Book Club Questions:
The Vet from Snowy River

 

  • What was your favourite scene in the book? Why?

 

  • VERA believes she is at fault for her current problems (losing her job/her aunt having to leave the aged care home she was in) – if she’d not tried to become a vigilante about under-resourced aged care homes, she’d still have her job, and her aunt wouldn’t have had to switch homes when she was so frail. Should Vera feel guilty? Or should she feel proud for sticking her neck out?

 

  • JOSH has a good relationship with his ex-partner, Poppy’s mum. Romance genre novels often get accused of “glossing over” harsh realities – do you think this is an example of that?

 

  • STELLA’S COMMENT: from the author’s point of view, Josh (because this is romance) needs to be a character who readers engage with positively. Making him someone who could have a good relationship with an ex partner was a way to make him not just a good guy, but a great guy ... because really, how common is it for those relationships to actually be very bitter.]

 

  • Who is your favourite character and why?

 

  • Dogs in books – yes or no?

 

  • STELLA’S COMMENTS: You’ll never convince me that “no” is the right answer!!!!

 

  • MARIGOLD is an example of an older woman who has broken through the cliché barrier of having to be a CWA matron whose skill set revolves around scones with jam and cream. She’s a yoga guru, runs a business, and takes an active role in the historical society. Do you like to see these older mentor-type characters in books being given realistic and well-rounded back stories? Can you think of others?

 

  • STELLA’S COMMENT: Older characters are getting to feature in the foreground of popular novels ... is this a sign of an ageing population? Or are readers growing les “ageist”? ... or in the general turmoil of covid and political extremism, are we making more nostalgic reading choices? I’m thinking of the popularity of The Single Ladies of the Jacaranda Retirement Village, and The Thursday Murder Club.  

 

  • GREY CAT is in the plot to show Vera is capable of _______________ what?

 

  • STELLA’S COMMENT: Vera is in a dark place because she feels guilty. She thinks she is a wrecker of relationships and her way of “caring” for people (eg her aunt) just ends badly. The cat is an example of caring that ends well. It helps her learn to believe in herself and her choices again.

 

  • Comedy in romance – what are your thoughts? Do you think the comic moments in The Vet from Snowy River (the guinea pig fiasco, Jane Doe’s real owner coming to claim his Labrador, Josh and Hannah’s banter, Sue the stroppy lawyer) help engage the reader’s empathy with the characters?

 

  • STELLA’S COMMENTS: I think RomCom (romantic comedy) is terrific, but RomCom has its own conventions. The main character is often a bit of a klutz, and everything is a bit exaggerated (think Bridget Jones and her granny knickers, the eagle swooping down on the lap dog in The Proposal). Comedy in romance has to have a more subtle touch, but I for one am a big fan. Romance needs its angst (and romance excels in angst) but humour is, I think, such a fun way to create some rise and fall in the tensions of the plot, and really connect us (the readers) to the main characters.

 

 

  • How important are feel-good novels for readers who need a little pick-me-up in their day? Can books fill a void and make readers happier?

 

  • STELLA’S COMMENT: I think feel-good books are SO important, but there’s often a bit of genre-shaming going on in book-reading communities that is not as prevalent in, for example, tv-streaming communities. Eg ... “I love reading romance books” might get some doubt and mockery from those people privileged to have an education and a book budget to read widely and a preference for theme-driven literature like The Handmaid’s Tale (an excellent book!). But “I love watching Bridgerton” (historical romance) or “I love watching Lucifer” (slowburn romance) or “I love watching Die Hard” (action romance – there’s a university study to prove it) is seen as acceptable feel-good diversion. I think that mocking readers of romance is a cliched reaction that is (to use another cliché) so yesterday.

 

  • Why do you think VERA didn’t tell JOSH that her ex-boss was also her ex-boyfriend?

 

  • STELLA’S COMMENTS: shame is such a brutal emotion, isn’t it? It’s also at the heart of that glorious romance trope: the redemption arc. Hello, Nora Roberts, I’m looking at you, Queen of Redemption. This trope is based on the premise that shame can be “worked off ” through hard work, dedication, remorse, growth, a new perspective, honesty, mindfulness, a fresh start etc. This is the trope that makes hope its beating heart, because shame and hope are at opposite ends of the seesaw. It’s my absolute favourite trope.

 

  • JOSH was very invested in rebuilding the front of the Cody & Cody Vet Clinic ... why do you think this was?

 

  • STELLA’S COMMENT: There is a reason for all those sayings: home is where the hearth is, no place like home, home sweet home. He left his home when he was barely a man, became a father when he was barely old enough to earn a wage ... he feels like he’s been playing catch-up ever since. Now he’s back in Hanrahan, he wants to settle down and be the settled family man he’d expected to be before his plans went pear-shaped, and the restoring the clinic – a Cody owned building for generations – is symbolic of that.

 

  • In rural fiction, the small town can seem like a character in its own right. Secondary characters are given more than two dimensions and multiple scenes are often set in the same venues to immerse the reader in a sense of place. Did HANRAHAN feel like somewhere you’d like to visit? Can you think of other books or shows where the small town is a big a personality as the characters?

 

  • STELLA’S COMMENTS: Hart of Dixie, Virgin River and Sea Change are shows where I think the small town is given a life of is own. I love what it adds to a book. In the rural romance genre, the technique is used to create a sense of warmth and belonging, but the same technique can be used to create alienation and despair, for example in Jane Harper’s crime genre novel The Dry.

 

 

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XX Stella

 

About your author, Stella Quinn

 

When Stella Quinn isn’t sitting in the sun scribbling in a notebook, she can be found walking her dog, roaming her neighbourhood in search of the perfect latte, or thrashing her children at scrabble. She grew up in England, Hong Kong, Papua New Guinea and Australia, and spent five (long!) years at boarding school in country Queensland.

 

Stella writes contemporary romance novels that are warm-hearted and filled with characters you want to be best friends with. She loves rural small-town settings, island settings, and everyday heroes. Imagine if Sea Change and Virgin River had a series of fictitious bookbabies ... they’re the books Stella writes.

 

She has two rural romances being published by Harlequin, and The Vet from Snowy River is out now.  https://bit.ly/3xasivP

 

Her series include The Island Escape Series and she is an author for Sweet Promise Press’s Gold Coast Retrievers Series.

 

Stella Quinn’s awards in the fabulous world of romance include winning the Valerie Parv Award in 2018, winning the Sapphire Award in 2019 and 2020, winning the Emerald Award in 2017 and coming second in the Sapphire in 2018. Stella was shortlisted in the Australian Society of Authors/HQ Fiction Commercial Fiction Award in 2020, and in the 2020 Ruby Award for best contemporary romance. With her writing group (who published a Christmas anthology of novellas) she was shortlisted by ARRA for best small-town contemporary romance in 2019.

 

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