Teddy, the main character in THE COWGIRL is weighed down by family responsibilities. She dreams of travel but is stuck on the farm. So I decided to take Teddy on the trip of a lifetime – here she is with me at Paddington Station in London, Criccieth in rural Wales, Lapland at the North Pole, Chamonix in the French Alps and finally in beautiful Venice. By the time I read Teddy’s story, I felt like she was a close friend, having been with me for over five weeks.
Anthea Hodgson is a soft hearted, kind, funny, talented, loyal, hard working and oh-so-sassy woman and Teddy is exactly the same! I hope you all love her story as much as I did!
'When you look up at that sky, tell me you don't know the world is bigger than this farm.'
Teddy Broderick is committed to her busy life in the country – seeding, harvest, shearing, and the daily milking of her grandmother’s cow – but she dreams of another life, in the world beyond the farm gate.
But just as she thinks she knows everything about her family, her grandmother Deirdre announces there is a house buried on the property, and archaeologist Will Hastings is coming to dig it up.
What is hidden in Deirdre’s childhood home that she needs to see again before she dies? What is preventing Teddy from living the life she truly wants, and will she ever find her freedom?
As Teddy and Will work to expose past secrets to the light, the stories they tell bring them together, and unearth a whole world of buried treasures.
In her previous life she was child free and working as a radio producer, where the coffee was terrible but the people were great, and now she has three brilliant kids, including her husband, a job she loves even more than radio, and a two book deal with Penguin Random House.
Because a few years ago Anthea found herself with nothing to do at three am, so she climbed out of bed and wrote her debut novel, The Drifter, in five weeks. Told you she likes coffee.
An Interview with Anthea Hodgson:
Tell us briefly about your book.
I like to think of The Cowgirl as a rural fairytale about not following your dreams. It follows the story of Deirdre, an old lady living on her farm in wheatbelt WA, and her granddaughter Teddy, who live quietly on the farm they have owned for generations, until Deirdre announces there is a house buried on the farm, and that Will Hastings, an archaeologist, is coming to dig it up again. What is it that Deirdre needs to see again? Why can’t Teddy seem to leave the farm? And what secrets and stories are they about to dig up? The Cowgirl is about responsibility and freedom – and the stories that bind us all.
How did you come up with the title?
Titles haven’t been a problem for me – I tend to write something obvious at the top of the first page, and they seem to stick. My first novel, The Drifter was about a drifter who comes to town, but it wasn’t long before I realised that both of my main characters were drifters – and so it stuck. The Cowgirl was the same. In one way, she is Deirdre, stuck on the farm looking after cows, but she is also Teddy, still young, but taking on the responsibility rather than choose a different life. We toyed with changing the title to something less rural for what is more a work of general fiction, but in the end simplicity won, and The Cowgirl stayed. I’m glad.
Where is the novel set and why did you choose to set it there?
I set the novel in Windstorm a fictional town very much based on my own home town of Yealering in WA. The landscape of the WA wheatbelt was important to The Drifter, just as it’s important in The Cowgirl – I’m writing about people who have made their livings from the land for generations, their stories are sewn into the landscape, their histories, their grandparent’s histories, their children’s futures. The beauty of the wheatbelt stays with me where ever I am, as do the families and characters I know so well.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m finishing off an old manuscript that may never see the light of day, which I wrote while I was trying to get someone to read Drifter! It’s a coastal – or rather, it’s a ghost-al because it’s a romance in a spooky old house by the sea…
What was your road to publication?
Well, like all slightly strange introverts, I wrote my debut, Drifter, in complete secrecy and sent it out to instant acclaim and multi-million dollar offers. Or, to put it another way – I sent it out for two years and was totally and utterly ignored, receiving not even a reply from anyone, much less an actual rejection. Finally, I did a 5 minute pitch to Penguin at a conference, and was picked up a month or so later! It was completely thrilling and unexpected – and I was finally willing to tell my family and friends…
Do you write a plan – or see where the story takes you?
I write to a plan so that I don’t waste time or words. I like to know where things are going, because I like to build themes and stuff (technical term) in as I go, so it provides a good framework. I do, however, happily change direction every now and then if the characters demand it. (I was trying to get Henry to propose to Cate on the Windstorm jetty for a while – he flatly refused – and quite right, too!) I haven’t written much, let’s face it, but I planned both Drifter and Cowgirl on cards, stacked them up, and wrote from top to bottom. Although Cowgirl gave me more trouble. Bloody redheads.
How do you make time to write?
Early mornings are my friends, so if I need to get something done I’ll get up by 5am at the latest. I’m also lucky enough to be an insomniac, so it’s nice to have something more constructive than tossing and turning to do at 2am! I like to get most of my work done in the morning, and at night I’m more likely to read or watch something on TV. Hopefully something highbrow and improving, but sometimes The Bachelor…
Do you take negative reviews personally?
They don’t bother me! I can hardly put it out there and expect everyone to love me – I’m fine with bad reviews, because it means I’ve been published! (and I don’t hand over my self-esteem to strangers.)
What’s on your bucket list?
Chris Hemsworth, obviously.
Chocolate or cheese?
Has to be chocolate - sweet, bitter, dark, poured over desserts, snapped from a full block shared with a friend, squirrelled away on the way back to school after the holidays, melted in a packet in a hot car, rich brown shards of Easter egg chocolate shining from golden foil – although - cheese! Salty, squidgy, firm, blue…squashed onto fresh baguette, melted into an omelette, cheese with wine, and friends…I love you too cheese! (Call me.)
One thing about me you may not know…(not sure if it’s quirky)
I once starred in a movie with Sir Richard Attenborough, and we chatted between takes (movie jargon). OK, so I was an extra – but a PRINCIPLE extra, with a special tent and everything, and we did chat! (and I was very charming, as I recall) (and so was he.)