Today is my stop on The Peppercorn Project blog tour. A big thanks to Nicki for answering all my questions, and to Pan Macmillan for including me.
Title: The Peppercorn Project
Author: Nicki Edwards
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Genre: Rural Romance
Can you tell us a little bit about your new book, THE PEPPERCORN PROJECT…?
The Peppercorn Project is an Australian rural romance book set in the fictional town of Stony Creek, at the base of the Flinders Ranges in South Australia. It is one family’s story of grief and loss and of hope and new beginnings.
The idea for the story came about after reading stories about $1 leases provided for families to help rescue dying country towns across Australia. I decided to turn that idea around and instead, offer ‘peppercorn leases’ to families doing it tough who needed the love and support of a vibrant, flourishing community like Stony Creek.
After the untimely death of her husband, single mum Isabelle Cassidy has nothing left emotionally or financially. When she hears about the Peppercorn Project, she applies. Winning a coveted lease seems like her best chance to heal and start again. Issie never expected finding love again would be part of the deal.
Newly single police office Matt Robertson has moved to Stony creek to find space to lick his wounds after his ex-wife’s affair and their subsequent bitter divorce. He has vowed to stay single, not wanting—or needing—the complication of another woman in his life. He never expected a grieving widow would get under his skin the way Isabelle has and he never predicted the way her family’s fragility would put him in full protection mode.
When Matt shows his interest in her, Issie must decide whether she is ready to let go of her past and embrace her new future. But just when she finally decides to give him a piece of her broken heart, one of her children gets badly injured in his care. How will she ever trust him?
When Isabelle’s son is injured, Matt is devastated, but he vows to do whatever it takes to win Isabelle’s trust again and prove his love. What he doesn’t anticipate is that a community tragedy will cause him to lose trust in her.
As Issie and her children move through their grief, they come to realize how much they needed rescuing. With Matt’s love, the support from their new friends and the care shown by the Stony Creek community, the Cassidy family get their chance at a new beginning.
When you aren’t writing, what do you get up to?
Working! I work approximately four shifts per week as a nurse, either in the Intensive Care Unit or the Emergency Department. I absolutely love my job and can’t imagine ever giving it up to write fulltime. In between working, I am a taxi service for two teenage boys, a cook (a job I hate) for my husband and three sons still living at home, I lead the music at church, I clean (sometimes) and I read (as often as possible). People ask me how I find time to write. I don’t watch any television and I write every chance I can get. Some days that means I write for ten hours, other days ten minutes. I have no set routine or plan.
Is there any advice you would give to aspiring writers?
Write what you know and write what you love. This was among the best advice given to me. Also, if you’re not enjoying your own story, chances are, no-one else will either.
Can you tell us anything about what you are working on next?
I have just completed another Christmas novella called “Operation Mistletoe Magic” as the final part of the ‘Escape to the country’ series and I’m currently working on another rural romance with medical elements called “A Song in Her Heart”. I hope this will come out early 2017.
One of the minor characters in The Peppercorn Project (Leah) is also crying out to have a story of her own too but I keep telling her to be quiet and wait her turn!
Can you give us a brief insight into Isabelle Cassidy’s character in THE PEPPERCORN PROJECT?
The idea for Isabelle’s backstory came after my friend Kate lost her husband Rob in a tragic accident a few years ago. Rob didn’t die in a surfing accident like my character Issie’s husband, but I wanted to look at the themes of grief and loss and of finding hope and love again. My friend walked her journey with grace and courage and has been an incredible inspiration for others because of the transparency she has shown during her time of grief. I wanted to honour Kate by writing this book.
The idea of falling in love a second time after the loss of a spouse isn’t for everyone, and since writing the book I’ve discovered the “dead spouse” trope isn’t a popular one among all readers. However, I hope I’ve done Issie’s story justice by showing that love can come a second time around, even when you’re not looking for it.
How do you come up with ideas for your books?
Most of my stories come directly from situations that have happened to me as a nurse. I get inspired by the patients I have the privilege of caring for and of course their families. It is such an honour to be with people in their darkest and most frightening times as well as during joyous occasions. I love that I can share their stories and give a ‘behind the scenes’ look at what goes on in an ICU or Emergency Department. I also get inspiration from the awesome nurses and doctors I work with – without their help, these stories wouldn’t ring true.
Are there any particular books or authors that you would recommend to readers of Words Read and Written?
For lovers of Australian rural romance, I highly recommend your readers check out http://www.australianruralromance.com
If you’re looking for sweet romance with ‘behind closed doors’ sex scenes and no bad language like my books, you can’t go past Alissa Callen’s books. I love them all.
If you don’t mind your books a little steamier, try Cathryn Hein, Lisa Ireland, Rachael Johns, Karly Lane, Trish Morey or Fiona Palmer. I guarantee their books tick all the boxes.
For lovers of medical romances, Fiona McArthur is one of my absolute favourite Aussie authors and I enjoy Fiona Lowe and Lucy Clark’s books too.
If rural or medical romance isn’t your thing, check out Kathryn Ledson, Alli Sinclair or Belinda Williams – all favourite authors of mine.