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Guest blogger: Jennifer Raines

18 September 2022

What’s the starting point for a book?

Authors fossick for ideas and words and unpick them before stitching and weaving them into stories. Like so many creative endeavours, writing is a meeting of mind and heart. I love all sorts of stories, fact and fiction, but when it came time to write my own it was romance that drew me. Divorce was part of my childhood and—yes, you guessed it—I kept rewriting the ending in my head. I’m happy when love conquers distrust, shame, betrayal or loneliness.

I’ve been writing for most of my life, spending varying amounts of time on my writing depending on when reality and living get in the way. I’ve entered competitions, attended conferences, listened to people talk about craft and learned, as Maisey Yates said in her keynote at #RWA2022 ‘only writing teaches you how to write’.

My debut novel Taylor’s Law (Inkspell Publishing, July 2022) is the first in a two-book series about the Anderson sisters. Taylor’s Law is a secret toddler—rather than a secret baby—story, and my main protagonist is an aunt rather than the child’s mother, but to write it I drew on lots of shiny bits of information I’d absorbed over time:

  • a farmer’s daughter, with no passion to work the farm
  • a swindle igniting a passion for justice
  • a toddler—mother dead, father unknown
  • an Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) news team—reporter, pilot and cameraman—killed in a fatal helicopter crash in Lake Eyre during a routine assignment
  • a man whose private homage to his father includes sporting a ponytail and an earring
  • a colleague’s distress after spending his morning explaining to divorcing parents that children can’t simultaneously be enrolled in two public primary schools in NSW. The parents were weaponising their children—shared custody to them meant the kids staying with one parent and going to one school, then moving to the second parent and a second school. In the real world not everyone puts the needs of children first
  • a family dinner where your sister recounts a story from your childhood—that’s not how I remember it—and you wonder if siblings take different paths because of a single event that shapes them differently?

What’s the starting point of a book?

For me, the initial trigger may be a single incident, like the helicopter crash. It appears in a scrolling news ticker on your screen—appearing—disappearing—yet so many lives are impacted by this event in small and monumental ways.

Who takes responsibility for the child or children left behind when a single parent dies? Who wins if there are credible conflicting claims?

Stories are born of other stories, the layers built slowly and carefully so the initial inspiration is woven invisibly into the fabric of the new tale. Stories take time, research, planning and endless revision—at least for me. But there are also moments of complete joy, when you think you’ve nailed what you want to express.

Taylor’s Law involves some fact, some fiction. Add wealth, power, greed and envy and balance them with compassion, loyalty and love. Ignite with passion and imagination.

Grace Under Fire, about the second Anderson sister, will be published in March 2023 (Inkspell Publishing). The Anderson sisters’ significant childhood event was a shyster swindling their father out of a piece of prime farmland. In Taylor’s Law we discover that Eleanor Anderson is passionate about justice. In Grace Under Fire, Grace is determined no one else will steal another piece of the family farm.

You can find Jennifer here: Website | Facebook

Taylor’s Law

Tell me a secret and I’ll tell you a lie

Ella Anderson adores her niece. Despite struggling to make ends meet, accepting her dying sister’s request she raise Tessa as her own is a no brainer. Until she receives a summons from a legal goliath on behalf of a wealthy stranger claiming paternity and, potentially, custody of her child.

Jake Taylor has been ripped off one too many times. Yet the letter from a woman claiming his cousin fathered her child feels real. His aunt and uncle are desperate for a grandchild. When the child’s aunt shows up in his office in place of the child’s mother, he smells fraud.

Secrets and lies bubble to the surface, threatening Ella and Jake’s growing attraction. In a minefield of divided loyalties, can Ella trust Jake to make the right decision about custody of Tessa?

Taylor’s Law is available here: Amazon | Kobo | Barnes & Noble | Apple

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