It’s been a while since I’ve been captivated by a good book. I used to love reading for pleasure, but now, I find that when I read I’m looking at lots of different things, trying to learn from the book I’m reading.
Dinner at Rose’s is different. It grabbed me from the minute I opened the pages and didn’t let me go until I had finished the last page. I laughed, I cried, I nodded in agreement and got wild when one of the characters misbehaved! To be so caught up emotionally, is a sign of a wonderful book.
All though it can’t be classed as Rural Lit, Dinner at Rose’s is set in rural NZ, where Danielle lives and her experience as a large animal Vet shines through when she writes about the pet pig and dairy farms. Grab a copy when you’re next in a bookshop.
Of all the things I thought I might do one day, being an actual author and being invited to write a guest blog never even made the list. It gives me a kick that comes second only to being asked to write a column on ‘My Beauty Secrets’ for The Woman’s Weekly. That one was particularly amusing, since I don’t actually manage to brush my hair every morning and my sole beauty tip is that toothpaste on spots dries them up nicely.
I’ve always liked writing, in a furtive sort of way, but I started devoting a reasonable amount of time to it when my daughter was a few months old. I found being at home with a baby was a really big change from being a full-time large animal vet. Suddenly I had some spare time – babies sleep a lot, or at least mine did, and there’s only so much baking you can do – and some spare brain power, so I started a book.
It wasn’t a great book, but it taught me a lot (mostly that if the author has no idea where the plot is going, she ends up writing her poor characters into situations from which they can’t possibly be rescued) and it was so much fun I kept trying. The second one was a bit better, so I got brave and submitted it to Allen and Unwin’s Friday Pitch. Friday Pitch is a wonderful thing; rather than printing off a vast screed of paper manuscript and sending it off into the wide world, you just send an email with a synopsis and your first chapter.
They requested the rest of the manuscript, which was wildly exciting. They turned it down, eventually, saying it wasn’t badly written but the plot wasn’t saleable, and a very kind woman added a PS to say that chick lit in a rural setting sells well, so why didn’t I try that? So I did.
Dinner at Rose’s was heaps of fun to write, because I wrote it about a girl who’s a bit like me (except for managing to say witty things in conversation when I only wake up in the middle of the night and wish I’d thought of them at the time), living in the same sort of place I do. I got to put in the things I like most about rural New Zealand, and writing provided a lovely contrast to changing nappies and housework and pregnancy testing cows. Not that I don’t enjoy nappies and housework and cows, but it’s nice to have something else in your life too.
I work two days a week as a vet, and play with the kids, and look after the house, and help my husband on our sheep and beef farm, and write when the kidlets are in bed. And the idea that my hobby might actually contribute something to the overdraft is very, very cool.