Becoming A Country Girl—and a Contest!

Maggi Andersen and her lawyer husband are empty nesters, living in the country outside Sydney, Australia, with their cat and the demanding wildlife. Parrots demand seed, possums demand fruit, and ducks visit from the stream at the bottom of the garden.

Andersen always felt she was meant to be a writer, but raising three children and studying for a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Master of Arts in Creative Writing degree came first. Georgette Heyer has strongly influenced her historical romances.  Her love of romantic suspense came from Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt.

Her current favorite writers are Elizabeth George and Sue Grafton. In her spare time, Maggi enjoys reading and watching movies. She swims and goes to the gym to keep fit. Her novel, Murder in Devon, will be released by Black Opal Books in Spring 2012.

Maggi’s websiteGoodreads page and her blog.

Murder in Devon is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo.

Leave a comment below to enter the drawing for a free copy of

Murder in Devon by Maggi Andersen.

Thank you for inviting me to your blog, Lelia. Rather than discuss my book, I thought I’d talk about our recent house move from the city to the country.

The grass isn’t always greener, you still have to mow it…

My husband and I lived in an apartment overlooking Sydney Harbour, a veritable stone’s throw from the city. We enjoyed the cosmopolitan lifestyle, the great shops, café’s, and restaurants just up the road. The latest movies were within easy reach and the theatre a short drive away. Everything we might need or wish to have was at our fingertips. But we tired of the noise, polluted air, caused by shipping, tugs and ferries on the harbour as well the choked roads, noisy neighbors which didn’t stay long enough to be on nodding terms, and the increasing difficulty in parking.

Wouldn’t it be nice to live in the peace and quiet of the country, I suggest?

We moved to the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, and were struck by the pleasure of living in a house again, having a garden and being able to walk outside into fresh air.

We had much to learn. Our first neighbor, who has since moved, came in one day and asked me to mind the chickens while they shopped. How does one mind chickens? They roamed both their yard and ours while I sweated with anxiety should our cat, which had been sunning itself in the garden somewhere, might take too much of an interest. What would stop them flying over the fence onto the road? Thankfully, all were present and correct when the owner returned.

Our new neighbor has chickens too. Some she reared from the egg. A black one with a touch of violet on its lustrous feathers sits on her bed while she reads the morning paper. They are unusual breeds and very pretty, reminding me of Victorian ladies as they run, frothy feathers flowing around skinny legs. They too escape into our yard and roam about clucking loudly. The cat fortunately has grown bored and shows little interest. We are gifted wonderful eggs, and often delicious treats made by their owner, a cordon bleu chef trained in Paris.

Wild ducks gather in the creek at the bottom of the garden. A regal white domestic duck lives among them and strolls over the bank like a celebrity on a red carpet, with small brown ducks following at a respectful distance. Our fondness for ducks does not extend to offering them the hospitality of our swimming pool, however, which they visit regularly for a recreational swim and a good wash.

Sulpher-crested cockatoos are breathtaking birds. But we have hundreds here. They gather in the trees and rival any city street for noise. If you scold them, one might fly down, cock its head and appeared to listen to what you have to say.

Kookaburras live here too. Their throaty laughter wakens us at the crack of dawn, perching in a tree outside our bedroom window. I was shocked one day when an ambulance pulled up.

The driver carried in a box with a baby kookaburra inside. It had been injured and rescued by Wires – a wild life protection group. Kookaburras are territorial. He released it into our yard, saying, “Don’t worry the parents will claim it.” I listened to its frantic calls, wringing my hands, but an hour later the two parents arrived and took it into their care.

We were charmed by possums at first. Extremely cute they climbed our pergola and took fruit from our hands. But they knock on the back door, if you’re a bit slow with the food, and thump on the roof like a herd of elephants at night when not feasting on the tender new shoots of my roses.

Our historical little town is a tourist trap. People visit from all over, especially in the autumn and spring, to view the tulips and the lovely gardens. You have better luck parking in the city!

All jokes aside, apart from missing the variety life offered in the city, we do love living here. I’m more aware of the changing seasons and its autumn right now. With our champagne Persian cat, Affie, slumbering beside the computer, I gaze out the window at the Himalayan dogwood tree, its leaves turning luminous crimson, wedged between a lacy-leafed golden elm and a towering camellia, covered in pink flowers.

Leave a comment below to enter the drawing

for a free copy of Murder in Devon

by Maggi Andersen—paperback or ebook in

Australia, ebook anywhere else. The winning name will be drawn

on Friday evening, May 11th, and announced on May 12th.