Friday, May 5, 2017

Interview with Julianne Miles-Brown


From an early age storytelling encompassed Julianne Miles-Brown’s life, writing stories about ghosts and mysteries in an eerie house in the Blue Mountains in which she lived some of her childhood. Julianne writes historical stories of fiction and non-fiction for both adults and children. She also loves to write picture books and the creative format of text and illustrations.With a degree in Creative Writing, she became more involved in literature, by taking over the role of Director of the Writers’ Unleashed festival in the Sutherland Shire in Sydney. Julianne enjoys the challenges it presents, and meeting and networking with the various authors and publishers in the writing industry. Between her writing you’ll find her running or walking in the national park or beach and spending time with her husband and two boys.

You can connect with Julianne on Twitter, Facebook or via her websites Julianne Miles-Brown and History Storyteller.

What is the inspiration for your current book?

In my current book Misadventure I wanted to lift the barriers that can stop us from attempting our goals, from others and within ourselves. I also wanted to show the differences and the similarities that we all possess.

Is there a particular theme you are exploring in this book?

The theme of division and how it influences and guides us is the main one. In 18th century Europe, class, sex, religion, race and also the place you were from, influenced them to a huge degree.
I wanted to blend the idea of what constitutes the different classes and heritage of my characters, which was so divided. By blend I mean to have the characters in a different place in which to survive (from a shipwreck). This was to illustrate that no matter what our heritage or social status that it all depends on what’s inside of us that’s important as to who we really are.

Which period of history particularly interests you? Why?

There is no specific period of history that I can pinpoint. Mainly I would lean towards Australian history, as I have more knowledge in relation to our country. All places and time of history gives such fodder to learn from.

What resources do you use to research your book?

  • Museums – Maritime Museum, Vaughan Evans Library and Mitchell library.
  • Artefacts and a variety of non-fictional books, both historical and books printed from the particular time in history. Films about this period, such as The Colony, (SBS series) and The Secret River (ABC mini series).
  • Diaries/logs from that period of time.
  • First hand experience. We cannot go back in a time machine but we can experience their life the way they did. I spent an overnight stay on the HMB Endeavour in Sydney Harbour, sleeping in a hammock and having dinner/breakfast on board. A great experience.


What is more important to you: historical authenticity or accuracy?

Historical authenticity. When writing historical fictional I try to have an accuracy of details but I’m not an expert in all fields. There are some details that I would like to research even further.

Which character in your current book is your favourite? Why?

The main character Lavinia. She is born into privilege of the middle class and can be annoying at the start. She needs to overcome her own prejudices to accept all the people around her and who they are. By the conclusion of the novel she has changed and realises that her viewpoint and desires are not the same.

Are you a ‘plotter’ or a ‘pantser’? How long does it generally take you to write a book?

A pantser. For Misadventure I wrote chapter by chapter but with a flow of ideas. Sometimes I would write a section that may have been at the end, or middle of the novel. I need to let the characters and the plot travel on their own journey.
This is my first novel – took around 10 years (this included many intermissions, such as finishing my degree and my 2 beautiful young sons coming along.)

Which authors have influenced you?

Kate Morton, Michael Crichton, Kate Forsyth, Gabrielle Lord, John Boyne, Emily Bronte, Elizabeth Kostova, Kate Grenville, Anthony Doerr, David Malouf, Hannah Kent. Growing up, all the girls’ mystery books such as Nancy Drew and later Agatha Christie and G K Chesterton. Specific books that I love:  Remembering Babylon, by David Malouf and All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr.

What advice would you give an aspiring author?

Keep writing, even when motivation or direction appears unclear. The book The Artists Way by Julia Cameron, is great for removing blockages and to write morning notes. Keep the fire alight, take notes, keep writing and also talk to other writers.


Tell us about your next book or work in progress.


I intend to write a novel that explores fears and how they can develop and the reaction to fear. I’m in the process of brainstorming the different historical times. I also hope to explore the thylacine’s extinction in perhaps a novella or short story.

Good luck with Misadventure, Julianne. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us. And Writers' Unleashed looks wonderful. Please add 19th August to your diaries!


Julianne Miles-Brown will be appearing at our free Sydney Meet the Author satellite event on 29 May 2017  at Sutherland Library, 30-36 Belmont St, Sutherland from 6.30-8.30 pm with Isolde Martyn, Elisabeth Storrs and Debbie Robson discussing 'Follow that Horse! All you ever wanted to know about researching, writing and publishing historical fiction.' The event is free but bookings are essential via Event Brite. More details are available at the HNSA website.

HNSA 2017 Conference

This celebration of the historical fiction genre will showcase over 60 speakers discussing inspiration, writing craft, research, publishing pathways and personal histories in our weekend programme. Among the many acclaimed historical novelists participating are Kerry Greenwood, Kate Forsyth, Deborah Challinor, Lucy Treloar, Sophie Masson, Sulari Gentill, Robert Gott and Arnold Zable. The HNSA’s speakers’ list is available on the HNSA website.

In addition to the two stream weekend programme, there will be ten craft based super sessions and two research masterclasses. You won’t want to miss our interactive sessions on armour and historical costumes either! Manuscript assessments will be conducted by industry experts, Alison Arnold and Irina Dunn. Our free extended academic programme is open for general admission but bookings are essential.

Our First Pages Pitch Contest offers an opportunity for submissions to be read aloud to a panel of publishers. And we are delighted to announce the introduction of our inaugural HNSA Short Story Contest with a $500 prize!




Let’s make a noise about historical fiction!

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