Today it’s my pleasure to welcome Australian author D. J. Blackmore to the blog for an interview and a fabulous giveaway, so be sure to read to the end for details.
Getting to Know You
Thanks so much for joining us today, Deirdre. Can you tell us a fun fact about you that people might not know?
Thank you for inviting me to chat, Nola.
One of the most beautiful pastimes I used to do every morning was milk my favourite Jersey cow, Bambi. Honestly, some of the most endearing times I had, were when my forehead was resting on the flank of that beautiful creature, breathing in her warmth. It was a time of closeness I’ll never forget. Certainly a more gentle and loving pursuit than the life of a beekeeper. While there are few things more peaceful than the soft roar of tens of thousands of bees in busy industry, there’s no loving feeling when I rob those hives.
Wish Me Gone
I think I’d stick with the cows rather than the bees, Deirdre, but there is certainly something about those rural settings that can bring peace to our souls.
Congratulations on the release of your fourth novel ‘Wish Me Gone’. Can you tell us a little about the story?
When hatred opens the homestead gates, will you fear the fall or find courage to fly?
The heritage-listed homestead in the Riverina is nothing more than a beautiful disaster. The orchard has acres of orange trees to lose herself amongst, but Isabella struggles at her new school. The immigrant family who works for them is a target for intolerance too, but when her brother Abel fails to return to the Army barracks, Isabella and her family are plummeted into their worst fears. And while time marches irrevocably on, where do they turn when faith is the only weapon they own?
Grappling with Social Issues
It certainly has a gripping premise. The novel deals with some sensitive issues such as cultural and religious differences, prejudice, and bullying. What prompted you to tackle those themes?
It’s so easy to make judgement calls on people every day without finding out who they are; without ever knowing their story. I wanted to shine light on the ones we cast sideways glances at, the people who live in the darker quarters, have made poor choices. Each of us has a story, a reason for being who we are. The one thing I wanted to emphasise is that we all need the same thing, and that’s love.
I wanted to share a story that is realistic, raw, that opens people’s eyes to compassion. While many Christian novels cater for well-established believers, for me it’s important to reach people wherever they are in the faith. To let go of legalism before it ever takes hold. To inspire new believers and to encourage established Christians to dig deeper with greater reason to love.
Redemption and Hope
Yes, it’s so important to be able to step into someone else’s shoes. It’s easy to judge others without really knowing what they’ve gone through. Although the book deals with some serious issues, there are also some lighter moments, and it is ultimately a story of redemption and hope. Why was that important to you?
I believe the one and only thing that matters is love. Regardless of where we started, what we have come from, we all have a light to shine. If there’s one character I want to emulate in life, it’s the electric personality of Megan. I want that contagious love of life to inspire everyone who reads this book. Authors have a massive privilege in being able to share their words. Everything we hear, watch and listen to, has a huge impact on the way we think about ourselves, others and the world.
Historical vs Contemporary Fiction
I loved Megan’s voice, with her Aussie lingo, humour and homespun wisdom. In addition to this contemporary young-adult novel, you have also written a contemporary rural romance, ‘Central to Nowhere’; and a two-book historical series with ‘Charter to Redemption’ and ‘Folly’.
How hard was it to make the switch from historical, to contemporary fiction? Do you approach your books differently depending on the time period?
Depending on time period, how people spoke, social mores, how they thought as individuals and as communities is an essential consideration with historical works. It’s important to think about things like colloquialisms and when they originated. A single word incorrectly employed can dampen the enjoyment of an ardent historical reader. While contemporary novels needn’t be quite so pedantically treated, we still need to make our characters sound real for the time, the town, their age and way of life.
What's On the Horizon?
Do you have any current projects you can tell us about?
I recently wrote an historical short story as part of an anthology, which is set in biblical times. My inspiration came from Dutch archaeological findings of the oldest complete beehives ever found. This ancient Israeli community sold its greatest commodity to Egyptian pharaohs and graced the tables of kings. Potsherd fragments inscribed with the name of an early king in the Jordan, and another of a prophet have been unearthed, and I’ve got my fingers crossed to be able to share this one.
My current work is a YA manuscript set in the Pilliga. For a group of friends, their separate struggles in a rural township home are overshadowed as the last remnant forest of New South Wales becomes a target for coal seam gas. But are commerce and CSG an ecological threat, and are the ancestral custodians correct about a creature that lurks in half a million wild hectares in perfect harmony with the Pilliga’s endangered species?
Wow, that sounds like such an interesting premise. I’ll look forward to reading that one. Thanks so much for chatting with us today, Deirdre. It’s been great to hear more about your writing process and what makes you tick.
Deirdre has kindly made available an autographed copy of her latest young-adult novel Wish Me Gone for one lucky reader. In order to enter the draw for the prize, just add a comment below by midnight on Sunday 27 November 2022 (Australian Eastern Standard Time). The winner will be chosen at random from the eligible comments, and their name will be published in the comments section of this blog post, in my next newsletter and on the Nola Lorraine Facebook page. As the prize is a print book, this giveaway is only available for those with an Australian postal address. (Stay tuned for other giveaways in the future that will be open to anyone.) For full terms, please click here.
D. J. Blackmore is the author of YA suspense novel Wish Me Gone. She also penned adult historical colonial murder mystery Charter to Redemption, which was translated into the language of the Czech Republic. The self-published sequel, Folly, came next. Her rural romance Central to Nowhere followed on its heels.
An advocate for simple living, D. J. Blackmore is a beekeeper and enjoys creating bespoke yarns at the spinning wheel. She has reared Border collies, milked cows and made cheese. But for as long as she can recall, she has been wrapped in the arms of stories.