Set­ting sail for ro­mance

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - INSIDER -

Tri­cia Stringer is the best-sell­ing and award-win­ning author of 10 nov­els — in­clud­ing sev­eral ru­ral ro­mances — and her new lat­est re­lease, Ta­ble For Eight, is our Oc­to­ber Book of the Month. A for­mer school­teacher, li­brar­ian and un­til re­cently part-time book­seller, Stringer grew up on a farm and has spent most of her life in ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties. How­ever her lat­est re­lease, pub­lished by HarperCollins, is set far from the bush. Why? Read on: Were you al­ways a reader and writer? I grew up on a farm on South Aus­tralia’s Eyre Penin­sula. The much youngest of three chil­dren, I of­ten played alone — with plenty of op­por­tu­ni­ties to de­velop my imag­i­na­tive skills. My mother was an avid reader and my ear­li­est rec­ol­lec­tions are of sto­ries. I liked to write sto­ries too but never thought of writ­ing for a read­er­ship un­til I was 40 when I wanted to cre­ate some lo­cal history sto­ries for the chil­dren I was teach­ing. That’s when I caught the writ­ing bug. What books in­flu­enced you as a writer? I read across most gen­res so I imag­ine I’ve ab­sorbed an as­sort­ment of styles that have mor­phed into the way I write. How­ever, I do re­mem­ber mber read­ing Mon­ica McIn­er­ney’s ner­ney’s first book, A Taste For or It, and think­ing I wanted to write like that. You set your new novel on a cruise ship, why? I love cruis­ing. I took my first cruise a cou­ple of years ago to cel­e­brate a friend’s spe­cial birthday. The first night at din­ner I was seated at the wrong ta­ble where a charm­ing ng woman of se­nior years rs wel­comed us as if we were in her pri­vate din­ing room. om. We were all strangers but t some­how, she man­aged to put us at ease and we were soon chat­ting like old friends. Next night I joined my friends and I never spoke to the woman again but I saw her in the dis­tance over the course of the next 11 days and there was so much I won­dered about her as I re­alised she’d di­vulged lit­tle about her­self. I named her Ketty and be­gan to make up a back­story for her. The novel can be de­scribed as an “up­lift” novel. What do you think the ap­peal of up­lift­ing fic­tion is for read­ers? I think read­ers are en­ter­tained by the story and, at the end, are left with a pleas­ant sense of hope. Who was your favourite char­ac­ter to cre­ate? Ketty be­cause the story re­volves around her in­ter­ac­tion with all the other char­ac­ters. She’s a cou­ture dress­maker so she’s cre­ative and she’s also charm­ing with a knack of dis­creetly delv­ing into other peo­ple’s lives and dish­ing out small doses of Ketty wis­dom. Did you draw on your own ex­pe­ri­ence in cre­at­ing any char­ac­ters or plot as­pects? My own cruise c ex­pe­ri­ences cer­tain cer­tainly helped. I might be on hol­i­day but my wri writer’s brain is al al­ways pro­cess­ing. A ship is like a small town, full of in­ter­est­ing char­ac­ters; a melt­ing pot of h hu­man in in­ter­ac­tion against th the back­drop of a flo float­ing re­sort tran trans­port­ing peo­ple to ex­otic des­ti­na­tions and the perfe per­fect set­ting for a story. Which as­pect aspe of Ta­ble For Eight did you find the most in­ter­est­ing to re­search? The cock­tails! That was fun be­cause cock­tails do fea­ture in the story. I also en­joyed a short cruise my hus­band and I took from Syd­ney to Bris­bane purely for re­search. In my story the cruise leaves from Syd­ney, some­thing I hadn’t ex­pe­ri­enced. I wanted to know first-hand what it was like to sail un­der the Har­bour Bridge and out through the Heads. I also got the chance to talk to some of the cruise staff and ask a few ques­tions.

Author Tri­cia Stringer. Pic­ture: Kym Gre­gory

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