How 1 Euro Italian houses and The Cake Maker’s Wish are Related

Since I started writing The Cake Maker’s Wish (all the way back in 2015), my imaginary idea of reviving a dying little village by importing people from around the globe has gone a little more global (and viral).

Today, you can buy an Italian house for only 1 Euro, in the same country that previously gave away castles, monasteries and towers. Ireland has called for residents of Australia and USA to emigrate to the tiny island of Arranmore. Spain has had a problem of abandoned villages across the country, so the officials from Galicia set about giving away one of these villages. In all of these examples, the goal has been to give the properties to someone who has detailed plans to renovate, restore and add capital back into the local area, to save a dying population and/or economy, and restore economic trade to the local business owners. This is exactly the premise that I used for the setting of The Cake Maker’s Wish, though at the time, I didn’t know it was really ‘a thing’.

Where it all began…

In 2015 I travelled to the UK on a writing trip to meet with my UK publisher and agent, to delivery an author talk in Abergavenny in Wales and to do research to look for a new story. I travelled with my dad, my sister and my sister’s baby (who was 14 months old). As part of that trip, we rented a stone cottage in the Cotswolds where we based ourselves for ten days and travelled the area from there.

I was lucky enough to get to know some of the locals. Two of them—men who’d grown up in the village in the fifties—made me a cup of tea to tell me about what life was like when they were young. In that conversation, they lamented the fact that the village had changed so much from when it was owned by the Lord of the Manor, which had created a unified, collaborated feel through the workers, with a thriving community spirit. Over time, as the village was sold off, wealthy investors from the city would buy up cottages as holiday homes, but that meant that most of the properties were sitting empty for most of the year. The village couldn’t function as it used to, no longer community-sufficient, with people having to travel further and further away to find work and services and the house prices forcing workers out of the market.

I was really touched by their sadness and went back to my rented cottage and sat down with a notebook and pen and thought, well, I’m a writer, surely I can bring this village back to life on the page. And that’s how it started.

And now…

I confess to being truly delighted that my imagination has conjured something that isn’t completely out of the box at all, that its themes and efforts of small communities trying to survive and hold onto their connections is very real, and that equally real efforts are happening around the world right now to save them. In my heart, I am a girl from the village. I may have been born in Brisbane but I have now spent almost fifteen years living in small country towns. I know the huge beating hearts that live in them and how important it is to support them and celebrate them. This is exactly what my new novel does.

The Cake Maker’s Wish is out 2 June but you can pre-order it now from all good bookstores and online retailers. I look forward to sharing the imaginary village of Stoneden in the Cotswolds with you very soon!

 

Coming Soon! The Cake Maker’s Wish

I am thrilled to share the cover for my new book, The Cake Maker’s Wish, coming to you on 2 June 2020. I adore it!

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Life in the village isn’t always sweet and simple . . .

When single mum Olivia uproots her young son Darcy from their life in Tasmania for a new start in the English Cotswolds, she isn’t exactly expecting a bed of roses – but nor is she prepared for the challenges that life in the picturesque village throws her way.

The Renaissance Project hopes to bring the dwindling community back to life – to welcome migrants from around the world and to boost the failing economy – but not everyone is so pleased about the initiative.

For cake maker Olivia, it’s a chance for Darcy to finally meet his Norwegian father, and for her to trace the last blurry lines on what remains of her family tree. It’s also an opportunity to move on from the traumatic event that tore her loved ones apart.

After seven years on her own, she has all but given up on romance, until life dishes up some delicious new options she didn’t even know she was craving.

An uplifting and heartwarming story about the moments that change your life forever, human kindness and being true to yourself.
Praise for Josephine Moon:

‘A mountain of heart, an abundance of soul and a banquet of mouth-watering food.’ Good Reading

‘You can’t go wrong with a book by Josephine Moon.’ Vanessa Carnevale

‘A delightful page-turner and a truly moving tale.’ Better Reading

Brisbane Writing Workshops, May 2019

How do you find ideas for stories, and what do you do with them once you have them? How do you write a bestselling novel? This year, I’m delighted to be running two writing workshops in Brisbane in May at Twelfth Night Theatre.

Do you…

  • Have an idea that’s been hanging around that you’d like to bring to life somehow?
  • Struggle to find story idea, or have the opposite problem and have too many ideas?
  • Struggle to work out what format to put your idea into or what to do with it once it’s finished?
  • Have a burning desire to write a novel?
  • Have a half-finished (or quarter-finished) novel that you need some help to finish?
  • Want to have fun, feel creative, meet up with other creatives?
  • Just want to escape the family and the Brisbane heat for a weekend, eat some chocolate and maybe make a new friend?

I can help!

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Workshop 1: Bringing Your Ideas to Life. How do you find ideas for stories and what do you do with them once you find them? Josephine will guide you through the process of discovering ideas for stories, accessing research and resources, breathing life into words, and then pulling them into some sort of order to get them onto the page. She’ll also help you to work out what sort of writer you might be, which will help you know what to do with your ideas. She’ll cover different types of structure to suit different outcomes and foundational skills in the requirements of a good story.

Workshop 2: How to Write a Bestselling Novel. There isn’t one single way to write a bestseller but there are definitely common elements you can learn. Bring your idea for a novel and Josephine will show you how to plot it out to keep the pages turning, build strong characters and guide you through the foundations of self-editing. This interactive day will see you leave with a bounty of information to set you up for success.

You can book in for either event or attend both for a discount. As well, I’ll give everyone who comes along a complimentary copy of The Gift of Life to take home!

Click here for bookings.

Why Do You Want to Read ‘The Gift of Life’?

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Recently, I offered my mailing list subscribers the chance to win a copy of The Gift of Life. All they had to do was tell me in 25 words or less why they wanted to read it. I hadn’t expected to be so delighted by reading their responses, and thought I’d share some with you. Maybe you’ll find a good reason in there to add The Gift of Life to your reading collection when it is released into the world next week on 2 April.

The winner of the competition was April Nisbet, who shared “your books are medicine for my soul. I can always connect to your characters, I feel their passions and their fears from page 1.  ”

April also sent me another email telling me how The Tea Chest inspired a total life turnaround for her, fuelling her passion to begin working with tea. She even took her copy of The Tea Chest to Darjeeling for research (see photo), and will be completing her tea blending certificate later this year. April is actually the third person who has shared that The Tea Chest had this affect on her. I can’t tell you what a privilege it is to be a writer and have people not only enjoy my books but actually find meaning in their own life because of them.

Thank you to everyone who entered this competition. There were so many wonderful entries and it was such a joy to read them.

_____________________________

I have had a transplant and hope to see the emotions of the situation of donor & recipient expressed realistically, sensitively & positively. (Karen K)

I have always wondered if there was a spiritual connection between the donor and recipient of a heart transplant (Delores B)

…life is a precious gift (Sue E)

I often replace your books with my daily meditation practice (April N)

I have been involved in many organ donations aka “the gift of life” as a nurse in ICU (Karen J)

Just read “The Chocolate Promise” for the fourth time. Totally LOVE all four novels so far and can’t wait to read “The Gift of Life”!!! (Ainslie H)

Love all your other books and know I will love this one just as much.  (Corinna)

…sometimes I need a reminder to appreciate all I have and the people in my life (Liz H)

I am waiting for a heart/lung transplant (Heidi D)

Love, love, love all your books. (Chrissy B)

Josephine is my favourite and she is yet to write a book I don’t adore. (Bryannan K)

_________________________

If you’re feeling inspired to read The Gift of Life, you’ll be able to get a copy of the book from anywhere good books are sold, Big W, airports, K-Mart, and Target. Or you can buy online at

Booktopia

Get it on audio here (Audible)

Get it at Amazon here

Book Depository (with FREE international shipping)

 

The Gift of Life, Australian Book Tour

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It’s now just three weeks until The Gift of Life is released into the world! I’m thrilled to share I have a bumper book tour happening and will be getting around to Qld, NSW, Vic, Tas, and SA! All the details are listed on the Contact Me/Events page, but here is a list of what’s there so far. Plans are still being pinned down in the background so there may yet be more added but I do hope I get to see you on the road soon!

 

The Gift of Life, Book Tour Dates

Please check back often as this information is updating.

Queensland

Saturday 30 March 2019

Big W, Maroochydore, time to be confirmed

Tuesday 2 April 2019:

A Morning with Josephine Moon at Bribie Island Library, 10-11am

Bribie Island Library, 1 Welsby Parade, Bongaree, QLD, Australia, 4507

Tuesday 2 April:

An Evening with Josephine Moon at Chermside Library, 6-7pm

Chermside Library, 375 Hamilton Road Chermside, QLD 4032

 

Wednesday 3 April 2019

An Afternoon with Josephine Moon at Garden City Library, 1-2pm

Address:
Garden City Library
Garden City Shopping Centre
Cnr Logan and Kessels Rds
Upper Mt Gravatt
QLD 4122

Queensland Workshops

Saturday 4 May, 10am-3pm, Twelfth Night Theatre, Brisbane

Workshop 1: Bringing Your Ideas to Life. How do you find ideas for stories and what do you do with them once you find them? Josephine will guide you through the process of discovering ideas for stories, accessing research and resources, breathing life into words, and then pulling them into some sort of order to get them onto the page. She’ll also help you to work out what sort of writer you might be, which will help you know what to do with your ideas. She’ll cover different types of structure to suit different outcomes and foundational skills in the requirements of a good story.

For more info and bookings, CLICK HERE.

Sunday 5 May, 10am-3pm, Twelfth Night Theatre, Brisbane

Workshop 2: How to Write a Bestselling Novel. There isn’t one single way to write a bestseller but there are definitely common elements you can learn. Bring your idea for a novel and Josephine will show you how to plot it out to keep the pages turning, build strong characters and guide you through the foundations of self-editing. This interactive day will see you leave with a bounty of information to set you up for success.

For more info and bookings, CLICK HERE.

 

New South Wales

Thursday 4 April 

11am – 12 pm Morning Tea with Josephine Moon at Berkelouw Mona Vale

Address: 12-14 Park Street, Mona Vale, NSW

6.30-7.30pm An Evening with Josephine Moon at Sutherland Library

Sutherland Library
Address: 30-36 Belmont Street, Sutherland, NSW, Australia, 2232Friday 5th April,2.30 – 3.30pm, An event with Josephine Moon at Camden Library

Camden Library

 

Tasmania

Saturday 6 April 2019

 

A Morning with Josephine Moon at Hobart Library, 11am-12pm

Venue Details:
Hobart LINC
Address: 91 Murray Street, Hobart, TAS, Australia, 7000 Contact: Leisha Owen

 

Victoria

Tuesday 7 May 2019

 

An Afternoon with Josephine Moon at Mornington Peninsula Libraries, 2-3pm

Mornington Peninsula Libraries
Address: 21 Marine Parade, Hastings, VIC, Australia, 3915 Contact: Gail Higgins

 

Tuesday 7 May, 2019

An Evening with Josephine Moon at Bunjil Place Library, 7-8pm

Bunji Place Library
Address: Bunjil Place, Patrick Northeast Drive, Narre Warren, VIC, Australia, 3805

 

South Australia

Wednesday 8 May, 2019, 6-7pm, An Evening with Josephine Moon at Noarlunga Library

Hannah Road, Noarlunga Centre, SA

 

Thursday 9 May, 2019, 1.30-3.30p, An Afternoon with Josephine Moon at Auchendarroch House

Auchendarroch House, 17 Adelaide Rd, Mt Barker, SA

Researching The Gift of Life: Watching a Heart Transplant to Finding the Silent Story

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Research is my happy place. I do extensive research for every book I write and it’s where I learn not just technical information but also start to find my character development, settings and plot points too. I get to travel within Australian and overseas for location research, which is a great gift. I interview people, spend hours on the internet, watch loads of YouTube videos and, inevitably, buy a lot of reference books. It is the phase where anything is still possible, ideas are still forming and excitement takes me back again and again for more.

My forthcoming novel, The Gift of Life, is based around organ donation, specifically, heart transplants. I love anatomy (I studied it for two semesters) and Biology was also my strongest subject at school and I then did another semester of it at uni. As a result, I loved brushing up on all my anatomy and physiology and researching the many causes and treatments of heart failure, some of which lead to the need for an organ donation. I even ended up at the cardiologist myself, as I have a long history of arrhythmias and, as I found out in my research, these can lead to heart failure! (Fortunately for me, the type I have appear to be uncomplicated.) My husband, too, also ended up at the cardiologist, then my mum went… It seemed like every time I turned around, ‘hearts’ were the theme of the day.  One thing I learned through all this research was that we are all vulnerable to heart issues, which can come with a long list of complications, which can also lead to a need for a transplant. I really had no idea how common it was.

The amount of personal testimony I came across (both from the point of view of a heart transplant recipient and also from the family of those who had consented to the donation of their loved one’s organs) is significantly higher coming from the USA than it is Australia. This was both tricky–because the USA medical and legal systems are very different to ours–and also an opportunity to hear different experiences and voices from those who’ve gone through the process.

There is a wealth of videos on YouTube and I even came across one that showed a heart transplant operation. That one was a little tough to stomach, to be honest!

I interviewed two Australian heart transplant recipients, which was a fabulous opportunity to hear their stories firsthand. They were both very different people–he a middle-aged man with a wife, children and career–and she a young woman in her twenties with a long life ahead if only she could get the chance. Their experience of the process was vastly different too. The organ transplant process is a gamble at every stage: the illness, the waiting period, the operation, the recovery, the chances of rejection and ongoing complications.

In the end, I had way more information than I could use in the book, which is normal. The Gift of Life starts two years after Gabby McPhee had her heart transplant; therefore much of what I learned about the difficult, emotional waiting stage (and the ongoing physical rehabilitation and care through that period) had to be cut and left out; however, it’s all there in my mind, forming the basis to the background of Gabby’s psyche.

I also became really interested in the more silent half of the story–the experiences of the family members who make the decision to donate. These stories are harder to find, and understandably so, as their experience is rooted in trauma, shock and grief. But as a writer, that ‘silent space’ is the most interesting to me. The possibility of a new, untold story is the one I want to follow. The wealth of information I found on the other side (the recipient’s stories) served to highlight a gap in the narrative that, when voiced through the character of Krystal Arthur, fleshed out the full circle of life.

I loved researching this book. It was utterly fascinating from beginning to end.

 

Win a Manuscript Assessment with Annette Barlow!

Annette Barlow is auctioning herself! She has worked at Allen & Unwin as an editor and a publisher for over 25 years. Annette teaches at Faber Academy at A&U and is in charge of the annual Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award. This is your rare opportunity to win her attention to get invaluable feedback on your work in progress!

PS you also help farmers, with money raised going to Rural Aid.

You can find more information and bidding details on eBay at https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ebay.com.au%2Fulk%2Fitm%2F332828513395