Category Archives: news

on Having It All

I never wanted the accidental housewife to turn into an internet wasteland – who ever wants that for their little corner of the internet? But even though I firmly believe what’s online is real life, it turns out the bits of real life that are offline have a way of asserting themselves. My real life offline is demanding everything I’ve got, right now.

For those of you who feel like I just announced the birth of my daughter, let me update you to the sixteen-month-old spark that fills my hours, my senses, my mushy mum-brain:

And let me also announce the expected birth of my son, in March. The body is truly a terrifying and miraculous thing! Didn’t that womb, like, only just finish building a whole person???

Before I began my second baby, I spent the first half of last year writing the beginnings of a new book. The hero, Merryweather St Acre, turns up at the heroine’s door in one scene and she sees him thus: She had thought perhaps she’d invented or exaggerated his beauty. That the circumstances of their meeting had made her imagine that extra quality to him – the something naïve and ardent and easily broken. But there he stood, too close and without speaking, and he may as well have been the virginal unicorn in human form.

The virginal unicorn in human form. It also has the heroine murdering a man in cold blood, the hero ruining some cheap pornography in the throes of pleasure and lots about the tender horror of motherhood. It’s kind of a hot mess, and I think my agent might have cried a bit when she read it because I will obviously never write anything marketable.

But. Then motherhood visited a second time.

So this isn’t a mum-blog post, this is a writer-blog post. But it’s about being a mum, because the two have collided in my life, and I made the decision that being a mum wins this round. I decided this because being a writer really, really wanted to win, and all that did was make me feel bad about everything. 

A friend said to me recently, “In the scheme of things it’s not really that many years out of our lives.” She’s right. What’s 5, 6, 7 years in a whole lifetime? But it’s not just 5, 6, 7 years. It’s the difference between being 30 and having my first novel published, and being 38 with almost no work experience, and qualifications in a shrinking industry.

Before becoming a mum I had the vague impression that huge strides had been made into supporting women to be mothers and also have careers. Being a mum, I now know that to even begin to keep up you have to be motivated and organised. Two inadequate words to describe what it takes.

I also don’t think you can really know, until you’ve experienced it, how even though you are taking on half the work of your family life, somehow it’s the invisible half. And no matter how you tell yourself that what you do is important there is a subtle shift in the way your family relationships work.

This is the contradiction that bothers me. There’s an assumption that our babies are the best of us, our greatest achievements; and yet we are somehow diminished when we embrace motherhood fully. This is the risk I take in choosing motherhood: that it diminishes me. How sad that it’s not an easy, obvious choice to make. How especially stupid when it’s the hardest thing I have ever done, the steepest learning curve, forging something true and tough from whatever wibbly stuff I brought into my thirties with me.

I’ve spent a long time trying to write this post, and it’s this contradiction I keep bashing my head against. If I describe the deep sense of completeness and contentment that comes from holding my daughter while she curls an arm around my neck and pulls my hair in a short, gentle rhythm – I feel like I’m reinforcing the idea that she’s my greatest achievement. If I describe my frustration that being a mother necessitates me also becoming a dependant – I feel like I’m misrepresenting my situation as awful.

And at the heart of it is this inescapable biological difference. I don’t know how exactly motherhood would look in a truly equal society, but this isn’t it. When being a woman and wanting a child throws you into playing a certain role, this isn’t it.

I’m not removing myself from that inequality, either. Much as I dream of being a working, autonomous adult, when it comes down to it I’m not prepared to give up being the primary care-giver. I covet being the safe harbour in my daughter’s life. I covet the comfort only I can give, the intimacy we share that only hours upon hours upon years can create. I wouldn’t give up being the final word.


It’s an intense experience of living with compromise, making a good life out of unequal parts. There’s something about the physical nature of motherhood – the body used as an incubator, the labour of birth, the bovine lactation – that cannot be easily sorted into an equal or even a common experience between men and women. It’s the first truly immovable experience I’ve had – more complete than heartbreak.

It’s not really just one or the other, though: writer or mum. My decision has had a slow, positive, exciting effect. I’m not one of those mums who can suddenly do a day’s work in an hour, haha, no. But I never did get that second book out within a year of my first, so now it’s like – the pressure’s off. Now I have time to think again about the kinds of books I want to write and the kind of career I want to have. Now I have the experience to understand that overnight success in the American market doesn’t necessarily equal a fulfilling career. Things take time. I like being able to – having to – let things take time.

So really, all of this is to say, to any wonderful readers out there waiting for my next book: I’m so sorry. It’s going to be a long wait. And also, hopefully, it’s going to be worth it.



a cup of tea

I’m imagining a round wooden table in an alcove of windows somewhere – Scotland, maybe. The house is old, the glass is old, and I’m looking out over my favourite kind of countryside: a bit desolate, low and scrubby, its few trees like fists raised at the sky. The sky, of course, is full of movement.

But it’s so snug inside. Let’s have a cup of tea, and a catch-up!

That silence on my end has mostly been about productivity. I’ve been through the revision process for My Lady Untamed, and it has added so much value to the book. There’s one scene in particular that just melted my heart as soon as I’d written it. Going with a publishing house has been worth it just for that one scene alone, not to mention how cool Penguin Aus HQ is.

The book’s in copy-editing at the moment – which means someone’s picking up my spelling errors or logistical errors, and no doubt fainting in horror at my…unconventional use of punctuation. I can’t help it. I love the truncated sentence with a full-stop.

All signs are pointing to a May 15th publishing date (so soon!) – but you can be sure I’ll keep you updated. I can hardly wait for you all to meet Kit and Darlington.

I’ve also fallen head over heels in love with the idea for my next book. This is what I know so far:

The heroine is a debt collector.

The first time she and the hero meet, she’s murdering someone.

He’s the lovely, naive youngest son of someone-or-other.

He’s engaged to a very proper young woman whose family have just lost everything.

In other news, I was recently mentioned in an article in The Atlantic about romance and feminism. The article’s an interesting overview/jumping in point for looking at what romance is up to these days.

And as this is a discussion that will never be done, and can be looked at endlessly from all angles, there are wonderful follow-up conversations over at Cecilia Grant’s blog (can romance be feminist?) and Something More (are we doing ourselves a disservice when we dismiss early romance?).

I think the heart of my stance on all of this is: Romance is not obliged to be feminist; and the most feminist thing about romance is the critical discourse around it.

I’ll be back to regular blogging next week. Damn that was a good cuppa!

there be monsters ahead

This is just a quick note to let you know that the next time I post, things are going to look a bit different around here. (Sneak peek on the left!)

The redesign has been in the works for a while, and I can’t wait to launch it next week. I love writing this blog and all the thoughts it lets me explore and the discussions that come from it. 

To celebrate I’ve lined up the most ridiculous series of guest posts, but there’ll be more on that – and all the pretty giveaways – when I post next week on the brand-new blog.

That’s it!

Oh wait, I promised monsters, didn’t I?

let her eat cake

So I have been weirdly haphazard about sharing this news, but: I sold my first book! It’s a teen romance that will be published by Hardie Grant next year. I sold it on a pitch, so I’m working away at getting it written now.

Some of the reasons there haven’t been trumpets and confetti are:

1) it’s not a book I’ve spent years slaving and doubting and delighting over (and despairing that anyone will ever think it’s worth buying) so this isn’t the SUDDEN FULFILMENT OF YEARS OF ANXIOUS DREAMS;

2) I’ve been working in a professional way for six months now, so this feels like a continuation of that (not like “because I obviously totally deserve it” – just like, I’m working professionally and here’s some paid work);

3) it’s not in the genre I want to make my career in (historical romance), so it doesn’t feel like launching my career; and

4) “the call” (or in my case “the email-and-meeting”) really does just happen in an everyday sort of way – there are no actual trumpets – so it’s all too easy to just take it in stride.

All that being said – I am incredibly excited. I sometimes just think, “I’m being paid to write fiction!” and the world is a lovely place. No more awkward pause after the “Have you had anything published?” question. Also, Hardie Grant are a wonderful publisher, and the way they view the market and their books falls exactly into line with the kind of stuff I want to write. I’d gotten the impression the age of chivalry towards authors was dead, but my meeting with my editor is proof that it’s not.

And while in my numbered list above I was trying to be as honest as possible about my feelings, and might have come across as a little ungrateful…this is the fulfilment of a lifelong dream. I’m very clear about that.

I even managed to actually celebrate the occasion. Special k took me out for cake and tea, and put these photos directly up on facebook without me realising.

A proud husband is a good thing! (And it means cake.)

The book has no title yet, but it’s about a chick called Lexie who is vain, has impeccable manners and is determined to become an actress. Her family is forced to move to the country before she can finish year 12, and she thinks she’s going to die of anonymity until she finds out a reality show is being filmed about the local golden boy. She’s pretty desperate to get in on the action. Only problem is, the first day she met him she insulted him to his face…