Guest Blog by Paula Beavan, Author of 'Daughter of the Hunter Valley'

“A book is a machine; every word is a cog or a part, and if it’s not adding to the smooth functioning of the machine, it needs to be moved, oiled, or removed . . .” Kate Forsyth 2014

These are the first words written in the notebook I took to the Cotswolds History, Mystery, and Magic writing retreat. This notebook has become my writing bible, and I refer to it often.

I’d always longed to write, but never got past the first draft. I love reading historical novels, but I had no idea how to research, and even less of how important historical accuracy was until Kate’s lessons and comments showed me. I’d been playing around, trying to write a young adult time-slip story, and had been mashing history together until Kate pointed out that most people learn about history through fiction.

While I loved to write, attending Kate’s retreat, taught me to be a writer. She taught me about voice, structure, pace, point of view, tense, style, character, setting, research, and the business of publishing. I learned more than I could have imagined, but one thing I noted all those years ago, and has kept me returning to more of her courses, is Kate’s ability to cater to each and every one of her students regardless of where they are in their writing journey. I’ve attended courses with Kate as a total newbie, a contracted author, and a published author, and she’s always offered insightful advice and answers; and is incredibly generous with her time and knowledge. I will be attending courses with Kate when she’s ready to retire.

After I left the Cotswolds, my husband and I travelled to Scotland where I visited the setting of my YA story, and thankfully, I was no longer floundering around, I knew what I needed to research, and how to go about finding it. I finished the manuscript and began submitting it and received very positive feedback from Walker Books. Unfortunately, personal tragedy hit, and I was unable to continue at the time.

Regardless, the need to write remained and so I tried my hand at writing contemporary romance. In all I wrote eight contemporary stories, and two historical, but I struggled to edit any of them until I was encouraged to rewrite my Australian Historical, and after a year of rewriting and researching, I submitted to Harper Collins and was offered a contract with their Harlequin Mira line. I like to think of those ten manuscripts as my apprenticeship, and I am hugely grateful that I invested in my writing career. It has paid off.

Daughter of the Hunter Valley was published in October 2021 and won the ARRA (Australian Romance Readers Association) Favourite Debut Romance Author 2021. The most rewarding and satisfying thing is that almost every review for Daughter of the Hunter Valley, mentions the level of detail and historical accuracy, and I have to thank Kate for instilling in me the desire and determination to get it right.

Kate is an amazing writer, and her approach to teaching makes you feel as if you can do it too.

Paula's book is available to purchase HERE

Kate Forsyth
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