Friday Five: Jami Gray

2814First published with Escape: June 2017
Favourite romance trope: Emotionally scarred H/H, with Alpha tendencies from a military background, with paranormal elements. (Yeah, picking one isn’t easy.)
Ideal hero (in three words): Protective, complex, unexpected
Ideal heroine (in three words): Courageous, Quick-witted, kick-ass
Latest book: Lying in Ruins

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

An avid reader, when I hit high school, in-between the fantasy and murder-mysteries from my school library, I started sneaking my mom’s romance novels out of the house. Then entering the big bad world as an adult, I stumbled through life and discovered my characters suddenly became harder to hurt (emotionally and physically) while their relationships became crucial to my stories. A therapist would have a field day with this, but my stories shifted to heroines who didn’t need a hero to ride to her rescue. Sometimes it was more satisfying if she rumbled up to his rescue on her Harley.

How do you write? What is your process like?

I started out a solid pantser (one who writes with little to no planning), something I soon learned would not work long term, mainly because I’m a series writer and it’s way too easy to lose a sub-plot or a subtle piece of a character before you realise it. After eleven books I have mastered the art of a basic outline. Granted it can’t be too detailed because then I get bored (not a good thing when you’re the one telling the story), but my outline has enough major points to ward off distractions and keep me (somewhat) on point. Characters tend to come to me first, bringing their worlds along for the ride, then comes the fun part—creating conflicts of all shapes and sizes.

What was your hardest scene to write? Which kind of scenes do you find difficult to write? Which scenes do you enjoy writing the most?

Some of the more emotional scenes are difficult, only because to do justice to why a character reacts the way they do, without providing an easy emotional out, is tricky business. Anger’s a great emotion, but can be overused. Fear, even in the strongest person, can be the most corrosive. Love can cut both ways on the good/evil spectrum. But emotions are the core of who we are, and why we choose to act the way we do to any given situation. Writing such scenes aren’t just painful for my characters, they’re painful to write, but when done right they’re also the most rewarding.


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

One of the most frustrating parts about story creation is hitting those plot pits, you know the kind that will drop your story into an endless chasm, never to come back? Yeah, those. The fun part about being a writer, nothing is ever final until it’s published, which means much like the awesome Dr. Who, I get to play with timelines, or in this case, story lines. Since the scene is stuck in my head, I’ll leave it for a day or so while I mentally rewrite it ad nauseam, changing little things with each rendition until something finally wrenches those clawing talons from my ankles.


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

As much as I’d like to say I’m bi-symbolic because I could swing either toward wolves or leopards, going to have to admit I tend to lean more towards the canine. As a proud rescue mama of my Fur Minxes, Lola and Angel, it’s easy to guess I’m a huge dog person, and yes, I’ll admit, being highly allergic to the feline population doesn’t help. However, leopards are stealthy, cunning, majestic felines that rule their worlds with a cynical eye, but wolves have this fabulous duality of both pack animals and lone predators built on a basis of loyalty and fierce determination. An introvert by nature, something about the ability to move between social and solo appeals to me.

Fur Minxes


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

When a two-hour span of my search history chronicles: How to set up a marijuana grow house, US Dept. of Defense’s list of current projects, most lethal FOB (Forward Operations Bases) of the US military, and how to set a Trojan virus, I’m pretty sure Homeland Security has me on a list somewhere. It was for my PSY-IV Teams series (a group of ex-military psychics) and I was impressed no men in dark suits came knocking on my door.

Where is your favourite place to write? 

I tend to write at my desk normally, but my favourite place to write is with my writing group during our retreats. As desert dwellers, we tend to head north where green things grow and the temperature tends to rest beneath broiling. We try to carve out a long weekend once or twice a year to get together. We stockpile coffee, food, and power cords and then disappear into our worlds for long, blissful uninterrupted hours. Occasionally one of us will surface, mutter a question about some fantastical element and its probable outcome, but the sounds of Mother Nature are interspersed with the click of fingers breezing over keyboards, broken by the slurp of caffeine intake. This picture was from one such jaunt, a lovely multi-room cabin where cell signals were only achieved by driving up the road, holding the phone at a 90 degree angle three feet from your body. It was lovely!



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

Organisation. While I ride the line between plotter and pantser (writing without a plan), in every other aspect of my life, I must plan and things must be in their place. Trips have an itinerary, I have a list of tasks to accomplish for almost everything, and I can’t sit down to write unless everything’s done. In fact, I share an office with my husband (see photos). Can you tell who owns which desk?

31476 (3)In a world gone to hell, it’s hard to tell the good guys from the bad…

The world didn’t end in fire and explosions, instead it collapsed slowly, like falling dominoes, an intensifying panic of disease, food shortages, wild weather and collapsing economies, until what remained of humanity battles for survival in a harsh new reality.

Charity uses lethal survival skills learned too early in her work as a ‘Hound, sniffing out pivotal secrets for one of the most powerful people on the west coast. Her work is deceptive, deadly, and best performed solo, which means when she has a run-in with a member of the notorious Fate’s Vultures, she has no intention of joining forces in some mockery of teamwork. The man might be sexy as hell, but she travels alone. She will accomplish her mission and she will settle a score – hopefully with the edge of her blade. But fate has other plans.

As one of Fate’s Vultures, a nomadic band of arbitrators known for their ruthless verdicts, Ruin witnesses the carnage of corruption and greed battering the remnants of humanity, and he bears the scars to prove it. Now he has a damn ‘Hound showing up in suspicious circumstances, leaving every cell of his body sceptical – and painfully aroused. The woman is trouble, and Ruin has every intention of steering clear. But when they realise they have a common enemy, Charity and Ruin will have to set aside their distrust if they want to achieve their mutual goal – justice and revenge.

Sometimes, when the world’s gone to hell, it’s better to stick with the devil you know…

Lying in Ruins is available now


Friday Five: Welton B Marsland

2836First Published with Escape: November 2017
Favourite Romance Trope: friends-to-lovers
Ideal Hero: smart, quick-witted, brave
Ideal Heroine: smart, quick-witted, brave
Latest Book: By the Currawong’s Call

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

I set out just to tell the sort of stories I’d like to read, but it happens that I’ve always been fascinated with human relationships and how different people interact with and respond to one another, so those tend to be a focus in my stories. I spent important formative time (from a writing point of view) in slash fandoms and learned a lot – about writing, but also about drilling down into what my areas of focus are and what things push my buttons.

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

Generally, I’ll take a break from it and write a different one for a while. Also, I can’t underestimate how effective it can be, just sitting or lying somewhere quiet and “daydreaming” the scene to try and get into the guts of it.

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

On “Currawong” I lost an afternoon to the surprisingly interesting history of petroleum jelly.


But the strangest research jaunt ever was for a short, niche fandom fic I wrote called “The Novikov Self-Consistency Principle“. Just for the first ten pages alone I had to research electromagnetism, heavy hardcover books on electromagnetism, strong German liquor, ethnic histories of two different surnames, alcohol laws in Massachusetts and Illinois, the Episcopalians, the chemical makeup of Ecstasy, entactogens and neurotransmitters, the Balkan states, time travel, time dilation, Stephen Hawking, Einstein’s theory of relativity, the Heckler & Koch MP5 rifle, and the statistical occurrence of supernumerary nipples (oh and the Novikov Self-Consistency Principle itself, naturally).

4. Out of all your protagonists, who do you relate to the most?

I relate pretty strongly to my two main characters in Currawong, Matthew and Jonah, even though their personalities are quite different. Weirdly, while writing, even though the whole book is from Matthew’s point of view and it was important I stuck with that, whenever I tried “daydreaming” scenes, I’d always find myself slipping into Jonah’s point of view. My brain, apparently, just found his voice easier to slide into, even while my intellect was trying to tell it “No, no, the other guy!”.

5. Snacks while writing, yes or no? What kind of snacks?

When I’m writing at home (where most of my work is done), no. Lots of tea though. And I mean LOTS OF TEA.


I do also enjoy writing in pubs and salty snacks might well make an appearance on those occasions.


A small town, a new arrival, and a love that is as undeniable as it is unlawful…

Victoria, Australia, 1891

Anglican priest Matthew Ottenshaw receives his first posting in tiny Dinbratten, two days’ ride from his Melbourne home. Determined to honour his calling as best he can, he throws himself into the footy mad, two-pub town, navigating the dusty streets, learning the gossip, and striking up a friendship with Jonah Parks, the resident police sergeant and local bona fide hero.

A police officer and a priest often find themselves needed at the same place, and Jonah and Matthew’s friendship deepens quickly, as they set about their business of protecting the bodies and souls of Dinbratten’s residents. When a bushfire threatens the town, and Matthew’s inexperience with fire endangers the church buildings, Jonah comes to the rescue, and a reckless kiss in the midst of the chaos takes their friendship to forbidden.

Neither Matthew nor Jonah can go back to the way things were before, but continuing their relationship puts everything at risk: their jobs, their friends, even their lives. In the outback town of Dinbratten where everyone knows everything about everyone else, how can they ever expect to keep a secret this explosive?

“Such a beautifully written, powerful love story” – Cupcakes and Bookshelves

By the Currawong’s Call is available for pre-order now and releases 20 November.

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Friday Five: Annabelle McInnes

Annabelle McInnes - alternative profile pictureAuthor: Annabelle McInnes
First published with Escape: September 2017
Favourite romance trope: Tortured Hero
Ideal hero (in three words): Alpha, supportive, gentle
Ideal heroine (in three words): Compassionate, brave, curious
Latest book: True Refuge

What began your romance writing career? Why do you write romance?
There is so much beauty when people fall in love. I take great enjoyment from writing these stories, allowing my characters to find their own path and articulating their happy ending. I plot the big elements to my books, but never the small ones. I try not to even think about my characters until I sit down and write. For me, this allows me to get excited about the journey they take me on. I have always read ferociously and across many genres, but romance speaks to me like no other books do. The birth of my son was the catalyst for me to take a risk and start a new manuscript that was focused on the relationships between my characters. That was the first draft of True Refuge. I write romance because I enjoy exploring the precious moments between lovers, where I can tell tales of tenderness and devotion and create happy endings that can be unashamedly enjoyed.

What was the best writing advice you ever received?

I attended Fiona McIntosh’s Commercial Fiction Masterclass in April this year. There were so many small nuggets of information that I found profound, but the most useful was the word count algorithm. Simply put, it’s a mathematical equation to work out how many words you need to write per day to finish your novel. For example, if you are required to write an 80k manuscript and have one year to finish, but can only write three days per week due to family and work commitments, you simply put in the numbers. So, it would look like this:

52 weeks of the year x 3 days = 156

80000 words \ 156 days of the year to write = 512

There you have it, in one year, you will have written 80k and you only had to write 512 words three days per week. Easy right? Of course, this doesn’t take into account a number of factors, including holidays for example. But if you take in it principle and apply it to your requirements, and stick to it, I promise its works! It prevents burn outs, stop and start writing, and helps with writer’s block. This algorithm has been essential to the success of completing my books.

What was your hardest scene to write? Which kind of scenes do you find difficult to write? Which scenes do you enjoy writing the most?
In romance, one of the most important element is the development of the relationship between the characters. For me, the hardest parts to write are the scenes where this plays out physically. Writing these scenes requires focus on many elements. The details of the physical placement of the bodies, the emotion, the tone and the style of writing all play an important part of these scenes. The Refuge Trilogy is a ménage relationship and often has three people intertwined in the act. The scenes must ensure that each character develops emotionally, that their individual’s quirks, mannerisms and physical limitations are detailed appropriately, and finally, that the relationship between the three of them progresses. It is a mammoth task. These scenes are always integral to my story, so the pressure to ensure that they are accurate makes them even harder to write. They are also some of my longest chapters.

But they are my favourite because of many of the same reasons. I relish writing the love that develops between my characters, the importance they place on each other, and highlighting the devotion and dedication that they share for one another. These scenes are often the most beautiful, and I really enjoy letting go with extravagant words for the right moments.

Where is your favourite place to write?
My favourite place to write is at my desk in my study. When I write in the mornings before the family wakes, I am able watch the sun come up and the flowers open to greet the day. Sometimes, the rabbits will hop past as they get their breakfast. It’s quiet, I’m usually not too tired, and the words flow more freely. It’s a beautiful time of day. 


What’s the thing about writing that surprised you the most?
I have found the most surprising element to be that I can no longer read for pleasure as much as I used to. The books I read now no longer have swooning couples on the cover, but facts and figures. I spend my nights learning about marketing, branding, web design, the art of writing and advertising. I am inspired by other authors so I still read romance, but I find I can get caught up on their style, prose and plot and it is harder to lose myself in the narrative. My buying habits have changed as well. I am more inclined to take a chance on a new author, buy a book which supports diversity, or is in a sub-genre that I normally wouldn’t read. I also am more inclined to contact an author and let them know how much I enjoyed their book.

32434 (1)They thought they’d found a refuge, but the battle for survival has only just begun…

Surrounded by the destruction of the human race, Euan, Nick, and Kira find solace in one another, making their underground bunker a haven and a home. Sheltered under layers of steel and cement, they should be safe, but danger isn’t always kept outside — sometimes the enemy is within.

When their electronic warning system detects intruders, Euan and Nick must investigate. Outside, they discover the true terror that is approaching, and Euan must make a terrible decision: stay or go. To stay is to watch the only people he loves perish under the weight of pure evil. To leave is to face his certain death to protect them and potentially save humankind.

Despite all his preparation, skills, and strength, Euan knows that each decision carries the risk that he could destroy them all.

True Refuge, Book One, The Refuge Trilogy is available now:
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Fractured Refuge, Book Two, The Refuge Trilogy is available for pre-order now:
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Friday Five: Carla Caruso

Carla Caruso (2)Author: Carla Caruso
First published with Escape: May 25, 2017
Favourite romance trope: Opposites attract
Ideal hero: Tall/dark/handsome (that counts as one word, right?), brooding, kind
Ideal heroine: Imperfect, spirited, funny
Latest book: Run for the Hills! A runaway bride scarpers to the Adelaide Hills … and meets a handsome triplet, who also happens to be a wedding photographer. 

What began your romance writing career? Why do you write romance?
I was actually more of a chick-lit writer (and reader) originally, devouring books by Sophie Kinsella, Helen Fielding and co. But when I went to write in that genre, chick-lit was deemed ‘dead’.

However, I’d sent a chick-lit style manuscript to a publisher and they asked if I could increase the romance component and they’d consider taking it on for a new digital imprint of theirs. I did and scored my first publishing contract. Now I can’t write a story without a strong romance focus. I’m hooked on the genre, and can’t go back!

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever had to research for a book?
I’m currently writing a novel surrounding a heroine who’s a witch for something different! I’m so glad my local library now has self-serve and I can just duck to the reserve shelf to grab weird and wonderful titles like A Kitchen Witch’s World of Magical Food (among the picture books I’m borrowing for my kids!) Who knows what the librarians think I’m cooking up? I also hate to think what my online search history must look like to the staff at Google; I’m always looking up something strange!

Which book written by someone else do you wish you had written?
Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta was a fave as a teen—as a fellow Italian-Australian (à la the heroine), caught between two worlds, the book really spoke to me. Oh, and I also have a special spot for The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella. Maybe because I’m also quite the un-Italian wife (coincidentally, I also have a foodie blog by that name, – plug, plug!)

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? Or any cute quirks in general?
I don’t know if it’s cute, per se, but I am one of those writers who carries around a mini notepad and jots down story ideas and notes whenever I’m ‘on the go’. (Okay, sometimes I use OneNote on my phone for future story ideas too to be a bit with the technological times!)

When I sit down at my PC, I always have to type up these notes first or apply the story tweaks I’ve dreamt up before I can get down to the business of writing anything new. It can be a good way to waste an hour of writing time, argh! But it does save on editing later.

Besides writing, what is something else that you’re really good at?
I’ve recently got into renovating vintage furniture! I’m a runner and would habitually spot quirky roadside finds while out pounding the pavement. Now I also scroll Gumtree for such items.

Carla Caruso (3)

The poor hubby is quite handy and helps with all the painting, staining etc. (in between whinging about it, haha). I put all my nerdy home and garden stuff on my Instagram page, ‘adelaidepickers’, to separate it from my authorly gear.

Recently, I’ve also got back into making costume jewellery, which is something I used to do (and sell) many moons ago as a young fashion-junkie. 

Carla Caruso (1)The Belshaw brothers are back in Balkissoch…

Bridie Porter is wearing her Vera Wang gown and veil in the back of her wedding limo when she receives a compromising text about her hotelier groom. Panicked, she tells the driver to keep going and she flees from Melbourne to the small town of Balkissoch in the Adelaide Hills.

It’s the perfect pit-stop to hide from her ex and the press and to earn enough cash to stay out of sight. Unfortunately, the admin job she gets is for a wedding photography business and she’s had her fill of weddings lately. But it’s slim pickings on the work front in a town so teeny. And her new boss is strangely compelling…

After the rush and adrenaline of his job as an LA paparazzo, the last place Cody Belshaw wants to be is back in the small town where he grew up. But thanks to a clause in his father’s will that amounts to blackmail, Cody and his two brothers are stuck running a wedding business for at least a month. If there’s one thing that he’s learned in LA, however, it’s to keep business and pleasure very, very separate. Which makes his new admin employee the definition of temptation.

Bridie is desperate to stay anonymous. Cody seeks out secrets for a living. As they delve into the world of brides, boutonnières and dogs-as-best-men, both Cody and Bridie will have to decide if this is a fling…or forever.

One-click for wedding fun!

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Friday Five: Nicola E Sheridan

2212Author: Nicola E. Sheridan
First published with Escape: 2013
Favourite romance trope: Paranormal / Urban Fantasy
Ideal hero (in three words): Powerful, strong, and magical
Ideal heroine (in three words): Awkward, compassionate, funny
Latest book: A Warlord’s Lady
Next book: The Magician’s Keeper

What began your romance writing career? Why do you write romance?
I won a highly recommended ‘best first novel’ in a writing competition in 2009, and that made me think that perhaps I could try and get something published. So I gave it a go and was fortunate enough to be taken on. I write romance because I love the feeling romance provokes, it is what I call hopeful literature, which focuses on the good things in life.

What is your writing power-up?
Watching a good television series always inspires me, it’s something about how the protagonists interact, the feelings they evoke, good or bad, it just makes my imagination go wild and I feel inspired to write after watching a good series. Grimm is currently one of my favourites.

What kind of characters do you like reading about the most?
I like reading about characters whose connection is intense, but vaguely awkward. I need realism in my reading, I want to feel that the romance is real.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal? Do you have one already?
My little mascot would be my dog Terry, he’s a rescue and I’ve never known an animal so utterly devoted to me, he follows me everywhere and will sit at my feet for hours.

Nicola E. Sheridan (2)

Where is your favourite place to write?
Even though I have an awesome book lined study in which to write, I much prefer writing at my dinner table in the middle of my house. I feel more connected there, and I can watch the world go by from the window.

Nicola E. Sheridan (1)

32437A brand new steamy paranormal romance about learning to love all of yourself.

In a world where people judge one another by exacting standards of size and style, being a big girl like Eudora Splat was never going to be easy.

Though trouble is brewing between magic folk and human purists who would see them all destroyed, Dora, a half-giant, tries to eke out a quiet, unnoticed life for herself, but it’s hard to be subtle when you’re over seven feet tall.

Losing her job as a gardener due to human complaints, Dora is recruited as a prison guard, where she’s enlisted to protect the magician Evander “Bear” Gordon from human purist attack. Bear encourages her to embrace her power and celebrate her heritage, introducing her to a world where she can be extraordinary and not just weird.

But after years of hiding and shying away, can Dora find the strength to grab onto a new life — and hold on to the man she’s falling in love with?

Pre-order now!

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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.


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.


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)?


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.


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.

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.


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?!


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.