A DESIRE to share stories about the locations she loved helped inspire Cheryl Adnams to enter the rural romance genre.
The Adelaide-based author has found her niche in writing about country locations and characters.
“I started reading Australian rural romance, it was very big in 2012-13, and I enjoyed those novels,” she said. “They were characters based in places I knew and had been to, and so different to the overseas novels.”
She began setting her stories in the places she loved to spend time, such as Kangaroo Island, the Riverland and Fleurieu Peninsula.
“With McLaren Vale, I knew it well and it was a place I loved so much, I wanted the rest of the world to love it as much as I do,” she said.
While locations can act as inspiration, sometimes characters will pop into her head and drive the story.
Other times story ideas can come from television shows or newspaper articles.
“I grab any inspiration from anywhere,” she said.
“Sometimes these ideas don’t make it into books.”
But the idea is only half the battle.
Cheryl said there can be quite a lot of research that goes into making sure the stories are true to the setting.
With McLaren Vale, I knew it well and it was a place I loved so much, I wanted the rest of the world to love it as much as I do.
“In rural romance, people from rural communities, including farmers, love reading them, and it you don’t get something right, they know,” she said.
For her Muller trilogy based on three winemaking brothers in McLaren Vale, she knew the area well, but made sure to find time to find out more about winemaking.
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This included a day spent on Yangarra Estate near Kangarilla Flat, where she spent time picking grenache and stomping grapes.
“It was a great experience to get the first-hand vintage experience,” she said.
“The people there were so willing to answer all my millions of questions.”
Cheryl began writing in high school, but it was not until 2014 that she had her first book published.
“I had a high school teacher who would give us a word and we’d have to write about that word for a minute,” she said. “Once I started, I couldn’t stop.”
After finishing school, Cheryl kept writing, but it was quite a few years before she “one day, decided to submit”.
She believes the popularity of rural romance stories is not going away any time soon.
She is part of a collection of writers – australianruralromance.com – that all create stories within that genre.
“I’m so lucky that I started writing about rural romance at the start of the boom – everyone just loves that genre so much,” she said.
“People love reading about small town communities.”
Attention turns to historical narrative
WHEN Cheryl Adnams published her first book, Bet on it, about the winemaking Muller family from McLaren Vale, she never expected it to turn into a trilogy.
But after finding a love interest for one brother, she said the side characters – the other two brothers – each “started demanding a story”.
She has since written two more novels – Chasing the Flames and Handpicked – as well as a short story about the family patriarch.
Her books are available digitally through all e-book retailers.
“You can get all three Muller books for less than a good McLaren Vale shiraz,” she said.
After years of rural romance, Cheryl is taking something of a hop back in time, looking at historical fiction. Her next book to come out covers the Eureka Stockade – she spent some time in Bendigo, Vic, to get the details right – with another about bushrangers to follow.
“These books are still in a rural location, they’re just taking a slightly different direction,” she said.