Poppy Abbott seems to have it all. Bright, successful and attractive, she lives in a beautiful apartment with sweeping views of Sydney. However, since the recent death of her beloved grandmother, she's been struggling to come to terms with her grief.
Feeling nostalgic one evening, Poppy decides to sort through her grandmother's belongings, which she hasn't been able to face before. She's hardly started when she comes across an old leather diary with the name 'Maggie Abbott' written in the front. It's not long before she's drawn into Maggie's life and her fears for her soldier boyfriend during the First World War.
As her interest in Maggie's diary intensifies, Poppy decides to spend some time at her grandmother's house in the country. Away from the city, Poppy begins to wonder if all the things she's always valued so much are what she really wants out of life. And then love intervenes...
Karly Lane lives on the Mid North Coast of NSW. Proud mum to four beautiful children and wife of one very patient mechanic, she is lucky enough to get to spend her day doing the two things she loves most - being a mum and writing stories set in beautiful rural Australia. Karly is the bestselling author of North Star, Morgan's Law and Bridies Choice.
Allen and Unwin
Author: Karly Lane
Question: What is the best thing about creating the character of Poppy Abbott?
Karly Lane: I loved having a character who was a lot more flawed than my previous characters. Poppy is a very independent, strong willed woman and it was great to be able to write a female character who isn't afraid to live her life on her own terms. It's always been a pet hate of mine that no matter where you live, city or country there are certain things that males seem to get away with that women can't. Why can't a woman have no strings attached relationships? If a man does, it's okay, because he's busy sowing his wild oats before he settles down...if a woman does it, she's a tramp.
Poppy was a lot of fun. She also has a good heart but try as she might, when love decides to strike, she doesn't really get a say in who she falls for!
Question: How did your relationship with your own grandma help inspire Poppy Abbott?
Karly Lane: Elizabeth Abbott shares a lot of my nanna's qualities. She was always active in local clubs like view club and CWA and she is a very important part of my childhood. Like Poppy, I spent most school holidays and Christmases with my grandparents and can remember little things like my Nan cooking and humming while she did the house work, how the linen press smelled of lavender scented soap and the pattern on the sheets I always had on my bed.
I miss my Nan every day.
Like Poppy, I also wish that I'd had the love of family and local history while my Nan was still alive and had asked so much more about her life...but that's youth for you-you never stop to think that one day the people in your life who have always been there, suddenly won't be there...
Question: Can you talk about the research you did into the First World War when writing Poppy's Dilemma?
Karly Lane: I was lucky in that I had a treasure trove of information about the real Alick McLean who I based my character of Alex Wilson on. I located actual letters written by Alick during his time fighting in WW1 from the trenches in France. Through these letters I gained a wealth of knowledge about life for a soldier during the First World War. Alick wrote about the conditions the men were living in and people he met, winning a medal, missing everyone back home; it was unbelievably moving to have actual letters written by the man I based a fictional character on. I also found a lot of background information about rural towns and how they coped and supported the war effort, by reading snippets of the local newspaper kept by the library. Things like how locals held dances to farewell the men and welcome the ones who were lucky enough to return, home again. I spent many hours getting side tracked by reading through these old newspapers!
Question: Could you talk us through your writing process? Do you set yourself a word limit to achieve each day?
Karly Lane: My writing process differs for each book. Sometimes I don't have anything more than a conversation between two characters as the starting point of a story idea, and that conversation isn't necessarily at the beginning of a story! So I can start writing a scene from a story mid-way before I even know who the characters are or what the story's about!
I don't set myself a word limit- I don't work too well to deadlines. I find that I can have a roll on where I just write for most of the day and then other days I can barely write more than a few paragraphs at a time. Occasionally I have to put the book I'm working on down and go to another book to let my mind stew a little on whatever it is holding me up, then I can come back and start writing again. I write everyday between 9 - 3...it's just not always on the same book.
Question: Which authors do you read when you're not working on your own writing?
Karly Lane: I don't read as much as I used to, but there are times when I need a break from writing or when one of my favourite authors has a new release. I read a variety of genres including new adult and romantic suspense, as well as rural fiction by Bronwyn Parry, Rachel Johns, Helene Young and Australian fiction authors, Tony Park, Peter Watt and Greg Barron.
Question: Have you begun working on your next book? Can you tell us anything about it?
Karly Lane: I've already completed next year's book for Allen & Unwin and am currently working on the one for 2015. Next year's book hasn't got a title yet, that gets decided by the publisher, but I can tell you it's got two clueless back packers on a working holiday and some lovable characters that I'm pretty sure will touch readers hearts as much as they touched mine.
Interview by Brooke Hunter