CRIME writer-turned romantic storyteller Maryanne Ross says holding her first published novel in her hands is a fantastic feeling and a lesson in being brave - just like her heroine Lilwen Jones.
Bouncing the Bustle started as a workshopped idea with Ballarat Writers that became a short story and, with encouragement, Ms Ross added another scene. Then another. And then it became a manuscript for a novel.
Ms Ross tells the story of the fiercely independent Lilwen Jones whose father gambles away her livelihood, her plant nursery. Lilwen has one chance to save her fortunes and her dreams, to seek the legendary white waratah in Tasmanian wilderness, but she needs the help of wildlife hunter Sawyer Thane.
Rejected at first, Wild Rose Press editors told Ms Ross there was a lot to love about her piece but she needed to increase the pace, add more action and cut out the waffle.
What worries Ms Ross is that people might get the wrong idea about her personally when it comes to the raunchier scenes.
Romance is a style in its own and technically can be really, really clever writing.Maryanne Ross
"I've read hundreds of romance novels and how-to guides to inform it but romance is a style in its own and technically can be really, really clever writing," Ms Ross said.
"Romance writers not only have a normal plot with an antagonist on a journey but usually a hero and heroine, both on their own journeys, and you have to bring the two stories together."
Ms Ross, who has a background in horticulture, had once tried to try and find the elusive white waratah without luck on a non-romantic trip in Tasmania. She enjoyed drawing on her own scientific experience.
Her publisher's initial request for Bouncing the Bustle almost proved elusive too. Ms Ross found the email from her publisher in her spam mail when looking for a gym membership receipt. The email was set to expire.
The novel, released this month, follows Ms Ross' first standalone novellaHow (Not) to Make a Grandchild which was released in e-book format by the United States-based Wild Rose Press for Valentine's Day.
Ms Ross has also signed a contract for a second novel, Crashing the Corset, set on the north moors in the United Kingdom and with ties to the Ballarat Goldfields.
"They're all feminist stories even though it's romance," Ms Ross said. "I want it to be how young women choose the career they want and make it happen."
Bouncing the Bustle is available in e-book and online book shops. Copies will also be available in Ballarat Libraries.
If you are seeing this message you are a loyal digital subscriber to The Courier, as we made this story available only to subscribers. Thank you very much for your support and allowing us to continue telling Ballarat's story. We appreciate your support of journalism in our great city.