Author's novels have a country feel

KEEPING IT REAL: Goondiwindi author and rural property owner Nicole Alexander has just released her third book, Absolution Creek.
KEEPING IT REAL: Goondiwindi author and rural property owner Nicole Alexander has just released her third book, Absolution Creek.

EARLY on in our interview it becomes clear rural author Nicole Alexander is no house-bound writer watching the world go by through a homestead window.

"We had some pig shooters come through last night and cut a fence, so we've got cattle on the cultivation now," she explained matter-of-factly.

"As soon as I finish here I have to get on a horse and try to put them back where they belong."

The writer, who hails from a mixed grain and livestock property, west of Goondiwindi, has just finished her third book as part of a four part contract with publishers Random House.

Absolution Creek, like her two earlier novels, is set in rural Australia and steeped in our country's colonial history.

Her first books rushed off the shelves with the speed of a grassfire during a Southern Downs summer effectively clinching Ms Alexander's position as in demand author.

Initially she confessed the popularity of her work surprised her, but she said there was now a well-established market for rural literature in Australia.

"It's not exactly a new genre, Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson were writing long before me," Ms Alexander said.

"But I think what appealed to people today is the fact rural literature is grounded in realism.

"We are a throw away society these days and in contrast this sort of writing is very authentic and then there is always the appeal of rural romance."

Yet she is quick to clarify that with her writing the bush storyline comes first and the relationships second.

"Relationships and people are central to any story, but my work is very much historical sagas so I like the detail to be well researched and accurate."

For much of her early work she used the diaries and station book keeping manuals kept by her grandparents and great grandparents.

"My family have been on this property since 1893 so I was very fortunate to have a lot of material at hand," she explained.

"There were priceless things like catalogues my great grandparents had ordered goods from and those sort of things definitely helped with my early stories."

Likewise the writer, who worked in fashion and finance in Australia and Singapore before returning to the family property in the late 1990s, has savoured her share of good fortune when it came to publishing.

"I think the timing was right, people had had a few years of fantasy and then vampires," she laughed.

"So when I sent in my manuscript they were ready for something real and I was fortunate it was accepted by the first publishing house I approached."

She landed a four book contract, which meant she had to juggle her business manager role on the family property with her writing commitments.

It's a balance she good humouredly admits she is still working to perfect.

"I start out with lots of good intentions and work on writing a few days a week, but inevitably harvesting and stock work interrupts my plans.

"But that said I am still relatively disciplined, because if I leave too long between writing days it takes me ages to work out where I am up too."

Her publishers have described her readers as predominately women aged 30 to 70, but she said more and more blokes were admitting to reading her work.

"I love the bush and I think the fact I live out here and I understand the sense of attachment people have to the land, which makes my stories believable."

Her first two books were The Bark Cutters and A Changing Land. Her new book Absolution Creek is released this month and Ms Alexander will - once the cattle are back in their right paddock - prepare for a Australia-wide promotional tour.

Topics:  author novels rural lifestyle

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.