Blog Tour | Guest Post | Anna Romer

I do love this quote by Voltaire and, after reading Anna Romer's latest, Beyond the Orchard, thought it rather appropriate, because she really does paint with her words.

For me, Anna's name has become synonymous with mysteries set against our many varied, beautiful and sometimes desolate Australian landscapes, giving her readers a real treat in the gothic atmosphere within which she entwines her stories.

It is with great pleasure then that I welcome Anna to the blog today to speak about her art - both in the visual and written form. But first, a bit about her.

Anna grew up in a family of book-lovers and yarn-tellers, which inspired her lifelong love affair with stories.

A graphic artist by trade, she also spent many years travelling the globe stockpiling story material from the Australian outback, and Asia, New Zealand, Europe and America.

Both her first and second novels, Thornwood House and Lyrebird Hill, reflect her fascination with forgotten diaries and letters, dark family secrets, rambling old houses, and love in its many guises—as well as her passion for the uniquely beautiful Australian landscape.

When she’s not writing (or falling in love with another book), Anna is an avid gardener, knitter, bushwalker and conservationist. She lives and works in a secluded bush hideaway surrounded by national parks.

Anna, thank you so much for providing this post and a big thank you to Simon & Schuster Australia for inviting me to take part in this Blog Tour.

Before we continue to Anna's post though, I'd like to give a shout-out to the blog before me on this tour.

Please do stop by at Debbish where Deborah interviewed Anna on the 4th November.

Here's a full list of blog tour participants:

Enjoy and happy hopping!


"Writing is the Painting of the Voice" - Voltaire

I've never heard this quote before, and I love it. I'm a big fan of Voltaire; there was a time in my distant past when I knew parts of Candide nearly off by heart. The quote really resonates with me, so I'm going to stick it up on my inspiration wall and see where it takes me.

I didn't start writing until my mid-30s. Before that, I was an artist. I lived in Europe for a few years, painting reproductions of classical artworks for a living. I can draw quite accurately, but for my own work I preferred a more fanciful approach. My images were heavily influenced by folklore and fairytales – whimsical pictures of storm-swept boats, fleeing rabbits, strange flowers, and gnarly old trees, that sort of thing.

                               Bottle by Anna Romer

One quandary I always had with my painting was feeling limited by how much I could express. Of course, this isn't the case with every artist. I've sat in galleries where a beautifully rendered vase of flowers or portrait kept me spellbound for hours, gazing intently as though the entire universe was captured right there on the canvas. Picasso’s Guernica drew me back all day every day for a week, and even then I left feeling that I still hadn't absorbed it all. A picture truly can paint a thousand words – perhaps many more! – but my skills as an artist never seemed to reach quite that far. 

I've always loved reading stories, or listening to them, and so weaving them into my paintings was a natural impulse. Yet I always sensed there was something lacking. It was only when I finally found the courage to put pen to paper that I discovered what it was. 

A single image only seemed to capture a fragment of the story I wanted to tell. My head was full of complicated relationships, powerful passions and obsessions, interesting life stories people had told me, curious artefacts I found, decaying old buildings and abandoned gardens I'd seen in my travels. Not to mention my own life and family history! I also wanted to steep my stories in strong emotions – love, fear, anger, intense joy; emotions that run like an electric current through our lives. 

When I struggled to successfully layer these elements into my paintings, I blamed my lack of skill. But looking back I now realise that I was simply working in the wrong medium.

Writing my stories down, weaving in the intricate details of the things I'd seen and heard – and imagined – opened up a new world for me. My stories were no longer limited to a single image or idea, but had an outlet that allowed them free reign. Maybe that’s why I love the Voltaire quote. For me, writing really did become the painting of my voice. I still get to paint pictures, only now they are pictures created with words – with my ‘voice’ – a voice that only truly seemed to come alive when I laid down my paintbrushes and picked up a pen.

About the Book

A haunting story of yearning, love and betrayal from the bestselling author of Thornwood House

Lucy Briar has arrived home in turmoil after years overseas. She’s met her fiancé in London and has her life mapped out, but something is holding her back.

Hoping to ground herself and find answers, Lucy settles into once familiar routines. But old tortured feelings flood Lucy’s existence when her beloved father, Ron, is hospitalised and Morgan – the man who drove her away all those years ago – seeks her out.

Worse, Ron implores Lucy to visit Bitterwood Estate, the crumbling historic family guesthouse now left to him. He needs Lucy to find something– an old photograph album, the very thing that drove Ron and his father apart.

Lucy has her own painful memories of Bitterwood, darkness that has plagued her dreams since she was young. But as Lucy searches for the album, the house begins to give up its ghosts and she is driven to put them to rest.

And there, held tightly between the house, the orchard and the soaring cliffs, Lucy uncovers a long-hidden secret that shattered a family’s bond and kept a frightened young girl in its thrall ... and Lucy discovers just how fierce the lonely heart can be.


  1. Oh interesting... I was intrigued by the similarities between writing and drawing / painting as well! That concept of being able to layer emotions and complexity is an interesting one!


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