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Narrawong author finds success in writing what she knows

MAYA Linnell has just released her long awaited second novel.

Following a career in journalism, she has finally found the opportunity to follow her heart into story writing.

It is one thing to be able to write a story, but quite another to be able to capture the imagination, passion and interest of a publisher, let alone a prospective reader.

Maya’s parents often said to her as a youngster – ‘one day you will write a book.’

It was during a discussion with her father about possible content and storyline, that he said “write what you know.”

Maya explained that her father thought if she wrote of characters, scenarios and a life that she knew – then she would resonate with the reader – that there would be a truth or believability and connection.

To understand how Maya got to write such wonderful novels about a country family – with all the complexities of family farming relationships and small-town community issues, Maya wrote what she knew. 

Maya grew up in the small rural town of Tantanoola in South Australia. 

She went to school there before heading to Millicent for her secondary education.

Maya worked briefly in hospitality before taking on work as an au pair for a New York family with four children. 

Unfortunately for Maya, in 2001 she was in New York at the time of the Twin Tower attacks.

A friend from the Border Watch newspaper began getting first-hand accounts of the situation straight from Maya in New York.

So with her parents pleading with Maya to return home - Maya started working as a journalist with The South Eastern Times at Millicent.

It was during this time working in Millicent that Maya became aware of the ‘Beaut Blokes weekend’ at Harrow – the aim of which was to entice single women from the towns/cities to go to Harrow for the weekend and acquaint themselves with the local single guys in the hope of promoting romance and keeping the town going.

There was an article in the Hamilton Spectator stating that the event may have to be cancelled due to low numbers of single women.

Single at the time and with an interest of all things country community – Maya roped in a friend and headed to Harrow.

The weekend was heralded a success by organisers – which would be accurate, because Maya ended up with her ‘bloke,’ Jason.

Today they have three children and have settled rurally in south-west Victoria, with magpies, cows and views of the ocean.

It was important for Maya and Jason to bring their children up in a small community with small schools and a sense of belonging.

As a child, Maya was always writing and reading.

It was when her last child was almost at school age that Maya decided to fulfill a dream of writing a novel.

So, how to do that, and what steps do you have to take to turn a story into a published novel?

Maya set about researching how other authors had their work picked by a publisher and listened to lots of podcasts while painting the house.

Maya took a course with Writers Studio Australia – where she had to produce a novel in 11 months.

Maya used this time to write her first novel and used it for her course content – all the while refining her work as she moved through the course.

She also joined the Romance Writers Association and entered her draft in a competition they were running, with what became her first published novel – Wildflower Ridge – she made the finals.

Maya was planning to pitch her book at a writer’s conference in Sydney with the hope of getting it picked up by a publishing company – but already signed contract for her first novel prior to the conference.

Wildflower Ridge introduces the reader to the McIntyre Family. 

Its central character is Penny, the youngest of four sisters raised on the farm in western Victoria. 

It follows Penny’s path from city professional to a reconnection with her rural roots.

After a very successful first novel, Maya has just released her second book – Bottlebrush Creek - which delves into the life of Angie McIntyre.

Readers from this area will instantly recognise the physical landscape described in the book and identify with all the characters that lie within. 

These books will appeal to a large audience but to say that they are truly relatable would be an understatement.

There is a natural warmth that oozes from each page and sometimes the tension between characters is immense, but the themes and challenges that the characters face are very real – a truly heart-warming read.

Maya is not just busy promoting her second book – which was released on June 2, to great acclaim, but also busy writing her third book in the series.

The promotion of Bottlebrush Creek has not gone as originally planned due to the COVID-19 restrictions, but you can find Maya on podcast interviews and re-watch several of her digital launches via her website, www.mayalinnell.com, or you can track her down on Facebook and Instagram as @maya.linnell.writes.

Having read both Wildflower Ridge and the just released Bottlebrush Creek, I can highly recommend them.

Maya’s fathers’ words have been justified – write what you know – because it rings true.

For your chance to win a copy of ‘Bottlebrush Creek’ be sure to enter the competition running through the Western District Farmer Facebook page.

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