I grew up in a family of story tellers. Surrounded by orators, and books. Even with all that encouragement for books, I had no inclination that I could write, nor that I wanted to write. Instead, I chose to study science, and graduated with a degree in physics and maths. A rational choice of subject matter, although not so sensible when it came to getting a job. I probably should have done engineering. Instead, I faced the awkward task of convincing potential employers that a degree in physics and maths was useful for something. I ended up doing data analysis in a range of industries; road maintenance, natural gas, electricity, and horse racing.
How the hell did I end up here? I guess that it’s a typical story for many women. When my children were tiny, helpless scraps of people, I needed work with flexible hours. I started a consulting business, and one of my early horse racing clients was a magazine. We coined the idea of regular myth-busting articles. Take a common belief, analysis the data and write up the results. Having written only one essay in my entire degree, I leapt into the task with typical keen naivety. I learnt on the job, discovering how to deal with deadlines and restricted word counts, while entertaining the reader with words. Looking back, I’ve realised that it was brilliant discipline for the job of writing commercial fiction.
In 2015, after twelve years of running my business, two of my data clients merged and decided not to use any contractors. Goodbye to a quarter of my work in one hit. Another big project came to an end at the same time. Suddenly I had a surfeit of time, just as the youngest child approached the end of toddler-dom. I hid inside books for a month or two, reading every romance at the local public library and adding to my already large collection. I wondered about re-training or changing careers. Then I read those fateful words.
“I complained one day that I’d read all the books in the house, and there was nothing new at the bookshop, and Matthew challenged me to try writing one of my own.” A Wallflower Christmas. Lisa Kleypas.
So, I started to write one. All those stories of my family’s history suddenly became useful. All the letters they wrote and kept. All the wonderful characters. So, I picked one of my favourite relatives, and used her as the base for a story. She pushed boundaries and faced big hurdles. I love to read about characters who work, create or use their talents. I wanted to create fictional characters who push boundaries. I joined Romance Writers Australia (RWA) and did as many courses as I could to learn about the differences between fiction and non-fiction. A year later, in August 2016, with two novels complete, I pitched the series at the RWA conference. A few months later, I had a signed contract with Escape. You could say that it happened so fast, I’m still recovering from the whiplash. On the other hand, all those years of writing for magazines has been excellent practice.
As we arrive at the end of 2018, the Bluestocking series is available on all digital platforms, and I've recently been elected as Secretary for Romance Writers Australia. Follow me on social media, or sign up to my newsletter to hear my news, and see what I'm working on next.
I hope you enjoy my first series, and may there be many more to come.
January 2017 (updated August 2018)
Renée Dahlia is an unabashed romance reader who loves feisty women and strong, clever men. Her books reflect this, with a side-note of dark humour. Renée has a science degree in physics. When not distracted by the characters fighting for attention in her brain, she works in the horse racing industry doing data analysis, and writing magazine articles. When she isn’t reading or writing, Renée wrangles a partner, four children, and volunteers on the local cricket club committee as well as for Romance Writers Australia.