Friday Five: Marilyn Forsyth

2585Author: Marilyn Forsyth
First Published with Escape: April 2017
Favourite Romance Trope: Lovers Reunited
Ideal Hero: Tall, red-headed, Scot
Ideal Heroine: outwardly strong, inwardly vulnerable (4 words, I know. Hope that’s ok.)
Latest Book: Falling In Love Again

What began your romance writing career?
Having had over a dozen short stories published in magazines, I wanted to try my hand at writing a full-length novel and, because I love to read romance, it seemed a natural progression to try to write it. I joined RWAus and a writing group (Breathless in the Bush), and from there everything fell into place. I won The First Kiss competition in 2012 and that entry became The Farmer’s Perfect Match, published by Harlequin MIRA Australia in 2016.

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Why do you write romance?
As a reader of romance, I want to experience every emotion, every high and low, every fascinating sensation that comes with falling in love. As a writer of romance, that is exactly what I want to bring to my readers. All that, and a happy ending, of course!

How did your latest book come to life? What was your eureka moment?
The starting point for Falling in Love Again came with reading an article on Eric, the opalised pliosaur, one of the exhibits at the Australian Museum in Sydney. My vivid imagination went crazy at the thought of discovering such a unique find, but I was quickly brought back to Earth upon learning that such discoveries are often not disclosed because the opal is worth more than the fossil. What a great external conflict—two characters fighting over the future of a buried treasure! From there, Gemma and Jamie emerged, with all the emotional inner conflict that reunited lovers face.

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What do you do when you’re stuck with a scene?
Scream, swear, tear my hair out. Just kidding! Although there are times…

Mostly, I resort to writing what I want from the scene by hand; there’s something about pen and paper that helps me to focus and get my ideas down quickly. From those notes, I choose a couple of scenarios, list the pros and cons of each, and make a decision of which idea to go with.

If I’m having real difficulty, I seek advice from my fabulous crit partners. They know me and my writing almost as well as I do and their advice is always invaluable.

If you could cast anyone as the main characters for the movie/stage adaptation of your book, who would they be (and why are they perfect for the role)?

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My perfect Jamie would be Aussie actor James Stewart. He has that larrikin adventurer look about him that I envisaged for Jamie as I was writing him, plus a sadness to his eyes that Jamie has. I find that very appealing.

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My perfect Gemma would be Aussie actress, Teresa Palmer. Though beautiful, she doesn’t believe it herself, and she has the right combination of strength and vulnerability to portray a woman recovering from an abusive relationship.

Besides writing, what is something else that you’re really good at?

I love drawing and painting. Always have. I’m not sure that I’m really good at it, but I do get compliments (and not just from the family!). I’ve worked in both oils and watercolours, and they both have their own particular appeal. I love the immense depth of colour that oils can bring to a traditional still life, but I also love the crazy unpredictability of creating in watercolour. I guess that reflects the two sides to my personality—basically logical with a bit of the frivolous thrown in.


31095 (3)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, the son Jamie doesn’t know is his.

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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Friday Five: Elisabeth Rose

Author: Elisabeth Rose1526
First published with Escape
: April 2013
Favourite romance trope: Fish out of water
Ideal hero (in three words): Dark, quiet, confident
Ideal heroine (in three words): Strong, independent, caring
Latest book: Find Her

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

I read an article about someone who collected romance books and thought ‘I could write one of those’. I’d always enjoyed reading romances and always liked writing but never seriously sat down to write a book. As I went along I discovered I really liked the psychological aspect of two people working their way through a thicket of problems to find each other. The happy ending is the prize and for me the most fun to write.

How do you write? What is your process like?

I start with the germ of an idea and I make it up as I go. No plotting, or the bare minimum, for me. I write chronologically and learn things about my characters along the way. I can’t write scenes from different parts of the book then stick them together because future events and actions are created by what the characters are doing at the time. I do begin to have an idea of what I want certain scenes to be like though.

What was the best writing advice you ever received?

Every page should have some question or some little surprise for the reader, to make them keep reading. I pick a page at random in my work as I go, and check.

If you could cast anyone for the movie/stage adaption of your book and characters, who would they be? (I would love to know why they are perfect for the role! Please include pictures!)

Elizabeth Rose (1)

Chinese actress Gong Li would be perfect for the role of my heroine Jacqueline Xue—Jax, an Australian of Chinese descent. Jax is a mature woman with a strong character.

Elizabeth Rose (2)

Sam Worthington has the large build and rugged outdoorsy look for hero, Connor.

Besides writing, what is something else that you’re really good at?

I did a performance degree on clarinet when I left school many years ago, and played in the Australian Youth Orchestra back in the seventies. I still play and teach the instrument. Thirty years ago I began learning tai chi and moved into instructing so I’m pretty good at that, too.

Tai Chi by the Orange River Namibia Elisabeth Rose


31266A chance sighting leads to second chances – for hope, for family, and for love.

Five years ago, teenager Antonia disappeared. With no compelling evidence, the police eventually called her a run-away, and dropped the case. Her teacher, Jax, has always regretted not speaking up about the rumours she heard circling the school that day, but a random sighting at a train station raises the possibility that Antonia is still alive – and not too far away.

Antonia’s father, Connor has never given up hope that his daughter will be found and returned to her family. When her old teacher, Jax, calls him with a small spark of a lead, he seizes it with both hands, determined to chase it down.

But there’s more at play than simple teenage rebellion and the path Jax and Connor travel rapidly becomes more dangerous than either could have imagined, and opens up new possibilities that neither could have expected.

 

 

Friday Five: Eva Scott

1523Author: Eva Scott
First published with Escape: 2004 – The Last Gladiatrix
Favourite romance trope: Second chance love
Ideal hero (in three words): Seasoned, magnetic, strong
Ideal heroine (in three words): Independent, curious, vulnerable
Latest book: Red Dust Runaway

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

During my teenage years, I spent hours scouring the second-hand bookshops for romance novels with my mother. We had our favourites and it was like a treasure hunt for something we hadn’t read yet. When I decided to try my hand at writing a novel it was a no-brainer to start with romance. Romance readers are more discerning than people give them credit for and if you can please them you’re on your way to becoming a good writer.

What was the best writing advice you ever received?

Writing is a discipline. Sit down and write. Maybe it’s good, maybe it’s bad, but if you don’t write its merely a daydream.

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

The first piece of inspiration for Red Dust Runaway came from a Vogue Australia photo shoot in the Outback. Beautiful images of such a timeless land.

My mother, who was battling cancer at the time, put me on to the Trivago Man. She was so sick that the fact she called me to tell me about this incredibly delicious man on the telly piqued my interest. He formed the inspiration for my hero, Kit.

Eva Scott - Christian Goran Trivago

I saw One Direction’s Royal Variety performance. Those poor boys looked exhausted, as if someone had propped them up with sticks and told them to sing (which they probably had). They seemed to have everything they’d ever dreamed of, but no life of their own.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/familiar? Do you have one already?

An otter! I can connect with the inquisitive, playful and determined nature of an otter.

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As for pets, I have an old cocker spaniel named Taj, after the Australian surfer. When he was younger he liked to jump on a surf board but now he’s quite blind and finds it a little overwhelming. He’s been my constant companion for 12 years. He’s put up with all sorts of adventures and nonsense from me. He’s been the dog of a lifetime. When he goes out with my husband and son, it’s him I miss following me around the house!

Eva Scott -Taj 2017

If you could cast anyone for the movie/stage adaption of your book and characters, who would they be?

If Red Dust Runaway was to be adapted for the screen I’d love Emma Stone to play the part of Iris, our very talented but sheltered heroine who’s on a journey of self-discovery.

Eva Scott - Emma Stone

For the hero, Kit, I want Christian Goran. Of course. Happy to give him his big break.

trivago Australia 2014 TV commercial (LINK to Youtube vid)


31475One jaded rock star. One sheltered classical musician. One hell of a red dust road trip…

Sheltered, coddled, gifted, Iris longs for something more than practice and performing. She wants to rebel, break the rules, have a hot affair, fall in love — to really live before happily committing to her classical music bubble. But her strict parents and her stricter schedule keep her confined to her gilded cage, even as she yearns desperately to be free.

Super star, successful, and sick of all of it, Kit just wants to stop. Stop the touring and the recording and the media and the bickering with his band mates. After two years on the road, he’s coming apart at the seams. He has to slow down, calm down, clear his head — to really think before recommitting to his rock star lifestyle. But his manager and the tour schedule keep him locked to his super star lifestyle, even as he rages against the confinement.

A chance encounter in a car park leads to a snap decision and an enormous risk: suddenly Kit and Iris are on an extraordinary road trip together across Australia, making their own choices, breaking all the rules. But reality is chasing them more quickly than they can know, and soon Kit and Iris will have to decide whether they are just running away — or running away together.

 

Friday Five: Amanda Knight

2796Author: Amanda Knight
First Published with Escape: April 2017
Favourite Romance Trope: I do love the redemption trope… can’t go past a good military/protector one either!
Ideal Hero: a man strong of mind and body, and who displays honour, integrity and loyalty in action and thoughts – he is a man of his word, knows what he will and won’t stand for, and doesn’t waver, unless it is to protect someone he loves. He has well developed EQ and IQ, and has a non-arrogant self-confidence. He is fiercely protective of those he loves, intensely passionate and if ever he can give his heart (I do love a bit of a tortured hero!) it will be deeply and a one time only thing! My perfect hero also loves a strong, smart woman who makes him want to be the best man he can (even if it takes him a while to realise it!) someone who can push his buttons, make him ask the hard questions of himself, and have him always want to get back to her when they’re apart… above and beyond anyone, and anywhere else.
Ideal Heroine: She is a strong, smart women who also has a vulnerable side (that isn’t evident at first.) There’s something about her that allows others to feel safe. My ideal Heroine isn’t perfect, but can hold her own amongst her peers (with men and women), but doesn’t see it as a male/female thing, simply a ‘person’ thing to be the best she can be. She doesn’t let anyone treat her any less than she deserves, no matter the circumstances. She holds people accountable for their actions, and also allows him to redeem their mistakes, with their dignity still intact. She’s gutsy without being reckless, and has the courage, the tenacity to do what needs to be done, even when she is terrified. She can say she’s sorry, and admit to her mistakes. She’s not afraid to be real.
Latest Book: Situation Critical

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

It’s always different for me… but for Situation Critical – a character came first! My initial inspiration was for Finnegan, and then, the skeleton of a plot came to life which in turn inspired Nate, then Beth and lastly my villain, Lawson. I find the plot points the most tricky to write, because I usually know my characters, and have an idea of where they’re going… it’s just figuring out the vehicle I am creating to get there, it sometimes doesn’t come to me as quickly as I’d like!

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

Where do I like to write… hmm, ideally, it would be in either a cabin in the mountains, where it is perennially winter, with an open fire and endless piping hot tea (during the day) and a good shiraz (in the evening!) OR in an Hampton-esque modest home with huge verandahs and luscious lounges, close to the ocean… also in winter with the beverage preferences as per the cabin! But seriously…

Writing Space (Amanda Knight)

I write in my office, at my desk (where I can close the door when the family are home) or at the dining table (big windows, lots of light) when there’s no one else around. I also write on the train heading into work (that’s usually scribbling ideas in my notebook), at the library when my home is just too busy for concentration, and sometimes, at my local café where the comings and goings become a little like white noise, that somehow helps me immerse in the words. Although, once, I had a fellow guest tap me on the shoulder, and ask if I was alright – I’d been writing a scene where my villain killed someone, and it seems my facial expressions whilst doing so were a little alarming! Perhaps public writing isn’t such a good plan?!

Can you give any advice to aspiring authors out there? And/or what is some of the best writing advice you have received?

My advice for aspiring authors: Keep. Going. Don’t. Stop. I keep this picture on my wall… (the two men digging in the diamond mine) because I have experienced the ‘almost there’ so many times before Situation Critical was accepted. If you want it bad enough, if you persevere, keep honing your craft… listen to feedback, continue to learn, work out how it all ‘works’ best for you, your voice, your circumstances, and do it all with respect and dignity for both yourself and those you’re working with… success will come. I truly believe that! Also, behave like a published author no matter where you are on your journey… be kind to people, build your networks, be gracious.

What drew you to contemporary romance?

What draws me to writing contemporary romance? In essence, I think it is the hope that romance inspires in the reader. I love the possibility, that we as writers, can maybe encourage someone to take that step, make that call, seek that help, follow that dream – and truly make a difference to their lives. I think as writers, we have the gift of being able to show that people can be in bad circumstances and still remain good souls. That people can overcome the most hideous adversities… that someone can be broken, bitter and incapable of giving or receiving love… but when the right person comes into their lives, anything is possible, and hearts and souls can mend… I believe that a deep and soul stirring love is the most glorious of feelings, and that kindness, and the gift of caring for another being, allowing them to be ‘good enough’ no matter how bruised and broken they appear at first, brings rewards that cannot be measured… and as writers, we have the wonderful opportunity to capture all of this, and share it, within the pages of a book.

What are your favourite books/authors to read (maybe pick 3)? Romance or otherwise? What draws you to those books?

I have quite an eclectic taste in books. I don’t actually have a distinct favourite genre… Outside of the works of my author friends, I’ve a number of books by Honey Brown, JT Ellison and Sandra Brown, as well as Diana Gabaldon, JR Ward, Liane Moriarty and Emily Giffin… amongst SOOO many others. I have a very special place on my shelves for authors D’Arcy Niland, Ruth Park and Dymphna Cusack – Australian authors who greatly inspired me when I was younger, and first started writing seriously.

What draws me to a book? If I read a review or blurb that interests me, or have been recommended a book (and it generally interests me), I’ll give it a whirl (I am partial to investigating a book due to liking its cover too!) Once I’m inside the pages, I’ll keep reading if the characters weave their way into my heart, or have me asking questions I want to know the answers to, quickly. I also like to see evidence of the development potential of the character within the first chapter or two… especially the characters I want to dislike but can’t quite, yet. I love clever mystery/suspense/intrigue plots, with enough setting that I can hear, see, smell where I am. Sharp witty or heart-wrenching dialogue grabs me, as does triumph of the human spirit stories such as The Help, To Kill A Mockingbird and The Book Thief.

My favourite part of reading is immersing in other lives, moments, and sometimes, historical events… I love the notion (and believe to my core) that words change lives… even if it’s only momentarily… and when I read a book that captures me, the entire world outside the pages doesn’t exist… pure escapism!

So I read in your bio that you have some adorable pets… do they hinder or help you when you write?

Bonnie’s a constant, no drama, positive presence whenever I am writing… so good to have around! Definitely a ‘helper’ when I’m writing!

Vincent - superior and aloof (Amanda Knight)

As to my cat – well, he’s no Bonnie, but not really a hindrance! He’s a standoffish, super superior and very vocal Blue Point Ragdoll named Vincent… or as he’s known most of the time around here, Puddy. He’s not super snuggly or friendly, and mostly only hangs out with me if his belly or nature is calling! He will meow out a near sentence, with tone and intense stares if he needs feeding, or wants to be on the other side of whatever door he’s closest to! He rules Bonnie with a cat 1-2 slap and a ear flattened glare if she’s too overzealous when he’s deemed it a suitable activity to come out and hang with (near!) her. Interestingly though, when Bonnie was away a few days at the vet, he spent a lot of time walking in circles around her bed, and bowls, did a lot of meowing, and slept in her bed (actually, that’s a norm – poor dog sleeps on the floor, whilst the cat sprawls out in her bed!) – he was clearly missing her! Maybe he cares about others after all?!


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A taut debut novel about a wounded soldier, a courageous doctor, and a dog in desperate need of a rescue

Soldier, surgeon, traitor, dog…

When Sergeant Nate Calloway is carried into the field hospital with no memory of how he got there or where the other members of his unit are,  Australian army surgeon, Captain Beth Harper cares only about repairing his broken body. But it’s clear that something went terribly wrong on the other side of the wire, and as Nate slowly recovers, he becomes more and more anxious to return to duty, go back into the field, and rescue his friends, his unit, and the bomb detection dog that he loves.

The only way Nate can be released to active duty is if a doctor agrees to accompany him, and Beth surprises everyone by volunteering. Her role is to monitor Nate and take him right back to hospital the instant that his health deteriorates enough to put their rescue operation at risk. But as she stays close, she finds herself inexplicably drawn to his courage, his determination, and his commitment to his fellow soldiers.

Instead of a straightforward recovery, however, Nate and Beth soon realise they’ve stumbled on a tangled web of deceit and danger, and the enemy is no longer outside the wire. He is one of their own, a traitor, and he has them in his scope.

 

Friday Five: Amy Andrews

646Author: Amy Andrews
First published with Escape: 2014
Favourite romance trope: Small town
Ideal hero (in three words): Funny. Handy. Laidback.
Ideal heroine (in three words): Spunky. Quirky. Mouthy.
Latest book: Limbo

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

The need to not get off my electric blanket in the midst of a freezing cold English winter… (sorry, not very romantic!) I write romance for the happy sigh and because it privileges women’s experiences and sexuality.

Amy Andrews (2)

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

I plough through. Even if its shite – I can fix that in rewrites.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever had to research for a book?

I’ve recently Googled bonnet (hood) heights for pickup trucks to figure out the logistics of my hero going down on my heroine…..never did that in my old job!

Amy Andrews (1)

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? Or any cute quirks in general?

I am boringly un-quirky. I save that for my characters!

Favourite book covers? What draws your eye to a romance cover?

I’m drawn to quirky or different covers. I really like the cartoony type covers (yes, I know, I’m the only one in the entire world….) because they can be really personalised/tailored to a book and are often quirky or different. Nothing quite like a hot man on romance cover or a really hot couple clearly into each other! And I really appreciate when the people on a cover actually fit the description of the characters in the book.


23731 (1)Six Feet Under meets Stephanie Plum in Amy Andrews’  fresh, funny, sexy urban-family noir about a country singer who almost made it, a private investigator who’s seen too much and a mother who will cross all barriers to save her child.

When ex hillbilly-punk rocker turned cadaver make-up artist Joy Valentine is visited by the ghost of a high-profile murder victim begging for Joy’s help to find her kidnapped baby girl, Joy knows from experience the cops are going to think she’s crazy.  So she takes it to the one guy she knows who won’t.

The last thing disgraced ex-cop turned private investigator Dash Dent expected is a woman from his past turning up to complicate his present with a nutty, woo-woo story. The problem is he knows Joy is telling the truth and he can’t ignore the compelling plight of baby Isabella whose disappearance six months prior transfixed the nation.

Discounted and discredited by the police, Dash and Joy work together to uncover the mystery and find Isabella, with a whacky supporting cast including Eve, a brothel madam; Stan, an excommunicated priest; Katie, Dash’s ten-year-old daughter; and two horny goldfish. It’s a race against time and against all odds – but the real battle for Dash and Joy might just be keeping their hands off each other.

 

Friday Five: Juanita Kees

1495Author: Juanita Kees
First published with Escape: 2013
Favourite romance trope: Second chances – because everyone deserves one
Ideal hero: Strong, sexy, compassionate
Ideal heroine: Strong, kind, independent
Latest book: Under Shadow of Doubt

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

I fell in love with romance in the seventies when my aunt introduced me to Mills & Boon. I wrote the first draft of Under Shadow of Doubt when I was sixteen. It’s had many edits since then!

I write romance because I believe in HEA and that somewhere out there is the perfect match for everyone (even if it is a book boyfriend).

How do you write? What is your process like?

I’m a pantser trying to be a better plotter. I have an idea and get the basics down on paper then I write the first chapter and go from there. The end result is never anything close to those basics I got down on paper. Scrivener is slowly training me to be a better plotter.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever had to research for a book?

How to retrieve a dismembered body from a dam and how to murder someone with the oleander plant. I really hope the AFP never look at my browsing history!

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Australians have a fantastic sense of humour and our country is filled with colourful characters. I try to harness as much of my love for this land and the people in my stories as possible.

Where is your favourite place to write?

We recently put in a koi pond in our back garden. I have a bench in a lovely shady spot where I can sit and write, and enjoy a cup of tea or glass of wine. The sound of running water and fish splashing about is soothing, but can be a little distracting too. Koi are like mischievous children .


30495She might be the biggest star in Australia, but she never forgot the small town she came from, or the man she left behind…

Peta Johnson may be rich, famous, and adored, but it doesn’t protect her when the man she married turns out to be a monster. With her little girl missing, Peta will do anything to get her back — including returning to the small Western Australian town she vowed never to see again.

Jaime Caruso left his heart in Williams when he left to pursue a military career, but it soon shrivelled and died when he discovered the girl he loved didn’t love him enough to wait. Back in town to help his ailing father, Jaime struggles with the memories and plans to leave — permanently — as soon as possible.

But then Peta returns and Jaime gets swept up into the nightmare she is living. Feelings long buried soon bubble to the surface, and as they race to save the life of the daughter Jaime doesn’t know is his, they must decide if life — and love — really does give second chances.

 

 

Friday Five: Cate Ellink

1579Author: Cate Ellink
First published with Escape: 2013
Favourite romance trope: friends to lovers
Ideal hero: sexy, funny, respectful
Ideal heroine: independent, nature-loving
Latest book: Secret Confessions Down and Dusty: Lucky

What began your romance writing career? Why do you write romance?
Romance and sex are an important part of life, but in my experience, they are largely not talked about. I wanted to shine a light on this neglected part of our nature. (Sorry, I should have a romantic answer, shouldn’t I? *grin*)

How do you write? What is your process like?
My process isn’t one I’d recommend, but it works for me. I write a very messy first draft where I get to know the characters and have some idea of where the story is going. Even if these words get filed away as a bad idea, I still love this part! Then I spend quite some time making that mess into something like a story. It’s only at this stage that I can ask my early readers for their opinion. Before this point, it’s mine to love. I no longer discuss a story until it’s at this point.

22584What was your hardest scene to write?
Writing Secret Confessions Sydney Housewives: Lana, I came across a problem it took a while to get over. Lana needed to be an older woman who liked ‘toy boys’. I was excited by this character and began writing the story. Then my ever-helpful husband pointed out that Lana was my age, and the guy was his nephew’s age. Oh boy! Lana froze. It took me quite some time to lose reality and get my head back into the fantasy of Lana. I had to understand Lana, be non-judgemental, and write for my characters (and never talk to my husband about a story before it was done!).

What’s the thing about writing that has surprised you the most?
Sometimes when I read back over what I’ve written, especially if it’s a while later, I can have no recollection of writing the words. There’s no familiarity. It’s as if I’m reading a stranger’s work. That freaks me outam I writing or am I channelling someone else?

Snacks while writing, yes or no? What kind of snacks?
I drink tea by the bucketload!

Cate Ellink


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From Cate Ellink comes a sun-soaked, sandy, seaside erotic novel about a tropical paradise, two athletes used to getting physical, and a sex-filled, no-strings holiday fling.

Samantha is celebrating her newly retired status from competitive triathlons with a diving holiday in her favourite place in the world: Australia’s Lord Howe Island. But all divers need a buddy, and Sam can’t dive solo. A chance meeting with rugby league superstar Cooper Sterling in the dive shop seems serendipitous. Sam can’t wait to have a partner who might be able to keep up with her.

It soon becomes evident that Cooper and Sam are compatible both in and out of the water, and things gets seriously sexy. But Sam is disinclined to be another football groupie, and Cooper has been burned before. So the rules are clear: a holiday fling, no strings attached, and they part as friends at the end.

But as the final days of their time together come to a close and a life apart becomes a reality, Sam and Cooper start to question their decision. Is this holiday fling really the finish line or can Sam and Cooper turn their friendly competition into more than sizzling sex?

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?

Buy now!

 

Friday Five: Alyssa J Montgomery

2215Author: Alyssa J. Montgomery
First published with Escape: November 2013
Favourite romance trope: Contemporary
Ideal hero (in three words): Alpha yet sensitive
Ideal heroine (in three words): Sassy, Determined, Loyal
Latest book: The Billionaire Meets His Match

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

About thirty years ago, whilst on University break, one of my sisters and I decided to co-write a romance. We didn’t ever finish it, but had a lot of fun with what we did. Over a decade later, she suggested I write a romance, and I decided to give it a go. Although I read widely in other genres, I’m a romantic who loves a happy-ever-after ending. I love the challenge of having characters overcome seemingly unsurmountable differences or obstacles to find their soul mates.

How do you write? What is your process like?

I don’t have a set process other than that I identify and ‘interview’ my characters first and get to know them. As for the storyline…At times a character forms very clearly in my head and prompts me to write his or her story, other times it’s a scene that springs vividly to mind and the story grows from there. Sometimes the story evolves as I go, other times I plot it out, but there are times when my characters/storyline deviate from the planned plot line. Everything is fluid. The time of day or days of the week I write vary depending on my family and work commitments!

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

Talk to the characters and find out why it isn’t working. Sometimes they’ll tell me something I didn’t know and with that piece of the jigsaw everything falls into place!! If they’re not cooperating, I phone my sister, Kathy. I tell her the problem and sometimes she’ll provide a solution, or she’ll suggest something that then leads me to think of something else that I think will work. Other times, in just voicing the problem aloud to her, I come up with an immediate solution as I’m speaking.

Where is your favourite place to write?

I’m very fortunate to have a dedicated writing room. Sometimes I write at my desk, sometimes on the couch in the room. My husband designed the stained glass window, and despite the timber in the room, my writing space is light and airy. I have a beautiful rural view and glimpses of the lake and ocean in the distance. It’s lovely to look up from my computer screen and look out. One of the neighbours has a dressage area on the hill, so I can sometimes see her riding. Otherwise I see horses in the paddocks, or watch our goats at play! And always, I have flowers in the room from my garden.

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

That my characters have a mind of their own and I can sit down to write a particular scene, and in the first few minutes of my fingers hitting the keyboard, I’m writing something else.

After I’d written The Defiant Princess, Kate Cuthbert asked me to write a series titled Royal Affairs. The Irredeemable Prince is the second title in the series, and I’m currently working on the third story. The heroine in the latest W.I.P. wasn’t the one I’d planned. As I was ‘interviewing’ my characters, I had the present heroine intruding constantly. I took notice of her and did her backstory and decided to her story next, but she has just pushed her way into this story and the heroine I planned for my hero has disappeared into the ether! Even the hero’s backstory changed in the first two pages…Sometimes I wonder just who is writing the story!!


Mista25826ken Identity

Greek tycoon Alex Kristidis will do anything it takes to prevent his brother marrying pop star Susie Hamlin, and Susie’s twin sister Leah will do whatever it takes to stop him. But, posing as Susie to throw Alex off the trail as she and her lover rush away to get married has unexpected consequences: Leah is attacked by a drug dealer’s henchmen, whisked off to Alex’s private island, and becomes entangled in a web of lies.

Something is different about Susie, and Alex can’t put his finger on it. No longer the self-absorbed, selfish celebrity, she is warm and innocent and inspires feelings in him that he thought impossible. But the last thing he will do is indulge in an affair with his brother’s manipulative cast-off. He just has to find the strength to stay away…

Echoes Of The Heart

Australian media tycoon Jake Formosa does not believe in forgiving…or forgetting. So when he discovers that Amanda — the woman who once broke his heart — is newly widowed, he immediately enacts his revenge.  Jake is intent on making Amanda remember him, and making her suffer for what she did. He will leave her broken and alone, and finally have his closure.

But Amanda is not the sweet girl that Jake remembers, and her life is far from perfect. As the web of lies surrounding her begins to unravel, Jake finds himself once again ensnared. Can he learn to overlook the past and risk his heart again?

Roses For Sophie

To convince the court that his playboy days are over and to keep a desperate promise, Australian billionaire Logan Jackson needs a wife…fast.

To make her grandfather happy and sway him into making her managing director of the family company, mining heiress Sophie Hamilton needs a husband…fast.

With common goals, similar values, and a very definite end date, there is no reason why Logan and Sophie shouldn’t be able to strike a deal to satisfy them both. No reason except that the sizzling attraction arcing between them is too hot to trust.


 

Friday Five: Viveka Portman

1607Author: Viveka Portman
First published with Escape: 2013
Favourite romance trope: Historical
Ideal hero (in three words): Strong, masculine, confident
Ideal heroine (in three words): Interesting, clever, thoughtful
Latest book: The Journal of a Vicar’s Wife
What began your romance writing career? Why do you write romance?

I always wrote stories from a young age, and I decided to get serious about it after my good friend and fellow author Shona Husk urged me send some of manuscripts off for publication. I chose the romance genre because I think there is far too much unhappiness in the world, and I have no intention of adding a miserable story to it. Romance by definition has a happy ending, and that’s what I love about it.

Viveka (1)What is your writing Kryptonite?

My small farm usurps most of my time these days, and though I love it, I am struggling to find time to write. Which I hate. My latest work has been ‘in progress’ for over two years: fingers crossed we’re nearly there!

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever had to research for a book?

I spent a great deal of time researching testicular injuries for my book “The Private Affairs of Lady Jane Fielding.” I am now fully versed in the appearance, and symptoms of a testicular atrophy.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

When I’m writing, my face contorts with the emotions that my character is feeling. So I’m intermittently scowling, smiling, frowning, smirking at the computer screen. My children find this disturbing.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/familiar? Do you have one alViveka (2)ready?

I love my animals from my sheep to my steers, but my mascot would undoubtedly have to be my cat Al, he’s a naughty, funny, cuddly monster who will sit on my lap, computer, desk for however many hours I stay there. There’s not better writing companion.


24497The final instalment in Viveka Portman’s sexy, sinful Regency Diaries sees an unhappy wife desperately seeking love—and her taciturn husband who doesn’t know how to reach her.

My husband, though I do not doubt his goodness, does not love nor want me. He married me for pure convenience. He needed a bride and I was the one offered to him. Thus I find my pleasures where I may…

Mrs Maria Reeves has been married for six years. Six long, lonely years. She craves love and affection, but married to a handsome but pious vicar she receives little in the way of earthly pleasures. The Reverend Vicar Frederick Reeves is a man of principle and morals, and is more likely to provide his wife with suggested Bible readings than carnal knowledge.

If her husband will not please her, then she will find a man who will.

But infidelity doesn’t come naturally to the vicar’s wife. Though Maria finds herself getting the sexual pleasure she desires, she also finds herself emotionally frayed and unhappy. To make matters worse, in the small village of Stanton there are always people watching, and Maria discovers that some secrets are impossible to keep. What will her upright husband do when he discovers that Maria has broken not only one of the commandments, but her vows to him?