I’m hugely excited to be joined by the wonderful Kendra Smith on Bookaholic Confessions today. Kendra’s debut novel, Jacaranda Wife was released on the 25th March 2015 and it’s been receiving some fantastic 5* reviews already. Click here to get hold of you copy. I’m massively looking forward to devouring this novel, so it gives me great pleasure to pass you over to Kendra whilst I go and catch up on some all-important reading…
Yes, thank you! Very good to be here! I’ve got dual Australian-British nationality, live in Surrey with my husband and three very naughty boys. Jacaranda Wife is my first novel. My skill set is this: journalist, wife, mother, aerobics teacher, qualified diver, gym-goer. My non-skills include baking and using shop-bought icing to hide the burnt food under. My career started in Sydney selling ad space but I pestered the editor so much – and agreed to cover things like “How get the most out of your dental floss” type features – that eventually my persistence paid off . What followed has been a fun career working on several national women’s magazines in both Sydney and London as well as a freelance career in writing and editing.
Can you tell us a bit about your debut novel Jacaranda Wife?
Yes: London-loving Katie finds herself on a plane to Australia as her husband’s company has sent him there to save their financial bacon. Katie’s heat rash starts just thinking about going quite so far out the M25 to rectify their debt, but she reckons it might be wise. Why? To distance herself from her best friend’s husband whom she had an encounter with… When she gets there, it’s a bump-a-minute journey of discovery about her new country, her new friends and her marriage! I hope people enjoy my heroine’s escapades and the best bit: you can travel 10,000 miles sitting in the comfort of your living room!
What inspired you to tell the story of Kate’s journey to a new life? After living in both England and Australia yourself could you relate to how Kate felt?
Once I had left an office environment, my creative output was often limited to separating my whites from my coloureds and making wise decisions about which food pureed well in a blender. To re-dress the balance, I started writing fiction. And, yes, of course, many of the themes Katie deals with like homesickness and finding her feet in a new location, were ones I’d grappled with myself, too.
I started it around 2008 as a few scribbles on the computer when the baby slept… then as the word count grew, so did the book. A move back to the UK in 2010 meant I was quite busy, so I started re-editing it again in 2011. It’s been a long journey to publication, but I honestly believe that writing your first book & editing it is your novel-writing apprenticeship, so it should take time.
Where do you spend most of your time at the moment, UK or Australia? And what are the benefits of having a dual Australian-British nationality?
We currently live in Surrey in the UK, but I have spent about 8 years in Australia in total. We love both places but you can only load the dishwasher in one home… so at the moment, that’s the UK. I think an escape route from the winters in the UK will mean that Sydney will always be our second home.
What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t a writer?
If I wasn’t a writer (or writing) this is how it would go: tidy up Lego, put on washing, locate one odd sock – curiously hanging from light fitting in hall. School run, wash sweaty sports kit. Make chicken into yet another ‘interesting’ dish. Lie down in hallway when nobody is looking. And repeat. Or maybe I’d be an air-hostess. This is what I wanted to be aged seven.
How does it feel to have your debut novel about to be released into the big, wide world?
Very, very scary. However, it’s also a dream come true. My father was a bit of a wordsmith and this book is dedicated to him. He used to say to me,
‘You know, Kendra, easy reading is damn hard writing,’ borrowing the quote from the American novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne. And he was right!
It’s also nerve wracking as now it’s out in the open, but if this Amazon review is anything to go by, I think I might be doing something right!
“Couldn’t put the book down on our recent holiday, I had all the emotions while reading; having tears streaming down my face and the next chapter laughing out loud, brilliant read.”
Can you tell us a bit about your journey to publication?
I had a very lovely agent at the beginning from the UK when I was still in Sydney who gave me a lot of encouragement. However in 2010 there was a recession and debut authors weren’t being published so readily. A return trip to the UK meant I was on the hunt for an agent again – and I also re-polished my book with the help of the lovely Sophie King, who mentored me through the Writers’ Workshop. Some tough love followed and I re-edited my m/s. After another year or so of the rollercoaster of agent submissions, the wonderful Annette Crossland rang me in about 10 minutes of getting my submission!
Who are your favourite authors and what kind of books do you enjoy reading?
I mainly read women’s fiction. My all-time favourite author is Allison Pearson. I love her work and her characters. I’ve also enjoyed Helen Fielding, JoJo Moyes, Lucy Diamond, Marian Keyes, Lisa Jewell, Judith O’Reilly’s memoir Wife in the North chimed with me, plus I also dip into books by Kate Atkinson and love Nikki Gemmell’s style. Then there’s the non fiction, like The Diving Bell and the Butterfly – or Laura Munson’s This is Not The Story You Think it is – very personal.
And finally – can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on at the moment?
Book number two is not a sequel, it’s a story about three women who have different stories to tell; they all have foibles but one of them also has a whopping secret…
A huge thank you to Kendra for participating in this interview. ♥
Katie and Tom’s marriage is in trouble. As is their bank account.
So when Tom tells Katie that they need to talk, she knows it must be about one of two things. Either he has found out about her kiss with her best friend’s husband, or they are in even worse debt than she thought.
What she was not expecting was for him to tell her that his boss is sending him to Australia. Permanently.
But the home-loving mother of two from London realises it might just be what they need to save their marriage.
Trouble is, she doesn’t much like heat, can’t swim properly and hates spiders.
Then there’s the Sydney yummy mummy with a cleavage you’d lose your car keys in, eyeing up her husband. Not to mention the bouts of homesickness – and Tom’s endless business trips.
Taking the bull by the horns (or at least pulling on an old Speedo) she tackles her fear of the ocean first.
Can Katie find a way to patch up their marriage?
Can Australia provide the spark they need? Or will it send the whole thing up in smoke?
And just which side of the globe will she decide to call home?
Click to get hold of your copy of Jacaranda Wife.
Kendra Smith has been a journalist, wife, mother, aerobics teacher, qualified diver and very bad cake baker. She started her career in Sydney selling advertising space but quickly made the leap to editorial – and went on to work on several women’s magazines in both Sydney and London. With dual Australian-British nationality, she currently lives in Surrey with her husband and three children. ‘Jacaranda Wife’ is her first novel. Find her on http://www.aforauthors.co.uk or http://www.kendra-smith.co.uk – or follow her on Twitter, @KendraAuthor.