Local artist profile: Jann Maree

January 7, 2024 BY

Figments of the past: Jann Maree’s first novel, published this year, is inspired by the recollections of her ninety-seven-year-old mother. Photo: SUPPLIED

THIS week we chat with local author Jann Maree, who spent four decades as an educator before turning her hand to the page, and has released two books – one historical fiction, the other a memoir – over the past two years.


What motivated you to become a writer?

I am fascinated by words. They are the tools we use every day to communicate with others. Whether spoken or written, our words communicate the values we hold and the stories we tell about ourselves. I spent 40 years in the classroom with both teenagers and adults. Every one of those students had a story that deepened my insights into the people I was privileged to spend time with. Their stories and the stories they told were inspiring. And made me curious about the human condition.


How would you describe your style? How did you develop it?

My writing style is versatile. I write to express what’s meaningful to a character or to the situation they find themselves in. I write to get the reader involved. I write the story. A reader finishes the story. I draw on my own stories, what I know and the stories of my family. Memories have informed my writing and intrigued and troubled me enough to want to write. In 2022 I published No Nervous Lady, a memoir of my time spent building a mud-walled home in rural New South Wales. Writing a memoir gave me the confidence to try my hand at a novel. This year, I published The Place That Time Forgot, a piece of historical fiction, but based on the women pioneers of my family.


Which other writers inspire you and why?

I read widely across all genres. From the classics to the contemporary. Not just book writers but journalists and columnists too. One of my favourite books, compiled by Lucy Frost is, No Place for a Nervous Lady that inspired and influenced the title of my memoir, No Nervous Lady. Lucy writes about early 19th century women and their experiences in colonial Australia.

Robert Frost’s poetry suits my contemplative moments when I need to quieten down. I can go from Thomas Hardy to Kate Grenfell and Geraldine Brooks and I’m enraptured by Robert Galbraith’s Strike novels. With journalists and columnists, I enjoy the insights of Nikki Gemmell and Bernard Salt amongst others.


How can people check out your work?

I have a website: jannmaree.com which provides links to my books.

I’ll be holding a book launch to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the creation of Lake Eppalock. Further details will be advertised close to the anniversary date.


What have you released recently? 

This year, I published my debut novel, The Place That Time Forgot that tells the story of a community under threat. A proposal to create Lake Eppalock causes turmoil and dissension for people who have lived and farmed in a close-knit community in the district of Wild Duck and surrounding districts for many generations.


What would you say to young regional aspiring writers who are thinking of making a go of the creative life?

Be curious. Ask questions. Ask your parents questions. Ask your grandparents questions. Their stories are the stories that bind families and make each of us who we are. Read widely across all genres. Include newspapers and magazines. Keep a notebook handy. Write down words that may be used as a prompt for a story.

Just write – there’s no right or wrong way. Your words and your stories are what matters. Just write – and read – every day.