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


22034

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?

Friday Five: Bronwyn Stuart

2373Author: Bronwyn Stuart

First published with Escape: April 2016

Favourite romance trope: Beauty and the beast.

Ideal hero (in three words): Sexy, intelligent and built!

Ideal heroine (in three words): Sassy, independent and feisty!

Latest book: She’s The One

 

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

I was working night shift for a security firm and had just finished reading a book with the worst ending (sorry, can’t remember the title) and though I could do better. Turns out I was wrong! Took me nearly seven years before I had learned enough to be published.

I am completely addicted to two things. Happy endings and the aww moment when your heart sings and you hear angels in your mind because the moment of ‘I love you’ is just so beautiful. Why be brutal and kill your characters when you can help them find true happiness.

How do you write? What is your process like?

I sit back in a comfy chair with my feet up and put my laptop on my lap. Once my butt hits the chair, I try not to get up again for at least two hours. I set myself a word goal of around 1000 words an hour and don’t let the internet distract me. If I need to research, I do it very quickly or I come back to it later.

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

If I’m really stuck and I’ve gone back a few scenes and still can’t get unstuck, I take a really long bath with someone else’s book and relax. Usually the answer comes to me with a word or a phrase or a similar reaction/action in that book and then I can get back to mine. Most of the time a writing block is actually because your story or plot has gone wrong or you’ve manipulated your characters somewhere they didn’t want to go.

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

My office is a renovated caravan It’s one big quirk on two wheels. My house was too small for my own space so my dad and I rescued a dilapidated van and spruced it up into a creative haven just for me.

What are your favourite types of book covers? What draws your eye to a romance cover?

My favourite contemporary covers are the ones where the lovers embrace and they’re looking deep into each other’s eyes. Since historical romance is my first love, I adore the covers with the long, bright dresses or even the Scottish Laird in his kilt and nothing else. So basically, intensity jumps off covers and pulls me in, but so do bright colours and snappy titles. And yes, I do judge a book by its cover!


29691In the game of love — and TV — you play to win or you lose your heart.

Millionaire Banjo Grahams originally signed up for She’s The One drunk as a skunk and willing to do anything to bed Australia’s most beautiful women, but when he sobers up he realises he could lose much more than his reputation if he goes through with it. Unable to back out of an ironclad contract, he makes a deal with the network boss to rig the show, picking the lucky bachelorette ahead of time and guiding the season to meet his own ends and keep the board happy.

When her father tells Eliza Peterson she isn’t going to produce She’s The One, but appear as a one of the contestants, she is livid. Competing for some guy on reality TV is no way to earn his — and the network’s — respect and show them she is capable of producing shows of her own.

But for all the planning and staging, somehow the show takes on a reality of its own, and the goals of Eliza and Banjo fall away from something neither of them expected — love.