13 October 2011

Getting to know you Thursdays with Penelope McCowen

Today please welcome Australian author Penelope McCowen to my blog today. I read Penelope's book a few months ago and really loved it. 

1. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I live on a sheep and cattle property high up on the ranges in northern New South Wales with my wonderful husband, Charlie, and our two precious children, aged 14 and 12.  It’s one of the most rugged places you could ever imagine – rocky, steep, rough and unbelievably picturesque.  Rather challenging if you’re trying to run livestock on it, but lots of fun and never, ever dull!

2. When you were a child did you have a favourite book or books?
I was mad about Enid Blyton books – in particular the Famous Five series.  I never wanted them to end and was so disappointed when I read all 21!  I also loved Ruby Ferguson’s Jill books, Elynne Mitchell’s Silver Brumby collection and Mary Grant Bruce’s Billabong series. (Jenny here I loved Enid Bylton as a child I loved the faraway series and I did enjoy the Famous Five series too. I remember in about grade 6 we had books in the class room and use to share books. I remember alot of us were reading the Secret Seven and were sharing books)

3. Do you have a favourite Genre to both read and write?
Reading – Christian fiction, espionage, intrigue, preferably with a dash of romance.  I love reading old books; I could spend hours and hours in second hand bookshops.  I think we can learn so much from the literary styles of long ago authors.  They really had a handle on the English language and used words so beautifully.
Writing – Definitely Christian fiction.  Unless God has other plans, I’ll never write anything else. 

4. Did you have favourite authors growing up who have influenced you?
I was terribly influenced and inspired by the South African journalist and author, Joy Packer.  I still am. The way she put words together is incredible and still gives me shivers down my spine.  So vivid and so alluring was her portrayal of Africa in the pages of her novels that I began a love affair with her country when I read The High Roof at age fourteen.  I promised myself I would go there one day which I eventually did, eleven years later. 
My other heroine in the world of words is Helen MacInnes.  She was an amazing writer, particularly the way she wrote dialogue, and I get shivers from her books as well!  I read The Venetian Affair while I was writing Heidi’s October and as a result I cut 14000 words from my manuscript.  She’s sharp, if that makes sense, and very inspiring.

5. When did you know you wanted to be an author?
Always.  I wrote as a child, I wrote as an adolescent and I write as an adult.  Having said that though, on leaving school, I knew that I was incapable of moving straight into a writing career – I was too green, too narrow, too raw.   My work was very immature and I needed life experience, so I did nursing and became a registered nurse, then a commerce degree and became an accountant, and now thankfully, I’m doing what I absolutely love. At last!

6. How did you go about becoming an author?
I had started a couple of books and wasn’t sure whether I was to continue along that road or not, so one January I asked God if this was the year to go for it with my writing.  He answered, very creatively and entertainingly, with a yes, so I went forward.  My husband then discovered that Zondervan was running a First Novel Competition which I entered and to my surprise, reached the semi-finals… and things have kind of developed from there! 

7. If you were not a writer what would you like to be?
A thousand things!  Too many to mention.  I love animals so perhaps a vet, I learnt to fly in my twenties (it was amazing) so perhaps a pilot, I love speaking to people about Jesus, so perhaps a travelling evangelist, I love the water so perhaps a swimming instructor, I love tennis so perhaps a tennis coach, on and on it goes! 

8. Outside reading and writing what do you like to do?
I absolutely love being a wife and mother and I love working alongside my husband here on the farm.  I stopped working in accounting when I had our first child and traded the income for the lifestyle, and I would make the same decision again every time.  The little things really are the big things.
9. Do you have a place you love to visit or would love to visit?
There’s a wooden bench that faces east on the headland at South West Rocks, just above the ice-cream kiosk.  We sit there, every January, with our icecreams and gaze at the view, and I remember Jesus’ words that no mind can conceive how wonderful is the place He has prepared for those who love Him.  And I think to myself, how amazing that it can be even more gorgeous than this!   

10. If you could have a meal with 3 living people who would you choose and why?
Without a doubt it would be our three sponsored children, one in Kenya, one in the Dominican Republic and one in Bolivia.  I’ve never met them but I long to.  I’d love to sit and look at them and marvel at what God can do, how He can change lives... and hearts….

Finally can you tell us about your current books and/or any that will
be coming out soon. Also where we can find you on the web.
My first novel, Heidi’s October, was published by Ark House Press in November 2010.  It’s the story of twenty-three year old university student Heidi Jordan and one October of her life.  It deals with the issue of forgiveness following one disastrous, very regrettable mistake.  And it also has a touch of romance, of course!
My next book, The Boatshed, is in the making..!
And my website is www.penelopemccowen.com. I have a blog as well, and am also on Facebook.

Thanks again for your time and agreeing to be on my blog.
Thank you so much, Jenny, for the wonderful opportunity to be featured on your blog, and for your kindness in promoting my work.


Paula Vince said...

Thanks Jenny and Penelope, for this interesting interview.
Penelope, I haven't read your book yet but intend to. Congrats on being a CALEB finalist and I hope to meet you at the dinner in Brisbane on November 11th.
Paula Vince

Lee said...

Thanks for the insight into your life, Penelope, I enjoyed reading more about where you live. :)


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