I’ve just returned from my weekend trip to Mudgee and had a fantastic time at my first ever Mudgee Readers’ Festival . My fiancé and I made our way west on Friday morning along with our Cocker Spaniel, Buddy and arrived just after lunch at the cosy little wood cabin we hired for the weekend. Set on 25 acres and just 20 minutes out of town, we had beautiful views of the mountainside along with crisp, misty mornings and even a couple of kangaroo sightings.
On Saturday morning we arrived at the Parklands Resort and Conference Centre, the facility hosting the festival where I left Ryan to doggy-sit while I ducked in to the 9.30am session ‘In Conversation with Margareta Osborn.’ It was an intimate crowd and I slipped into my seat quietly after arriving a couple of minutes late. Margareta is the debut author of rural romance novel, Bella’s Run. As a big fan of the rural lit genre, I found Margareta’s writing journey really fascinating. It took two decades for Margareta to put her dream of writing a novel into reality with many life-changing hiccups changing her path along the way.
What really stood out to me was Margareta’s love of the land and country life. No matter how many times she packed up her bags and left behind her home in East Gippsland in Victoria, her hometown was like a magnet- she kept coming back. Margareta’s personal disclosure of experiencing the loss of her mother and marriage within a brief timespan was touching and I believe will come across in her novel, Bella’s Run.
Bella’s Run was released in March 2012 and has received some really promising reviews. Margareta will release an eBook novella “A Bush Christmas” (I think that’s the title, but don’t quote me) as well as another rural romance, Hope’s Road to be released in March 2013 by Random House.
Yet to read her work, I picked up a copy of Bella’s Run at the book fair and am grateful that Margareta took the time to not only sign my book but to have quite a lengthy chat. We discussed my blog (it’s surreal that authors actually recognise my blog!), crime fiction (my fiancé is a crime fiction fan and Margareta had some Aussie author recommendations) and of course writing.
I’m currently polishing up my third manuscript, a romantic suspense set in the countryside. Though I’m not a country girl, nor is my protagonist- I do always feel a sense of peace when I’m surrounded by bush with only the distant sounds of wildlife. I do dream of owning a property of my own one day, even if it is only one acre. But for now, weekend trips to the country, like our trip to Mudgee will have to do! So, like me, my protagonist also finds peace and a sense of contentment in the country as well. Margareta was very supportive of my pursuing writing in this genre and provided some really helpful suggestions for the next big step after editing- submissions.
It was lovely meeting Margareta and I left the festival thereafter feeling a little star struck and carrying a box of bargain books from the second-hand book fair. Later in the afternoon, my fiancé and I returned to listen to the crime fiction panel discussion; “Crime in another time: Fact and fiction” featuring Paul Ham, Sulari Gentill and Barry Maitland. All from various writing backgrounds, their input on crime fiction as a genre, the research process and their motivations for writing was fascinating. Paul was enviably a very articulate and engaging speaker and Sulari, well she was quite entertaining and I will actually keep an eye out for her historical crime novels (which I hadn’t heard of before) because she was so personable.
Overall, I had a fantastic time at the Festival and I hope to attend again next year. I also managed to check into the Clayton’s Conference (hosted by the Romance Writers of Australia) forums intermittently over the weekend depending on my internet connections- not great out in the country! The most helpful session was ‘Synopsis Writing’ led by Shona Husk. Always an intimidating process for me, Shona helped overcome my anxiety about this by providing such a simple format for breaking it down.
I also wanted to do a shout out for the romance author winners announced at the RWA conference at the Gold Coast. Congratulations to Fiona Lowe, Barbarah Hannay, Robyn Grady and Helene Young.