03 August 2014

Author Interview & Book Giveaway: Téa Cooper on LILY's LEAP

This week, we're pleased to welcome author Téa Cooper with her latest novel, LILY'S LEAP. The author will offer a free copy of Lily's Leap to a lucky blog visitor.  Be sure to leave your email address in the comments of today's author interview for a chance to win. Winner(s) are contacted privately by email. Here's the blurb.

From Escape's Queen of Australian historical romance comes a story about a privileged member of Australian's squattocracy, a bushranger, and a very special horse.

Born into the rough, but privileged society of the Australian colonial landowners, Lilibeth Dungarven finds herself married, widowed, and, much to her distress, back under her father’s thumb, all before her twenty-first birthday. Determined not to forgo her dream of breeding the perfect racehorse, Lilibeth ignores propriety and sets out to restore the family’s flagging fortunes.

When Captain Tom and his mismatched band of bushrangers stumble across a mob of the best horses they’ve ever seen, and the daughter of the famed Dungarven horse stud, they know their fortunes have changed. Their catch is worth a king’s ransom. All they have to do is hold her for seven days. How hard can it be to control the pampered daughter of a colonial upstart?

**Q&A with Téa Cooper**

 What inspired you to write Lily's Leap?

No secrets about that! Two things inspired Lily’s Leap, both originating in my home town of  Wollombi, Australia. The Museum, which was once The Courthouse, where I volunteer once a month and The Great North Road built by convicts between 1827 and 1834. The area has a rich history of bushranging. The road runs from the Hunter Valley to Sydney and I travel along sections of it whenever I go to Sydney. There’s a spot called Ramsey’s Leap – a convict jumped over the edge of the stonewall and escaped …put the facts together, mix with rather a lot of poetic licence, some romance and a HEA … Lily’s Leap!

You have also written another Australian rural historical romance called Matilda’s Freedom. Are the two books related?

Yes, they are, through the secondary characters. Matilda’s Freedom is set a few years later than Lily’s Leap and I suppose in a perfect world Lily’s Leap should be read before Matilda’s Freedom although both books stand alone. I became very attached to several of the secondary characters—Jem, the Aboriginal tracker and Bonnie, Lily’s companion especially. They appear in both books. I’ve sketched out two more stories involving Hannah and Beth, the two young girls in Matilda’s Freedom. I think it would be fun to bring all of the characters from Matilda’s Freedom and Lily’s Leap back into play when/if I tell their stories.

You write across a range of time and geographic settings, from Ancient Greece to twenties Australia and contemporary romances. What is it about the era and setting of Lily’s Leap that interests you?

Both Lily and Matilda are Australians, born and bred in the “new” country and they come from rural backgrounds. They aren’t hamstrung by the conventions of Sydney colonial society and they don’t have to conform. There were many nineteenth century Australian women some who arrived as convicts and some who were born here who would have been beyond the pale had they lived in England.

When writing a historical, what precautions do you take to ensure that your characters are not too "modern" in their sensibilities?

The ten million dollar question! It is one of the reasons I love writing Australian historical romance because women have played a very significant role in “modern” Australia and from the very beginning they were a far cry from the shrinking violets of England. Ellenor Frazer received a land grant in her own name in February 1794 only two years after the very first land grant in the colony. Mary Ann Bugg was a notorious bushranger and ended up making it a family affair by marrying another, Captain Thunderbolt. She’s described as dressing as a young man in moleskin breeches and a cabbage palm hat. There was even a woman pirate, Charlotte Badger. Women did it all, right from the earliest days of the colony which means I have quite a bit more leeway.

So what’s up next? Another historical, or a return to contemporary romance.

Next is looking rather exciting – and a bit diverse. In October Jazz Baby, a story set in the 1920s in Sydney releases. I’ve written a sequel too – The Wages of Sin. Then in February Forgotten Fragrance, the first book in my family saga From the Ocean to the Outback. At the moment I am rather excited by my current WIP (work in progress). I’ve managed to combine contemporary and historical romance – I think. It is called The Adventures of Abigail Wynter. Abigail is a genealogist who works in a museum (I expect it will end up being Wollombi Museum!) unlocking the secrets of the past… I am playing with parallel timelines. It’s a bit like doing a cryptic crossword – great fun!

Learn more about author  Téa Cooper.

Téa Cooper lives in a stone cottage on one hundred acres of bushland, just outside the nineteenth century village of Wollombi, NSW Australia. When she isn't writing, Téa can be found haunting the local museum or chatting to the locals, who offer a never-ending source of inspiration. Both Lily’s Leap and Matilda’s Freedom are set in and around Wollombi. In October, Jazz Baby, a 1920s rags to riches story set in Sydney will be released and in February, Forgotten Fragrance, Book I of a family saga entitled From the Ocean to the Outback. At the moment she is working on a parallel time-line series called The Adventures of Miss Abigail Wynter. She has also written three contemporary romances.