'You deserve someone who would jump fences to be with you, Zoe.'
Zoe wakes up in hospital after a mustering accident and can't remember a thing. When she gets home, everything has changed. Why aren't her boyfriend Scotty and best friend Caitlin answering her texts? Who stole her dad's cattle and put the farm at risk? Can the mysterious Josh help put the pieces of Zoe's life together again?
Karen Wood is the author of the five Diamond Spirit books. She has an Arts degree majoring in communications and a diploma in horticulture. She has syndicated a gardening column in several newspapers throughout Australia, has published feature articles in various magazines and has published photographs in bushwalking guides. She is married with two children, a few horses, some dogs, chooks and a very cute rabbit. She lives on a small acreage on the Central Coast, New South Wales, where she spends as much time as possible with kids and horses or at her laptop, dreaming up a new book.
Allen & Unwin
Author: Karen Wood
Question: What inspired the story of Jumping Fences?
Karen Wood: Initially, Jumping Fences was inspired by a friend of mine who had a terrible accident off her horse. She broke her spine, pelvis, collar bone and a few ribs. She was thoroughly smashed – and not in a fun kind of way. I will never forget visiting her in hospital. She was just a little face in a sea of pillows and tubes. The only movement she could make was to squeeze her hand on her pain meds gadget to get another hit of morphine. She couldn't remember how the accident had happened, only what others had told her. I remember coming home and thinking, wow, this is going to be a long and difficult road to recovery. I knew her story would form the premise of my next book. Twelve months later my friend is back on her horse and riding again, courageous and determined girl that she is.
Question: What inspired your love of writing about horses and rural settings?
Karen Wood: Okay, I confess… writing is my second love – my first love is horses. I try to ride every day. I live, work and play in country Australia, so I can't imagine setting my books anywhere else. It's where my heart is. It's where my thoughts and my dreams all take place. It's where I love to be. Being a writer allows me to absorb myself in the things I love, it's the best job ever!
Question: What do you enjoy most about writing for young adult girls?
Karen Wood: When I'm creating teenage characters it takes me back to when I was a young, fit, adventurous teen. I can be that young again – in my imagination! I look back and think, that was the best time of my life, but I wish someone had whacked me over the head and told me a few things about life and love. Like not to give my heart away to someone that hasn't earned it; not to stick around in toxic friendships, to treat good friends well and appreciate them, be resilient, tolerant, adventurous, take a few risks. These are the sorts of messages I like to sneak into my books.
Question: Is the character of Zoe inspired by anyone in your own life?
Karen Wood: Zoe was inspired by my friend as I mentioned above, but her failings were probably more about myself. I can be a bit impulsive and thoughtless at times, even though I mean well. I've always been very good at getting into trouble…
Question: What was the best thing about creating the character of Zoe?
Karen Wood: Zoe was really fun, she got to ride horses, muster cattle, go to cool events, and fall in love with a gorgeous guy. I nearly didn't want to come back to reality after creating her.
Question: What book are you currently working on?
Karen Wood: Sure! I have another Ru-ro (rural romance) coming out in September. I'm just writing the last chapter now and I'm thrilled with it. Here is a little unofficial, sneak preview…
Vegetarian and animal libber, Holly Price is forced to go and live on a beef cattle property when her father takes a building job in rural NSW. When her mum has to go to hospital, Holly is left to pick up the reins and care for her three siblings and father. She wonders why he ever brought them to this hell hole full of meat eating barbarians in the first place. She makes it her mission to get her family back home to the coast. Kaydon is the son of a grazier, yet his life seems to be dominated by females. His father has pinned him as a mummy's boy and his big bro still calls him Squirt. The last thing he needs is a girl in his life. When Kaydon and Holly's families collide at a fund raising ball, they discover they have more in common than they ever bargained for? Can they put their differences aside and unite against a common threat?
After that I will be writing a new series for children aged 8 - 12. Triplet sisters discover their gypsy trick riding heritage when they find an old trunk in the loft of the barn filled with their grandmother's old costumes. I have already drafted the first two books and outlined the series. I can't wait to get into this project. The characters are quite comical, so it's fun to write. We don't have a publishing date for that yet, but hopefully it won't be too far away.
Apart from that I have a few other manuscripts up my sleeve – so many ideas – so little time!
Interview by Brooke Hunter