Five Bush Weddings follows Stevie, a very single wedding photographer who specialises in country
weddings. She's great at capturing other people's love stories but she's just about given up on having
one of her own. Her best friend is threatening to settle down and leave their sharehouse, her mum
has decided to try online dating, her ex's new fiance has asked her to shoot their wedding... Stevie's
feeling left behind. So, when her old friend Johnno West arrives back to take over his family property,
after years living in the UK, and starts turning up at half the weddings she's working, it's a little
confusing. They have this great chemistry – nothing ever happened, they'd both be quick to protest,
because he was best friends with the guy Stevie went out with for years. But it's a small world and
they keep bumping into each other. Throw in a devilishly handsome stranger to sweep Stevie off her
feet, an old lady who loves gossip so much she's known as the Bush Telegraph, a reality TV franchise
called Bush Bachelors, a bunch of big nights and hangovers and kisses and heartache and, yes, some
weddings, and it's about to be a very big year for Stevie-Jean.
Clare Fletcher was born and raised in St George, in regional Queensland, and studied journalism and business at QUT in Brisbane. After graduating she moved to Sydney for an internship at the Walkley Foundation for Journalism, and has been there ever since, with the exception of a couple of years
spent freelancing and falling in love in New York.
Clare currently manages communications for the Walkley Foundation and is working on her second novel. In 2019 she completed the Year of the Novel Course at Writing NSW with Emily Maguire. In 2021, her short story 'Death's Waiting Room' won the Body In The Library category at the Scarlet Stiletto Awards. Clare lives in Sydney with her husband and daughter.
Five Bush Weddings
Author: Clare Fletcher
What originally inspired the idea of Five Bush Weddings?
Clare Fletcher: Romantic comedies have always been my favourite stories, and a wedding photographer seemed like a brilliant way to explore different facets of love. Weddings are such charged days and wedding photographers are at the heart of the action but get to observe all the relationship quirks, family dynamics and drunken debauchery as an outsider. Throw in a bush setting and there's so much more drama, gossip and humour in tightknit communities where everyone knows everyone!
What did you learn, about yourself, whilst writing Five Bush Weddings?
Clare Fletcher: I knew I was a romantic, but the depth of love I found for my hometown surprised me a little. I live in Sydney now and I don't get home enough, but I'm proud to have grown up in a small town called St George in Queensland. As the story developed I found a deeper theme emerging, about how important young love is to ensure the survival of bush communities that have faced so much adversity, particularly through drought. Looking at real life examples of innovation and creativity that have revived small towns and regional communities, I was struck that it's almost always driven by women - women who often juggle farms and families with small businesses or art or community work. I hope I've done them justice.
How much of your inspiration comes from real life and real people?
Clare Fletcher: Details are what really brings writing alive, so I certainly draw on real places and I'm always on the lookout for mannerisms and turns of phrase that can act as shorthand for who a character is. Curiosity and eavesdropping: the secret tools of the writer!
What advice do you have for aspiring writers or artists?
Clare Fletcher: Persistence and perseverance will get you much further than perfectionism. Once you have something on the page you can start strengthening it through editing, so don't wait for inspiration or the perfect idea, just make a start and keep going, even when you feel like what you've written is terrible. And you have to be writing to have that miraculous experience where your characters suddenly start talking to each other and doing things of their own accord.
What or who inspired your love of reading/writing?
Clare Fletcher: Full credit to my mum for cultivating a deep love and respect for books, reading and libraries in my sister and I. I have fond memories of her reading us long books like The Secret Garden and A Little Princess, chapter by chapter, in the school holidays. I also had a legendary teacher in grade six, Mr Pappin, who promised a king-size Mars Bar to whichever student could read the most pages, so there was more Bryce Courtney read by pre-pubescent kids that year than there probably should have been.
What's next, for you?
Clare Fletcher: I'm drafting my second book, which continues on in the same world, but with some background characters from Five Bush Weddings stepping into the lead roles. There's a historical plotline as well as present day, so I've been doing some fun research...