Harry Baxter and Edwina Campbell lead completely different lives.
A lot has changed for Harry since he escaped his home town of Yallamba ten years ago, headed for the bright lights of the big city. Now he’s the star of Melbourne’s hottest musical, and home is wherever the next standing ovation is – why bother going home to visit his parents when his dad couldn’t care less about his success?
Meanwhile, nothing much has changed for Edwina in the last decade, which is exactly how she likes it. Eddie adores her nursing job and Yallamba community – she can’t imagine living anywhere else. And even if she wanted to, she could never leave her beloved grandparents, who raised her and love her like their very own daughter. She’s not going to abandon them in their old age. Not for anything.
So when Harry and Eddie bump into each other on one of Harry’s flying visits home, their instant mutual attraction seems as pointless as it is intense. There’s no way they could ever work it out… Is there?
One More Song is a delightfully heartfelt rural romance novel by bestselling Australian novelist Nicki Edwards. It’s heartwarming and charming, but also incredibly endearing and filled with realistic emotion and engaging, relatable characters.
Eddie and Harry are two people from different worlds, and One More Song is about them overcoming their differences and learning to follow their dreams and find a way to be together. Following their story and reading about their budding romance is a really enjoyable experience, and I really thought this book was wonderful and really well-written.
Both characters have their flaws. Harry doesn’t really get along with his father and has spent years ignoring the elephant in the room and avoiding trying to work things out with him. Eddie has been living with her grandparents, too devoted to them to really live her own life. When the two meet, they’re able to help each other. They are able to tackle their problems and realise what it is that they both want.
“How long has he been sick, Mum?”
She shrugged. “A few months.”
“A few months?” He only realised he’d raised his voice when Claire kicked him under the table.
“He never got over that flu,” Jenny said.
Harry frowned. “But that was back in June. Are you saying he’s been sick for six months?”
I think the novel was paced really well, allowing us to really spend time with the characters and feel like we understand them and can sympathise with them. Nicki is really great at crafting three-dimensional, relatable characters.
I did feel like in real life, these two types of people would never be able to actually make a relationship work, but I cast that thought aside and just went along with the book.
“Her face warmed. Normally if a man ogled her like that, she would have told him to look elsewhere, but with Harry it felt different — like he genuinely liked all of her — inside and out.”
I recommend this novel to romance and rural fiction readers. It’s heartfelt and beautiful, but it’s also a fun and addictive novel.
Thanks to Pan Macmillan, Jess Just Reads has been invited to be a part of the One More Song blog tour! See below for my Q&A with Nicki.
AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH NICKI EDWARDS
Congratulations on One More Song! What’s your writing process like?
Thank you so much, Jess. My writing process is very “hit and miss”. Between my kids, my husband’s busy job and my job (I average four days a week in the Intensive Care Unit or Emergency Department working as a nurse), I have to squish my writing in whenever and wherever I can. I’m lucky I love my job so it’s never too much of an interruption from writing and in fact that’s where I get a lot of the material for my medical scenes. I also tend to watch little or no television and am blessed with a husband who doesn’t mind when I lock myself away for hours at a time to write.
It isn’t ideal and can be extremely frustrating, especially when the ideas are flowing or I’m in the middle of edits, but I somehow make it work. Actually, my family make it work by picking up the slack and never complaining when there’s no food in the house and I haven’t cooked dinner for a week! And when I’m in the thick of a story, I don’t sleep much.
If I had to describe my ideal writing process, I would get up at 5.30 to exercise, come home and shower and get dressed in warm, comfy clothes (and ugg boots) and start writing. I’d write up to 8 hours a day or longer, and I’d stay off social media as much as possible because it’s a big, draining, time wasting hole.
This is your eighth novel. Do you learn something new each time you write a book?
Each one has been harder to write than the previous one and I think that’s because I’ve become more self-aware and more critical of my writing style. I’m not a plotter but with each new book I’ve tried to do more outlining than in previous books so I have some idea of where the story is going. That’s because otherwise when I get to the editing stage, my stories tend to be all over the place and my poor editor tears her hair out.
Speaking of editors, I’ve been exceedingly blessed with a sensational editor for this current book (she also edited my last book, The Peppercorn Project) and I’ve learned so much from her – more than I could have learned in a hundred books on writing craft.
Unfortunately, learning is one thing, remembering what she’s taught me and putting it into practice is another thing entirely, and it’s not that easy. I’ve also learned that I use the word “amazing” far too often in my rough drafts!
What kind of research have you had to undertake when writing your novels?
I adore research but it can literally suck days out of my life! I now force myself to write first and come back to research the details later. My books have a lot of medical scenes so obviously I rely on my own medical knowledge but I constantly ask my colleagues the weirdest “what if” and “how” questions. One of the surgeons I work with gets so excited when I approach him with questions. He goes away and comes back with the craziest plot ideas – I think he wishes he was an author! My ED colleagues come up with the best stories – there’s something about medical staff – everyone likes to outdo the latest wildest medical drama. I listen a lot, call it all research and know that I can use barely any of it because no-one would believe me!
Other research includes visiting the settings of my books. I like to walk the streets of the towns and get a feel for the location. My hubby loves to come along to see if there’s any good coffee. If not, the town either gets crossed off the list of potential place settings for my next book or I have to give the place it’s own café! And would you believe I don’t drink coffee and have never tasted it!
You’re a critical care nurse, and your main character in this book is a nurse. Is it fun being able to put your own experiences into a book? Are there any difficulties when doing this?
I love using my experiences as a nurse and the experiences of my colleagues in my books. Many times life is stranger than fiction though and there are some stories that are so unbelievable I could never write them.
The only difficulties I face is when my editors are a bit squeamish and think the scene is a little too “bloody” or technical – then I have to work with them to make the scene as believable as possible but ensure readers don’t skim past it because they don’t understand the jargon or can’t picture what’s happening.
I’m blessed to do a job I love – caring for others is a privilege and one I don’t take lightly. Nursing is an amazing career and I love showing the positive sides of it. I’m not sure in the future whether all my main characters will be nurses, but I don’t intend moving away from the medical dramas in my books.
What do you think is essential when writing rural romance?
I think it’s important to have a love for the setting. I like to think the settings in my book are almost like another character and I love it when readers fall in love with the place I’ve chosen to set my story. One reader contacted me to say she and her husband were planning a trip around Australia and she was desperate to visit Birrangulla after falling in love with the place in my Escape to the Country series. She was devastated to discover it didn’t exist! Birrangulla was a figment of my imagination – a very scaled down version of a regional city in New South Wales where I’d lived for three fabulous years.
Many of the other rural romance writers have one distinct advantage over me and that’s that they actually live in rural Australia! I’m a city girl wishing I lived in the country, so I have to ask lots of questions and read lots of rural romances to get a feel for what it might be like to live there. I am in no doubt I have a totally warped idea of small town country life where everyone knows everyone’s business, but I like to dream and pretend it’s all a perfect world! And when it’s not perfect, I just make-believe!
Who is the first to read your drafts?
My critique partner Andrea Grigg (who is also a romance author) is usually the first to read the rough first drafts and she’s brilliant at helping with some basic editing. My daughter Chloe has recently started reading my first drafts and she has great insight too. Otherwise, the first to read the draft is my editor or agent.
What do you like to read?
I don’t get much time to read these days and it’s not as easy to read for pleasure. I read as many of my fellow rural romance authors books as I can (there’s a brilliant website where they’re all listed in one place – http://www.australianruralromance.com) and I enjoy reading anything with medical scenarios.
I tend to read mostly romance and women’s fiction but I also enjoy legal dramas and crime/suspense novels but that’s rare these days simply because of time. I have about ten favourite authors and I’ll read every one of their books – they always get bumped to the top of my very massive “to be read” pile as soon as they come out. And I prefer to support Aussie authors first.
Finally, what are you working on next?
I am so excited about my next book. The working title is Before He Was Mine and while it’s still set in a small town, has romantic elements and medical scenes, it features three main characters – two women and a man – and probably sits more in the women’s fiction or “life lit” genre than as a romance. I don’t want to give too much away, but I promise it will tug at the heart strings. I also have ideas for the next two books after that. Now I just need someone to grant me the gift of time!
Thank you to the publisher for sending me a review copy and for allowing me to interview Nicki!
One More Song
Pan Macmillan Publishers