Christmassy :: Q&A with Maya Linnell

December 04, 2018

During the year I was so lucky to have the chance to do some Q&As with authors about books and writing. I enjoyed it so much that I have prepared something a bit special for December: throughout the month I'll be 'talking' to a few authors about some of their favourite Christmas things (and books!) and sharing the answers here on the blog! I'm so grateful to the authors who agreed to share a peek into their festive faves with us, and I hope everyone enjoys reading them as much as I have!

First up is Maya Linnell, a rural romance writer from Victoria. I have had the pleasure of getting to know Maya through Instagram this year, and I can't wait to read her debut novel next year (it's out in June from Allen & Unwin).

I'm looking forward to reading your debut novel when it comes out next year! 
Can you please tell us a little bit about the book, and what inspired you to write it?
Thanks Bron, it’s great to be part of your Christmassy blog! I love the way social media makes it easier to connect with fellow book lovers like yourself. This year sure has flown past, not long until I’ll see my novel on book shelves in June 2019. The story is about a career woman Penny McIntyre, who is forced back to the country to convalesce. A farming accident rocks their world, and Penny has to choose between the city life she loves and the farming dream she buried long ago. It features the four McIntyre sisters, their family farm and a second chance at following their hearts. I originally called the story Going Back Home, but my publisher and I have been toying with a new title to better suit the storyline, and I’m delighted to announce it will be called Wildflower Ridge, after a key setting in the novel!

I file away snippets of inspiration almost every day – newspapers, magazine articles, and random conversations. I used to be a journalist at a country newspaper, so there were always loads of characters coming across my desk. The catalyst for my storyline came from a mother’s group friend. She was one of four daughters off a farm, and when her father was injured in a farm accident, all the ‘what if’ questions swirled around in my mind. What happens if no-one wants to run their family farm? What if all the daughters suddenly want to run the farm? So many story ideas flowed from that one event!

I've noticed one or two Christmassy books pop up in your Instagram photos. Do you like to read seasonal books, and do you have a favourite Christmas story or book?
I like to wait until December 1 clicks over before I start getting festive. I’ve got a treasured collection of Christmas stories I like to read with my children, including a few Little Golden Books that were given to me as a youngster. The Night Before Christmas is my all-time favourite, and I quite like reading Christmas-based cozy mysteries and romances in December to really set off the season. Christmas at Mistletoe Cottage by Lucy Daniels is sitting on my bedside table, first in line for this year’s festivities.

Is there a particular book you'd love to find under your Christmas tree this year?
Oh yes, I’d love to see Darry Fraser’s new book ‘The Widow of Ballarat’ under the tree (may have already given my husband a few nudges in this direction). A friend gave me Darry’s second book last Christmas, and I just adored it.

Do you have a favourite book you've read this year that you'll be recommending (or giving as a Christmas present!) to everyone you know?
I’ve been lucky enough to read loads of fantastic books this year, but The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village by Joanna Nell and Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton are right at the top of my gift-giving list.

Can you share a favourite Christmas tradition or memory?
Craftiness runs in my veins, so it gives me a great sense of satisfaction to make gifts and decorations. The hand-stitched pieces I made as a teenager take pride of place on my Christmas tree, alongside decorations I’ve made with my children as they’ve grown old enough to attempt the sewing machine and choose fabrics. We’ve got plenty of plastic and tinsel too, but those handmade decorations - and the memories that accompany them - are so precious to me. I also love the Christmas baking, from jam, biscuits and rum balls for neighbours and teachers, to making gingerbread houses and special treats with my trio of little bakers.

Can you tell us a bit about what you are working on next?
I’m working my second rural romance for Allen and Unwin (to be released in June 2020). The story I’ve written features an owner builder sub-plot. Having recently built our own home – handmade bricks and all - I can vouch that this topic is ripe with drama and tension!! The novel tells the story of Penny’s youngest sister Angie as she renovates an old cottage in country Victoria. I’ve loved writing about the McIntyre sisters, and hope to tell all four of the sister’s stories over the next four years.

Thanks again SO MUCH, Maya, for taking the time to talk Christmas and books with me - and for sharing some gorgeous festive photos too!

You can find Maya online here and on Instagram @maya.linnell.writes

Wildflower Ridge is out from Allen & Unwin in June 2019

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