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  • Writer's pictureMaya Linnell

Léonie Kelsall on pyjama uniforms, lucky wheelbarrows and rural romance.

Léonie Kelsall is a chameleon of the fiction world, writing fantasy, steamy contemporary romance, suspense, outback noir, sci-fi and most recently rural romance. Her latest release, The Wattle Seed Inn, was published by Allen & Unwin in paperback, eBook and audio this month.

The story follows PR executive Gabrielle as she tackles a major fixer-upper project in South Australia’s countryside. Converting the dilapidated inn into a thriving business is no mean feat and puts her smack-bang in the path of local stonemason, Hayden. As with Léonie’s 2020 novel The Farm at Peppertree Crossing, The Wattle Seed Inn is full of warmth and humour. Baking, charming characters and a familiar small-town setting make for a fabulous, feel-good read.

Kiss and Tell with Léonie

Short and sweet questions

Current book on your bedside table:

What kind of monster has only one book?Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns, Syed Masood’s The Bad Muslim Discount, Maya Linnell’s Wildflower Ridge & Bottlebrush Creek, Karly Lane’s Take Me Home.

Where do you do most of your writing? I have a desk in my library near the wood heater – and close to the back door so I can let the dog in. And out. And in.

Favourite Australian holiday destination: The Kid and I head to Robe in South Australia 2-3 times a year for great coffee, food, relaxation and refilling the creative well.

What’s your preferred drop? Whatever some kind person has poured into my glass. However, I did rediscover Passion Pop on a trip to Robe a couple of years ago – it holds a lot of 80’s themed memories!

Guilty pleasure? Darrell Lea Dark Licorice Chocolate Blocks – and now that I’ve Googled exactly what it’s called, I discovered it’s on special…that’s serendipity, right? I have no choice but to buy!

Pet peeve: People who lie or obfuscate. Writers who claim a marginalization to justify writing it. Oh, wait, that’s the same peeve.

Favourite fictional couple and why? Patty and Anton in Summer of My German Soldier, because that was the first book that really made me cry. (I mean, everyone cried when Aslan died, right? So The Chronicles of Narnia doesn’t count). The story holds so much angst and hope – I’m scared to re-read, in case it’s not everything that I recall it to be!

If you could pack two non-essential items for a deserted tropical island, what would they be? Clearly, books are essential, so… a razor and moisturizer. Because who wants to be furry when the hot rescuers turn up?

Name an emerging author to keep an eye out for: I read a lot of unpublished manuscripts (actually, more than I read books, so my TBR pile moves slowly!) and Emma Babbington has a wonderful knack for deeply descriptive phrasing without superfluous words, and for giving her characters memorable quirks.

Book you’re most looking forward to reading in 2021? I honestly don’t know, as there is always so much coming out, and so little time to read it all!

Best thing about being a writer? The hours, and my friends are always with me.

Worst thing about being a writer? The hours, and I tend to neglect ‘real life’ friends.

Do you prefer music, podcasts or silence when writing? Music…I generally have a song or style for each book, from Dolly Parton to Neil Diamond to Split Enz. But if I can’t choose, I opt to stream Radio 5MU – plays all the best ‘older’ stuff, plus has a ton of farming news and interest pieces.

Favourite perfume: Chanel No5

TV/film crush: Sandra Bullock

The best non-writing related prize I won was …

A wheelbarrow full of booze! Fortunately, it was still in bottles.

Top three tips for aspiring authors? 1. Be prepared to write multiple books before you get signed…they’ll be sitting there waiting for you to revisit them. I know. I still have some sitting there!

2. Don’t slavishly take onboard advice: write like yourself. If you follow all the rules, your style won’t be distinct.

3. Don’t be afraid to chase your publishing dream through alternate avenues. There’s more than one way to skin the rabbit (there are four cats in this house: I was afraid to finish the idiom correctly)

What theme do you hope shines through in your writing? Love is love. Everyone finds it somewhere different, whether it’s in a person, an animal, a place, a building, a hobby. But wherever it’s found, love will only make the world a better place, so don’t judge others for their passion.

Proudest author moment? I don’t actually feel pride about anything to do with writing. More an awareness that, although I’ve worked toward this for three decades, I’m simply incredibly lucky, fortunate to be offered publishing contracts when others are far more talented and deserving. So, while I feel gratitude, relief, happiness, and humility, it’s never pride.

My favourite thing about writing romance is …. I can fix the world for my characters and give them the happy ending that can be so hard to find in real life – and that provides hope and escapism for readers.

If anyone gives me flack about writing romance, I tell them… I’m the one who gets to sit at home and work in my pyjamas and still make bank. Though, with COVID lockdowns, that’s not so much of an ‘in your face’ retort now!

The Wattle Seed Inn

An entrancing new rural romance from the bestselling author of The Farm at Peppertree Crossing.

'Warm, witty and brimming with big-hearted country characters, renovations and romance. A fabulous, feel-good rural read!' Maya Linnell, bestselling author of Bottlebrush Creek. Three aching hearts, a ramshackle country pub and a tangled web of secrets. PR executive Gabrielle Moreau knows she has an easy life, but when her business partner claims she lacks career passion she takes ownership of a dilapidated pub in a tiny riverside settlement to prove she can be a success without falling back on her privilege. Eighteen months ago, Settlers Bridge stonemason Hayden Paech had it all: a job he loved, good mates and a close family. All he needed was the right woman to come along and he was ready to settle down. But one poor choice stole that chance and he'll never risk caring for anyone again. Living at Wurruldi Hotel for … goodness, so many years, Ilse has seen more changes of ownership than she can recall. Clinging to her failing memories, she's tired of trying to protect the property her grandparents built. With the arrival of the elegant Gabrielle Moreau, however, it seems that finally an owner may recognise the importance of recapturing the grace and dignity of Ilse's past. For Ilse to find peace, Hayden forgiveness and Gabrielle her true passion, three aching hearts must reveal their secrets.

About the author

Leonie grew up in the South Australian country - initially on the beautiful Fleurieu Peninsula in a tiny town where the school had a total enrolment of only eleven students, and later on a farm near the stunning Murray River. Her rural upbringing encouraged a love of books, for which she will be forever grateful.

She couldn't wait to hit the bright lights of the big city when she graduated -- however, a few years working in government departments saw her longing to make her way back to the country. She now finds herself dividing her time between her professional counselling practice in the beautiful Adelaide Hills, and her childhood farm, which provides the setting for many of her stories.

Leonie's novel The Farm at Peppertree Crossing was published in 2020 to wonderful reviews.

Find Léonie online



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