April is certainly proving to be a busy month for debut novels and today it's my pleasure to shine the spotlight on Australian author Kayte Nunn's whose debut novel Rose's Vintage is published today.
Kayte Nunn is a freelance book, magazine and web editor and the former editor of Gourmet Traveller WINE magazine. She writes on travel, health, wellbeing, parenting and lifestyle topics, and has been short-listed for local and international short-story awards. She is a mother to two girls. This is her first novel.
For more about Kayte go to www.kaytenunn.com or https://www.facebook.com/Kayte-Nunn
Can you tell us a little bit about your debut novel Rose's Vintage?
It’s the story of an English chef torn between family loyalty and the calling of her heart. Rose has been sacked from her dead-end job, her boyfriend has walked out on her. She’s gorging on home shopping TV and snivelling into her tissue box when her brother suggests she take a job in Australia. Before she really knows what’s going on, she finds herself on the other side of the world in the Shingle Valley– but it’s the middle of winter and far from the lush, romantic vineyard setting she’d been expecting.
Her brother thinks she’s spying for him, her bad-tempered new boss thinks she’s the au pair and the nanny can’t wait for her to clean the place up. She stumbles upon pagan bonfire ceremonies, bizarre winemaking practices and a valley full of eccentric locals, but she just wishes she’d ended up somewhere a bit warmer.
As the weather improves, the valley reveals its beauty, and Rose starts to fall in love: with the valley, the wines, the two children she’s helping to look after, and one of the men there.
When her boss’s estranged wife returns and her brother descends, wanting answers, Rose has to make the most difficult choice of her life.
From your bio I can see that you were an editor for a wine magazines so have experience of the wine business, how much extra research did you need to do to enable you to write this story?
It was invaluable – I’d learnt so much about the process of winemaking and a little bit about viticulture (growing grapes) during those years, and I was able to weave that knowledge in to the story. I did do a bit of extra research, for example, about what it means to win the Jimmy Watson (a prestigious Australian wine award), and spoke to a couple of winemakers to brush up a few things I wasn’t sure about – such as using miniature sheep to graze the weeds between the vines.
If you had to compare Rose to a wine, which one would best describe her personality?
Oooh, that’s a good one. I’d have to say a young pinot noir – subtle, sexy and with hidden depths that reward careful examination!
What can we expect from you next?
I’ve written a second novel with the same setting, called The Angel’s Share (which is what the wine that’s lost to evaporation when it is maturing in the barrel is known as). It is with my publisher now, and I’ve also been asked to write a synopsis for a third novel set in the Shingle Valley. However, I am presently working on a historical mystery/love story about a young female botanical illustrator set in the late 19th century and the present day.
Do you think your experience as a journalist and editor helped you during the writing/editing process?
Absolutely – I am used to editing and being edited and was not precious about my writing in the slightest. I’ve a healthy respect for deadlines and am able to write almost anywhere and everywhere: I wrote parts of Rose’s Vintage sitting in the car while at my daughter’s soccer practice, while she was at swim squads, and at the weekends in my bedroom with the door shut from the rest of the family noise among other places!
It was initially quite daunting to think of more than 85,000 words ahead of me, having only previously written a few short stories of only a few thousand words but at the time I started writing I was training for a marathon, and breaking down the training into manageable chunks helped me to take the same approach to writing.
I’ve also come to a new appreciation of what a collaborative process writing a novel is, and how the input from my agent initially and then my editor, has been invaluable in making the novel the best it can be.
What essentials do you need to have nearby when sitting down to write?
It’s pretty simple really – just somewhere comfortable to sit and being warm – I started writing in winter and our house has no heating, just a wood fire, so I was often writing under a layer of blankets!
Did you treat yourself to something special to celebrate your publishing deal?
I was in the middle of cleaning our house as we had recently sold it and I was filthy and up to my elbows in grot when I got the call from my agent. I had a feeling – God knows why – that I’d get a call about the book that day – it felt like a day of endings and beginnings. I think we opened a nice bottle of wine that night but it took a while to sink in. When I got the call, a few months later, that Rose’s Vintage and The Angel’s Share had sold in a bidding war to a German publisher, friends came over and brought Champagne – that was a great night! It’s also just sold to a Polish publisher, but still looking for a UK publisher though!
Finally have you anything exciting planned to celebrate publication day?
There will be a launch, a few days after publication, and I’m really looking forward to celebrating with family and friends and thanking them for their support and encouragement, which has been phenomenal, but on the day itself I will most likely be doing the usual school run, after-school activities and if I’m lucky, some work on my new book. I hope there will be a bottle of my favourite chardonnay in the fridge though!
Rose’s Vintage is published by Black Inc Books (Australia) on April 18 and is available as an e-book at www.amazon.co.uk or as a hard copy at www.bookdepository.com.
With her heart in tatters after a relationship break-up, Rose Bennett swaps her hometown of London for the sunny shores of Australia – but she arrives to find the Shingle Valley shrouded in winter.
As the weather improves, Rose starts to unlock the secrets of the valley – from bonfire ceremonies and wine-making traditions to eccentric locals and their histories.
Despite herself, Rose starts to fall in love: with the valley, the wines, the two children she’s helping to look after – and with the handsome and brilliant Mark Cameron, owner of the troubled Kalkari Wines estate.
What will happen when Mark’s estranged wife, the tempestuous Isabella, returns? Will Rose find a future in the Shingle Valley, or will she be forced to leave?