Grace Kirk from the Creative Industries Faculty’s online magazine, No Walls, interviews award-winning QUT journalism and creative writing graduate about her debut novel – a regional romantic comedy.
It’s safe to say that there aren’t many romantic comedies set in the regional Queensland town of Rocky. Yet the town known for sunshine, cattle and cyclones provides the backdrop for producer, presenter and writer Anna Daniels’ debut novel, Girl in Between.
The romantic comedy is about a woman in her early thirties, her best friend and their wild adventures. It was released on the 26 April in all Big W, Kmart and Target stores across Australia, and online through Booktopia.
Published by Allen & Unwin, the novel is on shelves just one year after it was shortlisted for Allen & Unwin’s prestigious Vogel Award.
After initially setting out to write a screenplay, Ms Daniels realised the story she hoped to produce would suit a novel format, thanks to its character depth and storyline. As such she decided to write Girl in Between as a romantic comedy novel.
“I’d always been a massive fan of comedy that has heart, but also makes you laugh. The kind of comedy that makes you feel something and pulls a bit on your heart strings,” Ms Daniels said.
She describes the book as Aussie, funny and light hearted and relatable to women in their thirties, and not just the ones out in regional Australia.
After reaching the 38,000-word mark, Ms Daniels decided to test the waters and see what the publishing world might think. She submitted to the Allen & Unwin Friday pitch.
“I almost fell off my chair, because the same day I sent it in, I got an email straight back saying ‘We would love to read the full manuscript’,” she said.
It was while she was on the Allen & Unwin website that she discovered the Vogel Award which was open to unpublished writers under 35.
Being shortlisted for the Vogel Award was a huge win for Ms Daniels and it led her on the path to publication.
It’s safe to say that there aren’t many romantic comedies set in Rocky. In fact, she Daniels has found that regional Australia is underrepresented in mainstream media and fiction.
The book sets out to capture life in a regional Australian town in a way that is relatable to everyone. There are a lot of Rocky settings in the text and according to Ms Daniels it is filled with the ‘laconic larrikin Aussie humour’ that’s found in regional towns.
“I hope it resonates with people, because 1/3 of Australians live in rural or regional Australia,” she said.
Ms Daniels graduated from a Bachelor of Journalism at QUT in 2002. She has had a varied career working to write and present her own stories for The Project on Channel 10 and working as a presenter on ABC radio in Brisbane. Across all of her work she aims to champion the characters and stories of rural and regional Australia.