The story of my book: The Goodbye Ride

by Lily Malone

One of the first questions an author is often asked is ‘how do you come up for ideas for your stories?’

I am not one of those authors who has story ideas battling for space in my brain, but I do have a lovely tale to tell when it comes to my contemporary novella The Goodbye Ride, released tomorrow.

The story is set in Hahndorf—a gorgeous little German-settled tourist town in the Adelaide Hills of South Australia. I was living in Hahndorf when I got the idea for the book, but by the time I actually sat down to write it I’d moved to Margaret River in Western Australia. Not being there didn’t matter, because after living there for 12 years Hahndorf will forever hold a special place in my heart.

So, to the story. Hubby and our two boys (they must have been aged about four and two at the time) were driving back on a Saturday afternoon after spending time in Adelaide.

I was minding my own business, probably thinking about what I’d cook for dinner, when my husband hit the brakes in our vehicle and almost gave me (and the kids) whiplash.

He stopped our car opposite a house on the outskirts of Hahndorf town, and his attention was completely captured by a gleaming red motorbike for sale on the property’s front lawn.

I like to think I’m the only girl to catch my husband’s eye … but on this day, he fell in love all over again!

This red motorbike happened to be a Ducati Pantah 650, a carbon copy of the Ducati my husband owned in his misspent youth—a ‘collector’s item’, he assured me as he leapt out of the car (dodging oncoming traffic) and worth every cent of the emblazoned five-figure price tag I could see hanging off it.

This was the seed of the idea for The Goodbye Ride.

I thought to myself: what would happen if there was a girl walking down the Hahndorf main street on a mission to buy that bike … only to find herself pipped at the post by a boy (such as my equally on-a-mission husband)?

From there, I started fleshing out:

  • Why would each of these characters want this particular bike?
  • What would the one who wasn’t the successful buyer do to get the bike back?
  • What were their backgrounds?
  • Why were they both in Hahndorf on this particular day?
  • How could I throw these two together?
  • How could I tear them apart?

And I ended up with a novella exploring the hopes and fears of Olivia and Owen, their dreams, and their journey to a Happy Ever After (or at least a Happy For Now).

The Goodbye Ride was originally self-published in May 2013 and is now being re-released by Escape Publishing.


ride

A fresh, funny and poignant romance set in the beautiful Adelaide Hills.

Stop with the misogyny!

Our very own Ainslie Paton has written a great piece over at Bookthingo, describing her frustration with the way some romance writers (and publishers) blur the lines between ‘alpha male’ and ‘entitled doucheturnip’. Here’s an extract:

Romance is a lot of things. It’s a place to explore fantasies and live vicariously, a place to find comfort, be thrilled, chilled or soothed. It’s also a genre where social constraints between people are explored in historical, modern and future contexts.

In 2016, inside contemporary romance, it shouldn’t be a place where misogyny stands unexamined. We have enough of that in our real lives.

It shouldn’t be a place where we let our heroines be inadvertent victims of superior men. (Or our male lead characters for that matter). Where we write heroes who would trample on a woman’s will, because they can, and heroines who accept that behavior too easily as if they deserve it and it’s a thing of wonder.

That’s not loving our heroines or creating the kinds of heroes worth reading about.

Head over to Bookthingo to read the whole thing, and join the conversation in the comments, which is already looking very interesting!

My book setting: the Seychelles

by Elsa Winckler

Touched to the Heart is the first story in a series about the four very sexy (of course) South African hotel-tycoon Cavallo brothers. They own and run boutique hotels in South Africa and the Seychelles.

About fifteen years ago my father, who always entered every possible competition he found in a newspaper, won a boat trip. The very sad part of the story is that he already had cancer and was too weak to go, and he gave the two tickets to me so that my husband and I could enjoy this lovely prize. This was our very first trip anywhere outside the borders of South Africa, and we were so excited.

FullSizeRenderIt was a magical experience. Days were spent lazing around the pool or exploring whatever island we stopped at. And we ate—four meals every day, and there were tea-time croissants in case you became hungry!

One of the most miraculous things we experienced was the intense blue colour of the deep ocean—nowhere else on earth do you find a blue in exactly that hue. Fifteen years later I can still close my eyes and see the indigo blue of deep waters.

We reached the Seychelles about halfway through our trip. At the time it wasn’t as developed as it is nowadays but the islands, the friendly people and the breathtaking scenery stole our hearts.

The 115 Seychelles islands fall under two distinct groups. The tall granite Inner Islands cluster mainly within the relatively shallow plateau of the Seychelles, while the Outer Islands lie mainly beyond the plateau up to 10 degrees south of the equator, and are divided into five groups.

little-island-1495587The Seychelles is home to no less than two Unesco World Heritage sites: the legendary Vallée de Mai on Praslin, where the wondrously shaped coco-de-mer nut grows high on ancient palms, and the fabled Aldabra, the world’s largest raised coral atoll, first seen by early Arab seafarers of the 9th century AD.

The biggest island, Mahé, boasts the popular white powder beach of Beau Vallon. But then all the beaches are beautiful. Again, the shades of blue iridescent waters simply stop your heart.

So when I started my story and had to decide where the brothers would have their hotels, the first place I thought of was the Seychelles, and in particular the lovely island of Mahé. A more romantic setting is difficult to find.

This is where the brothers have one of their hotels, it’s where Caitlin rushes when her sister needs her help, and it’s where she and Don finally tie the knot. It’s difficult not to think about romance when you think of the islands—the setting is ridiculously romantic!

On my bucket list is one more visit to these magnificent islands.


touched

Discover beautiful South Africa in this sweet, heart-warming Cinderella story about a blogger, a billionaire, and one chance meeting.

My book setting: the Hunter Valley & the Pasha Bulker storm

by Kerrie Paterson

Around the Hunter Valley, you only have to mention the words ‘Pasha Bulker’ and people are thrown instantly back to a weekend in June 2007. On June 8, the area was hit by a massive storm. A 225m-long bulk carrier, the MV Pasha Bulker, waiting off Newcastle to be loaded with coal, broke free of its moorings and ran ashore on Nobbys Beach.

After almost a month, and three attempts at floating it off its new home, it was finally towed away but not before it became part of the area’s folklore.

Pasha_Bulker_-_panoramioBut the ship’s grounding was only one part of the story. The east coast low battered the Hunter and Central Coast for 36 hours and led to widespread flooding, mass evacuations and a death toll of 10.

The storm has been known since as the ‘Pasha Bulker storm’, and storms of any ferocity are automatically compared to it. Last year we had another east coast low hit us and it was like the Pasha Bulker storm all over again (except without the ship being grounded).

While our house was safe in both instances, it was quite a scary experience – the wind and rain were relentless, we lost power for several days and at times I thought the windows would pop from the strength of the storm.

When I began writing Return to Jacaranda Avenue (due for release on May 15), the experience of the Pasha Bulker storm came to mind for the climactic scene. My heroine, pastry chef Polly, is forced out into the storm and comes face to face with the villain against a backdrop of floodwater and gale-force winds. But why would any sane person leave their house during a storm like that when everyone is told to stay off the roads?

What if she thought her daughter, Gemma, was in danger? Is there anything stronger than a mother’s love?

Only the love of her hero, Matt, who goes to her rescue.

The weather would ease soon, surely. She had to find Gemma.

Eyes glued to the road ahead, barely daring to blink, she exited the roundabout onto the road leading out of town. The paddocks on either side of the road looked more like swimming pools, covered with sheets of water. Dairy cows huddled together on whatever high patches of ground they could find.

Metres before the bridge, the road dipped a little in front of her. Water covered the dip but she could see across to the other side. Couldn’t she? Wipers on high, demister blowing hot air onto the windscreen, she flicked her headlights to high beam and peered through the torrents of rain at the road ahead. Yes, that was the centreline she could see—maybe ten metres away?

Should she risk trying to drive through the water?

She had no choice.

She had to get to Gemma.


jaca

A pastry chef returns to her roots and discovers that the flavour of first love improves with age.

 

My book setting: Argyll

by Jenny Brigalow

My family tree is actually more of a forest, but one of the bonuses of such a convoluted life has been a Scottish connection. My late stepfather, John, was a Scott.

When I was a young woman I holidayed at the Scottish family cottage in Argyll, just on the edge of the Crinan Canal. And there I was privileged to discover Argyll, a mystical and magical place that is quite possibly the most romantic spot on the planet.

argyl5This early contact with Scotland forged a lasting love of the land and an abiding interest in its myths, legends and history. From the highlands through the still water of the lochs and to the rugged coastline, Argyll is breathtaking.

In August 2013 I returned and rediscovered my Scotland.

It was a joy to come to know Argyll so intricately through my writing. The Macgregor plunges the reader into a romantic tale of high drama and intrigue. It is a story of the present and the past, of fantasy and fact, of love and loss. It is about a young werewoman whose life has been forged in the very bedrock of her ancient home and of the man whom she determines to make her own.

argyl4Megan MacGregor is no ordinary woman, but then Sean Duncan is a whole lot more man than she imagines. Their fate is irrevocably tied to the ancient feuds of the clans. Behind the bleak and austere walls of Carrick Castle the Campbells are watching, and in the darkness, the hunt is on.

Where we live shapes who we are, from the clothes we wear to the food we eat. Megan and Sean are no different. Megan has a preference for Dr Martens boots and tartan miniskirts, while Sean wears the dress code of his work, blue jeans and riding boots. Sean’s diet is mainly liquid, with a penchant for a fine malt whisky. Megan sits down to sizzling, succulent seal steaks with her grandad.

It is in a misty vale that Megan finds her man: ‘Up close she could see that his brilliant blue eyes were surrounded by lush black lashes, and his upper lip was full. Quite kissable. His bare chest impressively broad, his stomach as tight as a greyhound’s. Not bad—for a mere mortal.’

argyl2And it is in the ancient fortress of Dunaad that Sean Duncan discovers the seat of the Olde: ‘Water ran down his body like a lover. The stone beneath his feet spoke to him like a brother. And in his hand the oak staff trembled with the promise of his power.’

Argyll is beautiful, wild and remote. It is uncompromising. It is enduring. It is verdant. Come join Megan and Sean there. You won’t want to leave. Ever.


macgreg

In Children of the Mist, we discovered the secret history of the Children. Now, in the wilds of Scotland, one of them has come of age…

The Place Time Forgot (and a cover reveal!)

by Tea Cooper

During my twenties I had the world at my fingertips, ridiculously blessed because my father was an airline pilot, travel was cheap and the world was my playground. Fast forward to today and I rarely leave the tiny village time forgot and the place I call home—Wollombi. For me, the old adage ‘write what you know’ has come good and the best setting for my historical romances seems to be my own backyard.

Nestled amongst the hills of the Lower Hunter in New South Wales and guarded by Mount Yengo, a major focus of Aboriginal culture dating back over 13,000 years, Wollombi is the perfect setting for an Australian historical novel.

©HarrisonPhotography

©HarrisonPhotography

If you’ve got some time to spare you can see for yourself. A drive from Sydney to the Lower Hunter takes you along the Great North Road built by convict gangs in the early nineteenth century. When you arrive you can visit the General Store, which still stocks groceries, household goods, stationery, local fruit and vegetables, and meats, just as it did over a hundred years ago. You can check out the courthouse and lockup where several bushrangers met their fate and sip a glass of something local while you watch the Wood Chop competition at the Tavern.

©2008PeterFirminger

©2008PeterFirminger

And if you’re lucky enough to catch the sunset over Mount Yengo you’ll understand that nothing much has changed in this part of the world for a long, long time.

©PeterFirminger

©PeterFirminger

Three of my previous books, Lily’s Leap, Matilda’s Freedom and The Horse Thief are set in and around Wollombi and the Lower Hunter, and I’m still finding stories to tell. In my next book, The Cedar Cutter, released this August, a runaway corset-maker finds herself in Wollombi in 1855.

When Roisin Ogilvie moves to Wollombi her thoughts are only of protecting her illegitimate son, Ruan, from the grasp of his powerful and dangerous father. Posing as an impoverished widow, she settles into a quiet existence as a local dressmaker. She doesn’t expect to catch the attention of Irish champion cedar cutter Carrick O’Connor, or any other man for that matter.

Carrick O’Connor may have won the coveted Wollombi Wood Chop, but his mind is on the beautiful seamstress and her son—or rather, on who they remind him of. Determined to exact revenge for the horrors of his past, Carrick plans to return to Ireland to seek revenge on the land agent who was responsible for the death of his wife and child, and his transportation.

But a murder charge, a kidnapping, a growing attraction, and a past that refuses to stay silent will turn both his life and Roisin’s upside down and will lead them to a hard choice. Redemption? Or cutters’ justice?

And now for the cover reveal. Once more the Harlequin cover fairies have sprinkled their magical dust and captured Wollombi perfectly, don’t you agree?


0816_TheCedarCutter

From the bestselling author of The Horse Thief comes a historical story of love, intrigue and danger in the majestic cedar forests of the Hunter Valley.

 

My book setting: Colorado

by Robyn Rychards

It’s a wonderful thing to live somewhere that’s an international vacation destination because your backyard is a place that people travel from around the world to see. It also makes it a great locale for a story. Or two. The Colorado Rockies are a travel destination in the winter for skiers from around the world—think Vail and Aspen—and in the summer the national parks have global appeal. You can visit the mountains any time of the year and hear a variety of languages spoken.

mills-lake-rocky-mtn-nat-park-1312717Her Man From Shilo is set a couple miles outside the town of Boulder, Colorado, which boasts a view like the one in the picture here. It’s a wonderful place to grow up and has inspired a plethora of romantic story ideas in me since I was a teenager. If you enjoy nature, there are plenty of activities and landscapes to explore. But it also draws cyclists from all over the globe because the altitude and the variety of terrain make it a great place to train and hone your cycling skills. Tour de France here I come!

Her Knight in Shining Armour is set about an hour west of me in the Rocky Mountains. It starts out in Rocky Mountain National Park, but as the hero and heroine are on the run from the heroine’s abusive ex-husband, it moves on from there to the small town of Grand Lake with a quick trip to the state’s capitol, Denver, towards the end.

a-great-day-skiing-1250588My two stories only touch the tip of the iceberg when it comes to places to visit and things to do in Colorado. I’m itching to do a story that revolves around skiing, with a setting someplace like Aspen, Colorado, which attracts some of Hollywood’s glitterati both as a travel destination and a place to live. Think Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russel, who live there, just to name one couple. Not only does Aspen have great skiing, it’s got some gorgeous scenery and hiking to enjoy when the weather is warm—hiking around the lake by the iconic Maroon Bells, for instance.
maroon-bells-08-2001-1501978But Colorado isn’t the only place I write about. I took a trip to the UK and France last spring, and I’m planning on setting a story in Paris for sure. But I also have several stories set in Los Angeles that are already written and will hit the virtual shelves at some point too. Look out Hollywood, here I come! So many places to see, so many places to write about. I love travelling, whether it’s in real life or from my couch through the words of a book, and thanks to Harlequin, I’ve been able to vicariously visit an abundance of exotic places since I was a teenager. I hope you enjoyed your virtual visit to Colorado!


shilo

Passion and tension erupt as these Daimiana and Rafferty finally resolve a lifetime of love.

My book setting: New York, New York!

by Nicole Flockton

Have you ever gone to a city or country that you never in your wildest dreams imagined you would visit?

Back CameraIn my book Bound by His Desire my heroine, Pam, gets the opportunity to go to New York as part of her new job. Being saddled with her mum’s medical expenses, she never thought she’d get to travel the world. When she arrives in New York and goes to Times Square for the first time she asks our hero, Nick, to pinch her so she knows she’s not dreaming.

Pam’s reaction was my reaction when I went to New York in 2011 for the first time for the Romance Writers of America conference. I never thought in a million years I’d be standing in the middle of Times Square looking at the building where the ball drops on New Year’s Eve. Seeing all those video screens that flash continually day and night. Walking the streets that are constantly full of people and traffic.

Back CameraThere are so many sites to see in New York, and of course Pam and Nick had to visit the Statue of Liberty. Lady Liberty is awe-inspiring. Sitting on the ferry watching the statue become larger and larger is amazing, then getting onto the island and walking around her is humbling. She has stood the test of time, has seen many great things and witnessed one of the most tragic events of the 21st century. Lady Liberty looks over the river at a changed skyline now. I remember thinking that she must have been crying that fateful day in September. But she’d be proud of how her city has rebounded.

It’s hard to describe the energy and pace of New York. It really doesn’t sleep. It has a magic all of it’s own. And you really haven’t experienced life until you travel in the front seat of a yellow cab in rush-hour traffic. More cars than you can think of, and everyone honking their horn every second. Throw in a mass of pedestrians and you have a recipe for disaster—or so you’d think, except it works. I experienced that adventure last year when I went back. It’s an experience I don’t plan on repeating and one I won’t ever forget. But it’s one I plan on using in another book in the future!

New York 2011 001


bound

The last thing he wants is an emotional attachment to his new assistant, but it might be the only thing he truly needs.