MATHOURA author CJ Duggan is halfway through her latest book, just months after releasing her personal favourite and 15th novel Beyond Here Lies Nothing.
The 38-year-old’s secret project had not been publicly announced until May 19, but details will not be released until later this year.
“You will have to wait to find out more,” she said.
Living in Mathoura for 18 years, Mrs Duggan has born in Melbourne and grew up in Euroa, where she met husband Mick.
The couple fell in love with a Victorian-style house, which is more than 100 years old, and decided to move to Mathoura to renovate the home when Mrs Duggan was just 20.
They have since enjoyed calling Mathoura home, where her writing career took off in 2010.
Her newest release Beyond Here Lies Nothing took Mrs Duggan three years to complete, the longest she has worked on a novel.
‘‘I came up with the idea, did the cover reveal and released the synopsis, but I got side-tracked in a sense because I signed a five-book deal with my publisher, and wrote those before coming back to it,’’ she said.
‘‘Despite that, it has absolutely become one of my favourite books and probably my most difficult to write because I did have that break. But I think it is the best thing I ever did because the story became so much more in depth and richer.
‘‘By the time it came to publish it, there was this disbelief because it was so long in the making and I was so incredibly proud of it. That book was a really big one for me.’’
Mrs Duggan published her first novel The Boys of Summer in the summer of 2012, but never expected it to become the international hit it is today.
‘‘When I published it, I had absolutely no expectations; it was something nobody knew about,’’ she said.
‘‘It was a story I had in my mind since I was a teenager, so I kind of always knew it would be my first book even though I had written other things.
‘‘And I thought if I sell 100 copies in its lifetime, that would be amazing, and I would be over the moon.’’
But the book became ‘‘so much bigger than me’’, Mrs Duggan says, with it selling ‘‘hundreds of thousands’’ of copies around the world.
‘‘It sort of exploded and my family and friends didn’t even know what I was doing,’’ she said.
‘‘I had only planned to write this one book as a standalone and it ended up being a seven-part series that went number one around the world and was huge on iBooks, becoming book of the month.
‘‘It just generated so much interest and got to the point where I was contacted by one of the five biggest publishers in the world to see if I would consider traditional publishing.
‘‘From there, it has become a career. It is kind of crazy looking back and seeing how far it has come.’’
Mrs Duggan said living in a remote town had not disadvantaged her as an author.
“If anything, it has been beneficial,” she said.
‘‘I am living in a place that is kind of ideal for what I do. It is a small town and secluded.
‘‘I write about small towns and communities in my books and it is a massive part of my inspiration. I write about the challenges of what it is to grow up in a small town. So if anything, it is perfect.’’
When it comes to being a successful writer, Mrs Duggan said it was important to stay true to yourself.
‘‘When I started, it was just something I was doing in the shadows, something I was doing for me,’’ she said.
‘‘But a friend of mine said, ‘CJ you have to start owning what you are doing’, and that really resonated with me.
‘‘She was absolutely right because it wasn’t until I started owning what I was doing that my life completely changed.
‘‘So if you are a writer, or aspiring to be a writer, my advice is to write what you love because if you don’t there is not going to be any truth in what you put out to readers.
‘‘They are very savvy, smart and read a lot, so you need to be able to put something out there that you are going to be proud of and believe in.’’