Friday Five: Marilyn Forsyth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


31095 (3)A charming adventurer. A pragmatic paleontologist. A hundred-million-year-old treasure buried in the Australian outback.

The last person Gemma Stephens expects to meet in the tiny, remote, opal-mining town of Rainbow Cliffs is Jamie Coltrane, her university boyfriend who chose his past over their potential future. Now, seven years later, he is the only obstacle between her and the goal she has been pursuing tirelessly since he left. The goal that means everything for her future and that of her six-year-old son, the son Jamie doesn’t know is his.

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

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

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Feed Your Reader: Opal Miner v Paleontologist

31095 (1)

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

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

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

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

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Marilyn Forsyth Uncovered

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And Jamie’s as a hero?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are your favourite books? Romance or otherwise?

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

Can you give any advice to aspiring authors out there?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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