Love and the Outback: a perfect recipe for romance
MIX the dusty plains of the Australian Outback, a gorgeous hard-working cowboy and a city girl in distress and you have the perfect recipe for a best-selling romance novel.
It's the formula employed by Mandy Magro in her latest book released this month, Walking the Line, and well on the way to becoming another hit for the Tweed author.
Growing up in Far North Queensland, where her family farmed tropical fruit the likes of mangoes and lychees, Ms Magro has always loved the land.
But she truly fell in love with the Outback while working as a camp cook on a station in central NSW.
"I consider myself to be a country girl through and through, with a passion for wide open spaces, paddocks full of horses and cattle, rodeos, country music, and the fair dinkum Aussie way of life,” she describes herself.
"I've also been known to sniff the air madly when a cattle train goes by. I just love the smell of the cattle on board.”
When her daughter Chloe Rose was born some eight years ago, Ms Magro decided to test her writing skills.
"I was living on one of Dad's farms and found myself a bit isolated from the house so I decided to start writing a book,” she said.
"I just wrote it and thought I'll see if someone wants to sign it: Penguin signed it within two weeks of getting it, so I was really lucky. That was my first novel, I'm writing my tenth at the moment.”
Her next novel, due mid-2017, has a thread of domestic violence running through it, while she also has an erotica e-book waiting in the wings.
"I think I am just lucky, I always have lots of ideas, it is more a matter of trying to pick which one I am going to write next,” she said.
"I am writing this one now and I already have my idea set for the next one. So I have been lucky so far. I keep waiting for the well to run dry but it hasn't yet.”
Moving to Banora Point eight months ago, Ms Magro writes while her daughter is at school, with her writing buddy - a three-month old toy poodle - snuggled up by her feet.
"I need quiet to write, I'm a single mum, so I can only do it while Chloe is at school,” she said.
"I drink lots of tea while I am writing. I don't work weekends anymore if I can help it. I have my family time: I find I am more productive if I have that break on the weekend and get back to it on the Monday.”
While she is pitching her first non-romance novel - a psychotic thriller - to her publisher, to date Ms Magro has focused on romance with a country feel.
"I love the Australian theme,” she said.
Mr Magro bases her male protagonists on her idea of the ideal man, even working with country music star Adam Brand for one of her book's characters.
"You have to have a character that is flawed, you can't have a perfect character otherwise they don't feel real,” she said.
"But otherwise it is probably what I want in a partner and what every other woman wants in a partner: the protective, lay-down-his-life gorgeous hunk that can do things like cook or ride a horse and ride off into the sunset.”
But do such men actually exist?
"I think they are few and far between,” she laughs.
"In the real world they may exist but they are probably all snapped up by now. I think you are very lucky to find a man who is like that. But I do believe they are out there.”
As for Ms Magro, she is currently "floating along happily” in the romance stakes "leaving things up to the universe”.
When she is not writing, she loves visiting the beach and farmers' markets.
"I just like the flow of pace here, I love it,” she said.
"It has a good balance (here). You don't have to go far - you have Byron on one side and the Gold Coast on the other.”
And possibly the location of a new book?
"I'd really like to call a book Point Danger because it has just got a brilliant edge to it, so maybe something in the future.”