.
This required quite a bit of research, but I’m used to that. However, it was also a bit trickier than in my previous books to blend this with the contemporary story.
Q. Tell us about your process, how do you get into a writing mindset?
I usually start early, often before daybreak, when my ideas are firing and before I can be interrupted by the day’s distractions.
If I’m having a day where it’s hard to concentrate, I find classical music helps me to get back in the zone.
Q. What is the underlying theme of your book, if any?
As it says in the blurb: Secrets and silence harbour pain, while honesty and openness bring healing and hope. And love.
Q. Would you call your hero or heroine a typical romance hero or heroine? Why not? What sets them apart from the men and women we usually encounter in romances?
I must admit, I have a deep fondness for my hero Finn. Like most romance heroes, he’s very capable and good at his job, but he’s rejected his stellar career and is burying himself in a small country town. He has faults. He’s battling with grief and he feels inadequate to care for this pre-teen daughter.
When Chloe first meets him he’s dead drunk. But of course he redeems himself. I’m not sure if this sets him apart, but I do hope it makes him appealing.
Q. What was your favourite part in writing this book?
Oh, this is so hard to answer. I loved writing all of it, truly, but I did enjoy the huge build-up of tension that led to Chloe and Finn’s first bedroom encounter.
Q. Besides the gorgeous cover, what about this story will draw your reader into your world?
Well, I do love giving my stories a strong sense of place. It’s something reviewers usually comment on, so I hope it works again this time. And the emotion… my characters are dealing with strong emotional issues right from the get go.
Q. Where can we buy your book?
My books can be found at the following:
Amazon: aust: https://amzn.to/2N10L9K
Angus and Robertson: https://bit.ly/2KdOsJy
If you would like to get in touch with Barbara or keep an eye out for future publications, you can visit her website: http://www.barbarahannay.com
Barbara, Thank You for taking the time to chat to us about your writing and your book!