Chris Gardner

The joys of self-publishing.

Romance and Research.


I’m currently working on a rural romance–a retro rural romance–and it’s surprising how often I find myself stuck because I need to research some probably inconsequential thing. Maybe it’s because I actually have more of an interest in history than romance (as far as writing and reading goes!) but I do like a mix of the two. Perhaps most readers wouldn’t notice if the gears on the tractor my heroine is driving in 1970’s outback Australia are in the wrong place, but I would know.

Luckily for me, my husband drove tractors around that time and was able to give precise instructions on how to drive the typical tractor that was around then. I also have a sister and brother-in-law who spent most of their lives farming and a nephew who still runs their family farm. Still there have been other bits and pieces surprisingly hard to find out. Considering I had some personal experience with outback life myself I didn’t realise how ignorant I was.

Of course my experiences of what I call outback, which is an isolated station, not a farm near a town, are childhood memories. My best memory is actually romance and rural mixed together nicely, even though I was only eleven! I was staying on a station with family friends and we went to a wool-shed dance, which, for those of you who don’t know, is a dance held in a shearing shed.

It was, I think, 1963, and I vividly remember the dress I wore, a favourite at the time–pink checked gingham, with a frill down the front and stiff petticoat lining. I think I wore little white socks and black shoes. The band was an aboriginal group I’d seen perform at the local agricultural show, and the lead singer, a fourteen year old boy, was pretty good eye candy for a sheltered eleven year old.

I was swept off my feet, though, by a twelve year old boy from a local station. I’m not sure if we danced–probably–my main memory was of him spending what I considered a lot of money on buying me what there was to eat there. I was very impressed. The next day he swam across the river to spend some more time with me and later he sent me my very first love letter, signed, Your boy.

It makes me wonder why I’ve never written a rural romance before really! They obviously breed their men romantic out there in the bush.

My writing has been very varied and I enjoy trying different things–some of it comes very easily and some is a real struggle but the main struggle is simply having the discipline to sit at the computer every day and write something. I often find myself checking my email or facebook or even doing housework, rather than actually writing. Probably the most fun I’ve had writing was the fantasy I wrote for kids, ‘Beast of War’. I became so fond of the characters in that book I was more sad than relieved when it was finished. I’ll let you know when it’s up on the free promotion at Amazon later this month. I’d love some (good) reviews. Stay tuned and happy reading.


Author: cmsgardnerblog

I'm a writer of fiction and non-fiction, for teens and adults. I live in Central Victoria, Australia and my books are available at and

10 thoughts on “Romance and Research.

  1. I quite often find it hard to sit down and write, it’s odd how we all get distracted very easily, but I agree with getting stuck with something. When this happened to me it takes me out of the story 100% and it can take me days to get back into the rhythm of the story. At the moment I am trying to do my research first so I won’t get stuck like this again.

  2. I’ve avoided writer’s block by working simultaneously on several projects and my blog – currently two novels, two TV drama scripts, etc – it works for me, perhaps not for all.

    When I’m really stuck, I simply throw stuff on the wall – see it weep down – some call it modern art – the literary version.

  3. If I stay with a story, the energy flows. But as soon as I get side-tracked, just as you said, with the e-mails and blogging, I lose the momentum. I’m writing a romance right now as well – a contemporary set in North Carolina. Good luck.

  4. Thanks Renee, Best of luck to you too.

  5. I enjoyed reading this post, particularly the part about the boy who swam across the river to spend more time with you. Lovely detail. 🙂

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