We’re so pleased to welcome first time visitor, author Pene Henson, to TNA today on the tour for her new novel, Storm Season. She’s sharing some great stuff with us, including a giveaway, so be sure to check out the Rafflecopter widget below for details and to enter.
Ten Moments That Stuck with Me After Writing Storm Season
Hello! Thanks for inviting me to visit The Novel Approach! I’m Pene Henson, author of Storm Season and last year’s Into the Blue. I’m Australian, extroverted and hard to ruffle. Also I’m pretty tall, mostly lacking in sporting prowess, and way less funny than I’d like to be. I live with my wife and our two divinely awesome kids in Sydney, along with a ferociously loving cat.
Storm Season is my second novel. It’s set on the Australian East Coast, in land and in cities that I know well. Like my previous novel, it’s essentially a happy queer story. It’s a romance between a bubbly and adorable fashion blogger and a capable park ranger living alone in a remote cabin. As you’d imagine, these women have vastly different experiences. They think they have vastly different priorities. Trapped together by a storm, however, they uncover not just a deep attraction to one another but also all the ways they fit together. And then, of course, the storm breaks and they have to work out what will happen when they return to their ordinary lives.
I loved thinking about moments from books, and working out what makes them memorable and striking. I’ve divided them wildly into categories.
Moments of hope
- In Jane Austen’s Persuasion, Captain Wentworth writes “I am half agony, half hope,” and suddenly the sun comes out on Anne’s stalwart acceptance of a grey future. It’s a beautiful line, Austen does men in loving anguish well. But more than that, we’ve been with Anne through mortification and monotony and when she walks down the street now everything is different.
- In Jose Saramago’s blindness, there is a moment when he speaks of “the habit of falling” hardening the body. In that same moment all the images in a church have their eyes covered. And then so soon after that someone regains their sight. It’s this strange, frightening sense of having no hope and then not knowing what to do with hope when you have it again.
Moments of mortification
- For a change of pace, in Sophie Kinsella’s The Undomestic Goddess, Samantha has put her whole life into her work as a high end London lawyer. When she determines she’s made an error that cost her client millions, she runs, just leaves everything. It’s entertaining in the way that Kinsella can be. It’s ridiculous. But it’s also horrifying to feel her mortification and fear that everything she’s ever done is nothing.
- Also by Jane Austen, Emma Woodhouse of Emma is young and privileged and thoughtlessly teases Miss Bates, a woman who does not have Emma’s position in the world. It’s understandable, how the moment gets away from Emma, how irritating Miss Bates is. But it’s also awful. And when Mr. Knightley calls Emma on it, tells her it was badly done, I was mortified for her.
Sweet but fleeting moments
- In my friend Rachel Davidson Leigh’s book Hold there’s this painfully sweet kissing moment in the movie theatre between the protagonist and his long term crush and friend. The moment is brief, this is not the protagonist’s forever or even his happily for now. But there’s this extraordinary sense of friendship and newness and possibility.
- And in another friend Lissa Reed’s Certainly, Possibly, You, the book starts in this sweet and hilarious morning after scene, with one protagonist entirely flustered by the gorgeous woman in her bed. The scene is delightful comedy but it has this underlying sweetness as the women are already so clearly fond of one another.
Moments of longing
- Entirely different but still sweet and fleeting, in Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto, the young terrorist Carmen and the young translator Gen have fallen in love. When they kiss one time the book reads “There was no time for kissing but she wanted him to know that in the future there would be. A kiss in so much loneliness was like a hand pulling you up out of the water, scooping you up from a place of drowning and into the reckless abundance of air. A kiss, another kiss.” And it’s perfect even though you know not everything can end well.
- And heartbreakingly worse, the moment in E. Annie Proulx’s short, Brokeback Mountain when Jack achingly misses the times Ennis would stand behind him and hold him on the mountain, the two of them looking out at the stars and over the fire with Jack leaning back against Ennis’ chest and feeling his heart beat. The longing Jack feels is not about sex but certainly about love and passion and he can’t pin it down but damn he feels it.
Moments of mutual respect
- In Rosamunde Pilcher’s September, there’s a moment where young and naive Alexa cooks so efficiently and easily for ladies’ man Noel. I love how her effectiveness and disinterested sweetness is so disarming. It’s not that he is awed by her innocence, but by her relaxed skill and competence at doing the thing she loves best.
- In Now and Forever by Beverly Jenkins, the protagonists take a group of women across the United States to be mail order brides. I am still struck by early scenes where she explains her plans to him and impresses him with her knowledge and bravery, and then he explains the journey to all the women and impresses her with his knowledge and pragmatism. They may not like one another yet, but they are impressed by one another. I like my characters to have mutual respect. 🙂
About the Book
The great outdoors isn’t so great for Sydney It-Girl Lien Hong. It’s too dark, too quiet, and there are spiders in the toilet of the cabin she is sharing with friends on the way to a New South Wales music festival. To make matters worse, she’s been separated from her companions and taken a bad fall. With a storm approaching, her rescue comes in the form of a striking wilderness ranger named Claudia Sokolov, whose isolated cabin, soulful voice and collection of guitars bely a complicated history. While they wait out the weather, the women find an undeniable connection—one that puts them both on new trajectories that last long after the storm has cleared.
About the Author
Pene Henson has gone from British boarding schools to New York City law firms. She now lives in Sydney, Australia, where she is an intellectual property lawyer and published poet who is deeply immersed in the city’s LGBTQIA community. She spends her spare time enjoying the outdoors and gazing at the ocean with her gorgeous wife and two unexpectedly exceptional sons. Into the Blue, her first novel, was published by Interlude Press in 2016 and received a starred review from Publishers Weekly.
Grand Prize $25 IP Gift Card + Multi-format eBook of Hold // Five winners receive Storm Season eBook
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