Small is beautiful for rural writer
Put on the spot, Karly Lane is unsure how many books she has written. As well as her women's rural fiction published in Australia, she has also had romantic suspense and family sagas published in the US under the nom de plume, Karlene Blakemore-Mowle.
Lane says she was always determined to write a novel and first started one when she was 19. "It was put away for a while and then I had kids and didn't start again until my first went to school," she says.
Rejected by "even Mills & Boon", Lane says she still has to pinch herself to believe her work has been published in the mainstream market.
"When I started writing I had no clue," she laughs. "Getting published is hard. A lot of publishers don't accept manuscripts without an agent and finding an agent can be just as hard as finding a publisher."
Now Lane's latest rural romance has been published by Allen & Unwin and she has a two-book publishing deal waiting in the wings.
A self-confessed small-town girl, Lane says she is happiest living in the kind of town where everyone knows who your grandparents were. So it comes as little surprise that her new book, Morgan's Law, takes us on one woman's journey to rural Australia where a final request sees her uncover her grandmother's mysterious past.
The mother of four says the idea for the novel came to her on the drive home from a family holiday.
"I was looking out the window and it occurred to me: wouldn't it be funny to find out you had a connection to a little town nobody had ever been to," she says.
By the time she returned home, Lane had written a complete story outline. Creating her central character, high-flying advertising executive Sarah Murphy, was a challenge for Lane, who worked as a part-time pathology collector.
"But I wanted someone who was going to be really out of place," she says. "I thought I'd make it the whole hog and have her working in London as well."
Having spent her life in small towns, Lane could share her first-hand experiences in Morgan's Law. She says the message that many rural communities were struggling was important to her.
"I think it was the most important message I wanted to put in the book," she says. "Even in the town I am in, the little shops close up and big businesses bully their way in. Some towns don't even have that and they just lose the population."
Lane says that, along with a serious message, a book should have a good romance. "I love reading anything with romance; I think it's a nice escape," she says.
Morgan's Law is published by Allen & Unwin ($29.99).