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Interview with Renee Dahlia

Renee’s Path to Publication

Today I chat with the wonderful Renee Dahlia, a fellow Australian Author, who shares with us her path to publication. Her latest book, a short story ‘The Bluestocking’s Legacy’ is available now.

Renée is an unabashed romance reader who loves feisty women and strong, clever men. Her books reflect this, with a side-note of dark humour. Renée has a science degree in physics. When not distracted by the characters fighting for attention in her brain, she works in the horse racing industry doing data analysis. She writes for two racing publications, churning out feature articles, interviews and advertorials. When she isn’t reading or writing, Renée wrangles a husband, four children, and volunteers on the local cricket club committee.


Welcome to my blog, Renee! I’m excited to have you here, and thank you so much for sharing your ‘Path to Publication’ experience with us all. I know so many of my readers will love to hear about how you went from an aspiring author to a published one, and many will gather inspiration from the journey!


Thank you, Maddison, for this opportunity to chat with you about my path to publication. There are so many wonderful stories out there waiting to be published, and I can read far more books than I can write, so my advice to all aspiring writers is to please keep writing.


  • How long have you been writing for?

About a decade. My journey started in an unexpected place. I studied physics and maths at uni, because none of the course work included any essay writing! Years later, an opportunity came up to write a series of statistically based ‘myth busting’ articles for a horse racing magazine. It grew from there, and I still write regularly for two magazines. A few years ago, I ghost-wrote a biographical book for a famous Australian racing personality. That gave me a taste for longer form writing, and I started writing a romance as a creative exercise. To see if I could. Why romance? Because I’m a voracious reader of the genre, and it seemed a natural place to start.


  • How long did it take you from when you started writing, to when you became a published author?

Please don’t hit me, but my first book, To Charm a Bluestocking, the aforementioned creative exercise, was published by Harlequin’s Escape Publishing in March 2017, only a year after I started writing it. I know how rare my experience is, and I’m very grateful to Kate and the team at Escape for this opportunity.


  • Where do you write from, home, office, coffee shop, etc? And do you have any pre-writing or actual writing rituals (such as lighting a candle, listening to music, etc)?

I have a laptop and can write pretty much anywhere. My second book, In Pursuit of a Bluestocking, was mostly written while watching my kids play cricket. Normally, I write from home, and am fortunate enough that my magazine writing earns enough so I can call myself a full time writer.


  • Are you a plotter, a pantser, or somewhere in-between?

Somewhere in between. Maybe it’s my scientific training? I love the concept of romance beats, and I put them together to form the backbone of a book. I often take a few chapters to write my way into a story, and learn the characters. Those first few chapters usually don’t make the final cut.


  • What is your favourite part of the writing process?

Dialogue. I love the way characters talk to each other and go to unexpected places.


  • What is the most important part of a novel to you: plot, characters, or setting?

Characters and the way they banter together.


  • Describe your writing routine (how long do you spending plotting the novel, time spent writing, editing, submitting it):

I’m trying to get to a place where I can write a novel, let it rest while I write the next, then come back and edit the first, on rotation. Because I was lucky enough to get published (virtually) straightaway, I still feel like I’m playing catch up. I’d like to be able to let my books ‘rest’ for longer.


  • How many books a year do you usually write (or are you aiming to write):

I’ve written six books in my first two years of writing. Two are published, one is due out in September, two are on submission, and the other is a completed first draft at this stage. I’ve also written a couple of short stories, and one, The Bluestocking’s Legacy, is available now. It’s the great-grandson of the heroine from my debut novel, To Charm a Bluestocking, and he’s an Olympics hero with a twist.

I’m aiming to write five books in 2018.


  • How did you get your publishing contract?

I pitched the Bluestocking series at Escape Publishing at RWA 2016 and the first one was publishing in March 2017, the second in October 2017, and the third will be out in September 2018.


  • Describe the time when you got ‘the call’ regarding publication:

The speed of turnaround gave me whiplash. I pitched at RWA in August, and submitted the full manuscript in October on a Wednesday late at night. I got an email on Sunday, asking if Escape could take my book to an acquisition meeting the next day. Kate, Managing Editor at Escape, rang at 10am to say they’d agreed to take on my book. My initial thought was “but you haven’t had time to have coffee, let alone make a decision!” 😊


  • What were your biggest learning experiences or surprises throughout the publishing journey?

Getting ‘the call’ is only the start of the game. Publishing is similar to the queue at the airport. Everyone wants to get through customs to the other side, but once you get there, you realise there are so many more people and they are all going to different places at different speeds.


  • Looking back, what do you think you did right that helped you break in?

The concept of three female doctors just graduating from medical school in the Victorian era (and based on my own great-grandmother who did this) makes my series appeal to readers who want strong female characters. My writing is quite light-hearted for a fairly serious concept, and maybe that appealed to Escape as it’s a good balance. In the end, it’s the characters that readers fall in love with, regardless of concept or setting, and I hope readers enjoy the different personalities of Josephine, Marie, and Claire as they navigate their world.


  • Is there anything you wish you could do differently?

Take the time to build a good network within the industry. Because I got published so early in my journey, I’ve had to do much of my learning and networking after my book was already out in the world. I think I missed many marketing opportunities due to the speed.


  • Best advice you’ve ever been given, or have heard, about writing?



  • Any advice for aspiring writers on writing and submitting?

Be resilient and keep going. Keep learning your craft. Listen to people who’ve been in publishing for a long time. Read.


  • What’s up next for you, and what are you working on now?

I’m writing a contemporary series set in Sydney which is on submission. It’s at the finger’s crossed stage 😊 I’m interested in becoming a hybrid author, and will go down that road with this series if it gets rejected. In terms of historicals, I have two more books to write in the Bluestocking series, and a fun new series idea to explore.


  • How can people connect with you?

I’m very active on Facebook, otherwise all my information is on my website. I blog quite frequently, and send out a newsletter about twice a year.


Thank you so much Renee for sharing your Path to Publication with us! What a great journey you’ve had, with many more adventures to come. And I must say I’m looking forward to reading your next novel in the Bluestocking Series – and you’re contemporaries sound exciting, so fingers crossed for you.

And for those of you who want to read Renee’s fantastic book ‘The Bluestocking’s Legacy’ just click on the pic below for more info.

‘The Bluestocking’s Legacy’

A modern short story.

Alex St. George can’t live up to his family legacy of academic success. He has turned his disadvantage into a quest for an Olympic medal. When he meets Dr Seo, he realises he can make a difference for other kids.

Dr Seo Yu-jin always wanted to be a sports doctor, until one athlete made her question everything. When she meets Alex St. George, she is reminded of her braver self. Can she confront her fear to create a future with Alex?



Renee can be found on the following platforms:

Facebook link:
Twitter link:
Goodreads link:
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