A grieving heiress becomes the sole owner of a thousand acres of Hunter Valley bushland in 1831.
That's the premise of Paula J. Beavan's newly-released debut novel Daughter of the Hunter Valley - and you can get your hands on a free copy thanks to our friends at HarperCollins.
Beavan, herself from the Hunter Valley, said it was an "amazing" feeling to have a book hitting shelves.
"I feel incredibly privileged to have my novel published with [HaperCollins'] Harlequin Mira," she said.
"I practiced writing for about 12 years before trying to submit anything for publication and when I did submit to Harper Collins Harlequin, I wasn't overly optimistic as I wasn't sure if my writing was of a publishable standard.
"Other aspiring writers encouraged me to self-publish, but I really wanted to try traditional publishing. I was very fortunate to be offered a contract."
Beavan said her novel started from a simple concept, but grew after much research.
"Originally I imagined a girl travelling from England to find the grand home her father had described in his letters didn't exist," she said.
"I had to write Daughter of the Hunter Valley to find out why he'd lied.
"I'm the kind of person who can't finish a sentence until I find out if the word I've typed was in use in the era of my story, so there's a lot of research.
"Fortunately, I love it, so it's not a hardship - but it can be a distraction.
"I had to be careful not to disappear down the rabbit hole of research, and not finish the story."
Beavan's research also ended up teaching her a little about her own family story.
She said she was always curious about Harper's Hill, near where she'd grown up, as her maiden name was Harpur.
Beavan found out that the local landmark used to be called Harpur's Hill, but changed through the years.
"When I began to research the area for my story, I came across various mentions of William and Catherine Harpur, later spelled Harper, and their story really intrigued me,' she said.
"William went blind in his early 40s and Catherine managed their 2000-acre property, Oswald, on the Hunter River.
"Catherine's story, and many other women in similar circumstances, inspired Daughter of the Hunter Valley."
Beavan hopes readers of her book will love her heroine, Maddy, for her "headstrong" and "compassionate" qualities.
She plans to write another historical novel inspired by a community of Scottish Highlanders who were sponsored to emigrate to the Hunter Valley during the Highland Clearances.
Australian Community Media has seven copies of Daughter of the Hunter Valley to give away to lucky readers.
For your chance to win, fill out the form below and tell us in 25 words or fewer what you would name a historical novel about your hometown and why.
Entries close midnight Tuesday, October 20.
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