For 25 years, New Farm author Danielle de Valera turned her back on fiction-writing to raise her children as a single mother in the wilds of Byron Shire.

Months turned to years and, de Valera, in the early ’90s, found herself writing once again. In late 2021, after accruing many literary awards, she published novel Those Brisbane Romantics, the first draft of which she began in 1963. “I can’t do more than one thing at a time,” de Valera says. “I’m a bit of an obsessive, I suppose. I fell madly in love with my children and did not want to split my time between them and anything else.”

Those Brisbane Romantics is scoring great reviews and was awarded a coveted star from Kirkus Reviews – an accolade received by fewer than 10 per cent of books it reviews. The protagonist, Tara Mahoney, is an agricultural science student who falls in with a group of creative friends and lovers with their eyes set on rewarding futures. “Because it’s 1961, they all feel this pressure to get married, but fear marriage will signal the end of their aspirations,” de Valera says. “Tara has to decide if following her heart means giving up her dreams.”

De Valera herself has enjoyed a life of adventure, working variously as a botanist, an editor, a librarian, and at Arnott’s biscuit factory. “I spent four years at uni and I felt privileged to share my time on the factory floor with honest, hard-working people, some of whom had worked there decades and others who were just embarking on life’s journey,” de Valera says.

“Life would mean little without such people and their stories.”

Those Brisbane Romantics is on sale at Iwan Bookshop, New Farm, and Avid Reader, West End.

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