A Tea Break with Mrs B: Stella Quinn

A Tea Break with Mrs B: Stella Quinn

tea break with mrs b new image

It is a pleasure to welcome Stella Quinn to my blog, Mrs B’s Book Reviews for A Tea Break with Mrs B, an author interview series. To help celebrate the release of The Vet from Snowy River we sat down for a chat. Thanks Stella!

What is your drink of choice as we sit down for a chat about your new book?

A skinny flat white.

Can you give us an overview of your writing career to date?

I began writing seriously about ten years ago, mainly in historical and crime genres, and achieved some success with placing short stories and novellas in published anthologies here in Australia and in the U.S. After a stint as a post-grad student in Writing Editing and Publishing at the University of Queensland, I turned my focus to the romance genre and joined Romance Writers Australia. It was a turning point. I immersed myself in writing novel length manuscripts (because writing a beginning + a middle + an end that all go together is waaaaay harder than it sounds) and was fortunate to win a few prizes and build up some self-belief (which writers need!). In fact, competitions have been invaluable to my career. The manuscript which became The Vet from Snowy River was shortlisted in the ASA/HQ Fiction Genre Prize in 2020.

What kick started the creation of your new novel, The Vet from Snowy River? 

When I was at boarding school, many (many) years ago, I watched the movie The Man from Snowy River and 1000% loved it. Romance – drama – forbidden love – horse hooves thundering across wild countryside – it helped me understand that romance as an art form can uplift the heart. Add a few trips to the snow and an in-law who is a smalltown country vet … the seeds were sown!

What issues do you explore in The Vet from Snowy River?

I love a redemption arc – the idea that no matter what has happened in your past (heartbreak, poor choices, things you’re ashamed of, things that have damaged you) you can get through it with hard work, kindness from community, and a fresh perspective. Both of the main characters in The Vet from Snowy River are working through a redemption arc … Vera is just a long way behind Josh! Josh (spoiler alert) got his high school science teacher knocked up when he was eighteen and blew his chances at his dream career, while Vera has recently—because of a poor-judgement decision—blown her job and her pride along with her life savings).

Where did the inspiration for your characters come from?

Josh just popped up fully formed in my head. I think he’s my idea of an ideal guy: warm, kind, empathetic funny, loves dogs. Vera was harder to get my head around. She needed to be aloof and prickly but not stand-offish; vulnerable on the inside but competent on the outside.

Can you give us an insight into the setting base for The Vet from Snowy River?

I made up my own town in the region between Cooma and Crackenback, and I based its street grid pattern on Queenstown in New Zealand because I wanted to have a central grassy park around which were Federation buildings. Because the Snowy River Hydro project flooded a vast area (forming Lake Jindabyne and Lake Eucumbene) I had to make a fictitious town to give me the elements I wanted: a natural lake, historic buildings that hadn’t been flooded, the Snowy Mountains overshadowing the town. Cooma has the beautiful buildings but not the lake; Crackenback has the lake but not the Federation buildings.

Did you undertake any research to bring The Vet from Snowy River to life?

I researched the restoration of historic huts in the Snowy Mountains District, such as the Kiandra Courthouse, which was built in 1860 when the goldrush brought prosperity to the area. It was restored in 2010 but was destroyed by fire in 2020. The Kosciuszko Huts Association has a terrific website with photos and mini-histories of many historic huts in the high country. What in particular appealed to me was the way communities have worked to take care of huts, for example the Friends of Currango who maintain Currango Homestead.

I also had to research (spoiler alert) the legal consequences in New South Wales of placing a recording device into a room in an aged care facility. Short story: don’t do it.

The research I undertook into the delights to be found in the cake cabinet of popular bakeries may be responsible for the excess kilos I packed on in 2020!

What is one thing that you really hope readers will take away from the experience of reading The Vet from Snowy River?

I want them to turn the final page, read the final words, clutch the book to their heart, and feel marvellous. The last couple of lines make me cry (in a happy, gosh-aw-that’s-lovely kind of way) when I read them.

What writers have inspired you along the way to publication?

Georgette Heyer –  I think she’s a comic genius. PG Wodehouse. Nora Roberts, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Peter Temple (that man could write three words about a rusty barbed wire fence and you’d be there in a fully formed rural Australian landscape) . The screenwriters who wrote Sea Change.

What book is next on your reading pile?

Ha! How long does this blog go! I have been working on my next manuscript (currently its at 99800 words and still needs a lot of work) so my reading has taken a big big dive. I am one of those annoying people who read about ten books on the go. So in my unfinished pile I have:  How to Mend a Broken Heart by Rachael Johns, The City We Became by N K Jemison, Hideaway by Nora Roberts, and I’m supposed to be reading Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce for my book club.

What are you working on writing wise at present?

I’m writing a contemporary rural romance set on a macadamia farm in Northern New South Wales. There’s an historical mystery lurking under the mulch, a misbehaving groodle called Gus, and a hero who might—if that’s even possible—be more adorable than Josh. I have a date with an historian at the Richmond River Historical Society next week and I’m looking forward to getting into some research!

Thank you for the lovely tea break and chat Stella. Congratulations on the release of your new book The Vet from Snowy River.

A hot vet. A rebellious teenager. And meddling but well-meaning townsfolk. Vera gets more than she bargains for when she runs off to a new life in the country … A fresh and funny rural romance, perfect for readers of Alissa Callen and Rachael Johns.

Vera De Rossi no longer believes in love …

And thanks to her ex-boyfriend­ she’s also broke, jobless, and staring down the barrel of a court case that could land her in prison. Turning to her talent for baking, Vera opens a cafe in Hanrahan, a cosy tourist town in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains.

Josh Cody, once Hanrahan’s golden boy, escaped sixteen years ago with gossip hard on his heels and a pregnant girlfriend in tow. Now he’s back: a qualified veterinarian – and a single dad with a lot to prove. A new start and a grumpy teenage daughter … it’s a lot to juggle, and there’s no room in his life for further complications. But that’s before he walks into The Billy Button Cafe and meets its prickly owner …

Reeling from the past, Vera has no intention of being sidetracked by the hot vet with a killer smile. But fate has a way of tripping up our best intentions and between a stray cat and a busybody with a heart of gold, this is a town – a family – unlike any other. And, whether Vera wants it or not, is there anything a family won’t do to help one of its own?

The Vet from Snowy River by Stella Quinn was published on 2nd June 2021 by Mira – AU. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

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