Does anyone know what a reiver’s moon may be? Meet Jill Staunton

This blog post I am thrilled to be doing something different, and presenting a piece on Australian Jill Staunton, author of Reivers Moon, a beautiful read which I thoroughly recommend. I haven’t known Jill long, but what I know I like, particularly her passion for the land. It is inspiring.

 

Generally, I am not a big rural fan, but I will read the odd one here and there. I do however like to read new Australian authors and I am so glad I came across this. I joke and say the sao biscuits and vegemite cemented my love affair. They probably did. It’s an Aussie tradition even a migrant child can relate to, although my Italian cousins ran screaming when I offered it to them to try. It is also a very inexpensive snack in hard times. I grew up understanding that, despite the cultural differences. There is a moment in every book that connects us and often it can be a small thing. I found myself inside a world vastly different to mine but completely fascinating.

I won’t touch too much on the plot except to say the novel is a mixture of family drama, hot romance and the kind of crime people on the land should never be subjected to. Their lives are hard enough. Beautifully crafted the novel is an insight into Australian outback life and one that people everywhere can relate to. So much of that is due to the author’s skill in the use of descriptive language, and to the love of the land that shines through in every word. It draws the reader, no matter their background, into the world of farmer, the man on the land. I will let Jill tell you a little more about that, and the book.

Meet Jill Staunton

So many things inspire me to write. Mostly, I write because I love writing – love putting together a story, playing around with words until I find the ones I’m happiest with, the ones that give me the shades of meaning I really want.

Someone once called me a wordsmith and the first time I heard the term, I was thrown back to my childhood and my uncle whom I could always track down in his smithy. He taught me to work the bellows while he beat red-hot metal into shape on an anvil, then dunked it into a bed of coals – which I had to keep red-hot for him by pumping the bellows. He could make anything he needed for the farm; there was artistry in his hands. He came from a line of artists – painters and woodcarvers – and women who could crochet, knit, sew, cook and garden the way we don’t today. So many of those skills have diminished or been lost to us. He, and they, were smiths in the true sense of the word.

I wondered then what value there was in being a wordsmith. Compared to my Scottish and Irish predecessors, I had little to show for my art. Or so I supposed. There were no crocheted bedspreads, or intricately laced tablecloths; no knitted dresses or patterned jumpers; no deliciously fluffy, light sponge cakes; no colourful bottles of pickles, relishes, jams and preserved vegetables lined up in the pantry and  no oil paintings positioned proudly above hand carved wooden mantelpieces. Words on paper were largely invisible in a home filled with such useful treasures. Still, I loved words.

And my parents loved the land and taught their children to love it too. I soaked up the language of the bush like dry ground soaks up a rainstorm and found that words had their own kind of magic and artistry. They enabled me to write about the country I loved, about a way of life that mattered and still does.

It matters because farmers are artists too and their palettes are living blocks of land upon which they must constantly position and re-position crops and livestock in ever changing environmental landscapes and moods. Whether we are vegetarians or meat-eaters, we need our farmers. And we need to respect their knowledge, skills and artistry in managing our survival. Yes, our survival. For without farmers, we’d all die.

So, when I see organisations like PETA, scurrilously slandering our farming communities, words spill from my mind and swirl into poems of protest like this one.

Drought Jill

Drought-dry

Drought-dry paddocks sit brown and bare,

Devoid of grass and seared by the sun

Their friable soils fragment, crumble undone

And rootless, they lift into hot dry air.

Blown by bitter winds, dust clouds flare

Across outback towns and cattle runs

As life succumbs to a burning sun

And bleaching bones lie bereft of care

While you, PETA, arrogant, ignorant, urbanite

You, who live in comfort through oblivious days

You, who shop for bloodless foods, prettily pre-packaged

You dare to vilify those whom death stalks, unites,

Who look into dull, glazed eyes and euthanaise

Day after drought-dry day? Shame on you and your sacrilege!

I also write Outback fiction – a blend of romance and adventure based around real rural issues such as reiving. Now there’s a word my Scottish ancestors would have used! I like to take a romantic and optimistic viewpoint in my stories so ‘Reiver’s Moon’ is an Australian Outback romance and rural crime story about cattle theft in north Queensland, set between Townsville and Hughenden.  Annella MacAdam and Mitchell Fallon are the key characters and as the lead says, Annella MacAdam loved a lie and didn’t know it. Mitchell Fallon was the lie and knew it.

What inspires me is my love of the Australian bush, my family, a sense of justice and my delight in playing with words. I think writers simply love creating stories.

Launch P

Cheers, Jill Staunton

Jill’s Facebook page

or Instagram at  jillstauntonpen

 

Till next time

Barb

So what is a reiver’s moon? Follow Jill on her media and ask her and then let me know. 🙂

 

.

Quotes, moving and covers

009

I am in the middle of packing, and it’s been a little bit of a nightmare.  There are so many things to think about.  In fact the process is long and fraught with so many niggly little problems that I’ve had to take a step back from everything, including writing.  The cloud of overwhelmingness (I do know it’s not a real word) was growing bigger and darker every day. Packing and writing don’t mix for me, at least not at the moment.  Combine that with real life (the everyday normal things) and you have a problem. Each thing distracts the other, and each refuses to compromise with my time, and consequently everything was coming to a standstill.

Needing time out, I decided to catch up on some reading.  I have long suspected I may be slightly obsessive about the amount of reading I do as I can’t seem to go one day without reading a book, someone’s post, or sometimes both.  Though obviously time consuming, it does have its perks.  For me reading provides relaxation and it is the way I learn.  Away from the mayhem of “do I keep this or get rid of it because I haven’t worn it or used it in the last who knows how many years”, and away from I haven’t got time to write a thousand words a day, or even ten words, I re-discovered the comfort of answers even when I was unaware I had questions (the quotes from Maya are very telling).

It’s amazing what you find when you aren’t looking, or think you aren’t looking. Normally I am reasonably efficient but I have been struggling these last few weeks.  Yes, moving is stressful and very taxing on both the body and the mind.  Yes, as a writer the frustrations are constant.  I know these things so why the angst.  Well, it appears a few things were playing on my subconscious, or I wouldn’t have crossed paths with the quotes I have strewn throughout this post.

Book 2 cover 100px RGB (1)I have just finished a huge edit on my novel Unexpected Obsession to ensure it is print worthy (although this could still be debateable).  Thank you all by the way, for the comments and ideas.  It has made a big difference to readability and has given me direction for my second book.  In fact I now have the cover for Unexpected Passion (let me know what you think), and am working on ideas for Book 3. On the surface this all seems pretty wonderful, doesn’t it? Yet I have been feeling uncomfortable. This author stuff is suddenly way too real and confronting.

Living in beautiful North Queensland has been an adventure but perhaps it hasn’t been the right one for me.  I miss the culture and diversity a big city offers.  But, I also wanted to be settled in one place. Circumstances have made that hard for me throughout my life and I thought it time I belonged somewhere.  I should have known that it wasn’t that easy. Too much goes into belonging and if the right ingredients are missing, then the bread dough doesn’t rise.  So here I am, moving again, and it’s scary and certainly not what I thought I would be doing at this stage of my life.  Then again I never thought I’d be a writer either. This life stuff is suddenly way too real and confusing.And your point is

Why can’t I just suck it up and stay put? If I found myself writing here, then why move? Is it wrong to want more?  Then I came across this quote by Muriel Strode.  She says “do not follow where the path may lead.  Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” For my whole life this is exactly what I have done.  I always wanted to be different and do different things but when I was younger and stronger, I had more time and energy to blaze a different trail if the one I was on, failed.

Ironic isn’t it, to be afraid to do what I have always done? It takes courage however to commit to something new at the best of times but as you get older the word courageous can become a foreign one. Does that mean we should settle for the safety of the known? Aristotle believed that “Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees the others.” Forging ahead despite our fears prevents stagnation.

When I consider some of the things happening in our world on a daily basis and the incredible bravery displayed by some just to survive I am humbled.  Surely something as simple as changing where I live, and continuing to work at something I love, shouldn’t immobilise me. My sojourn up here has given me the push to publish.  Now maybe it’s time to show appreciation and go live somewhere where I can honour that.  It’s all about perspective and that’s what reading does.  It reminds us to have perspective.

 Till next time

Barb