After reading Daintree by Annie Seaton in one weekend, I was very keen to meet the author who has finally converted me to the rural romance genre.
As I drove through a sudden and unexpected mid north coast storm to the library thirty kilometres away to hear Annie speak, I thought about my conversion. Perhaps it was because the heroine of Daintree, Emma Porter was both gutsy and strong. She was also a medical doctor with a passion for conservation and alternative medicine whilst dealing with the unresolved sadness from the death of her father. In other words, she was believable.
Or was it perhaps because of the wonderful descriptions of the flora and fauna and also of the local indigenous peoples of the Daintree rainforest and surrounding area. Or was it because there was also a bit of unsolved mystery, with a few unsavoury characters intent on doing questionable things. Or maybe it was the tension between the love interest, Jeremy, a newly arrived doctor from Sydney whom Emma had known years ago whilst they trained to be doctors. But he has secrets and he’s not going to let anyone know what is really happening as he establishes himself into the community.
Daintree is the second novel in this trilogy. Kakadu Sunset, Annie Seaton’s first critically acclaimed novel in the series deals with Ellie, one of the Porter sisters who is dealing with the grief from her father’s suicide. Although Daintree’s heroine is Emma Porter (the second sister), the thread of the family tragedy weaves its way throughout the story but it is not necessary to fully know all of the details as it is secondary to the main plot. Emma is suddenly in the enviable or perhaps unenviable position of having three men interested in her, and the subsequent tensions and misunderstandings really add to the development of the characters as the book gallops to its riveting conclusion.
What is particularly memorable about Daintree is the ability of the author to really know how to create a sense of time and place. Annie Seaton does this admirably and with an authenticity that allows the reader to just settle back and submerge themselves into the atmosphere of the place. One can feel the humidity, smell the exotic foliage and hear the magnificent birds, as well as shudder at the snakes and spiders as Annie describes them so well. One of the reasons for this is that Annie herself and her husband travel to her ‘story’ destinations to do thorough research for each novel. Listening to Annie tell of her adventures in the camper van, (now upgraded to a caravan) it is possible for the reader to realise the enormous amount of research and time she invests into her books.
Listening to Annie Seaton speak was like a breath of fresh air. A tall, attractive and charismatic woman in a bright summer frock, Annie exudes passion for her craft from every pore of her tanned skin. Now in her very early sixties, Annie only started writing five years ago after retiring from an increasingly stressful career as a school principal. Having always written stories as a child, Annie was challenged to turn her spare time into writing and after only a few attempts, managed to get book deals with the American romance market. With about twenty – six books under her belt, Annie then took on a three book contract with Pan McMillan. Daintree is the second in this series.
Sitting back to hear Annie Seaton speak, I had to admire her commitment to her profession and her adherence to a disciplined writing regime. She approaches her working day with a strict routine for writing, as well as mentoring and editing for other writers. Annie uses her fives senses to absorb the atmosphere of a place and also takes photographs to use as visual prompts. I was interested to hear that she does not write ideas down and would describe herself as an ‘organic’ writer. I was also fascinated to hear that until her characters have a name, she cannot visualise them and write them into her story. Also, I was amazed to hear that sometimes she does not know what is going to happen next in a story, until it just happens. And – she does not get writer’s block.
Annie Seaton is an inspiring woman. I had to admire her dedication to her work, and also the way she deals with human issues and conflict so well in her writing. Her characters are well rounded and completely believable. Their behaviour is authentic and adds to the texture and quality of her writing. And with research already planned and underway for the next book in the series, I and her always growing list of readers are expecting another book of the same quality and excellence.