I first bumped into Australian romance author, Téa Cooper, on Facebook groups. Sharing laughs and sighs over word counts, editing blues and other writerly issues, I became more familiar with her body of work. She is one of those talented writers who is equally comfortable writing historical and contemporary romance.
Téa Cooper lives in a stone cottage on one hundred acres of bushland, just outside the time-warp 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.
Lily’s Leap is Téa’s latest (and second) Australian historical romance set in Wollombi. Her first, Matilda’s Freedom is available now. (Indian readers can grab a copy of Matilda’s freedom at a discounted price here!)
Lily’s Leap is set in the Australian outback during the times of the Gold Rush and bushranging (1850s). Into this fascinating historical setting, Tea introduces romance and adventure.
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?
ISBN: 9780857991713 Publication Date: July 1, 2014
Hunter Valley, Australia 1848
Lilibeth Dungarven’s cry of pure pleasure soared skywards as the massive black stallion rose to clear the fallen tree, sending the horrors of the last four years scuttling into the dirt of the ancient land.
Clenching her knees against Nero’s heaving flanks she bent low, ducking the overhanging branches framing the bush track, her cheek pressed to the warmth of his muscular neck. When the erratic pounding in her chest settled she drew Nero to a shuddering halt and pushed the damp curls back from her forehead.
A pair of black cockatoos, disturbed by her madcap gallop, shrieked their annoyance and resettled in the whispering casuarina trees. The crack of their beaks as they threw the mangled nuts to the ground filled the silence. Below her the ribbon of sandstone road weaved its way towards Payne’s Crossing and she shielded her eyes from the sun, searching for her mob of horses.
A glint of reflected sunlight drew her eye to a mounted figure in the middle of the road. Despite the hat pulled low shadowing his face, the stockwhip crack of his words registered deep in her belly.
‘Bail up! Guns down and off the horses.’
‘What do you think you…?’ Constricted by the tension in her throat her words petered out. No one would dare steal such a valuable mob of horses. They were branded. Everyone in the colony knew the Dungarven brand. To lose them was unthinkable. Years of breeding — the first pure Dungarven bloodlines. Months proving herself capable of managing the sale and the trip to Sydney. And now a hold up! It would not happen. Not if Lilibeth Dungarven had any say in the matter.
Hi Téa! Congratulations on the release of Lily’s Leap. What inspired you to write Lilibeth’s story?
No secrets about that! Two things inspired Lily’s Leap, both originating in Wollombi Museum where I volunteer once a month. The area has a rich history of bushranging – one bushranger actually died in the cells there. (The Courthouse is now the Museum.) And The Great North Road built by convicts between 1827 and 1834. It 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!
That’s so cool! Give us an insight into your research process.
A bit random! I studied history at university and I have a mindful of useless bits and pieces gleaned from all over the place. Then as I said there’s the museum. I usually stumble across a few facts or a setting or even an object and start writing. My current WIP started with a bath chair and a metal cradle. The rest of the research happens along the way. It’s a bit tricky because I am not the most organized person in the world so I am always losing some fact integral to the plot. When I discovered Evernote my life was transformed. I now make a ‘book’ for each story and every time I look anything up I clip the webpage content and keep it, and pictures and newspaper cuttings, photographs from the museum etc…etc
Reviewers have described your book as a blend of romance, adventure and history. How difficult is it to get this mix right?
I don’t know! I don’t think there is a formula, or a correct mix, and as an author I never know if I’ve got it right until the reviews come in. The mix changes with every story. I live in fear and terror of being accused of an information drop. That’s the quickest way to kill historical fiction in my view but it is so tempting when you have all these facts and you can’t use them!
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 an Australian 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.
No wonder you’re inspired to write historicals! But what do you like writing more…historicals or contemporaries?
At the moment I prefer writing historicals, I’m addicted to the research, although I would love to combine the two. I am playing with an idea at the moment for a series called The Adventures of Miss Abigail Wynter. Abigail is a genealogist. I’m going to try writing parallel time lines—a combination of contemporary and historical.
Give us a short preview of your next release.
My next release is in October with Escape Publishing. It’s called Jazz Baby—something a little different for me. I should have the cover in a week or so. I can’t wait. It’s set in Sydney in 1920s – here’s the blurb!
Sydney is no place for the fainthearted—five shillings for a twist of snow, a woman for not much more and a bullet if you look sideways at the wrong person.
Dolly Bowman is set to take advantage of all the brash, bustling city has to offer. After all it is the 1920s, time for a girl to become a woman and fulfil her dreams. Turning her back firmly on her childhood she takes up a position working as a housemaid while she searches for her future. Her first step towards her future
World War I flying ace Jack Dalton knows he’s luckier than most. He’s survived the war with barely a scratch, a couple of astute business decisions have paid off and he’s set for life or so he thinks. Try as he might he can’t shake the past and money isn’t enough to pay the debts he’s incurred.
Thanks, Téa, for telling us about your books and writing. Here’s wishing you much success!
Thanks for the invitation, Adite. It’s been great to visit.
Connect with Téa here: