Author Tea Cooper has two more reasons to smile after taking out two Romance Writers of New Zealand Koru awards earlier this month.
The Wollombi-based writer said the two awards for her 2017 novel The Currency Lass –Long Romance Book of the Year and Overall Best Book of the Year - came as a bolt from the blue.
“I am very chuffed,” she said. “Although, it was a complete surprise. I didn’t expect to win anything.”
“I usually go to the Australian Romance Writer’s Conference but I liked the look of some of the speakers in New Zealand, so I went online and realised that submissions hadn’t closed.”
Ms Cooper added that she had a literal “pinch me” moment at the awards, held earlier this month,
“The long romance award came first so and I was a bit stunned and went up and did my thing and sat back down and thought that was it,” she said
“Then I found myself being poked and someone was saying, ‘get up, get up again’ so I had to go back up for the second award – it was quite surprising.’
The Currency Lass is set in the 1850s, between Sydney, the Hunter Valley and the developing goldfields.
It tells the story of Catherine Cottingham, who, as her father’s only heir expects to inherit their sprawling property in the Hunter Valley, and a trip to the circus and a meeting with the fiery Sergey Petrov changed the course of her life forever.
“It’s set in Maitland – it starts in Maitland and the reason for this was that it is based on fact – there was a circus that came to Maitland in 1850 then did go, cross-country out to the gold fields.”
Ms Cooper said that inspiration came after she spotted an old flyer for the circus online.
The Currency Lass is Cooper’s third historical romance novel to be set in 19th century Hunter. It follows The Horse Thief (which was the ninth-highest selling debut fiction title by an Australian writer in 2015), and last year’s release The Cedar Cutter.
Not one to rest on her laurels, the prolific author added that her new book, The Woman In The Green Dress would be hitting shelves in December.
She will deliver a talk about the soon-to-be-released novel at Cessnock Library in February.