ARRC2017: The Rise of Rural Romance

Australian Rural Romance is a growing sub-genre of romance.
Moderator: Victoria Purman
CN – Charlotte Nash
NH – Nicole Hurley-Moore
PC – Pamela Cook
SB – Sarah Barrie

Where do you live?
NH: Castlemain, Vic on the edge of town
SB: Kulnurra, NSW on a 100 acre farm
CN: I grew up in Redland Qld back before it was suburbia. It was all strawberry farms then.
PC: I grew up in the Shire, Sydney. Eventually we bought a holiday house that had horses next door. The kids became interested, and that inspired my interest. Now we live at Stanwell Tops with a few horses there, and a few at the holiday house.

Why Rural Romance?
NH: I am inspired by my village. It’s old gold country with sheep, orchards and wine. I love the setting.
SB: It combines my two favourite things; romance and farming
CN: I started in sci-fi with a few novels. But the 2011 flood in Brisbane affected our street. We were evacuated and that was a cathartic moment; the notion of everything disappearing. Our house ended up being ok, so we let it out to locals whose house wasn’t ok while they rebuilt. We moved temporarily to Sydney for work, and that time allowed me to think back on my time as a rural doctor (when I was younger).
PC: After the 2009 NaNoWriMo, I submitted my work to the Hachette development program, was accepted and my journey went on from there.

What inspires you about rural life?
NH: Small town values, having each other’s backs.
SB: Australia has a strong sense of identity and rural life reflects that ‘have a go’ / ‘give a hand’ mentality
CH: The appeal of rural romance seems to fascinate readers. Rodeo is the fastest growing sport in the USA, maybe because of the rural mystique. There are positive values in the agrarian farming lifestyle, persistence through hardship, mateship.
PC: For a writer, small communities are fun for gossip. It creates tension when everyone knows your business and you can’t go anywhere without someone you know seeing you.

Who are your readers?
SB: No idea, but rural romance goes back to who we are and our identity as Australians.
CN: Most emails I get are from people in small towns or who have working small towns or on a property.

Do you need a cowboy hat on the cover?
All: Yes (with much laughter)
SB: There is a symbolic language in cover art. Hat = rural romance

Do you have to live in the country?
SB/NH: You need a love for country
SB: You just don’t want to get something wrong. Details matter.
CN: In a way it’s a variation on cultural appropriation, but historical writers don’t live in history. Research matters. Not living there is no barrier. Readers see cynicism, so you need to portray love for country.

What research do you do?
CN: You need to be thoroughly familiar
NH: Mostly climbing around sheep sheds. Totally glamorous!
SB: Google maps helps
CN: Yes, agree google maps helps, but visiting places gives you the visceral experience of being there that adds to the writing. There are many stories in rural medicine that become more dramatic due to distance. Most workplace accidents happen on farms, or in agricultural jobs, but there is not much help out there.

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