I’m delighted to be hosting Judith Colquhoun today as part of the blog tour organised by Jenny at Neverland Blog Tours.
As well as answering my questions about the novels and her processes, Judith Colquhoun is sharing fabulous tips for new writers.
The novel series, A Country Practice, is based on the award winning international TV series of the same name. All three novels, published by Corazon are available to purchase now.
Judith Colquhoun was born in Queensland and grew up in Sydney. She studied production at the National Institute of Dramatic Art and soon after graduating, love and a job took her to Melbourne. Later, she lived in London for a time, spent many years in country Victoria and long enough in Italy to fall in love with the Mezzogiorno. She is now back in Melbourne and may even stay there.
She started writing when she was six and from the age of twenty-three has always earned her living from it in one way or another. She was a scriptwriter for far too long, writing countless hours of television for many of Australia’s most popular shows, including Neighbours and Home & Away. Her output included one hundred episodes of A Country Practice.
Judith has worked as an editor and script producer, and in Italy was a script consultant on the serial Un Posto Al Sole. She has won five Awgie Awards and in 2007 was made a Life Member of the Australian Writers’ Guild.
In 2009 she finally gave up scriptwriting to attempt a novel. Thicker Than Water, which is largely set in southern Italy, was published in 2014. It was Highly Commended in the Fellowship of Australian Writers 2014 National Literary Awards.
She has written three novels based on the stories and characters of A Country Practice – New Beginnings, To Everything a Season and Silver Linings.
Judith is married with two children and three grandchildren.
Read for free the first chapters of the novels on Corazon’s website.
Welcome to Jera’s Jamboree.
What was the idea/inspiration for your novel?
The inspiration for “New Beginnings”, and indeed for all three books in the series, came from the television programme “A Country Practice”. While the stories have been changed and new characters have been added, I have tried to keep the books true in style and spirit to the original show. This was not so hard for me as I was one of the scriptwriters on ACP.
If you could choose to be one of your characters which would you be? and why?
Oh, I think Vicky Dean. She’s tough and brave and practical, a feminist determined to make her way in what is really still a man’s world. She has a sense of humour and a big streak of compassion. It’s a pity though that she didn’t inherit a little bit more of her mother’s madness.
Please tell us about the characters in your novels.
They are the people of Wandin Valley, a typical Australian country town: the staff at the local hospital and medical clinic, the police sergeant, the vet, the plumber, schoolteachers and shop-keepers, dairy-farmers, orchardists and graziers. Some were born and bred in the Valley, some are recent arrivals and some come and go with the seasons to pick fruit or shear sheep.
Did you do any research Judith? What resources did you use?
I had to do quite a bit of research. A friend who is a highly qualified nurse checked the medical stuff; two other friends own vineyards so that was useful. And the internet saves all those trips to the library which I had to make when I first started writing. But I have quite a large library of my own and I often start there.
What inspired you to write?
I think the desire to write is something you’re born with. I started when I was five or six.
Do you have a most creative time of day Judith?
Mornings are best for me. When I worked in television I used to get up at two or three and do my best work before breakfast. I’m too old for that now, I need my sleep! I hardly ever write at night.
Do you have a favourite place you go to for inspiration or a favourite activity?
No favourite place. We’ve lived a rather peripatetic life so as long as there’s a spot for my old cedar desk I’m fine. Strangely, I find newspapers a wonderful source of inspiration. There are so many glimpses into other lives that can spark a story. And public transport. I’m a terrible eavesdropper; I open my book and instead of reading, I listen.
Do you have a favourite book? Why? What is it about that book?
The entire Jane Austen canon which I go back to time and again and the Neapolitan books by Elena Ferrante. Probably for the same reason – unforgettable characters. (Also in the case of the Ferrante books, because of the setting; I lived in Naples for some time and love the city like no other.)
And what are you reading now?
I have just finished Louis de Bernière’s “Birds Without Wings”. A book that will haunt me for years, a whole appalling slice of history which I thought I knew and discovered I really didn’t, brought to life through a brilliant cast of characters.
Are there any tips you could share with new writers Judith?
Never knock back a new experience, no matter how unappealing it might seem. You never know when the fact that you’ve been cave-diving might prove useful!
And when you have a difficult scene to write, don’t waste time waiting for inspiration to come. Sit down and write it. No matter how bad it is, the mere fact of getting something – anything – on paper will make it easier. Eventually you’ll nail it.
Finally, what has been the best part of your writing journey so far?
When I was still a television scriptwriter, getting the gig to go and spend 15 months in Naples and teach the Italians how to make Australian-style soap [Italy’s longest running and No.1 soap Un Posto Al Sole – A Place in the Sun].
Thank you for being my guest today Judith.
Wishing you success with all your creative projects.
A heart-warming, poignant and engaging tale about the doctors, nurses and patients of the Wandin Valley Bush Nursing Hospital, and their friends and neighbours.
A Country Practice follows the dramas, loves, secrets and dilemmas of the people in an Australian small country town. There is romance, humour and tragedy for the medical staff of the local hospital, and the rural community it serves.
A desperate woman arrives at the Wandin Valley Bush Nursing Hospital in the final stages of labour. Can Dr Terence Elliott overcome his demons to save both mother and baby?
Simon Bowen, the newest doctor in town, is frustrated at being seen as an outsider by the tight knit country people. Will he succeed in winning them around ‒ especially young vet Vicky Dean?
Vicky’s mum, Sister Shirley Dean, is courted by widowed police sergeant Frank Gilroy. But is he the man for her?
Young married couple, Brendan and Molly Jones arrive in Wandin Valley. Are they prepared for the realities of country life?
Meanwhile, a teenager in love clashes with her father and a serious car accident reveals a surprising secret about two of the town’s residents.
Based on the award-winning, international hit television serial A Country Practice, this new series of novels follows the lives and loves of the rural community of Wandin Valley, South-Eastern Australia. Set in the early 1980s it is a nostalgic look at country life, yet with all the same joys and problems we face today.