Sunday, June 27, 2010

Inspirational Historical Romance from New Zealand

THIS MONTH'S GIVEAWAYS ARE The Last Virgin in Year Ten, Nerrilee's World, Karaoke Kate and To a Distant Land TO BE IN THE DRAW, POST A COMMENT to the columnists OR A QUESTION to the author, THEN CLICK FOLLOW in the bottom LH corner. You will also be considered for an author interview some time in the future.

If you are an unpublished writer, we'd like to see you up on our NEW WRITERS page.

We will go to a different genre this week before heading back to children's lit again next week. This time we look at inspirational historical romance by Julianne Jones from New Zealand. Here is Julianne:-

What are you passionate about?

I'm passionate about a lot of things but I would have to say that my faith and my family are up there at the top of the list. I'm also passionate about writing and honestly, why else would I do it? It's been said that, ‘There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed’ (Ernest Hemingway). Computers may have replaced typewriters but they've not made the writing any easier. I also love reading and quilting and long hot summers (which unfortunately I no longer experience) and the Australian bush (but not the snakes). As a writer, my passion is to share God's love via the written word and I hope that in some small way I do that.

What do you find is your biggest struggle as an author and how do you overcome it?

Finding time and finding inspiration. I work part-time as an early childhood teacher and arrange my hours to allow time for writing but there are many weeks that go by when I'm not able to write as often as I would like because life intrudes (like now where I'm doing this interview rather than writing). As for inspiration, I'll admit that I don't understand what it is at all or how it comes but when it does come I just enjoy it and make the most of it. The rest of the time I just slog away writing and hope that I manage to create something worthy of being read.

Do you ever experience self doubt?

Never. In case, that sounds conceited (and I know it does), let me explain. God has given me this desire to write and I've always wanted to do that. I feel fulfilled when I write--as if I'm doing what I've been created to do. I rarely if ever doubt that. But can I make it as a writer? That's where the self doubt comes in. I belong to an online Christian writers' group and one of the first things I discovered about that group is that there are a lot of incredibly gifted Christian writers around who have never been published. To realise that was humbling. Who am I that I could think for even a moment that what I write is worth publishing? And now that I am published, I can only be amazed at God's goodness to me because I know how undeserving I am.

What do you do about it?

I write. I pray. And I trust God that if He wants what I've written to be published then it will be. And I keep reading all my favourite authors and hope that perhaps in some way I will be able to absorb some of their wonderful wonderful ability and in time write half as well as they do.

Do you have any tips for new writers?

Write. Write. Write. Read. Read. Read. Make the dictionary your friend. Join a writers' group. Enter competitions. Hone your skills. Never ever give up. If this is what God has called you to do then it will happen in His time not yours.

Are there any programs or events you would recommend to budding authors?

I joined a writers' group and entered their weekly challenge and found that the discipline of writing to a topic and keeping to a word count was invaluable in honing my skills. I tried different genres (even poetry for which I have absolutely no talent) just to increase my own knowledge and build my skills. I read articles on writing and was inspired by author biographies (especially Janette Oke whose biography I used to borrow from my local library every year). Anything that increased my knowledge and skills was not to be dismissed. However I never took a formal course but certainly wouldn't rule this out for those looking to hone their skills.

What would you say is the most important message to help a new writer gain publication?

Don't dismiss the magazines and ezines that don't pay for your work. By submitting your work and getting it published you are beginning to build up a writing portfolio even if you're not earning. It's perhaps a good way to get a foot in the door. It's also important to know your target audience and to write accordingly.

What are the themes running through your work?

I guess it's no surprise to discover that the two things at the top of my passionate list—faith and family—are major themes in my writing. I also like to explore other themes such as friendship and marriage. In fact, I like to think of my books as love stories in the truest sense: stories about love between family members, love between friends, and God's love for mankind.

Tell us something about your latest book.

To A Distant Land follows the lives of three young people: Katie Donovan who is wrongly accused and sentenced to seven years transportation to a distant land far from family and country; Samuel McKinnon, recently graduated from college and who accepts a position as spiritual advisor on a convict ship, intending to return home once the journey is complete but discovers that God’s plans are contrary to his own; and Rhiannon Sanford who immigrates with her family to Australia after a rift between her grandfather and father. It is a story about friendship and faith set against a backdrop of transportation and the harsh realities of life in colonial Australia.

I wrote the book with young adults (11 to 14 year olds) in mind but it's not been marketed specifically for that age group and from the feedback I've received it seems that it's not just the young adults who enjoy the book. However, one thing I was quite mindful of when writing was the huge responsibility of preserving the innocence of the readers (particularly given the target audience). For this reason, there are only veiled references to some of the social issues of the day (such as privileged sons forcing themselves on innocent girls) and which are not likely to be picked up by younger readers, and careful handling of the facts relating to convicts and transportation.

There are another two books in this series (one already completed and waiting for a publisher; the other partly written) which continue the stories of Katie, Samuel and Rhiannon in one of the most beautiful settings imaginable—the Hunter Valley in NSW.

Here is a link to my website: The first chapter of the book can be read here:

I also have a number of blogs but the two that might interest readers are my writing blog A Reason to Write: and my personal blog On Eagles' Wings:

Thank you, Julianne. This book fills a gap in the Australian New Zealand inspirational marketplace. I don't remember a significant convict romance since Margaret Reeson's and I look forward to reading it.



  1. Great interview Wendy! I have read a couple of Julieanne's pieces in magazines in the past and I am so excited to hear she has published a book. It sounds great - will be looking out for that one!

  2. Very interesting and thought-provoking. I've read To A Distant Land and really enjoyed it. There were aspects of the story that intrigued me but it would be spoiling the surprise to say what they were.

  3. Footprints, you were such an encouragement when I first began writing. You'll probably never know how much.

    Anne, I'd be intrigued to know what about the story intrigued you! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

  4. I have read To A Distant Land also and enjoyed it very much. I look forward to the next episode of Katie, Samuel and Rhiannon's lives!