Setting sail for romance
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