What was the inspiration behind Australian Book Lovers?
- VERONICA -
Well, it was a combination of things. Darren and I were conversing regularly over Zoom as we wrote a book together, and often the ideas would just explode from a single spark. At the time, I was contributing to the Australian Women’s Writers Challenge (Reading more works by Australian women writers), and I was an early adopter of the #AusWrites hashtag started by Rebecca Langham (and now assisted by Kevin Klehr). So, I was getting to know lots more Aussie writers, and both Darren and I were slogging through marketing our books. It was 2020, Covid-19 and we were bemoaning the difficulties in being found in the crowded market – and wanting to support other Aussie authors and wouldn’t it be good if all the Australian authors were in one place… I’m pretty sure it was Darren who said, "we should start a website" and he came up with the name Australian Book Lovers.
- DARREN -
Veronica and I spent so much time trying to sharpen our marketing skills and we were always looking for something “outside of the box” to give our books a fighting chance in the ever changing digital landscape. We began to chat about how cool it would be to have an Australian website so us Aussie writers could put together an amazing library and take on the world, and “Australian Book Lovers” jumped into my mind and simply wasn't going to go away. The next thing I know, it felt as if a giant tornado spinning with hope, inspiration and the drive to attempt the impossible ripped through the Covid fog and in what seemed like a blink of an eye the domain was registered, the partnership was signed, and the first digital heartbeats of the website began! Of course, so too did the hard work and steep learning curves...
Ever since I learned to read as a child I’ve wanted to write poems and stories, and the stories in my head have almost always had magic and mythical creatures.
As V .E. Patton, I spent as much of my childhood as I could lost in a good book (it was a great way to hide away from chores and siblings). My favourite place in the world was the local library.
I read voraciously, devouring the likes of C.S. Lewis, Ursula LeGuin, Anne McCaffrey, Julian May & J.R.R Tolkien. I dreamt of telling stories like theirs and transporting people to other worlds filled with fascinating characters, strange worlds and happily every afters.
But, I spent most of my adult life lost in a good job as a nurse, midwife, CEO, coach and facilitator (amongst other things). Even after getting married (now Veronica Strachan) and becoming a mother, reading was my escape, and any kind of speculative fiction: fantasy and sci-fi were my favourites.
My dream of a writer’s life was interrupted by the realities of life, death and grief. It was almost 20 years after the passing of my 4 year old daughter, Jacqui Bree, that I finally wrote and published my first book. Breathing While Drowning: One Woman’s Quest for Wholeness is about hope, courage and finding your way home – almost sounds like an outline for a epic fantasy but it isn’t – and it’s a memoir detailing my return to life from grief. Through sharing journals that I wrote to Jacqui throughout her life and for a few years after, I reflect on the lesson I learned as a young mother who gave birth and then lost a child who had a fragile hold on life.
With my memoir done, I was finally able to unleash V. E. Patton – the creative fantasy writer – and let out the flood of words that had been building for years. Ochre Dragon: The Opal Dreaming Chronicles Book 1 was my first fantasy (in a book). I hope you get lost in it. Soul Staff, Book 2 in the series, is on its way in late 2023.
I teamed up with my daughter Cassi for a new children's picture book series, "The Adventures of Chickabella". Book 1 is "Chickabella and the Rainbow Magic", book 2: "Chickabella Counts to Ten", and book 3: "Chickabella Shapes Up".
I live and work on the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung People, and pay my respects to elders, past and present.
You can learn more about me over at www.veronicastrachan.com.au
Darren Kasenkow is an Australian author whose work dances across the boundaries of literary fiction to bring together thematic elements ranging from dystopian horror, apocalyptic science fiction and existential suspense. His books include ‘The Apocalypse Show’, ‘Dust and Devils’, ‘See the City Red’ and ‘The Hallucigenia Project Book One’. He’s currently working on Book Two titled ‘Godless’ which is taking far too long...
Darren is the website designer and producer of the Australian Book Lovers podcast, which means his giant fluffy cat Bobbie has the fun of watching him curse the computer when anything that can go wrong usually does.
You can discover more about Darren at www.darrenkasenkow.com