Lily Malone – Portrait of an Author (w/ giveaway)

Welcome to my fun Q&A where you’ll discover new things about some of our favourite authors. I’m delighted to welcome my good friend (funny, very talented and multi-published), Lily Malone, to a blog series that celebrates another art form (as my new novel is a love story about a sitter and an artist!!)

 Let’s start, Lily …

Q: As pose and composition are important factors for a portrait, choose what kind of ‘look’ would you like for your portrait.

  • On a chaise lounge (Kate Winslet/Titanic style)
  • Fully clothed in a rocker (Whistler’s Mother style)
  • A close up of your face (Girl with the Pearl Earring style/Mona Lisa)
  • In all your formal finery befitting your ‘authorly’ status (Regal style)
  • Other

I’d like something a bit more glamorous thank you very much, because everyone thinks of glamour when they think of me, (they do, don’t they, Jenn?) thinking Reese Witherspoon/Nicole Kidman red carpet at Big Little Lies premier-style.

Q: *Snap* I just took your photo as a reference for my portrait of you. Tell us where you are and what you’re wearing. (Be honest.)

I’m at my computer desk. Wearing socks. Black leggings (I’ve just been for a walk) and a long sleeved pink sloppy shirt. Oh, and a wrist brace because I’m an author and I type too much! (I also have my hair in pigtails. Don’t tell anyone!)

Q: Given a choice, what precious item would you want to be included in a portrait of you?

A bottle of red wine. A pack of cards, Joker facing out.

Q: With acquired savant syndrome* featuring in my next novel, I’m curious . . . If you were to wake up from a coma one day to find yourself totally obsessed and a genius (in something other than writing, of course) what would you want it to be? (music, painting, languages, maths, touching your toes while typing, etc)

Is that what acquired savant is? I’d no idea. I’d like to be brilliant at poker. A genius/world champion at Texas Hold-em. If that’s not an option, then golf. A genius at golf would be good (not to mention lucrative).

Q: If you happened to wake up one day and be a genius with a paintbrush, whose portrait would you want to paint and why?

I think I’d like to paint Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) and Harrison Ford (Han Solo) together, now they’re old. They made me cry in the first of the newer Star Wars movies (Was it The Force Awakens?), and now, of course, the very lovely but so tortured, Carrie Fisher has passed, I wish even more that I’d had this skill and opportunity.

Q: Your preferred medium would be?

A: Oil on canvas

B: Watercolour

C: Pencil/Ink

D: Pastels

E: Kiddy crayons

Lily says: F: Patricia Arquette

(Oh, Lily, you always make me laugh.)

Picasso once asked the question: “Are we to paint what’s on the face, what’s inside the face, or what’s behind it?” In my next novel, the artists says to 58 y.o Ava, “A mature person has depth of character and it’s their layers, built from life’s lessons that interest me the most—when wisdom replaces curiosity and experience replaces youthful exuberance.”

 Q: What two traits would you hope an artist captures in a portrait of you?

Hopefully that my life is rich with wonderful family and friends, and that I’ve made some big mistakes but they didn’t kill me, and they’ve made me stronger.

Q: Because every fireplace deserves a portrait, in whose house would you hang a portrait of you as a surprise and what would they say?

My friend Carrie’s, where it would sit over our Thursday night girls card table… and (if we refer to 3 above, I would have my pack of cards with the Joker showing.) Carrie would say: “bloody Lil, and she reckoned she never gets dealt the Joker”)

Q: Keeping in mind that lucky recipient of your portrait, how would see yourself framed?

  1. Minimalist or no frame at all – just the canvas (take me as I am) This one!
  2. Modernist – chrome, nothing too fancy
  3. Sophisticated – warm, wood, old world
  4. Flamboyant – go all the way and gilt-edged!

A: Minimalist or no frame at all – just the canvas (take me as I am) This one!

Q: Finally, if someone was to add a plaque/title your portrait, how would it read?

Life is always about the next hand

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Lily Malone might have been a painter, except her year-old son put a golf club through her canvas. So she wrote her first book, His Brand of Beautiful instead. Lily has now written three full-length rural romance stories and a novella all published by Harlequin Escape. Her debut trade paperback, The Vineyard In The Hills was published by Harlequin MIRA in September 2016, and her new release with MIRA is Water Under The Bridge, Book 1 in the Chalk Hill series, out now. When she isn’t writing, Lily likes gardening, walking, wine, and walking in gardens (sometimes with wine). She loves to hear from readers and you can find her on Facebook, and on Twitter: @lily_lilymalone. To contact Lily, visit www.lilymalone.wordpress.com

GIVEAWAY: NOW CLOSED AND WINNER ADVISED

Lily is giving away a print copy of her book – Butterfly House Book 1: Who Killed The Bride? (a whole lot of fun and based in her hometown, featuring the very famous Cowaramup Cows. Oh, I do love cows!)

Just LIKE this post and tell us in the comments if you’d like to be in the draw. (Aust. only, sorry. Blame Aust Post for the exorbitant prices.)

Before you go, I have some more author portraits to celebrate the release of my 5th novel (March 19 in Australia/NZ and April 5 overseas) so you might want to subscribe to my blog (right) or check out my Book Room for info about A Place to Remember.

*Acquired savant syndrome, in which a person acquires prodigious capabilities or skills following dementia, a head injury or concussion, epilepsy or other disturbances.

 

Thanks for everything, Colleen McCullough, 1/6/37 – 29/1/15

This week on social media I posted a little promotional tile I made. I love both a tale of thwarted love and the night sky (and where we’re staying in Stanthorpe, Qld’s Granite Belt, the stars are amazing).

But, unlike the star-crossed lovers in A Place to Remember, I feel as though the stars are aligning for me this year, both in my writing and in life generally. (And that is in no small way because Tess Woods (lovely author friend) kicked my butt into gear a couple of years back when I couldn’t see the stars for all the negative clutter in my head.)

Whether a writer plots or flies by the seat of their pants (like me) we all live for and love that moment when the many carefully constructed threads in our manuscript come together. Some gems fall into our laps totally unexpectedly. We didn’t plan them but, boy, when they happen it feels like a gift from above. In those moments, I like to think someone’s looking over my shoulder, working with me to nudge those pieces into place.

My literary guardian angel has been different for each book and while writing and perfecting A Place to Remember (especially given who my book is being edited and published by) I’ve imagined my angel is a big huggy, happy Colleen McCulloch.

It was three years ago today (January 29, 2015,) that the world lost Colleen and I want to pay tribute to her, not only because she is a literary legend, but because without her I don’t think A Place to Remember would exist.

“I am so glad I didn’t write The Thorn Birds,” said no author ever!

Of course I wish I’d written something that magnificent. Not only did The Thorn Birds showcase our country, I consider it the forerunner to the rural fiction genre we all know and love today. (The Thorn Birds mini-series also gave us Bryan Brown and Rachel Ward together! If you’ve been living under a rock, I highly recommend you find The Thorn Birds DVD and watch it.)

My publisher, and the managing editor for A Place to Remember is the same person responsible for The Thorn Birds’ success and getting it published in the UK back in 1977.

For many years, Colleen was asked for a sequel, or for ‘another Thorn Birds’ novel, but she refused. She Instead followed her passion and went on to produce 25 novels, ranging from love stories to crime fiction, and the epic, seven-volume Masters of Rome historical fiction series.

Not that I would dare compare my writing to someone of Colleen’s calibre, but I can tell you that both The Thorn Birds and A Place to Remember are based on the same theme: class, meddling parents/relatives, and bad timing leading to major conflict. I am not alone here. There are numerous stories based on the same theme, including the greatest tragedy of all: Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. (Class, meddling parents, and really, really bad timing.) You can no doubt list many more stories — told any number of ways. Love a musical that deals with conflict surrounding class, meddling parents, and bad timing? How about Westside Story and Saturday Night Fever?

According to Christopher Booker, the same seven basic plots are the foundation for all storylines and all can be traced back fairy tales, myths/legends, and even The Bible. Over time, our storytelling has changed and people have started to tell stories their way and put their own distinctive voice to those well-loved plots and themes to make each one different (as evidenced by Shakespeare, Colleen McCulloch and, yes, even Jenn J McLeod!)

(If you are a writer, you’ll have heard about the seven basic plots Christopher Booker talks about in his book.)

I’ve taken the themes of class, meddling parents, and bad timing, added a sprawling cattle station and a dual timeframe narrative that spans decades to make the story my own. And I’ve added depth and complexity to the setting and characters to make A Place to Remember a multi-generational saga with not one, but two love stories.

Okay, I’ve digressed (which I do often, I know) and I’ve raved on about A Place to Remember when what I wanted to write about is making the 29th of January A Day to Remember.

Three years ago we lost Colleen McCullough to that place where all our best bookish types end up and watch over the rest of us bungling our way through what has become a very challenging biz. One day (and not too soon I hope) I will get to finally seek out Colleen so I can give her a big huggy hug and say ‘thank you for the inspiration’.

It’s funny the way things work out; how a tiny thought, a single kernel of an idea, a generous deed can grow and before you know it (and as I said at the start of this blog post) things begin to fall into place.

 

That’s Jill on the left.

 

I truly believe where I am in my life and career is where I am meant to be right now. All the signs are there. For example: Not long ago I discovered that a lady I’ve known for many years is related to Colleen. I was in Sawtell having coffee and telling her how much I love The Thorn Birds when she explained her very close connection. I sat there aghast and grinning and said, ‘Jill, why did I not know this before now?’ Then I hugged her. (It’s as close as I’m getting to hugging Colleen for a while!!)

I recall my crazy pitch to Rosie de Courcy, my publisher. I described A Place to Remember as a story of forbidden love (but without a priest!). I’d taken a proven plot/theme – meddlesome parents, class, bad timing – and set a multi-generational story on a sprawling cattle station in Central Queensland.

Once A Place to Remember is released (March 19 here in ANZ and April 5 elsewhere) I’ll have a new mission. Somehow, some day, (I suspect I’ll need Tess Woods to give my butt another boot) I WILL find a way to send this novel to Rachel Ward and Bryan Brown, because it was Rachel who was in my head the whole time I was creating the main character. By golly, I’d love to see Rachel Ward bring my Ava to the screen (and her daughter, Matilda, play Nina). Bloody brilliant combination.

If my literary guardian angel is looking over me, I hope she has some pull.

Thanks for everything, Colleen McCullough, 1 June 1937 – 29 January 2015

(Full bibliography below)

P.S. “With 30 million copies sold, Colleen McCullough’s THE THORN BIRDS is legendary. But it’s not her masterwork – that accolade must go to MASTERS OF ROME, her epic, twenty-years-in-the-making labour-of-love that captures the soul of late Republican Rome in a way no other writer has ever managed.” (From Head of Zeus website: Read more about it here. http://headofzeus.com/article/masters-rome-colleen-mccullough )

 

P.P.S Of course let’s not forget about Tim. (That novel was our first a glimpse of a writer who would be a trailblazer, not a follower.) But you might be surprised at the extent of Colleen McCullough’s bibliography. (This list courtesy of Wikipedia) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colleen_McCullough#Bibliography

Tim (1974)

The Thorn Birds (1977)

An Indecent Obsession (1981)

A Creed for the Third Millennium (1985)

The Ladies of Missalonghi (1987)

The Song of Troy (1998)

Morgan’s Run (2000)

The Touch (2003)

Angel Puss (2005)

The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet (2008)[9]

Bittersweet (2013)

Masters of Rome series

The First Man in Rome (1990)

The Grass Crown (1991)

Fortune’s Favorites (1993)

Caesar’s Women (1996)

Caesar (1997)

The October Horse (2002)

Antony and Cleopatra (2007)

Carmine Delmonico series: McCullough also published five murder mysteries in the Carmine Delmonico series.

On, Off (2006)

Too Many Murders (December 2009)

Naked Cruelty (2010)

The Prodigal Son (2012)

Sins of the Flesh (2013)

Biographical work

The Courage and the Will: The Life of Roden Cutler VC (1999)

Memoir: Life Without the Boring Bits (2011)

Kali Napier – Portait of an author

Welcome to my fun Q&A where you’ll discover new things about some of our favourite authors. I’m delighted to welcome the very talented writer, Kali Napier, to a blog series that celebrates another art form (as my new novel is a love story about a sitter and an artist!!)

Let’s start, Kali…

Q: As pose and composition are important factors for a portrait, choose what kind of ‘look’ would you like for your portrait.

  1. On a chaise lounge (Kate Winslet/Titanic style)
  2. Fully clothed in a rocker (Whistler’s Mother style)
  3. A close up of your face (Girl with the Pearl Earring style/Mona Lisa)
  4. In all your formal finery befitting your ‘authorly’ status (Regal style)
  5. Other

A: Other! My first thought was to be painted like Millais’ Ophelia, immersed in nature. Though not too immersed that I catch pneumonia. Maybe a blend of A and C? I dislike my smile, so I’d probably have a closed-lipped, enigmatic smile like Mona Lisa’s, and turn my head away like the GwtPE. And I would need big hair, to hide behind Cousin It-style. It would have to be a casual pose if I’m to sit still for a long period of time, and an antique chaise longue suits my ideal aesthetic (when the kids leave home and I can get rid of the grotty Ikea furniture).

Q: *Snap* I just took your photo as a reference for my portrait of you. Tell us where you are and what you’re wearing. (Be honest.)

A: Right now? As always, I am sitting in front of my laptop, wearing pyjamas though it is nearly lunchtime. The beauty and the drudgery of working from home – in all my incarnations, as a full-time student of creative writing, a novelist, and a work-from-home grants writer for a disabilities service provider.

Q: Given a choice, what precious item would you want to be included in a portrait of you?

A: For my portrait, I would need to be surrounded by books and plants. I don’t really hold onto ‘things’ – a product of a peripatetic lifestyle when young, and a flood that took almost everything else. (Except books. I am definitely a book hoarder.)

Q: With acquired savant syndrome* featuring in my next novel, I’m curious . . . If you were to wake up from a coma one day to find yourself totally obsessed and a genius (in something other than writing, of course) what would you want it to be? (music, painting, languages, maths, touching your toes while typing, etc)

A: I have always wanted to be a singer. As a child, I was tone deaf and spent choir practice in primary school in detention as they couldn’t believe I wasn’t singing so badly on purpose. In high school, I wanted to be an actress but those dreams were thwarted during auditions for the school musical. The school even paid to bring in a singing teacher for me as I’d been earmarked for a major role, but he said I was ‘unteachable’. I ended up being a puppeteer in that production.

As a 39-year-old engaged in a process of self-reflection following a redundancy, I remembered those early dreams and started singing lessons. At first, only air escaped my throat, leading up to a quiet whisper of my first notes, until sound came out. The singing teacher said I was an “alto soprano”. Just like that. As if I could sing. And I burst into tears for the rest of the lesson. After a year of lessons, I could hold a note and sang a reasonable version of Joni Mitchell’s “Blue”.

I’d love a voice that sent shivers down people’s spines so that they couldn’t tear their gazes away from my face as I sung. Just as I was riveted by the voice of a young teenage girl at my kids’ music concert last month, when she sang “Flame Trees”, accompanying herself minimally on guitar. She had an extraordinary gift. Tears spilled down my face and I had to consciously hold my facial muscles taut so I wouldn’t break down.

Q: If you happened to wake up one day and be a genius with a paintbrush, whose portrait would you want to paint and why?

A: Another one of my fantasies is to be an artist of some kind, but I think only in temperament, rather than having to practise my craft painstakingly. Of course, if I was a sudden genius with a paintbrush, I would want to sit myself on a bridge in Paris and paint passers-by for a living. (Obviously another fantasy, as I’ve never been to Paris, and I imagine this sort of lifestyle is not as romantic as La Boheme would have me believe.)

Q: Your preferred medium would be?

  1. Oil on canvas
  2. Watercolour
  3. Pencil/Ink
  4. Pastels
  5. Kiddy crayons

A: Pencil and ink so I could travel lightly, and whip out my implements when the muse strikes!

Picasso once asked the question: “Are we to paint what’s on the face, what’s inside the face, or what’s behind it?” In my next novel, the artists says to 58 y.o Ava, “A mature person has depth of character and it’s their layers, built from life’s lessons that interest me the most—when wisdom replaces curiosity and experience replaces youthful exuberance.”

Q: What two traits would you hope an artist captures in a portrait of you?

A: I always think that I wear my heart on my sleeve and that I have no filter. But the person I feel I am on the inside is never what I see in photographs – I suppose everyone feels this way. I would love an artist to capture the better version of myself I yearn to be: happier, more content, laughing and living life to its fullest, and connecting with others. Certainly not someone stuck in front of a laptop most hours of the day.

I still feel like the me I was at seventeen, and I would want that person to also show through in my portrait – an idealist, who only saw open horizons.

Q: Because every fireplace deserves a portrait, in whose house would you hang a portrait of you as a surprise and what would they say?

A: I would want it hung in my children’s houses after I’m turned to ash, so that they come to know me as a person rather than as just a parent.

Q: Keeping in mind that lucky recipient of your portrait, how would see yourself framed?

  1. Minimalist or no frame at all – just the canvas (take me as I am)
  2. Modernist – chrome, nothing too fancy
  3. Sophisticated – warm, wood, old world
  4. Flamboyant – go all the way and gilt edged!

A: I would go with warm, wood, and old-world. I have nostalgic tendencies.

Q: Finally, if someone was to add a plague/title your portrait, how would it read?

A: I would leave it blank. The people who are important to me would have their own words for who I am and what I mean to them.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kali Napier is the author of The Secrets at Ocean’s Edge, released by Hachette Australia in February 2018. Based in Brisbane, she is an MPhil candidate in Creative Writing at the University of Queensland, and lives with her two children in a house that is slowly being reclaimed by the bush surrounding it.  Fid her and her book:

Goodreads (where you’ll find my review of Kali’s wonderful debut) or, do what I do and connect with Kali on Facebook

Before you go, I have some more author portraits to celebrate the release of my 5th novel (March 19 in Australia/NZ and April 5 overseas) so you might want to subscribe to my blog (right) or check out my Book Room for info about A Place to Remember.

*Acquired savant syndrome, in which a person acquires prodigious capabilities or skills following dementia, a head injury or concussion, epilepsy or other disturbances.

Do you believe in Fate?

FATE is a theme that runs through my next novel and I must confess that book #5 – A Place to Remember – was a difficult manuscript to be writing in a year when not a lot seemed to be going to plan.
(But that’s life on the road – and life for an author).

I’m certain that positivity train I boarded some time ago helped turn things around and now 2018 is shaping up to be absolutely brilliant. I did get a heads-up that my “present plans are going to succeed” on a whip up the highway to Sydney (from Victoria, as you do) where I had the good fortune to meet some of the folk from Head of Zeus and HarperCollins who will be bringing the next Jenn J McLeod story to life and delivering it to a bookshop near you.

To celebrate, we had a good ol’ Chinese feast. And through this Chinese restaurant’s version of Romper Room’s Magic Mirror I saw big, exciting things ahead. (And yes, thank goodness the Fried Ice Cream Balls were still on the menu. Do you love them? Those balls of yumminess are the only reason I go Chinese!) 

Fate sometimes requires you to take the bull by the horns (as the character in my next book says) and make things happen.

But I have not been on this journey alone. According to The J’s fortune cookie, she’s busy talking to anyone ‘up there’ who will listen (including the One-eyed Dude dog who was with me on the research trip I did for my next release. Miss you, Lil’ Dude.)

So, I am working hard right now. But…

… HOWLONG will I make you wait? Just long enough to make sure my 5th novel (one close to my heart) is THE BEST. (Oh, and it’s bound to be given the super wonderful editor I’m working with.)

FYI – I now have a New Release Reminder Service, which is basically me sending you an email directly to your inbox so you are the first to hear the news (as I no longer trust social media.) There’s a box to your right to add your email. No, not that one… The one at the top on the right!!

Or you might like to meet some new authors on my blog series: AUTHOR PORTRAITS. And yes, there will be author portraits along with a fun Q&A. (You can subscribe to that in the OTHER box on the right.

The Story Behind The Book Cover

Crowned the UK’s Independent Publisher of the Year, 2017, Head of Zeus are a powerhouse and as my book nears that magic moment – release day – I can stop and take a breath and reflect on the joy of working directly with the team from very early on in the book creation process.

For a start, I got to work on edits with advice for the publisher, Rosie de Courcy. With the time zone differences, I would wake up in the morning, turn on the computer, and find encouraging feedback on my manuscript waiting among my emails. One of those emails arrived and I had to read it twice. In fact, I’ve saved it in my ‘Happy File’ because it started with the words: “Jenn, you’re so like Maeve. When I was working on her novels she would do the same ……….”

For the first time in four books I also got to liaise directly with in-house Art Director, Jessie Price. (Speaking of treasures…!!!) Mindful that HofZ is in the UK and my novel is set on a cattle station in Queensland, I decided to send a couple of pictures to show a typical Queenslander house. I’d found one ages ago, by artist John Newman (based in Noosa at the time). The painting, titled ‘Rockhampton House’ had inspired my ‘Ivy-May Homestead’ as I wrote.

‘Rockhampton Queenslander’ by John Newman

What a surprise to see, among the various cover choices I received, one had the very same image. I LOVED it! So HofZ acquired the rights so we could include it on on the cover.

Do check out John’s many Australian-inspired works. They are all beautiful.

I am also loving the ‘first book feeling’ and working so closely with Head of Zeus on this, my fifth novel, and can’t wait for March 19. (April 5 in the UK).

You can pre-order now. (All the links you need are on my Book Page or to Head of Zeus direct.)

 

 

Where cowboys meet the coast – WIN w/ the Christmas Blog Hop

This is my post in the fabulous Christmas blog hop, happening until Christmas Eve.
Thirty e-books to be gifted and a $150 gift card, too!
Plus, a Jenn J book to someone who leaves a comment on THIS blog. So don’t get so wrapped up in my story about cowboys that you forget to enter.
Comment and click below!!!!

____________________

The Capricornia region in central Queensland (Australia) is, according to this tourism website, where cowboys meet the coast. Sounds like the perfect place to set a story, don’t you think? And I have the perfect title for it, too – A Place to Remember. In fact, it’s already written and I’m working hard with my UK publisher (Head of Zeus) to bring it to the world this April (in print and ebook), so keep an eye out.

While it’s a pretty special story, I feel obliged to ‘fess up about this novel – my fifth. To explain, I’ve recorded a video confession – an apology for disappointing my readers with my last four novels. As I said, the video (below) explains.

Now . . .  about this year’s Coastal Blog Hop book you can win – The Other Side of the Season.

The Other Side of the Season is my fourth novel and I’m taking readers from the country to the coast. Check out the blurb or watch this 40 second trailer.

 

 

 

And, speaking of videos . . . about that confession. Check it out on You Tube: https://youtu.be/uk9iet5ALq0

Thank you for blog hopping. Have a wonderful Christmas, wherever you are in the world. (Maybe let me know where you’re from in your comment.) I’ll be back where the book began, on the Capricornia Coast looking for those cowboys!

Now you’re here, increase your chances of winning by leaving a comment below, and also enter via the rafflecopter below to win 30 ebooks and a $150.00 gift card.
If you comment here, then Tweet or Facebook this blog post I will add a second entry.
Winners announced on Christmas Eve.
What a great present! What are you waiting for?

 

ABOUT THE CHRISTMAS BLOG HOP:   For more information and a list of all the authors involved:  Annie Seaton – organiser extraordinaire. 
 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

24th December: Prize Draw

More blogs to hop:
 Previous blog: I just read about E.E. Carter’s grandparents being itinerant workers who traveled around Queensland in their caravan. Great minds!
Next blog in the hop: TBC

Kim Kelly – Portrait of an Author

Yes, we are being creative with our author Q&A!

Kim, with pose and composition such important factors, what kind of ‘look’ would you want for your portrait.

A. On a chaise lounge (Kate Winslet/Titanic style)?

B. Fully clothed in a rocker (Whistler’s Mother style)?

c. A close up of your face (Girl with the Pearl Earring style/Mona Lisa)?

D. In all your formal finery befitting your ‘authorly’ status (Regal style)?

E. Other?

Jenn, a combination of A, D & E here, please. I write mostly lying down on my mad-yellow couch and I usually frock up for the day (today it’s a 60s reproduction A-line mini in blue daisy print) even though no-one but the cats and chooks see me, so if you’re going to paint me in my preferred habitat and costume, paint me like this – plus laptop on lap vying for space with one or two cats, and a cup of tea and a buttered weetbix on the side table.

If you were being painted RIGHT NOW, tell us what you are wearing. (Be honest!)

A: As above. Honestly. Don’t be fooled by the black skivvy in my author pic. To my shame, at present count I have ninety-two everyday frocks. Most of them are recycled and they all get recycled and reinvented eventually, but yes, I have a frock problem. If I really did have to choose a frock to wear for a portrait painting, I’d have a series of small breakdowns before deciding how history should remember me in print – fabric print, that is.

Given a choice, what precious item would you want included in a portrait of you?

A: Only one? I’d have to include a sideboard photo of my muse de bloke, Deano, and one of my boys as well. They are my everyday inspiration. And the cats. And the chooks. And my tea cup collection (seriously, almost as bad as the frocks). I’d want my books in there as well – the books I’ve worked on as editor, too, and all those that have opened doors in my mind.

With acquired savant syndrome featuring in my next novel, I’m curious . . . If you were to wake up from a coma one day to find yourself totally obsessed and a genius (in something other than writing, of course) what would you want it to be? (music, painting, languages, maths, touching your toes while typing, etc)

A: I’m so boring, I’m hopelessly devoted to the patch of dirt I already plough. I want to keep becoming a better writer. I’m already obsessed and I don’t believe in genius – just work, curiosity and generosity of spirit. I would like the ability to download books directly into my brain, though. I am a slow and careful reader – always worried I’m going to miss something important.

If you happened to wake up one day and be a genius with a paintbrush, whose portrait would you want to paint and why?

A: I am an accomplished painter already! Not. I paint on my mental health days – those days when I have to get up off the couch and get messy with my imagination – and my paintings are always bright splashes, cartoonish, mostly of flowers, sometimes abstract, and never much good. But if I was any good, I’d love to be able to paint my characters so that readers could see what I see when I’m with them. Responsible literary citizen that I am, though, I’d be sure to mark those pic files as potential spoilers – peek at your own risk.

Picasso once asked the question: “Are we to paint what’s on the face, what’s inside the face, or what’s behind it?” In my next novel, the artists says to 58 y.o Ava, “A mature person has depth of character and it’s their layers, built from life’s lessons that interest me the most—when wisdom replaces curiosity and experience replaces youthful exuberance.”

What two traits would you hope an artist captures in a portrait of you?

A: Love and curiosity. I can’t function without the giving and receiving of the first and I’m hard wired for the second. I don’t ever want to stop wondering and asking questions – especially of myself (most common one being, what the freak are you doing?).

Because every fireplace deserves a portrait, in whose house would you hang a Portrait of You as a surprise and what would they say?

I’d want my portrait hung over the hearth of the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection to remind him that immigrants and refugees have made Australia not only the colourful and beautiful place it is but they also made me. And when he is eventually ousted, I want my portrait to go to the National Library of Australia together with all other author portraits in the Jenn J McLeod collection to show this country what a wealth of storytelling heart we have, right here, right now, particularly among women writers.

Keeping in mind that lucky recipient of your portrait, how would see yourself framed?

  1. Minimalist or no frame at all – just the canvas (take me as I am)
  2. Modernist – chrome, nothing too fancy
  3. Sophisticated – warm, wood, old world
  4. Flamboyant – go all the way and gilt edged!

A: No borders – of course!

Finally, if someone was to add a plaque/title your portrait, how would it read?

A: The Authorlady

Acrylic on old fence-palings; 2000cm x 3000cm (that’s right, Mr Dutton, it’s HUGE).

On the surface all is romantic whimsy and yet the work is rich with literary allusion and classical symbolism. Most strikingly, the use yellow, predominantly on the couch, is suggestive of madness, while cats and chooks, well, we all know what they say about a woman in middle age. The masculine details apparent in the painting, in the form of portraits within the portrait, make no clever commentary whatsoever on the nature of portraiture itself but rather point to the author’s philosophy that one can smash the patriarchy and love all her blokes to bits at the same time. The underlying narrative of the image explores a powerful nexus of love and curiosity, and seeks to interrogate the national soul, at the same time drawing attention to its concretely central but ironically ethereal meta-theme, most simply described in the broad-brush statement: the lady rocks a frock.

About Kim…

Kim Kelly is the author of six novels, including the acclaimed Wild Chicory. 

Her stories shine a bright light on some forgotten corners of Australia’s past and tell the tales of ordinary people living through extraordinary times. The Sydney Morning Herald has described her style as ‘colourful, evocative and energetic’. The Daily Telegraph has noted her ‘impressive research’. And, to her enduring shock, the Melbourne Age has said: ‘Why can’t more people write like this?’

A widely respected book editor and literary consultant by trade, stories fill her everyday – most nights, too – and it’s love that fuels her intellectual engine. Love between lovers, friends, strangers; love of country; love of story. In fact, she takes love so seriously she once donated a kidney to her husband to prove it, and also to save his life.

Originally from Sydney, today Kim lives on a small rural property in central New South Wales just outside the tiny gold-rush village of Millthorpe, where the ghosts are mostly friendly and her grown sons regularly come home to graze.

Website https://kimkellyauthor.com/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/KimKellyAuthor/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

Before you go, I have some more author portraits to celebrate the release of my 5th novel (April – here in Australia/NZ and overseas) so you might want to subscribe to my blog (right) or check out my Book Room.