Leonie Kelsall talks writing

WRITING: Author Leonie Kelsall will be in Naracoorte on September 29.
WRITING: Author Leonie Kelsall will be in Naracoorte on September 29.

South Australian author Leonie Kelsall will be an open book when she visits Naracoorte this month.

She will be dropping into the Naracoorte Library on September 29 to meet with readers, talk about writing and publishing and discuss her latest novel, The Farm at Peppertree Crossing.

The book tells the story of Roni, a young woman from Sydney who is close to losing everything when she is told that a distant aunt has left her a farm in South Australia.

"She thinks it's a little too good to be true and she is told all she has to do is claim the inheritance is to go and view the property, which is the furthest she's ever been in her life," Mrs Kelsall said.

"She discovers that to inherit the property, she needs to complete a number of tasks, which are based around doing things on the land, which, to a country girl, wouldn't seem to onerous but for Roni, they are just way out there - things like bread-making, looking after the chickens and looking after the pet goat, which has grown into a rather large ram over the time her aunt has been dead.

"The tasks have been designed by her aunt to teach Roni life lessons, but of course Roni doesn't realise this.

"As she is there, she discovers there is a farmer managing the property and she also makes various other friends through the community and gradually learn to let her walls down.

"It's a story of her finding home, both physically and emotionally."

The book takes place in regional South Australia, and is based on the Murraylands, where Mrs Kelsall grew up.

"It's a bit of a cheat book really, because I grew up on the farm and this is based around the area that I grew up in, so the descriptions and everything are very much related to what I already know,' she said.

The book had an unusual start, and came about after a conversation with her 16 year old daughter.

"We go out to the farm with my parents and my dad will often feed us whatever treat he has going and the year I wrote this book he was giving us liverwurst all the time," she said.

"So we had that quite often and we'd been getting lamingtons from the local bakery and one day we are driving out and my 16 year old daughter said 'I want liverwurst today... no, I want lamingtons. That would be a great name for a book!'

"That's not normally the way you start writing a book but we went out to the scrub and sat there and brainstormed a story that would liverwurst and lamingtons in it and would fit around the farm since we both love it so much out there.

"We brainstormed the book from there and it was called that all the way through until the publisher accepted it - we had to work through quite a few titles to come up with one we agreed on."

Being an author was a logical move for Mrs Kelsall, who described herself as "a voracious reader" as a child.

"When I grew up my parents told us that we didn't have a tv so we had to go out and entertain ourselves in the country and there were never any restrictions - you did whatever you wanted to do so we would either be outside messing around or we'd be reading books.

"When we moved to the Murraylands, I discovered that libraries were an actual thing, not just something in an Enid Blyton story and I was blown away that libraries existed and you could go in and borrow books. The librarian at Murray Bridge was wonderful, and she would let me borrow as many books as I wanted.

"It was all down to Mum and Dad saying we didn't have a tv, which was a lie - we did have a tv, they kept it locked in their wardrobe and pulled it out when we went to bed, as I found out as an adult."

Her love for words continued from there and she wrote through school, even winning some writing competitions, but it was put on the backburner until many years later, when she got an agent in New York.

After writing many science fiction novels, Kelsall made the decision to move into women's fiction and has not looked back.

She has another women's fiction book, The Wattle Seed Inn, due for release next year.

Mrs Kelsall will be at the Naracoorte Library at 2pm on September 29. There will be books available for purchase and a lucky door prize.