More than 30 local book lovers filled the Naracoorte Town Hall last Tuesday to meet South Australian author Leonie Kelsall.
Mrs Kelsall stopped in Naracoorte to discuss her new book, The Farm at Peppertree Crossing.
After a fractured childhood spent in foster homes, city-girl Roni has convinced herself that she has no need of anyone - other than her not-as-tough-as-he-looks rescued street cat, Scritches, and her unborn baby, who she's determined will feel all the love she's been denied.
Despite facing a bleak future, Roni distrusts the news of a bequest from an unknown aunt, Marian Nelson. But, out of options, she and Scritches leave Sydney behind, bound for the 800-acre property on the edge of the wheat fields of South Australia.
However, this is no simple inheritance: Marian seeks to control her legacy from beyond the grave by setting tasks that Roni must complete before she can claim the property and a life that could change her future. With everything at stake, Roni must learn to trust in the truth of Marian's most important lesson: everyone deserves love.
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Ms Kelsall talked about how she got into writing, the secret to publishing and her inspirations.
Having grown up in a very small town on the Fleurieu Peninsula and then later moving to the Murraylands, she said she was inspired by the idea that country towns are getting smaller, as people move to the city.
"I was intrigued by the notion that country towns are slowly dying, they are atrophying, because people are moving into the city and by the notion of taking a tiny, rural community that is slowly dying, and started bring fresh blood into it and growing this community," she said.
"There will be a series of books that are written in the same area, Settlers Bridge, bringing in a different person each time to meet someone who lives in the town.
"Slowly I am single-handedly repopulating that town, which is an interesting concept and we'll see how it goes."
It wasn't just where she grew up that inspired her, sharing that her inspiration for the in the book love interest was based on a share-farmer she knew as a teenager.
She discussed how she got into writing and shared her surprise at her book, which is her first of the women's fiction genre, being selected after a pitch to Allen and Unwin.
"I pitched this particular story to Allen and Unwin as part of their Friday Pitch where you send in a sample of your book and it goes to what is known as the slush pile," she said.
"Back in the old days, you would send in a physical copy and it would sit in a pile on the floor, and if someone ever got bored enough, they might pull it out.
"Now of course it is all on the computer but it's the same principle - it sits on the computer and no one ever hears back from the slush pile."
Following her talk, Mrs Kelsall signed books and spoke with audience members.