Author Interview with Joy Rhoades
The Woolgrower’s Companion is coming out tomorrow, the 8th of June, and is set to be one of the hottest titles of the year. Below is an exclusive interview with its globetrotting-lawyer-turned-author, Joy Rhoades, who tells us all about her experience of writing this book and what she’s got planned next!
Firstly, congratulations on your debut novel Joy! Inspired by your childhood in Australia and your grandmother's life, can you tell us a little bit about your novel?
Thanks so much. I am thrilled The Woolgrower’s Companion is getting such a response from readers. It’s the story of a young woman’s fight to save her family’s sheep farm, in the bush in New South Wales at the end of WWII. Essentially though, it’s a story about the power of hope.
Can you sum up The Woolgrower's Companion in three words?
Gripping, heart-breaking, affirming.
What kind of readers would enjoy your novel?
The wonderful thing is that it seems to have broad appeal: so while lovers of historical fiction have taken to it, and even literary readers, it’s been more widely popular, with pretty much with anyone who likes a good story. A cracking yarn, is how someone wonderfully described it.
You’ve had an incredible career as a lawyer all around the world, so what triggered you to start writing?
I always wanted to be a writer but my very sensible Mum (who had to leave school at 15) choofed me off to university, to get a profession. I studied law and then I worked as a lawyer all over the world, as I wanted to live in these places I’d only read about in books. But I was always writing on the side. And that urge to write only got stronger. Writing has always been a compulsion for me. A psychologist in an audience recently told me I probably have what’s called a ‘harmonious passion’ – an obsession that hasn’t yet become an addiction or ruined my life.
What was the biggest challenge you faced when writing The Woolgrower's Companion and how did you overcome it?
I think lack of time was the biggest challenge I faced when writing the book: I worked on it now and then, squeezing it in between work and kids, writing on the tube to and from work and crazy stuff like that. But it was only when I stopped work to look after my kids fulltime - which meant I could write while they were at school - that I finished it.
What was your favourite childhood book?
I read everything as a kid, exhausting the wonderful library in Roma in western Queensland where I grew up. I got onto Dickens probably way too early – I’m all about story so he appeals, even now. When I was really little, I loved The Magic Pudding, too, that Australian classic. I read that to my kids.
Are you planning a second novel, and if so, when can we expect to see it?
Absolutely. I’m working on my second novel now, and it’s getting away on me, which is always good. It’s set in the same location as The Woolgrower’s Companion, and follows many of the same characters. It’s not a sequel in that you won’t need to have read The Woolgrower’s Companion to enjoy it. But I’m very excited about it: the characters have more to say!