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!

 

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Christmas Titles

If you love them, we’ve got them!

Contemporary Christmas!

We can recommend all of Rhian Cahill’s holiday titles, but her latest is super fun.

25629

For a man called Chris Kringle, Christmas is the most magical time of the year.  But this year, there’s something about a certain elf that’s grabbed his attention in the best of ways. 


Christmas Magic!

Like your Christmas with a bit of sparkle? Try this funny, sweet story about a ghost, 12 Daves, and true love…

22839

A beautiful, uplifting holiday story from bestselling author Juliet Madison about a lonely writer, her grandmother’s ghost, a road trip, and twelve different Daves.


Country Christmas!

The small town of Swallow’s Fall will make you feel the Christmas spirit, even if they have to force it upon you…

22819

From the author of the internationally bestselling The House on Burra Burra Lane comes a Christmas story — country style.


Heart-warming Christmas

Not everyone gets to spend Christmas with their loved ones, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be special…

22581

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


Sweet Christmas

Because what’s Christmas without a special treat?

19723

It’s going to take more than a few pieces of chocolate to fill this Scrooge’s heart with Christmas cheer. Luckily Candice Cane has a whole shop full…


Christmas that’s out of this world

For SFF fans – we haven’t forgotten you!

19729

What if your only chance at survival was to seduce the man who broke your heart?

 

 

 

Feed Your Reader! December 8 Releases

25633 (1)

The Scottish Highlands meet The Bachelorette in this new historical romance from Allison Butler…


25629

For a man called Chris Kringle, Christmas is the most magical time of the year.  But this year, there’s something about a certain elf that’s grabbed his attention in the best of ways. 


25631

She would trust him with her life. But can either of them trust their hearts?


25632

Bremy St James is back in a brand new adventure, mixing chaos, humour, sex, and superheroes in this fresh, funny, flirty series. It’s the superhero romance you didn’t know you needed…


25630

He knew everything he wanted…until she showed him everything he never knew he needed


25634

A story about starting fresh, letting go, and risking it all for love…

December Recipe – Butterscotch Brownies

by Fiona Greene

This is my butterscotch brownies recipe. It’s an old hosptial recipe dating back to about 1995 and it’s the slice everyone wants me to bring if I bake at work.

brownie

Melt 60g butter with 1 cup of brown sugar till smooth. Add a generous teaspoon of vanilla essence and cool, then add 1 pre-scrambled egg and a pinch of salt (optional). Stir in 1/2 cup self-raising flour and 3/4 cup coconut. Spread into a slice tin, smooth top and bake at 180 degrees C for 20-25 mins. Cut when cool.


 

22581

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

Escape Turns Three Today!

We got cake!

we got you cake!

We also have nostalgia. If you’re looking for something to read this weekend, may we suggest the five titles that kicked off this whole journey – perfect reads for every reader.

8215

A romance about changing the game, finding the truth, and fancy footwork.

(find more titles from Ainslie Paton here, including her new release Incapable)


8212

A dark, violent, and devastatingly sensual erotic fantasy about the binding force of love.

(Check out Keziah Hill’s sizzling addition to our Secret Confessions: Sydney Housewives series here)


8213

She thinks she needs him, but she doesn’t know the secrets he keeps…

(Get more from Lee Christine here, including the whole Grace & Poole series and the kick-off to her new series, Dangerous Arrangements)


8211

A fresh and exciting debut novel introducing the Chronicles from the Applecross.

(check out more from Rebekah Turner here, including the two follow-up books in the sexy, dangerous, Applecross trilogy)


8214

This Christmas, Santa is granting wishes these two friends never knew they had.

(Check out more sweet, sexy holiday romance from Rhian Cahill here, just in time for December!)

Putting Heart Into Romance Writing

by Anna Clifton and reblogged with permission from Book Muster Down Under

I’m reading a crime novel at the moment. It’s well written, it’s racy and I’m enjoying it. But am I ‘feeling’ it? Not one bit.
I can’t relate to the main protagonist as though he’s a living, breathing life force. I don’t care if he’s happy or sad from one page to the next. But does this ‘not caring’ thing matter in the crime genre? Probably not. I’m enjoying the mystery and the intrigue. Would it matter if this protagonist was starring in a romance novel? Absolutely it would.
It’s not by accident that readers read romance novels. They’ve got their noses in those pages for a reason. They’re looking for that special something that they know the romance genre will offer them. But what is that magic ingredient that’s won the hearts of around twenty-nine million readers worldwide?
In a recent post in The New Yorker Joshua Rothman wrote, ‘We connect with books in an intellectual way, but the most valuable relationships we have with them are emotional’*. For me as a reader, that’s where romance fiction packs that emotional punch. I care about the characters I meet there. In fact, give me an emotional love story that has touch points for my heart and it will stay with me forever. I’m guessing that most romance readers feel just as I do.
So. Note-to-self: when writing my next romance novel, inject lots of emotion.
Easy. Right?
Well, not exactly.
It sounds easy. Unfortunately, it’s not easy at all. In fact, it’s damn hard – one of the hardest things a romance novelist faces. But why is it so hard to get readers to care about your characters and feel what’s happening on the page? And why is it so important that they do?
As I prepared this post I tried to remember a scene in a book I’d read where I’d sweated and fretted over a character and the predicament they’d found themselves in. One scene in particular kept flooding back into my mind. And one line in particular:
‘In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.’
For those of you who’ve read Pride and Prejudice you might recognize Mr Darcy’s explosively unexpected declaration of love to Lizzy Bennet. Being both ‘handsome’ and ‘rich’ you might also think that in the rough and tumble of the eighteenth century marriage game Lizzy would have jumped at the proposal of marriage that follows? Alas, no. Her response to Mr Darcy’s proposal is scathing given that she and her entire village decided he was ‘proud and disagreeable’ the moment he arrived at the Meryton ball.
                                ** See below for copyright licensing information and
                                              attribution
So how do readers feel about the proud and disagreeable Darcy in this proposal scene? I know how I felt but do other readers share Lizzy’s intense dislike of him? Do they believe that he deserves to be rejected as brutally as she rejects him?
You might think so, given that Austen has handed out painfully few cues about Darcy’s motives towards Lizzy up to this point. Yet strangely, I’m pretty sure most readers are unwilling to hate-on Darcy with the same enthusiasm as Lizzy does.
Jane Austen had a fierce faith in her readers’ emotional intelligence. She had faith that by the time they reached the proposal scene – with the help of just a smattering of cues – readers would already be feeling Darcy’s powerful attachment to Lizzy. She had faith that they were feeling that beyond the village gossip Darcy might be far from all-bad. She even had faith that they were feeling that he and Lizzy might actually be made for each other.
The genius of Austen is that she never ‘tells’ her readers what they should think or feel. What she does is give her readers the freedom to take ownership of the relationships they’re forming with her characters. Because of the fledgling bonds readers have already begun to build with Darcy – all on their own – this proposal scene is harrowing, even if we’re not yet quite sure why.
The temptation for romance writers to regularly ‘newsflash’ to readers how they should feel about their characters is powerfully compelling. Why? Because we’re utterly petrified that readers and reviewers will hate our characters if we don’t.
The problem with newsflashing is that readers of romance fiction want to experience the thrill of life-like relationships within the relaxation of their reading world. And in real life, relationships are not born out of newsflash moments, they’re forged within step-by-step journeys of discovery, connection, understanding and growth. To feel what’s going on a reader must experience this same slow thrill around a character’s journey too, just as I experienced Darcy’s. And although mapping out a cracking itinerary for the journey is essential, it’s not a writer’s job to frog-march readers to their ultimate destinations.
So, once a writer has mustered up the courage to let their readers run free within the world of their characters, is that it? Will that be enough to entangle their characters with the hearts and minds of their readers in a way that will endure beyond the last pages of the story?
Once again I’m reminded of another creative genius. Not an eighteenth century English novelist but a cultural icon of the twentieth century American film industry.
Walt Disney was a trailblazer. No doubt about it. He discovered that if human qualities and everyday predicaments were kept front and centre of his movies then his creative choices were limitless. Not only could he animate his films, his main characters could be talking animals!
The film, Bambi, is a great example. Can anyone relate to being an animated baby deer?
Not likely. Does it matter? Clearly not. I cried buckets when Bambi’s mother was shot and he was left to fend for himself in the wilds of the forest. But I wasn’t crying about a deer. I was crying about the gift of motherhood and the grief and vulnerability of a child who had lost that gift forever.
Romance fiction is no different to cinema. No matter who or what the main characters are, whether eighteenth century aristocrats or modern day captains of industry, their predicaments and motives must actually touch a reader’s life in some way. If they don’t, the reader won’t feel what’s happening to the characters. Whether it’s grief, joy, loneliness, jubilation, or any of the other emotional roller coasters we ride, readers must feel these being played out in a gripping and inspirational way on the pages before them.
Not every book will touch a reader’s life. No writer has discovered a one-size-fits-all recipe for that yet. But for writers who care about forging a dynamic and emotional relationship between their readers and their characters, committing to a unique journey of discovery within their story and then putting their heart and soul into its resolution is vital.
After the release of my third book, New Year’s Promise, a reader wrote to let me know how much she’d enjoyed and appreciated Justin and Ellie’s story. But what she also said was that she’d cried her way through the scene when Justin’s brother, Sam, makes his final goodbye to Ellie. The reason it had moved her, she said, was because she’d experienced something similar to that despair-hope moment that Ellie experiences on that snowy Paris street.
Did all of my readers relate to this scene in that way? I know they didn’t. The reason I know is because I was never going to reach every reader with Ellie and Justin’s story. But what I did want to do was reach my readers, with a story that was emotional and meaningful for them as individuals, as though each one of them was the only reader I had written it for.
So what is the magic ingredient within the romance genre that’s won the hearts of around twenty-nine million readers worldwide?
I’d be willing to put money on the fact that it’s the exhilarating and emotional journeys it offers its readers. But what the genre also offers, like no other, is a chance for readers to ride-up-front on those emotional journeys. They may not be in the driver’s seat, but they’re indisputably a vital and dynamic part of the journey as they enjoy the wind in their hair, the company of exciting if challenging new friends in the backseat, and the building anticipation of the destination that awaits them all.
(*Joshua Rothman (February 2, 2015) ‘The History of “Loving” to Read’. The New Yorker. http://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/history-loving-read
**’Pride and Prejudice’ by Apostolos Letov available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/21596348@N05/2093445334 under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0. See https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/legalcode)

22580They’ve been colleagues, allies and best friends forever, but he wants more — and he’s not above using the magic of the Christmas season to get it.

When Business Development Executive Ellie Halligan is offered the job of a lifetime in Paris, it seems her chance to live a fairytale adventure has finally arrived. Her only hurdle is convincing legal eagle Justin Murphy — her boss and friend since childhood — to wave his boss’s wand and waive her four-week resignation period so that she can start her adventure by Christmas.

But Justin proves to be a demanding fairy godmother. He’ll let her go early, but not unless she spends time with him over the festive season up until New Year.

Ellie doesn’t know what to do. Is Justin finally looking at her romantically after all these years, or are far more threatening dynamics at play? Justin has a secret, and he seems to want to pull her back into a past she’d rather forget. But delving into that old pain might be the only way to move forward — and for Justin to finally be free.

Will doing this for Justin become Ellie’s final gift of love as she loses him forever?

Lovely Reads for a Love-ly Holiday

Looking for a little art-imitates-life action this weekend? We have two Valentine’s day short reads that are sure to put you in the mood for love! Take an hour to love yourself this weekend, and enjoy some happy-ever-after.


8882She’s done with the dating scene. He wants a lifetime of Valentine’s Dates.

Brent had his chance to be Valentine’s date and he blew it. But loving his best friend’s little sister from afar isn’t working. When she calls him in tears Brent’s only choice is to come to her rescue. And now that he’s got her safe in his arms he’s going to make sure she stays there.

It doesn’t matter how much Vee tries to convince herself her feelings for Brent were destroyed years ago. He is still the first person she calls when she needs help. Breaking down in his arms wasn’t part of the plan. Neither was kissing him.

Forced to face their past, Brent and Vee must forgive each other – and themselves – if there’s any hope for the love still burning between them.


19914A beautiful love letter to the most troublesome of holidays…

Soft-hearted Reese Ahearn is single for Valentine’s Day. Again. But that’s not going to stop her from spreading the holiday’s sentiment on the streets of Melbourne with short, sweet, anonymous love letters, left for strangers to find.

The last thing she expects, however, is a reply…

‘Tis the Season – For a Cahill Christmas

christmas-wonderlandYou better watch out, you better not cry – Rhian Cahill is back with another naughty-but-nice Christmas story (make sure you check out her other spirited holiday stories here!).

1. Give us a Twitter-length description of your Christmas title, A Touch of Frost.

This year Jack Frost isn’t biting fingers. He’s melting hearts. #ATouchOfFrost

2. Why did you set your story at Christmas?

Because my editor told me to. 🙂

3. What is your favourite thing about Christmas time?

The food. Family time. The lights. Yes, I LOVE all the lights. The sparkly trees and houses all over our neighbourhood.

4. What do you hope Santa will leave you under the tree this year?

A clean house. More words. A million dollars. Oh, you want realistic wishes? Book money!

5. Finally, are your characters naughty or nice?

They’re nicely naughty. 😉


 

22837International bestselling author Rhian Cahill kicks off a steamy new holiday series about a very Christmassy company and the three directors who need more than a little mistletoe.

Jack had a great reason to be over Christmas: it’s not seasonal blues, it’s his family business, and there’s only so much tinsel you can have in your life without feeling bah humbug about it.

But this year is different. He’s home after a long absence, with fences to mend, bridges to build and a commitment to change he intends to keep.

Elle loves Christmas, and she is not about to let an arrogant Scrooge like Jack Frost ruin it for her. He might have her libido flashing like fairy lights, but she’s been burned by a guy on the rebound before and she doesn’t need a Boxing Day-bargain boyfriend.

But there’s more than a little magic in mistletoe, and it may just see Elle and Jack ringing in a very happy new year.

‘Tis the Season – for a bit of magic

magic-christmasThe weather outside might be frightful, but I think you’ll find Juliet Madison quite delightful!

1. Give us a Twitter-length description of your Christmas title, 12 DAVES OF CHRISTMAS.

12 Daves over 12 days – some sweet, some quirky, some downright dangerous. Will Abby find her grandma’s long lost love before Christmas?

2.       Why did you set your story at Christmas?

I’ve always wanted to write a Christmas story, and when the idea came to me to change 12 Days of Christmas to 12 Daves, I knew I had to write it.

3.       What is your favourite thing about Christmas time?

The nostalgia, connecting with loved ones, childhood memories, and the magic of believing in something beyond the everyday. Also – food.

4.       What do you hope Santa will leave you under the tree this year?

Henry Cavill.

henry-cavill-hd-wallpapersFailing that, a certain Christmas story to become a bestseller. 😉

5.       Finally, are your characters naughty or nice? 

Mostly nice, but Grandma Charlotte’s ghost is a little naughty. So are some of The Daves.


22839A beautiful, uplifting holiday story from bestselling author Juliet Madison about a lonely writer, her grandmother’s ghost, a road trip, and twelve different Daves.

Abby Solomon may write happy-ever-afters for a living, but doesn’t believe she’ll have her own. But then a surprise visit from her grandmother’s ghost sets her off on a journey she’ll never forget.

Grandma Charlotte wants to find her first love, Dave, who she mistakenly thought had died in World War II. A quick trawl through the Yellow Pages yields a list of twelve possibilities, and Abby and Charlotte set off on a Christmas road trip — twelve Daves over twelve days along the sun-drenched east coast of Australia.

With just over a week to make the meeting happen, Abby has to meet a dozen Daves — some sweet, some quirky, some downright dangerous — while trying to honour her book deadline and enduring the awkward challenges of having a ghost as a travelling companion.

But when she comes across a young doctor who looks like the hero in one of her novels, Abby has the chance to discover that true love transcends time and space, and that happy endings aren’t only to be found between the pages of a book.