Out of this World: SE Gilchrist

To celebrate Star Wars Day, we asked some of our science fiction authors to tell us what Star Wars means to them. Then, to support science fiction readers everywhere, we dropped the prices on their books…
SE Gilchrist

Never will I forget that pivotal moment the music exploded and “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…” crawled across a star-studded screen.

The cinema could have burned to the ground. Rats could have nibbled my toes – who cared? I was no longer on Earth.

I was Princess Leah, I was Han Solo, I was Luke Skywalker – and I battled and over-threw the evil Darth Vader. The special effects, the surround sound, the cute droids were awesome – but for me, it was the characters that claimed my imagination for all time. My dreams were consumed with piloting the Millennium Falcon through an unknown galaxy with Han Solo. The amazing adventures we’d experience were as infinite as space. I’d dance in that funky bar with weird aliens. I’d be a female Luke Skywalker and the Force in me would be bright and strong – no one could beat me with my lightsabre in my hand.

Years and countless day-dreams later, the Star Wars movies inspired me to invent my own space-opera series. And so my first science fiction romance, Legends Beyond the Stars was born.

In my memories, the force in Leah, Han and Luke will burn forever and be as bright as any star.


28931With the survival of her crew at stake, an old enemy waiting in the wings, and a mighty chieftain declaring his love, can Sherise lead her people safely home?

Honouring a pledge made in the blood-soaked dirt of a prison planet, Sherise volunteers to lead the stolen people of Earth safely home. But when a collision plunges her ship off-course and they emerge three hundred years into Earth’s future, they have nine weeks to repair the ship or the path back to their own time will close forever.

On an earth seething with predators and dangerous tribes, Sherise discovers love with the Lycanean chieftain, Maaka. But can she trust him, or is he only after her superior weapons?

With the safety of her passengers and crew paramount, Sherise must choose her alliances with great care. For an old enemy is hidden on the planet, and he wants all her people dead.

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Out of this world: Kimberly P Chase

To celebrate Star Wars Day, we asked some of our science fiction authors to tell us what Star Wars means to them. Then, to support science fiction readers everywhere, we dropped the prices on their books…

Kimberly P. Chase

Star Wars was my first obsession and introduction into movie geekdom, which I’m still a proud member of today. I remember going to see Episode 1 in the theatre six times over the course of my Freshman summer.  It was the beginning of my understanding that girls could not only be princesses, but bad-ass as well. These days, I share the movies with my son in the hopes that it inspires his imagination, shows him the difference between good and evil, and most definitely that girls can be strong and a princess too!


23485.jpgTake off with this dynamic, thrillseeking, sexy New Adult science fiction series debut. Welcome to the exclusive Apollo Academy, where Aurora is about to discover that achieving her dream is only the first step towards her future.

As the heiress to Titon Technologies, eighteen-year-old Aurora Titon can have whatever she wants — clothes, expensive gadgets, anything money can buy. But all she really wants is to escape her pampered, paparazzi-infested life for the stars. Becoming the first female pilot to train as an astronaut for the exclusive Apollo Academy is exactly the chance for which she has been waiting.

Flying is everything she ever dreamed, her best friend also got into the Academy and the paparazzi are banned from campus. Everything would be perfect, except for her unreciprocated crush on a fellow student, the sexy astronaut bent on making her life hell, and the fact that someone keeps trying to kill her.

The most important education doesn’t happen in the classroom…

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Juliet Madison Uncovered

1497As one of the first authors contracted with Escape, what is it like being with a publisher from brand new to established?

Escape was brand new when they published my novel Fast Forward, and I was a brand new author. So it feels like we grew up together! It’s been exciting to watch the growth of Escape and I’m proud and grateful to be one of their authors, and now have ten books published with them.

The importance of family is a long-running theme in many of your books, why is the inclusion of extended family so important?

Family is important to me, and I think it defines many of our life experiences and memories, and I like to capture this in my books. Writing about family also touches on the need for belonging that is common for everyone, whether it be with real family or those who feel like family. My Tarrin’s Bay series is about people finding their new beginning and a sense of belonging, both to a place, and with the people they care about.

Your new book Memories of May is out on the 5 May, it also explores the themes of family; What was your inspiration for this story? What was your Eureka! moment?

When I started writing the first book in the Tarrin’s Bay series, The January Wish, I created a bookstore that one of the characters gets a temporary job in – Mrs May’s Bookstore. From that moment, I knew I would write a book (for the month May, of course) about this bookstore and the family behind it. Over the next few years I would get little ideas here and there about the May story and jot them down, and then I included the main character Olivia, who runs the bookstore, as a secondary character in April’s Glow. I was inspired to show the importance of family in defining our lives and memories, and how a legacy can live on through generations. I had two grandmothers who were a big part of my life and I have many happy memories with them, and so I also wanted to acknowledge that and honour their memory. I also love bookstores, so there’s that. 😉

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Can you give us a little tease of the relationship between Olivia and Joel?

I loved writing this opposites attract romance between Olivia and Joel. She has been living a safe and predictable life of routine to provide for her daughter, while Joel has been living on the road as an adventure traveller-turned-author who takes risks and lives in the moment. From the moment he turns up in Tarrin’s Bay at her bookstore, her life turns upside down as he tries to encourage her to live outside of her comfort zone and experience book-worthy moments. As they spend time together doing his list of challenges, and as Olivia is a student in his memoir writing course, sparks start to fly and a few more personal challenges present themselves. They have a fun, friendly connection with cute and flirty text messages, but believe nothing can happen because of their different lifestyles, but their unexpected feelings for each other have them both questioning their beliefs.

The corners of Olivia’s lips turned upwards in a smile as their flirting triggered feelings she wasn’t sure how to handle. She texted him back with a hashtag and a kiss emoticon.

#didyoujusthashtagkissme? he asked.

#yes

#youresocute

She couldn’t contain her smile. Especially when he sent another text with a hashtag and two kiss emoticons.

#didyoujusthashtagkissmetwice? she asked.

#yes, he replied, and then her heart hashtag-fluttered at what he added next: #andthatwasntpretend

What kind of qualities most endear you to Olivia as a heroine?

She is devoted to her family and raising her daughter on her own, as well as carrying on her grandmother’s legacy by running the family bookstore that was set up after the war. Olivia is committed, reliable, caring and kind, and also understands the healing power of a warm beverage and a good book!

And Joel as a hero? What is your ideal hero?

He is courageous and a ‘doer’. He doesn’t wait for life to bring him good things, he goes out and gets them. He takes responsibility for his life and encourages others to do the same. Plus, he writes! I like a hero who’s intelligent both emotionally and intellectually, energetic, adventurous, and not afraid to be himself. Authenticity and confidence is sexy.

What came first, the plot, or the characters?

Actually, the setting! Mrs May’s Bookstore. From there, it was characters… who is Mrs May? Who are her family? And what secrets could be hidden in the pages of their unwritten story? The characters came easily, the plot took a bit more work. Especially as the story alternates between past and present, through an elderly Mrs May recalling her memories of life and love as a young woman. I had to go back and forth to make sure everything made sense, so it was a more challenging book to write in that sense, but very rewarding.

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I hear you write across genres, from Romance to colouring books; what is it like to publish vastly different works? Do you find it difficult to switch or does it keep you on your toes?

I find it creatively stimulating and exciting to publish different works. I never set out to write different genres, because for me, it’s always about idea first, genre second. When I get an idea, I go with whatever it is and then see where it fits. I don’t find it difficult to switch between them, and sometimes I have a couple of completely different books on the go at the same time… I actually find it easier and more fulfilling than writing the same type of book every time.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Any cool or quirky hobbies?

I love to do anything artistic; create drawings and paintings, and I love to cook (and share the results on my instagram page @julietmadisonauthorartist !) I also like to take photos of just about anything that takes my interest, and I love eating out at good cafes and restaurants and having fascinating and positive conversations where small talk doesn’t play a role. 😉

Where do you like to write? How do you write?

I write in a variety of places; at my dining table, in bed, on my balcony, on the couch, or at a café. I also write on the train or a plane if I’m travelling somewhere. I like to set a timer and do writing sprints in 30 minute segments. That’s the process that works for me to help me write fast. Before this, I always do a plot outline, because I find that makes the writing process easier and faster too.

*I always make a Pinterest board for each of my books to help inspire me as I write and to give readers a visual idea of what the book is like, you can see the Memories of May board here.

Can you give any advice to aspiring authors out there?

Write what you care about, what you feel passionate about. Allow your unique self to shine through and don’t try to be anyone else. Trust your own voice. Also, learn about the craft of writing to keep improving, and always work on showing versus telling so that the reader can ‘experience’ the story, and not just be ‘told’ the story. Most importantly, if you love writing, never give up! Just keep doing it, even if you get rejections. Do it for the love of it and it will show through in your writing, and people will see that.

 

 

We love the construction ‘not’! Not.

by Kate

About 20 years ago, (yes, that long ago) it came into fashion to verbally tag irony with one small little word: not. An incredibly useful construction for the obtuse, not could follow any statement to immediately contradict what had been said and indicate that the opposite was true. For example:

Luke Hemsworth is the hottest Hemsworth. Not.

In this sentence, the speaker is making a (very) false statement, but acknowledging and indicating its falsness by using not directly afterwards.

Clearly, Chris is the hottest Hemsworth.

I mean, clearly.

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When using oral language, not has limited value. Expressing irony can be done in many other non-verbal ways, including tone, facial expression, and body language. However, in written language, much can be lost without the benefit of physical indicators. In this case, not became a god-send, allowing writers to access irony quickly (and on trend).

However, not then became a crutch that lasted in written language much, much longer than it did in oral. In a brief, very informal survey of editorial colleagues, no one had used – or, importantly, heard – the term not in more than a decade, though we had all seen it recently in manuscripts. It seems that having a convenient shortcut has eroded the many other, less-dated, different ways to convey irony in writing.

Luckily, I’m here in blog form to offer these suggestions for when you need some snark and sarcasm, but don’t want to date your manuscript (or your characters):

  • adverbs. There are so many adverbs here that can do your bidding (though, of course, we do advise you use them sparingly!): sarcastically, ironically, sardonically, sneeringly, acerbically, acrimoniously, contrarily
  • thought or dialogue tags: yes, they might not be as sexy, but a good thought or dialogue tag matched with the right adverb conveys everything you need in a timeless fashion. Consider, ‘she thought sarcastically’, ‘he said cynically’, ‘she snarked’.
  • using body language (a wonderful chance to show, don’t tell!). There are a number of ways we convey sarcasm or irony with our faces and bodies: he arched one eyebrow, she smirked, he sneered, she muttered. Try using descriptive body language in lieu of a dialogue tag.
  • Using the tone and/or context to suggest irony. Dialogue doesn’t happen in a vacuum, so create a situation wherein it’s obvious that your character is using irony: The rug was threadbare and worn through, the walls dull with dust and age. “Yes, we live as kings,” she said.

Using constructions that strengthen your writing will not only better serve your story, but it will make it readable and relatable for years to come.

Which is why you should definitely not use ‘not‘.

AK Leigh Uncovered

7386121Tell me a bit about Triple Threat. How did it come into being? What was your Eureka! moment?

My ideas for stories often come out-of-the-blue, and Triple Threat was no different. A sentence popped into my head one day: “The Farris Triplets were back in business”. I knew it was going to be a romantic suspense, crime-themed trilogy because the basic plots soon followed. Even so, I was uncertain about going ahead with it. I thought it must have all been done before. If my stories weren’t going to be original, I couldn’t see the point. So, I went and bought a heap of books with identical triplet themes. I discovered that many were either overly stereotyped (e.g. they all had similar names, played tricks on people, behaved the same, AND finished each other’s sentences – I mean, come on!) or highly sexualised. That was the ‘eureka moment’. It irritated me that identical triplets were being represented that way. I knew my personal experience with being an identical triplet could be used to show people how that translated in reality.

Give us a little tease of the relationship between Gabe and Lizzie. How did that come about in your head and subsequently the book?

I knew Gabe was going to fall in ‘insta-love’ with Lizzie. I also knew that Lizzie would be hesitant about giving him a chance. The way that played out surprised me though. Gabe’s first glimpse of Lizzie occurs via a newspaper article. I LOVED that he could tell her apart from her sisters even then! Lizzie’s first impression of Gabe is not good because she mistakes him for a journalist looking for a story on the high profile, cold case murder she and her sisters are working on.

Below is a short teaser from Triple Threat, showing their first meeting 

Can I help you?’

The man standing to the side of her doorway hesitated, then took a step inside the room. She saw him swallow. Then he mumbled, ‘Hi, um, you’re Elizabeth Farris.’

He said it in a way that showed he already knew the answer.

Jesus Christ. Not another one. Looked like the six-month hiatus from being harassed had given her a false sense of security. She had to force herself not to roll her eyes. Sure, they were only doing their job, but that didn’t mean they could barge into her personal life whenever they wanted. This was her workplace for goodness sake.

She made herself sound calm when she replied, ‘I’m not interested in doing an interview.’

Oh. I’m not a reporter … although I am a journalism teacher here … but I’m not here for a story.’

How can I help you?’

His expression turned serious, ‘It’s something of a sensitive nature. Would you be free for a coffee?’

You mean now?’

If you’re not too busy.’

She glanced at the pile of assessments on her desk then back at him. ‘I’m not too busy.’

What came first: the plot or the characters?

With the Farris Triplets series, it was the plot that came first (that’s not always the case). The characters were more difficult to write because I’d put so much pressure on myself to write something different when it came to identical triplet characters!

I understand you are one part of a similar set of triplets. Are your characters based on your sisters? Are there any other real life influences in either the characters or plot of Triple Threat?

Ha ha. I’ve been asked this question a couple of times! The characters are not based on my sisters and I, but they do share a MINOR personality trait with one of us. Other than that, the only thing Lizzie, Nina, and Carrie have in common with us is the fact that they are vegetarians. Unfortunately, we do not solve cold cases or work in law enforcement either 😀

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What draws you to Lizzie’s qualities as a heroine?

I love how forthright she is. She knows what she wants in a relationship and doesn’t see the point in wasting time or settling. Her romantic side also endears her to me.

And Gabe’s as a hero?

Gabe is just adorable! Such a sweet heart and old-fashioned romantic. The fact that he shares the same traumatic history as Lizzie also drew me to him. He can understand her in ways that other men would struggle with.

How did you begin your romance writing career? What drew you to contemporary/suspense romance? Is it the genre you enjoy reading in?

The funny thing about that is, for years I believed I wrote “mysteries” or “thrillers”. In my twenties, I was reading an article about genres in fiction and was shocked to discover that I’d actually been writing romance all those years! After the initial cognitive dissonance, I embraced the stories that came. To paraphrase Stephen King, I wasn’t drawn to contemporary/suspense romance, it was drawn to me. My reading choices are fairly open. I’ll read just about anything.

Jilted bookpageWhat’s your favourite romance trope? And favourite portrayal of that trope?

I have two: friends to lovers and second chance lovers! My favourite portrayals of the latter are Persuasion by Jane Austen, Be Mine, Cowboy by Jane Porter (what is it with the Jane’s?!), and Jilted by Rachael Johns. One of my friends to lovers favourites is Small Town Storm by Elise K. Ackers.

Can you give any advice to aspiring authors out there? What is some of the best writing advice you have received?

Advice: attend as many writing workshops as you can, network, keep going, believe in yourself.

Best advice I received: writers write.

persuasion-cover-vintageWhat are your favourite books/authors to read?

I know it’s clichéd to say this, but Jane Austen is my all-time favourite writer! For someone who was middle class, she had remarkable insight into the lives (and loves) of the upper classes. Her stories are multi-faceted, with more than one plot going on most times. The love stories are sweet and timeless. What’s not to admire? 

I also love Mary Higgins Clark. She writes in multiple view points like me and her plots are often intricate and detailed.

Rachael Johns is my favourite Australian author. I was only introduced to her books, via a happy ‘coincidence’, a few years ago and I haven’t looked back since. Love her characters. They are always memorable.

Where do you like to write? How do you write?

I can write anywhere, but at this stage, it’s usually with my computer on my lap! I am in the process of building a writing nook though, so that will change soon. I already have my writing desk 😀

My process usually starts with a one sentence quote, character, or plot. From there, it morphs to a basic outline. After that, I work on four different drafts. My motto is to get the first draft down as quickly as possible, hence it is more like a glorified outline. The meat comes onto the bones, so to speak, with the subsequent two drafts. The fourth draft is a final once over to pick up anything I may have forgotten etc. Then, it’s off to the publisher or editor … and the edits begin!

What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Any quirky hobbies (like the sisters of Triple Threat)?

In my spare time, I like to read, watch movies, go for hikes, spend time in nature, and hang out with my kids. Is any of that quirky?


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They’re beautiful, accomplished, and they have identical interests…

In their spare time, identical triplets the Farris sisters work together to solve cold cases. Lizzie uses her skills as a Criminal Profiler, Nina her Scenes of Crime Officer experience, and Carrie assists through her work as a both a Forensic Scientist and Forensic Anthropologist.

Romantic and idealistic, Lizzie is picky about men. But despite the good-natured teasing of her sisters, she refuses to settle for anything less than ‘The One’. She loves her life, her job as both a profiler and a university lecturer, and her sisters, and won’t make changes for anything less. If that makes her unrealistic, then so be it.

Gabe Montcoeur has just moved across Australia from Perth to Cairns and starts a job as a journalism teacher at Cairns University: the same university where Elizabeth Farris works. On the surface, the move seems innocent, but he has an ulterior motive. Gabe wants to elicit the aid of the Farris sisters in solving the murder of his family members, and the only way to circumvent their notorious ‘no contact’ policy is to reach out to them in person.

But when Gabe meets Lizzie for the first time, the attraction is instantaneous — and mutual. The deeper they fall into each other, however, the more guilty Gabe feels about his real motivation for getting close. Lizzie wants the real deal, the one, true love — can Gabe ever offer her the future she deserves if he keeps holding on so tightly to the past?

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Feed Your Reader: Triplets Looking for Trouble

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They’re beautiful, accomplished, and they have identical interests…

In their spare time, identical triplets the Farris sisters work together to solve cold cases. Lizzie uses her skills as a Criminal Profiler, Nina her Scenes of Crime Officer experience, and Carrie assists through her work as a both a Forensic Scientist and Forensic Anthropologist.

Romantic and idealistic, Lizzie is picky about men. But despite the good-natured teasing of her sisters, she refuses to settle for anything less than ‘The One’. She loves her life, her job as both a profiler and a university lecturer, and her sisters, and won’t make changes for anything less. If that makes her unrealistic, then so be it.

Gabe Montcoeur has just moved across Australia from Perth to Cairns and starts a job as a journalism teacher at Cairns University: the same university where Elizabeth Farris works. On the surface, the move seems innocent, but he has an ulterior motive. Gabe wants to elicit the aid of the Farris sisters in solving the murder of his family members, and the only way to circumvent their notorious ‘no contact’ policy is to reach out to them in person.

But when Gabe meets Lizzie for the first time, the attraction is instantaneous — and mutual. The deeper they fall into each other, however, the more guilty Gabe feels about his real motivation for getting close. Lizzie wants the real deal, the one, true love — can Gabe ever offer her the future she deserves if he keeps holding on so tightly to the past?

A Collection of Collective Nouns

by Kate

One of the best parts of the English language (for this word-nerd at least!) are collective nouns. Originally, they were used for hunting and sport, and it was a mark of true nobility if you knew the right collective noun for the prey of the day.

Collective nouns are also very democratic. There is no governing body who decides on the correct term (though some have been in fashion for so long as to be accepted as final). Instead usage determines the noun, and what doesn’t catch on falls away.

Collective nouns are, of course, most famous for animals, some more fanciful than others:

  • a shrewdness of apes
  • a clowder of cats
  • a herd of buffalo
  • a murder of crows
  • a wisdom of wombats

They’re also often wonderfully visual and can add a touch of whimsy and colour to a sentence without the weight of adjectival phrases. How delightful is a charm of finches? How poetic is a flight of butterflies? How evocative is a crash of rhinoceroses?

Recently, I found myself wondering if there were collective nouns for groups of people as well. And, luckily for all of us, other people have wondered too, and I found some fantastic examples that I’d like to share with you. Remember, they’re all democratic so if you like them, use them loudly and often. If you don’t, ignore them and hope they go away!

Collective nouns for people: a non-comprehensive list

  • A faculty of academics
  • A flood of plumbers
  • A team of athletes
  • A wiggery of barristers
  • A crew of sailors
  • A flash of paparazzi
  • A shuffle of bureaucrats
  • An exaggeration of fishermen
  • A flock of tourists
  • A talent of gamblers
  • A prudence of vicars
  • A gaggle of gossips
  • A damning of jurors
  • A panel of experts
  • An imposition of in-laws

and, perhaps most usefully,

  • a worship of writers

Feed Your Reader: Opal Miner v Paleontologist

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A charming adventurer. A pragmatic paleontologist. A hundred-million-year-old treasure buried in the Australian outback.

The last person Gemma Stephens expects to meet in the tiny, remote, opal-mining town of Rainbow Cliffs is Jamie Coltrane, her university boyfriend who chose his past over their potential future. Now, seven years later, he is the only obstacle between her and the goal she has been pursuing tirelessly since he left. The goal that means everything for her future and that of her six-year-old son.

Jamie has long outgrown the wanderlust that caused him to leave Gemma, and he and his father have settled into Rainbow Cliffs, making a living out of opal mining and running the only accommodation in town. But now a big find — a once-in-a-lifetime find — has opened up opportunities that Jamie never thought possible. Opportunities that mean everything for his father and himself.

Fate may have thrown them back together, but this is no happy reunion. There is only one fossil, and there can be only one winner in this battle between preservation and prosperity. Gemma and Jamie may have the chance to find true love — or be torn apart, this time forever.

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Marilyn Forsyth Uncovered

Tell me a bit about Falling in Love Again. How did it come into being? What was your Eureka! moment?

I read an article about Eric, an opalized pliosaur on exhibition at the Australian Museum, and went to check him out in person. (Although not near as large nor as spectacular as Gracie, the plesiosaur in my story, he is quite beautiful.) It broke my heart to learn that finds like this are not uncommon in opal fields, but that the skeletons are usually broken up to sell off as individual opals because they are worth more than the fossil as a whole. That idea as a source of conflict between two characters really appealed to me, and from this small beginning Falling in Love Again came into being.

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Give us a little tease of the relationship between Gemma and Jamie. How did that come about in your head and subsequently the book?

My favourite romance trope is Lovers Reunited and Gemma and Jamie were the perfect pair for this story. They fell madly in love at university and had a wonderful six months together; Gemma presumed their love would lead to marriage, but Jamie had an obligation to fulfil to his widowed father before he could even contemplate a permanent relationship. Hence the breakup. Seven years later, when they meet up unexpectedly, all the old feelings come rushing back for the both of them. Now, though, they have other major problems to contend with, not the least being Gemma’s abusive ex-husband who is also after the fossil.

What came first: the plot or the characters? What did you find more difficult to write?

Once I began researching, the plot almost wrote itself for this story (that doesn’t happen nearly enough! 😊). What I loved about writing Falling in Love Again was fleshing out all the characters—not just Gemma and Jamie, but Jamie’s caring dad and his dad’s lovely lady friend, as well as the narcissistic ex-husband. Once I knew where they were all coming from I had a lot of fun with all of them.

What draws you to Gemma’s qualities as a heroine?

Gemma has suffered a lot of tragedy in her life. Her abusive relationship with her ex was her lowest point, but from it she eventually emerges as a strong woman who knows exactly what she wants. I’m grateful I’ve never had to cope with any of her particular trials, but I do know women who have. I have so much admiration for them; they need to be lauded as life’s survivors.

And Jamie’s as a hero?

Ahhh, Jamie (sigh). Okay, I’ll admit it: I kind of got jealous of just how much Jamie loved Gemma (not that I should, with a lovely husband like mine 😊). But I love the way Jamie is so protective of Gemma and the very real angst he suffers over not being able to make her dream come true (by giving her Gracie).

What began your romance writing career? What drew you to outback romance in particular? Is it the genre you most enjoy reading in?

My enjoyment in writing short stories and having them published had run its course and I was looking to challenge myself further by writing a full-length novel. I joined RWAus and was put in touch with the Breathless in the Bush writing group. Among that group of wonderfully supportive ladies I met my two fabulous critique partners, Cassandra Samuels (Regency author) and Enisa Haines (Paranormal author) who continue to inspire and assist me in writing great stories.

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I was drawn to outback romance after reading some of our terrific Aussie Rural romance authors. Barbara Hannay and Rachael Johns are among my favourites, but there are SO many more (and way too many to name)! I love the Aussie flavour of RuRo and if we Aussie authors don’t celebrate our own uniqueness, who will??

I love to read outback and rural romance, but not exclusively. I read literally anything—from English classics to historicals, from fantasy to thrillers—as long as they have at least a little romance in them.

Where do you like to write? How do you write?

I have a gorgeous writing room—it’s painted peacock blue and filled with books. My mornings are usually spent dealing with emails, Facebook and other things that life throws at me, and I probably spend five afternoons a week writing. I am, however, an incredibly s-l-o-w writer so my weekly word count is not as high as I’d like. (My desk faces into a corner so that I won’t get distracted by any ‘goings-on’ outside.)

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Lighting a citrus candle is a ritual I always carry out before beginning to write and I like to listen to music with headphones on.

What are your favourite books? Romance or otherwise?

Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series is probably my all-time favourite read. I also love George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series. Both of these are so epic in scope, and have such a fantastic range of interesting characters and amazing plot-lines. I can only be in awe of the authors who create such masterpieces.

Can you give any advice to aspiring authors out there?

The best advice I can offer any aspiring author is the same advice that got me to where I am today. Don’t give up. There’ll be times when you will feel like doing just that, but PERSEVERE. The road to publication is littered (figuratively speaking) with the bodies of writers who gave up too soon. Don’t be one of those bodies.

I hear you are a bit of an adventurer yourself? What kind of travelling adventures do you go on? Are there any real-life places that serve as your inspiration for your novels?

Family and writing aside, my greatest pleasure in life is travelling. There’s a big wonderful world out there and I want to see as much of it as I can. I’ve been overseas often (I even worked in Harrods in London for a time), but Australia, too, has much to offer in terms of spectacular scenery and unique features.

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For my book The Farmer’s Perfect Match I spent some time in Broome and the Kimberley region, and for Falling in Love Again I visited Lightning Ridge and White Cliffs, a couple of opal mining towns. Google maps is fantastic for research but nothing beats actually travelling to a location to get a real ‘feel’ for it.

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A charming adventurer. A pragmatic paleontologist. A hundred-million-year-old treasure buried in the Australian outback.

The last person Gemma Stephens expects to meet in the tiny, remote, opal-mining town of Rainbow Cliffs is Jamie Coltrane, her university boyfriend who chose his past over their potential future. Now, seven years later, he is the only obstacle between her and the goal she has been pursuing tirelessly since he left. The goal that means everything for her future and that of her six-year-old son.

Jamie has long outgrown the wanderlust that caused him to leave Gemma, and he and his father have settled into Rainbow Cliffs, making a living out of opal mining and running the only accommodation in town. But now a big find — a once-in-a-lifetime find — has opened up opportunities that Jamie never thought possible. Opportunities that mean everything for his father and himself.

Fate may have thrown them back together, but this is no happy reunion. There is only one fossil, and there can be only one winner in this battle between preservation and prosperity. Gemma and Jamie may have the chance to find true love — or be torn apart, this time forever.

Friday Five: Fiona Greene

1d65948065817365d620cd57a5257f0dAuthor: Fiona Greene
First published with Escape: November 2014
Favourite romance trope: Returning home/the one that got away
Ideal hero: Sexy, strong and funny
Ideal heroine: Confident, capable and kind
Latest book: Home for Christmas

What began your romance writing career? Why do you write romance?

It was the eighties, and having discovered a box of Mills and Boons in my new stepmother’s house, I was instantly hooked. They all had exotic, foreign settings (lots of Betty Neels) and it wasn’t till I spent my first pay buying more romance that I discovered there was such a thing as Australian romance. Better still – Queensland romance. That’s when the dream was born.

This photo was taken in 2015 on a tour of the State Library’s Queensland Romance Author collection – a treasured experience, with so many familiar names and books.

Fiona Green

I’m drawn to romance because no matter what, there are compelling characters, places I may never travel to and a happy for now/happy ever after.

How did your latest book come to life? What was your eureka moment?

Writing Home for Christmas I had two very different critiques, and I credit them both with causing eureka moments:

  1. Theme = Family. This single statement, written exactly like it is here allowed me to take Layla and Tate’s story from a Christmas short story to a published work.
  2. I’m bored with this story, you should work on something else. I was gutted to hear this, a lone voice in a sea of “this is good”. Should I give up? Start something new? I pulled the story from my critique group, worked on it solo, and (eureka moment) learnt to trust my instinct about what it needed. In hindsight, it was the wrong book for that reader.

What do you do when you’re stuck with a scene?

When I’m stuck, truly stuck, I take the point of view character, and flip their usual reaction to the situation they find themselves in, sending them one hundred and eighty degrees in the other direction. Then I change point of view and show the other character in the scene trying to figure it out. Chances are, what you write will end up in the bin, but the characters should at least be talking to each other, and sometimes characters surprise you with what happens next.

What’s the thing about writing that surprised you the most?

Writing is seen as a solo pursuit, but I’ve found the comradery in both my critique group and the wider romance community make it anything but. Knowledge and experience of what works and what doesn’t is shared, and there is always someone who will support you as you work through your “apprenticeship”. The friends I’ve made through writing are some of my closest, and I treasure each and every one of them.

What do you do when you’re not writing? Any secret hobbies?

When I’m not writing, I split my time between my day job (in health) and an owner builder project on a rural block that will never be finished (or so it seems). I don’t have any secret hobbies, but my favourite escape is generally a run. Headphones and mobile free, I set off on a journey, and while my feet might be pounding the pavement in suburbia, my head will be deep in wherever my latest story is set.

In 2017, I’m doing an A-Z run of Brisbane – finding a different suburb to run in starting with the next letter of the alphabet. Next up: “E”.


22581What began as an impersonal-but-cheerful holiday gift for a soldier far from home becomes so much more…

Sergeant Tate McAuliffe, stationed in Afghanistan, opens his Christmas care package from Australia and is stunned by both its contents and the sender.

Fun-loving Christmas tree designer Layla Preston is a breath of fresh air for loner Tate. Although they’ve never met, their email friendship quickly develops and their feelings for each other deepen. But Layla knows the heartache that loving a soldier can bring and when Tate is injured, her deep-seated fear drives them apart. With their relationship in tatters, can Layla and Tate work through their differences, so Layla can welcome Tate home for Christmas?

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