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Author spotlight: Kaye Dobbie/Sara Bennett

21 January 2020

For ARR2020 in March we will be featuring more than 90 romance authors across five cities. If you live in (or near) Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth or Adelaide, come along and meet local authors, as well as our international guests—Darynda Jones and Susan Donovan.

Today we are spotlighting Kaye Dobbie/Sara Bennett. She will be attending ARR2020 in Melbourne.

How old were you when you first started writing romance?

In my teens I wrote some truly awful books, but it was all practice and, looking back, I know all that awfulness was very useful. Eventually it translated into something publishable. The first book I actually tried to get published was a Mills & Boon historical and it was knocked back for being ‘dark, depressing with bad smells’. The next one was accepted when I was twenty.

Who was the first romance author to catch your interest?

Probably Daphne du Maurier. Not all of her books, but certainly Rebecca, Jamaica Inn and Frenchman’s Creek. Georgette Heyer was a great favourite too (and still is).

Have you written genres other than romance (or are you thinking about it)?

As well as writing historical romance as Sara Bennett, and paranormal/time-travel romance as Sara Mackenze, I write women’s fiction as Kaye Dobbie, which has some romance in it.

Choose one of your books to turn into a movie—who would you cast in the lead roles?

Mackenzie Crossing, a dual timeline book. In 1939, when the Black Friday bushfires were raging, a photographer called Neville Darling goes missing. In the present day his granddaughter, Skye Stewart, comes looking for him and finds the boy she loved when they were troubled teenagers. I think it has great characters and scenery, a mystery … I mean, what more could you want? Not sure about the lead roles, I’m so out of touch with TV and movies.

What is the hardest part of creating a story?

I’m a pantser. I love starting a new story, and all the possibilities, but I’m a slow writer. I’ve tried to be faster, I’ve read every book on the subject, but I’ve come to accept that I can’t change my process. I need to rewrite lots, draft after draft, to get to know my characters. Once I know them everything is fine, but it’s the getting there that is the hardest part.

What is your favourite place to write?

I have a study where I can close the door. I usually write in there, but I can also take a pen and paper outside to the garden, when I need a change of scene.

Have any of your characters been inspired by real-life people?

I think a lot of my characters are inspired by real-life people. Especially in historical novels, where I have used (in a vague sort of way) stories from my own family tree. In Sweet Wattle Creek I used my mother’s memories of the 20s and 30s.

What was the last romance you read and loved (and why did you love it)?

I’ve just read Fast Lane by Kristen Ashley. I also read Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I know Kristen was inspired by Taylor, and it was interesting to read them both. I enjoyed the structure of the books—they are told in interviews—and how there was a bit of unreliable narrator in there. I particularly loved Fast Lane. These days I don’t buy a lot of paperbacks but I got this one.

Tell us about your latest release in 100 words or less

My newest Sara Bennett release is Meant to Be, the first book in the Pendleton Manor trilogy. Harry Baillieu is the heir to Pendleton and his father expects him to marry a girl with wealth and influence. But Harry loves Sophie, the daughter of the estate manager. Just when he thinks he can make his wish come true, fate steps in and breaks them apart. Three years later they meet again, at a ball in London, where Harry is getting engaged to another woman. Reviewers have called this an emotional rollercoaster of a book.

What else will you be working on in 2020?

2020 looks like a big year for me. I am currently editing a Kaye Dobbie book, which will be out from Mira/Harper Collins in August 2020, called The Road to Ironbark. This is a dual timeline set in 1874 with bushrangers, a hold-up, and a mysterious disappearance, while in the present day the hold-up is commemorated and the mystery is solved. I’m about to begin my next Kaye Dobbie book, this one set in Tasmania, and will finish writing it in 2020. I also have the next Sara Bennett book in the Pendleton Manor series, which tells the story of black-sheep brother Adam and the girl who tames him. And yes, there is more! I am planning a new book, different from anything I have ever written, and I am so excited about it. I can’t say much, but I get tingles whenever I think about it.

If you haven’t booked your ticket for ARR2020 yet, you can buy one HERE.


One Comment
  1. 22 January 2020 1:33 pm

    I’m looking forward to reading The Road to Ironbark, Kaye. I love your Australian historicals/dual time lines.

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