1853 Mogo Creek, NSW
Della Atterton, bereft at the loss of her parents, is holed up in the place she loves best: the beautiful Hawkesbury in New South Wales.
Happiest following the trade her father taught her, taxidermy, Della has no wish to return to Sydney. But the unexpected arrival of Captain Stefan von Richter on a quest to retrieve what could be Australia’s first opal, precipitates Della’s return to Sydney and her Curio Shop of Wonders, where she discovers her enigmatic aunt, Cordelia, is selling more than curiosities to collectors. Strange things are afoot and Della, a fly in a spider’s web, is caught up in events with unimaginable consequences…
1919 Sydney, NSW
When London teashop waitress Fleur Richards inherits land and wealth in Australia from her husband, Hugh, killed in the war, she wants nothing to do with it. After all, accepting it will mean Hugh really is dead. But Hugh’s lawyer is insistent, and so she finds herself ensconced in the Berkeley Hotel on Bent St, Sydney, the reluctant owner of a Hawkesbury property and an old curio shop, now desolate and boarded up.
As the real story of her inheritance unfolds, Fleur and damaged returned soldier Kip are drawn deep into the past by a thread that unravels a mystery surrounding an opal, and a woman in a green dress: a green that is the colour of envy, the colour buried deep within an opal, the colour of poison…
About Téa Cooper
Tea is an established Australian author of historical fiction. In a past life she was a teacher, a journalist and a farmer. These days she haunts museums and indulges her passion for storytelling.
She is an award winning, bestselling author of several novels, including
Her latest book, The Woman in the Green Dress, releases at the end of 2018, followed by The Girl in the Painting in 2019.
- Where did the idea for your book come from?
The Woman in the Green Dress began when the local historian introduced me to Baron von Hügel. He travelled to Australia in the 1830s and his ‘New Holland’ journal was translated and published. He passed through the Hawkesbury and Hunter Valley and it was fascinating to read an eye witness account of the area in the nineteenth century.
Q.Why do you write romance?
Because I like a happy ending! Not very original, but the truth.
Q.Is there anything which sets it apart from any other book in the genre?
The Woman in the Green Dress, and The Naturalist’s Daughter (2018) are dual timeline historicals. Both stories fill a gap in history. I have used fact to feed my fictional story. I love writing that way because I want my stories to be historically feasible, even though they are figments of my imagination.
Q.What, if any, were the challenges you faced writing your book?
The challenge with any historical is always the research, wrangling the timeline and how far to bend the truth and still keep a degree of authenticity.
Q.Tell us about your process, how do you get into a writing mindset?
I’ve written full time for the last five years and I treat it very much as a job. I work five days a week, although not always Monday to Friday. Once I hit my study I write, or edit (and try not to fall down the research rabbit hole. Did I mention I love the research part?) It also makes it easier having a fixed schedule. I write one book a year. The first half of the year is dedicated to the dirty draft of my new book. In June edits arrive for the book I wrote the previous year, when they’re finished I begin editing the dirty draft of the new book and so the cycle continues.
Q.What is the underlying theme of your book, if any?
The Woman in the Green Dress tells the story of a quest … the search for the first opal found in Australia but also of personal quests for happiness and belonging.
Q.What was your inspiration for your MC?
This goes back to Baron von Hügel’s New Holland journal. I discovered it was edited and transcribed by ‘an unknown person’. I decided I would write the story of this unknown person’s fictional trip quest.
Q.What kind of research did you undertake when writing?
Obviously reading the Baron’s journal, the original is held in the Mitchell Library, however I read the translation. I had to research the history of opals in Australia, in fact throughout the world in the nineteenth century. Taxidermy, (that was fascinating). And Sydney and the Hawkesbury area in the mid nineteenth century and the early twentieth century. The colour green, poison and other things which would involve spoilers…
Q.What was your favourite part in writing this book?
The research and then framing the fictional characters. Much of the book is set close to the area in which I live so ‘excursions’ which are always great fun because they bring the characters alive … sometimes to the extent that they take over and go places I never intend.
Q.Besides the gorgeous cover, what about this story will draw your reader into your world?
It’s a complex plot, a mystery and two romances, which unfold and then wind together to an unexpected conclusion. I’m very much in love with the characters, especially Bert (who is not the hero… or is he?). Perhaps just follow the woman in the green dress and see where she leads!
Where to buy your book:
The Woman in the Green Dress releases on December 17th 2018 in print, audio and e-book. Print will be available in Big W, Target, Kmart and most independent bookshops or on line.
How can readers connect with you?
WEBSITE (where you’ll find all the links to my social media pages, email and all my books.)
Thank You for taking the time to chat to us about your writing and your book.
It’s been my pleasure! I hope your readers have enjoyed meeting The Woman in the Green Dress.