Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Danielle Costley
Danielle Costley is an experienced Editor, Author and Journalist having spent the past 20 years’ working in the Australian and international media arenas. Currently, Danielle is a freelance journalist for Decanter magazine, SCOOP magazine and The Australian and New Zealand Grapegrower & Winemaker magazine. Danielle also works as an Editor on manuscripts across all genres, as well as on corporate publications and websites.
Her latest novel, Beyond the Farm Gate: a culinary journey through Australia’s South West, has just been released by Margaret River Press. This book showcases the South West region’s local produce, allowing consumers to connect directly with artisan producers and discover hidden gastronomic gems.
This is Danielle’s third book, following on from her highly successful debut children’s novel, The Golden Orb, which featured in the Premier’s Summer Reading Challenge, a government initiative designed to encourage school children to read and improve literacy levels in WA.
Danielle has also co-authored Western Australia – The Quest for Excellence, a business book profiling emerging and established companies in WA.
Please welcome Danielle to my blog
Let’s talk writing. Do you belong to a writers support group and if so how does this group support your writing efforts?
Yes, I’m a member of the Margaret River Writer’s Group and we meet each month to share and talk through our various writing projects. It’s a great forum for both giving and receiving feedback on our work and helping us improve upon our stories and ideas.
How did this book come about?
I started writing Beyond the Farm Gate two years ago. I was having a coffee with my publisher, Caroline Wood from Margaret River Press, and we discussed producing a book about food growers from the south west region. Many people think only of Margaret River when they think of the south west and through this book I wanted to take them off the beaten track to all areas of this magnificent region such as Harvey, Capel, Balingup, Nannup, Manjimup, Pemberton, Augusta, Rosa Brook and, of course, Margaret River. I am a passionate foodie and food and wine journalist, so I was immediately intrigued about embarking on such a project. We talked through the concept for the book and decided I would write about twenty stories and twenty or so recipes on food producers, on the basis that all of the food is locally grown and nothing is outsourced. That is why there are no coffee brewers, bakers or chocolatiers included in the book. J I used to be a roving reporter throughout rural WA, so I have spent quite a bit of time getting my hands (and boots) dirty chasing up a good farming story. The opportunity to explore the entire southern region again and reconnect with the growers was simply too good to resist. And as there were so many amazing stories out there, the book evolved to contain 31 stories about growers and around 50 recipes.
How would you describe this book? What genre does it fit into?
Beyond the Farm Gate is a collection of stories and recipes that take you into the hearts and homes of the south west farming community. Some of the recipes have been passed down from generation to generation and I was lucky enough to have these people share those recipes with me for the book. Essentially, this book will appeal to a broad section of the market; particularly food enthusiasts. There are also a number or organic and biodynamic farmers featured so if you are interested in sustainable farming practices then it’s also right up your alley. And, of course, there is the cook book element.
Lessons learnt as a journalist for Farm Weekly:
To never be afraid to ask questions and go off the beaten track in search of a good story. Always take the time to listen to those around you and if you have time to chat over a cuppa then it’s even better. You will be surprised by what you can unearth over a cup of coffee.
Let’s talk books and influences. Who are your favourite authors? Or food writers?
I am a huge fan of Paul West from River Cottage Australia and have tried many of his recipes. I am a firm believer in the River Cottage philosophy of sustainable farming. In terms of cook books, my kitchen is brimming with Donna Hay, Bill Granger and Luke Nguyen cook books. I must add that I’ve read Under the Tuscan Sun and used its recipes on countless occasions too! I am influenced by so many authors, it’s extremely difficult to name just a few. Historical non-fiction and historical fiction is my favourite genre. Books such as the Batavia and The Widow Cliquot have resonated with me and I’ve read them both on several occasions. I also love local author, Liz Byrski, or Monica McInerney when I’m seeking some light reading, as well as Kate Morton.
Let’s talk research. How did you go about it? How long did it take to research the book?
I put a call out through the local media outlets for producers to contact me if they had a story to tell and listed the criteria I was looking for. This gave me a really good response, but I found a lot of the content came from trawling through websites and farmers markets and also by staying in the regions and asking around. As I said earlier, you can learn a lot over a cuppa. When I was staying in the regions, I took my dog with me and a pair of sneakers as I was training for a marathon at the time. Each day, I’d literally be running past an orchard and would stop in and have a chat with the grower. All in all, I spent about three months researching the book and finding the growers.
Let’s talk favourite foods. What do you love to cook with?
I could live on an endless diet of fruit, vegetables and seafood. I am heavily influenced by Asian cuisine and make a lot of seafood broths and Thai salads. I am very fortunate that my husband loves to fish in his spare time so I am spoilt for choice when it comes to seafood selection from our local ocean. My family also likes Italian cuisine and I am a master with the pasta machine. I always look forward to truffle season and head to Manjimup for fresh truffles every winter. It is such a versatile food and I’ve used truffle with seafood, pasta, eggs and all sorts of meats and it remains the star of the dish.
Let’s talk about modern book promotion and marketing. What does marketing mean to you as an author?
I have written two books previously. One is a children’s book titled “The Golden Orb” (2007) and the other is a business book “WA: The Quest for Excellence” (1999). Since those books were published, I’ve noticed a dramatic shift towards the promotion of the author in the marketing campaigns, particularly with the rise and rise of social media. Nowadays, a good marketing campaign for a book requires the author to be actively involved to build both their public profile and social media profile. People want to know the author’s background and by doing so it helps readers engage further with the book. Avenues such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter allow people to communicate directly with the author, which is quite exciting.
Let’s talk about what you love most about the south west?
I love the lifestyle of the south west; the produce; the people; and the ocean. I moved here from the city nearly ten years ago and can’t imagine living anywhere else. It is a wonderful playground for my young children and there is so much at our fingertips. We live on the beach so I like to surf or walk along the beach tracks every day with my dog; or take the kids on a bike ride through the forest; go fishing or crabbing; or a trek down into the caves. I love that when a particular fruit or vegetable is in season, it’s a quick trip in the car to a local farm where I can pick the produce myself or collect a box of fruit from the local orchard. I’ve never eaten so well in my life and as I’m also a wine journalist, I am definitely spoilt for choice with wine selections in this region.
My next book is…
I’m working on two books at the moment. One is an historical non-fiction book for children and the other is a food book on local seafood in the region. I would like to write another book on local produce from around the state as each region is so incredibly diverse (as is the produce) so I will definitely keep you posted …
Good luck with you new projects Danielle.
Quill Editorial Services
What a great interview – thanks, both. I think there’s nothing quite like food and recipes and the stories that go with them to tell a people’s story. It sounds as though it’s all there in this book. Fascinating!
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