Interview with Renee Dahlia

Renee Dahlia is a debut historical romance author in 2017. Her book, To Charm a Bluestocking, came out in March, and is set in Amsterdam in 1887.


Welcome, Renee! Please tell us a little about yourself.

Q1. Tell us a little about yourself and where you live.

Officially, I am “an unabashed romance reader who loves feisty women and strong, clever men. Her books reflect this, with a side-note of dark humour.” I live in the inner west of Sydney, in a little Federation cottage, with my family. I balance family, my day job in the horse racing industry, writing, and volunteering at the local cricket club. And somewhere in there, I still find time to read a couple of books a week.

Q2. How long have you been writing and when were you first published?

I started writing about a decade ago *squints at a calendar* when a magazine asked me to write some statistically based articles for the horse racing industry. It began a long series of myth-busting articles, and unwittingly put me on a new path away from data analysis and towards writing. Several years ago, I was asked to write a semi-autobiographical book for a bookmaker. Thankfully he paid me for my efforts, as it remains unpublished while he determines if he wants his story cast back into the spotlight. The process of this project allowed me to wonder if perhaps I might be able to write a novel. It took me four months to write a first draft of To Charm a Bluestocking. Over the following nine months, I joined Romance Writers Australia, did all the OWLS, and edited that first draft into a version that I hoped would appeal to a publisher. I pitched the book at the RWA conference in August 2016, and Escape Publishing said yes. They published it in March 2017. In April 2017, To Charm a Bluestocking was ranked second on the Booktopia New Releases in Romance – so this has been a whirlwind ride!

Q3. What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on the edits for the sequel to my debut novel. Escape has requested that I slow down the pacing in the first few chapters, so once again, I’ve been madly learning about new techniques, and applying them to my book. This one, In Pursuit of a Bluestocking, is the story of Marie’s journey towards love and learning to value herself.

I’ve also started to outline the third book in the series, and am about one third into the first (ugly) draft. Tentatively called The Bravest Bluestocking, or maybe, A Bluestocking Takes on the World, this story is about feisty, strong Claire.

Q4. How does your work differ from others in the genre?

Historical romance has grown away from the Regency period in England, and now covers a wider range of history, including some wonderful Australian historical writers. My Bluestockings series is set in the late Victorian era, with plenty of train travel, steam boats, telegrams, and the brand new technology, electricity. I chose this era because it aligned with the real history that inspired this series. The Victorian era was a time of great social and scientific upheaval, and these changes are fascinating. It allows for heroines who can realistically be closer to a contemporary heroine, but with all the fantasy of history (and beautiful gowns).

Q5. What inspired you to write your latest novel?

The Bluestocking series is about three women who graduate from medical school in Amsterdam. The series is inspired by my great-grandmother, Dr Caroline d’Ancona, who is a real life heroine that graduated as a doctor in Holland. I wrote about her here:

Q6. Which authors do you like to read?

How do you pick? I adore Courtney Milan, who writes in the mid-Victorian era as well as contemporaries. I’ve recently enjoyed books by Victoria Dahl, Eva Leigh, Tessa Dare, Lisa Kleypas, Alyssa Cole, Beverly Jenkins, and Anne Gracie.

Q7. What is the nicest thing a reviewer has ever said about one of your books?

“This book not only tells of the female struggles for an education, equality and acceptance, but Josephine’s struggle with her budding attraction for Nicholas. Filled with intrigue, and villains who would stoop at nothing to get their way. This book has been an eye opener and an interesting read.”

Q8. Are you a full-time writer? If not, how do you juggle work and writing?

I wish! Life is a crazy juggle, however, I do have two days a week where I work from home. In the winter, my horse racing work slows down, and I have more time to dedicate to writing novels. And in the summer, I spend most of my weekends watching my kids play cricket, so I enjoy the summer sun while bashing out words on my laptop.


Blurb for To Charm a Bluestocking:

Tagline: She wants to be one of the world’s first female doctors; romance is not in her plans.

1887: Too tall, too shy and too bookish for England, Lady Josephine moves to Holland to become one of the world’s first female doctors. With only one semester left, she has all but completed her studies when a power-hungry professor, intent on marrying her for her political connections, threatens to prevent her graduation. Together with the other Bluestockings, female comrades-in-study, she comes up with a daring, if somewhat unorthodox plan: acquire a fake fiancé to provide the protection and serenity she needs to pass her final exams.

But when her father sends her Lord Nicholas St. George, he is too much of everything: too handsome, too charming, too tall and too broad and too distracting for Josephine’s peace of mind. She needed someone to keep her professor at bay, not keep her from her work with temptations of long walks, laughing, and languorous kisses.

Just as it seems that Josephine might be able to have it all: a career as a pioneering female doctor and a true love match, everything falls apart and Josephine will find herself in danger of becoming a casualty in the battle between ambition and love.

Buy links:

Escape Publishing

Other links

Amazon Aus

Amazon USA



Google Play



I must be a local!

I think I can just about claim to be a local to the Central Highlands region of Queensland. I’m proud of the fact that all four sets of my great-grandparents and some of my great-great grandparents were pioneers in this area.

My paternal great-grandfather, John Baker, was born at Wollombi, NSW, in 1864. He came to the Capella area in 1888, where he worked as head stockman at Cotherstone Station. In 1889 at Inverell he married Amelia Marsh, and returned to Cotherstone with his new bride. In about 1897 John moved his family to Capella where he operated a butcher’s shop, then worked at the hotel and had horse teams prior to purchasing a nearby cattle property, Malthoid, in 1910. He and Amelia lived at Malthoid until their deaths in 1930 and 1952.

My father’s maternal grandfather, Richard Eddy (Dick), was born in 1851 in Geelong, Victoria. He married Mercy Limpus in Rockhampton in 1880. Mercy had emigrated from England at the age of twelve with her widowed father, William Limpus, who worked on the railway line at Westwood. Dick Eddy had teams at Lilyvale and moved to Capella when the railway line arrived there. He carried wool from Capella to Rockhampton via Marlborough and would be away from home for six months on a trip. In 1913 he bought Hillview at Capella but soon afterwards he and Mercy moved to Rockhampton where they lived until their deaths in 1920 and 1942.

My mother’s paternal grandfather, Robert Purvis, emigrated from Scotland and married Emma Beaumont at Rockhampton in 1879. Emma’s father was a teamster at Westwood and Robert Purvis had bullock teams, carrying wool down the Dawson River. He originally selected “Glenmorgan” in partnership with William Scott but in 1880 purchased a property near Banana which he named Drumberle. He phased out sheep in favour of cattle and established a Clydesdale stud, crossing them with Thoroughbreds to breed cavalry mounts for the Indian market. Ill health forced him to retire to Emu Park in 1902. Stuart Barrett, who had married Robert’s daughter Beatrice, later purchased the property. Four of Robert’s five sons, Robert (Bob), John (Jack), William (Bill) and Henry (Harry) took up properties in the Clermont area. Robert Senior died in 1919 and Emma in 1932.

My mother’s maternal great-grandfather, Charles Paine, was born at Port Macquarie in NSW in 1843 and came to Queensland as a young man. He worked as a jackeroo in the Roma district where he married Mary Smart in 1866. They lived at Cornwall Station and Bungewogaria Station near Roma. Later he went into partnership with Henry Roberts at Cooroorah Station on the Mackenzie River. The Aborigines were very hostile and Mary had to hold off attacks with the help of an Aboriginal girl to load her rifle. This led Charles to accept the management of Collaroy Station in the Broadsound district. In 1892 he took over the management of Bladensburg Station at Winton.

Their son Frederick was born at Euthella, Roma in 1870 and married Lucy Ussher in 1891. Lucy’s father, Neville Ussher, was a mining engineer at Cawarral. Frederick and Lucy lived at Bladensburg where their two daughters were born but sadly Lucy died after giving birth to the second child in 1894. Their firstborn was my grandmother Lil who lived at Bladensburg until she was five, when she went to her Ussher grandparents who were now at Mount Morgan. Frederick Paine passed away at Longreach in 1929.

My grandparents have their own stories but I will save them for another day.


John Thomas and Amelia Ellen Baker, 1889