An Interview with Lee Christine

1440Lee Christine was one of Escape’s launch authors with her debut novel, In Safe Hands

We are delighted that her fifth novel, A Dangerous Arrangementhas been nominated for a 2016 Romantic Book of the Year!

 

So we asked Lee a few questions about it.

What is the title of your book?

A Dangerous Arrangement

What did you do when you found out you were nominated?

I received a phone call from an RWA member after dinner. I was sitting down, thank goodness. My initial thought was that something must have gone wrong with my conference registration. I was totally shocked when she told me ‘A Dangerous Arrangement’ was in the final of the R*by in the romantic elements category. I remember saying something like ‘thank you so much for calling, that’s so cool. I can’t believe it’. I remember her laughing at my surprise and congratulating me. After the call ended, I told my husband and messaged my children. I had one of those 4 packs of individual bottles of champagne in the fridge so we cracked a couple of those. That was the best I could do as nothing else was cold. The excitement lasted a couple of days and I still get excited when I think about it now. It’s not every day you final in the R*by, and while I’m sure most authors don’t write novels with the aim of finaling or winning awards, it’s lovely to know there are people out there who enjoyed your work.

How many books have you written?

I’ve written five books in total. My ‘In Safe’ Sydney-set legal series is comprised of three romantic suspense novels with more to come in the future. ‘A Dangerous Arrangement’ which is another romantic suspense also with more novels to come, and a small town Australian rural romance, ‘Shadows of the Heart’, which has a touch of suspense and is part of a thirteen books series written by members of my writing group.

Tell us a little more about ‘A Dangerous Arrangement

A Dangerous Arrangement is mostly set in Italy. It has an Australian hero, a naval architect who builds super yachts for the rich and famous, and an American heroine, a classical violinist living and working in Australia. The two main characters are linked by the heroine’s flatmate, a man who works at my hero’s company headquarters. The inciting incident is a cyber-attack on my hero’s company. The files containing his latest yacht designs are frozen and a ransom is demanded. At the beginning of the book the hero has to find out if Marina is involved in bringing his company to its knees.

What is your favourite scene in the book?

Apart from the reconciliation in the final chapter, Marina’s scene with her father and sister in her home town of Boston. I love exploring sibling relationships in families, from the birth order, which can affect outcomes for children, along with the parent/child relationships. In romance novels, we often read about the disadvantaged sibling, the one who wasn’t favoured and the scars that result from those feelings of inadequacy. Often the character arc is about overcoming and rising above those inadequacies.

In ‘A Dangerous Arrangement’ I wanted to explore what happens when the hero/heroine is the talented one and how that affects their relationships with their less accomplished siblings. Also, how the burden of expectation and of being ‘the special one’ affects them personally? In Marina’s case, she feels guilty that the family’s money was siphoned into expensive lessons to further her talent often at the expense of her siblings’ sporting pursuits which didn’t rate as highly on the ‘Needs’ list as her violin lessons. She also feels the weight of having to succeed because of the sacrifices made by her parents. To fail, or not to make the most of every opportunity, would be a disservice to her parents.

What was the hardest thing about writing the book?

Definitely the nautical research, though I was greatly assisted by a very knowledgeable fellow in that area. The musical knowledge came naturally as I studied saxophone at the Newcastle Conservatorium for fourteen years.

What do you hope readers will get out of your book?

I hope the book leaves them with a feeling of optimism and a belief that no matter how insurmountable the obstacles appear to be, that they can be overcome – provided there’s a willingness on both sides and lots of open and honest communication.

What’s next for you?

I’m currently writing a 90,000-100,000 word mystery/thriller with romantic elements. It begins in Tokyo then moves to the mountains of Vermont. I usually write around 65,000 to 72,000 words but this is an ambitious story and it will require the extra words. After that it’s another Dangerous Arrangement novel and another In Safe novel. I also have a romantic comedy plotted and I’m dying to write that one.

What would you tell people who are looking to read your books for the first time?

The tag on my website says, A potent cocktail of love, danger and high stakes suspense. My books have been described as entertaining reads with lots of twists and turns that keep the reader guessing until the end. They are mostly urban set and have quite a meaty crime/mystery/suspense story that occurs along with the romance.

And finally, what are you planning on wearing to the awards ceremony?

I’m wearing a navy blue vintage style dress with beading on it. It’s quite dark, so I may need to accessorise with silver shoes and blingy earrings.


24250Kicking off a brand new romantic suspense series from Lee Christine is A Dangerous Arrangement: a violinist with a secret, a billionaire with a problem and a race against time set on the beautiful Amalfi Coast.

 

Romantic Book of the Year – Risky Business by Amy Andrews!

Photo courtesy of Ally Blake

Photo courtesy of Ally Blake

Photo courtesy of Amy Andrews

Photo courtesy of Amy Andrews

Photo courtesy of Amy Andrews

Photo courtesy of Amy Andrews

Click through to the Romantic Book of 2015


21489From USA Today best-selling author Amy Andrews comes a new single-title romance about putting pleasure before business, and the risks we all need to take when we find someone worth risking everything for.

Samantha Evans’s life is going to hell. Not only has she rage-quit her beloved, high-powered job, but she is suddenly afflicted by hormones, free time, and an unavoidable, unignorable, undeniably gorgeous irritant in the form of Nick Hawke, her extreme sports star neighbour, who has come home to take over the reins of his grandmother’s second-hand bookshop. Sam needs something to keep her from begging for her old job back until she’s good and sure her boss understands how wrong he was, and taking a low-risk, low-stress job helping Nick at the bookstore might be just the thing.

After all, it’s not like Nick is the right guy to help her with her hormones. He’ll just be fun to look at while she searches for the one.

Nick has six months to get over an injury before Everest and a big, fat contract beckon. That means no sports, no danger and, above all else, no risks. It means playing it safe. And Nick Hawke doesn’t do safe. So he’s going to need something to stave off the boredom while selling books he doesn’t read to people who wouldn’t know a carabineer from a crochet hook. What could be safer than hiring a cranky, unemployed accountant to help run the bookstore? Sam is efficient and methodical and messing up her neat, post-it note world could be a fun way to pass the time….

Action and Adventure are in my bones

by Kendall Talbot

Banner_v02(1)White water rafting, hang gliding, snow skiing, scuba diving are my adrenalin-rush drugs of choice. I write action adventure stories. I love the ‘set your heart racing’ scenes where exciting, danger-fuelled journeys take my characters from one cliff hanger moment to another. And I’m an action adventure movie junkie.

I grew up watching Indiana Jones. I confess to watching it so often I can almost recite the dialogue word for word. “Indiana, we are simply passing through history. This… this is history.” Or how about this one… “It’s not the years, honey. It’s the mileage.” I may have fallen in love with Harrison Ford a couple of times too. How could you not? He’s the epitome of an action adventure hero if you ask me: sexy, suave, flawed, brave and reckless. He can throw me over his shoulder any day.

Indiana Jones

Another favourite is Romancing the Stone. In fact I watched it again the other day. I love a good treasure hunt. I love them so much I’ve written a whole series. Treasured Secrets is due for release in April and it’s a modern day hunt for a 13th century treasure. It was so much fun to write. Romancing the StoneBlurring the lines between fact and fiction offers unlimited creative potential. How about Jurassic Park for blurring the lines between fact and fiction. This is another series I’ve devoured over and over. Actually anything to do with dinosaurs has me hooked. If only I’d been an archeologist. Jurrasic ParkI’m hooked on survival themed action adventure too: Cliffhanger, Hunger Games, Poseidon, Titanic are a few of my favourites. Maybe that’s why I wrote Lost in Kakadu. Crashing my characters into Kakadu National Park offered many opportunities for action and adventure. It was important for me to keep the survival aspect very real. From wild animals, to wild weather and near starvation, every day my characters had a new aspect of living hell to get through. Fate brought them together but they needed more than luck to escape Kakadu alive.

So I say, bring on the big action adventure block buster movies any day. Poseidon

What are your favourite action adventure movies? And do you watch them over and over like me?


Lost In Kakadu with Ruby award smallWinner of the 2014 Romance Writers of Australia RUBY (Romantic Book of the Year) Award.

An action adventure novel set in the Australian jungle where two unlikely people prove just how attractive opposites can be…

It’s pretentious socialite Abigail Mulholland’s worst nightmare when her plane crashes into an ancient Australian wilderness. Things go from bad to downright hellish when rescuers never come. As she battles to survive in an environment that’s as brutal as it is beautiful, Abigail finds herself also fighting her unlikely attraction to Mackenzie — another survivor, and a much younger man.

Mackenzie Steel is devastated by his partner’s death in the crash, the only person with whom he shared his painful past. Now, as he confronts his own demons, he finds he has a new battle on his hands: his growing feelings for Abigail, a woman who’s as frustratingly naïve as she is funny.

Fate brought them together, but they’ll need more than luck to escape Kakadu alive. Could the letters of a dead man hold the key to their survival?

To celebrate Action & Adventure Romance, we’re pleased to offer Lost in Kakadu, the award-winning novel FREE for this week only. Get in now!

The Power of a List – Kendall Talbot

Write a Book. That’s what I wrote on my bucket list. I never imagined how much those three words would change my life. My initial motivation was simple. Unlike the fabulous Cherry Adair, numbers are my friend. English was not. So I thought the best way to improve my spelling, grammar, and vocabulary would be to write a story.

Every birthday and Christmas, my husband shakes out my bucket list for inspiration. One year he helped me tick off ‘Learn a musical instrument’. He gave me a beautiful guitar and paid for lessons. But to be honest I’m really crap at it.

KendallguitarThe following year, he scoured my list again and at number 69 – I kid you not – is ‘Write a Book’. So hubby purchased the Year of the Novel Course at the Queensland Writers Centre. During this course, I wrote Lost In Kakadu and it literally changed my life.

But writing it was the easy part. Editing that shitty manuscript took eight years of hard slog. I followed up that first course with several more. Then I hired an editor who also offered mentoring and boy did she have her work cut out for her. I learned about POVs and clichés, first person and third person perspectives. I learned syntax, synonyms, sentence structure, and just about everything else in between. I wrote short stories, drafted two more manuscripts and learned the joys of character arcs. I worked hard, did my homework, read the prescribed reading, experimented, and practised. Then practised some more.

At the Romance Writers Conference, James Scott Bell said that you CAN learn to write – I know exactly what he means. My poor editor nearly gave up on me many times. But now, with my beautiful R*BY trophy glistening with inner glow on my kitchen windowsill she admits the tears were all worth it.

flowers

Without my bucket list, I may never have discovered my passion for writing.

By the way, I had also written ‘Publish My Book’ and ‘Win The RuBY Award’ on my bucket list. But never in my wildest dreams did I believe it would happen with my debut novel.


18610Winner of the 2014 Romance Writers of Australia RUBY (Romantic Book of the Year) Award for Stories with Romantic Elements!

An action adventure novel set in the Australian jungle where two unlikely people prove just how attractive opposites can be…

It’s pretentious socialite Abigail Mulholland’s worst nightmare when her plane crashes into an ancient Australian wilderness. Things go from bad to downright hellish when rescuers never come. As she battles to survive in an environment that’s as brutal as it is beautiful, Abigail finds herself also fighting her unlikely attraction to Mackenzie — another survivor, and a much younger man.

Mackenzie Steel is devastated by his partner’s death in the crash, the only person with whom he shared his painful past. Now, as he confronts his own demons, he finds he has a new battle on his hands: his growing feelings for Abigail, a woman who’s as frustratingly naïve as she is funny.

Fate brought them together, but they’ll need more than luck to escape Kakadu alive. Could the letters of a dead man hold the key to their survival?

What a Weekend!

Freshly back from the Romance Writers of Australia conference, Romance Rocks, this past weekend in Sydney, with our heads still spinning and enormous grins on our faces.

Here are the highlights:

  • Kicking off the conference with a Literacy High Tea, where librarian Vassiliki Veros charmed the pants off everyone in the room with her romance journey, her study of librarian-heroes and heroines, and the work she’s doing now for her PhD.

    Nobody knew this book existed, and now everyone is desperate to read it...

    Nobody knew this book existed, and now everyone is desperate to read it…

  • The Harlequin Author dinner where we celebrated with our Harlequin family, including lovely international guests Flo Nicholl and Malle Vallik
  • We also celebrated with our lovely (shirtless) guests for the evening, Marco and Jeremy.

    Marco, R*BY nominee Juanita Kees and I, you know, hanging out, talking

    Marco, R*BY nominee Juanita Kees and Managing Editor Kate Cuthbert, you know, hanging out, talking

  • Escape has had an amazing year, so it was fantastic to be in one room together, sharing our highs, and supporting each other.
  • The Leather and Lace opening cocktail party was a chance to catch up with people we haven’t seen for awhile (or have never actually seen in person!) While the lighting was decidedly purple (very strange), the food was great, the costumes inspired (hello Ros Baxter!), and the good times had by all.

    Managing Editor Kate engaged with Engaging the Enemy author Susanne Bellamy!

    Managing Editor Kate engaged with Engaging the Enemy author Susanne Bellamy!

  • Cherry Adair was an absolute delight and joy as an international guest. She was present, hilarious, generous with her time and her expertise, so very personable, and swore like a sailor when she realised we weren’t going to get offended. What a treat it was to spend time with her and listen to her speak.
  • The Saturday workshops were also really well-run, and we have to offer congrats to everyone who stepped up to share their expertise and teach what they know to others. This kind of resource sharing is a hallmark of RWA and one of the reasons that the conference and organisation is so successful, so should never be downplayed.
  • The day sessions also allowed for more chatting with less ambient noise, so a greater possibility of having a conversation with someone, rather than just a yelled greeting.
  • The Australian Romance Readers Association held their annual book-signing event on Saturday. This in an incredible (and incredibly well-organised!) organisation, and they do amazing things for the romance community in Australia. They also have a new website: www.ireadromance.com.au,so check them out if you are interested in talking about romance (yes), meeting other romance readers (yes), and attending fab reader-focused conventions (yes!).
    Alison Stuart and Kate Cuthbert at the ARRA book signing with Alison's first book with Escape - Lord Somerton's Heir

    Alison Stuart and Kate Cuthbert at the ARRA book signing with Alison’s first book with Escape – Lord Somerton’s Heir

    the fabulous Amy Andrews and gorgeous Sandra Antonelli at the ARRA book signing

    the fabulous Amy Andrews and gorgeous Sandra Antonelli at the ARRA book signing

  • Saturday night – WHAT A NIGHT. First we have to offer the biggest, hugest, most enormous congrats to our three Escape nominees: Julie Mac, Juanita Kees, and Kendall Talbot, and also to all the other nominees, including Amy Andrews, who was nominated for a book with another publisher.
  • Emma Darcy had us all in laughter and tears as she accepted her induction into the Hall of Fame. No one, and I mean no one, will ever forget her Five Fs.
  • We also have to congratulate Kat Mayo on her Romance in the Media Award (ROMA) for her article on ABC’s The Drum: Dear Columnists, Romance Fiction is not your bitch. We’re pretty much sure she’s the only person to ever have the word ‘bitch’ etched into a glass award.

    Seriously, the pink lighting was very, very odd

    Seriously, the pink lighting was very, very odd

  • Then this happened:
    Kendall Talbot wins the R*BY for Best Novel with Romantic Elements

    Kendall Talbot wins the R*BY for Best Novel with Romantic Elements

    OMG!

    OMG!

  • We are so so so so beyond thrilled to congratulate Kendall on her win – the first win for her book after countless award nominations, and the first win for Escape Publishing.
  • I’d like to show you photos of what the rest of the night looked like, but what happens at the Escape After Party (and the after-after party), stays at the Escape After Party.
  • Except these photos. These totally get distribution:

    Frickin' A, man!

    Frickin’ A, man!

  • Sunday was for recovering, and more learning from generous and talented presenters. Malle Vallik’s presentation on building an author brand was very well received by those brave enough (and smart enough) to be up at 8:30am.
  • The conference for next year has been announced, with very exciting new partnerships, and a beautiful venue in Melbourne. International guests are a bit hush-hush, though the Friday workshop instructors have been lined up.
  • Finally, the conference close with Anne Gracie’s now legendary Stand-Ups, which always leaves attendees feeling engaged, excited, and downright warm & fuzzy.
  • We cannot give enough props to Shannon Curtis and her crack team of conference organisers for a well-organised, well-run, fantastic conference, and to all the attendees who made it an amazing experience all around. We’ll see you all again next year!

“This story isn’t just a survival story…” Tea Cooper interviews Kendall Talbot

Escape Artists are rocking the R*BY nominations.  The finalists in the Romantic Elements category are: Under The Hood by Juanita Kees and Lost In Kakadu by Kendall Talbot,  and in the Short Sweet category A Father At Last by Julie Mac. I caught up with Kendall Talbot to find about the Who, When, Where and Why of Lost in Kakadu – which, in case you haven’t read it yet, is a fantastic Aussie suspense.

Tea Cooper

In your wildest dreams WHO would play your characters when it’s made into a movie?

My story is Australian, so I’d love Australian actors to play my characters. Abigail, my leading lady has an incredible character arc. She begins as a rich pretentious bitch who is completely useless in the harsh wilderness she’s literally crashed into. But not only does she learn to live there she develops into a strong passionate resourceful woman who can wield an axe and eat all manner of things in order to survive. She discovers who she is and develops a wicked sense of humour along the way. This simply has to be the gorgeous, talented, Cate Blanchett.

cate

My hero, Mackenzie, is sexy, dark haired, with eyes the colour of molten honey and has an Adonis body. Even before the crash his life was a roller coaster of tragedy and triumph. But he’s a man who truly believes in love and isn’t afraid to show it. Eric Bana is the hunky man for this role.

Eric

Tell me WHEN you came up with the idea for your R*BY nominated book.

I love hiking in our great Australian bush. There’s nothing like the solitude, the earthy smells, the melodious birds and our abundance of beautiful and sometimes not so beautiful flora and fauna. I wrote this story during the Year of the Novel course at the Qld Writer Centre. But it wasn’t until I was hiking for 4 days in New Zealand’s Milford Track that the story truly came alive. During the hike we carried our own food, water, clothes, bedding etc. We walked in the sun and the rain. We tramped through crystal clear streams and climbed a mountain so high I was on top of the world.

 

kakadu

During these 4 days I imagined being lost in the wild without any luxuries. Abigail is a woman who was so horrified about being in the bush, her heart would race just at the thought of it. But when the sun went down and complete blackness consumed her and the bugs came out, just the sound of rustling in the bushes would send her over the edge. Then to give her even more misery, I trapped her with a complete stranger, a man she would never even associate with back at home. Abigail hits breaking point, and then, only then does she truly discover who she really is.

 

Tell my WHERE your story is set.

The title that says it all: Lost in Kakadu. My characters really do get lost in Australia’s fabulous heritage listed Kakadu National Park. It’s 20 000 kilometers of virgin Australian bush and it offers some of the most amazing scenery including cascading waterfalls, ancient caves complete with Aboriginal paintings, great stone plateaus, crocodile infested wetlands and even a deserted mining town. Perfect. Simply perfect for a survival story.

 

Tell my WHY you think your story is a R*BY finalist?

My life motto is: I’m grateful that I’m mortal, it motivates me. This story isn’t just a survival story, it’s about living every day as if it were your last. I think Australian readers love my action adventure style of writing, my hidden messages about accepting who we are, and if they love my characters as much as I do, then they too truly believe in love. Sometimes crashing down to earth is exactly what we need. I personally want to thank each and every one of my readers for believing in my story as much as I do.

You can find more about Kendall Talbot and Lost In Kakadu at http://www.kendalltalbot.com.au

Tea Cooper writes timeless romance from the ocean to the outback. http://www.teacooperauthor.com. LILY’S LEAP is now available for pre-order on amazonitunes & kobo and for reviewers on NetGalley. Release date July 1st, 2014 Escape Publishing

“I bled oil from my veins to write this story” Lily Malone interviews Juanita Kees

Juanita Kees is part of my beta reading team of three, with me (Lily Malone) and Jennie Jones. We have a heck of a lot of fun, as well as very serious discussions about how to describe men’s abs with a fresh twist. Very serious. We also discuss wine. And usually somewhere in our discussions is the requirement for a visit to lovely Margaret River for a far more in-depth discussion about men’s abs, writing, and wine…

One day this spring I think we will get our Margaret River visit together. Until then, I will have to get my share of men’s abs from Juanita’s wonderful new cover to Under Cover Of Dark (due out on August 1) which is the story in which hunky Detective Mark from Juanita’s previous books in the Tag Raiders’ series, gets to strut his stuff. (I’ve beta read Detective Mark and I assure you he is very good at strutting.)

I was so very proud when Juanita’s book Under The Hood made the finals of the Romance Writers of Australia Romantic Book of the Year Award (R*BY).  Good luck, ladies!

Juanita, in your wildest dreams, WHO would play your characters when it’s made into a movie?

Mmmm…I’d have to go with my all-time hero, Hugh Jackman in the role of Scott Devin. Nicole Kidman would make a good TJ, I think, and those two have already had sparks flying in Australia.

Hugh_Nicole

Tell me WHEN you came up with the idea for your R*BY nominated book.

I’m a Holden fanatic—there was always going to be a story featuring an FJ Holden. My dream of restoring one happened around the same time as I was raising a teenager about to get his driver’s license and up to all sorts of mischief a mother doesn’t want to have to think about.

Tell me WHERE your story is set.

Australian businessman and politician JJ Simons founded the Young Australia League and established a holiday camp deep in the shaded Roleystone valley in 1929. Simons called his camp Araluen, an Eastern States Aboriginal word meaning ‘singing waters,’ ‘running waters’, or ‘place of lilies’. Together, League members and volunteers built cottages, designed by leading Perth architect WG Bennett, using local timber and stone. They created pathways, roads, steps and terraces and filled the dream garden with native and imported plants to create a garden heaven.

I chose a similar setting for TJ & Scott’s story, because of its history and original purpose. How wonderful would it be if young people could return to this peaceful place while they search for themselves through the trials of growing up?

Tell me WHY you think your story is a R*BY finalist?

Unfortunately, my story is fiction and TJ is no relation to JJ Simons, but his dream and my love for his creation provided the perfect background for this story of an extraordinary woman who has her own dream, and a commitment to young offender rehabilitation that knows no boundaries.

Why might I win? I have poured my heart and soul into this story, bled oil from my veins to write it, shed tears with my characters, and celebrated their happiness. I’m already a winner to be in such amazing company in this competition. The real winners would be the cast of Under the Hood. I dedicate this award nomination to every mother out there who has needed a TJ and Scott in her teenager’s life.

“I wrote it from the heart” – Jennie Jones interviews Julie Mac

Three fabulous Escape Authors are finalists in the prestigious Romance Writers of Australia Romantic Book of the Year Award (R*BY): In the Romantic Elements category: Lost in Kakadu, by Kendall Talbot and Under the Hood by Juanita Kees, and Julie Mac in the Short, Sweet category with A Father at Last.

I had already interviewed fellow Escape authors and superstars Juanita and Kendall on my JennieJRomance Blog, just before the R*BY finalists were announced and felt pretty superstar-ish myself at having done so. Therefore, I decided to track down superstar Julie Mac and ask her a few questions about A Father at Last because otherwise, I’d kinda feel left out!

This is what I discovered: Julie had a career in journalism and PR but these days she relishes the freedom of writing fiction. She lives north of Auckland, New Zealand (I lived in Auckland for 18 months but I didn’t meet Julie Mac, more’s the pity). But more importantly, guess what? A Father at Last is Julie’s debut novel!

How brilliant is that? (Now I really wish I’d met her in Auckland so that I could say ‘I knew her when’.)

Julie – let’s get straight in because I love the cover and we need more information on how A Father at Last came to life, to print, and to the finals of the coveted R*BY Awards.

In your wildest dreams, who would play your characters when it’s made into a movie?

When I sat down to write A Father at Last, about five years ago, I had a picture in mind of my hero, Ben. He had black hair, caramel coloured eyes, dark olive skin and a shadowing of black beard. He looked like Liam Connor on Coronation Street — a young Irishman with a devilish glint in his eyes and a hidden streak of darkness. Liam was played by actor Rob James-Collier, who more lately had a role in Downton Abbey. So … in a perfect world, Rob would be my Ben. I’m sure he could manage a Kiwi accent. And for Kelly, with her golden-red hair? I’d go for lovely Aussie, Isla Fisher.

Tell me when you came up with the idea for your R*BY nominated book.

I remember clearly the moment of inspiration when I knew I had to write a story about Kelly Atkinson: I saw an image — on TV or in the newspaper, I can’t remember — but the image is still imprinted on my brain. A woman was walking into a prison to visit her husband, and a little girl held her hand. What, I wondered, would it be like for a little girl to have her much-loved daddy locked up in prison? How would it change her way of thinking as an adult? And so A Father at Last was born.

Tell me where your story is set.

New Zealand: Auckland’s pretty beaches, a romantic country garden (with a honeymoon suite), a windswept cemetery — and the Auckland District Court. It’s at the latter that young public defence lawyer Kelly and bad-boy Ben Carter’s lives collide again after a gap of nearly seven years. The last time they met, they shared a night of passion which left Kelly with a broken heart, a myriad of memories and, a beautiful legacy that will last a lifetime.

 

Tell my why you think your story is a R*BY finalist?(Sorry to throw such a difficult question your way, but I bet readers will want to know how you feel about your story getting such a wonderful response.)

I wish I knew. Then I’d do it again next year! Obviously the readers liked it, and to tell you the truth, I liked that story too. Even having read it countless times in the writing/editing process, some passages still manage to bring a tear to my eye. Some make me laugh. So I guess you could say I wrote it from the heart, and I’m humbled to think it touched other hearts too.

Julie, the cover touches me, the storyline touches me, and your answers to these questions touch me. So go ahead and write from your heart because it’s working! And will you please come on my blog when your second book is released so that I can continue to bask in your glory?

Jennie

Jennie Jones Romance

R*BY Finalist Julie Mac

She stared at the email in-box on her computer screen, her heart rate cranking up several notches. Then a smile formed on her lips and spread wide — so wide, the man sitting at the desk on the other side of the room was alarmed when he asked her a simple question about work, and all she could do was turn and smile. ‘What?’ he prompted. But for once, words refused to gush forth.

Yep, that was me, on Monday, when the email arrived to say A Father at Last, my first book, was a finalist in Romance Writers of Australia’s Ruby Awards.

In their blogs, Escape’s other two Ruby finalists, Juanita and Kendall, both described being speechless with excitement when they received their good news, and I understand completely what they’re talking about. Pleasure, joy — the thrill of success —robbed me of words.

So I turned to my computer and forwarded the email — with a new subject line ‘Look!!’ — to the man at the desk two metres away, and to our two adult kids. Mr Mac quickly realised what the crazy grin was all about, and his grin was just about as wide. And within 60 seconds, the kids had responded, breaking all records for email replies to Mum. They were happy too.

Just as they were when Escape Publishing said “yes” and my very first book was published last year. All of them, my husband, my son and my daughter, had supported and encouraged me over the years. “I want to be a romance writer,” I’d say, and they’d say, “Just get on and do it.”

Of course, there were submissions and rejections along the way. But rejections help us learn, and luckily A Father at Last struck a chord with Escape Publishing.

And thankfully the Ruby reader-judges liked it too, and to them, and the contest organisers, I’m very grateful. It’s always heart-warming and somewhat humbling when other people enjoy our stories.

It’s also humbling and exciting (sorry to use that word again, but it’s the best one for the job), to see my name up there with writers I’ve admired for years. So thank you, Romance Writers of Australia. And thank you, Escape.

R*BY Finalist Kendall Talbot

The RUBY is the only award of its kind in Australia, Romance Writers Australia’s premier award. Winning the Romantic Book of the Year (The RUBY) has been on my bucket list for years. Today I came one step closer. Lost in Kakadu is one of the four finalists in the Romantic Elements category.

I’m crying with excitement and to say I’m speechless is an understatement.

I’m so glad I persisted through all my manuscript rejections. I’m so proud that I ignored the ‘It’s too controversial’ comments. Because if I didn’t, my debut novel would never have reached publication. Escape, my publisher, calls my book meaty, challenging, and risky. Yep, I agree.

Perhaps Lost In Kakadu is exactly what Australian readers want right now. With a survival theme, fabulous Australian setting, mystery, secrets, grit, grief, adventure, and, of course, a happy ending, what more could a reader want?

This isn’t just a wild ride with unconventional characters. I hope it also makes my readers think about how we need to live our lives to the fullest, to be true to ourselves, and accept who we are. Sometimes crashing down to earth is exactly what people need.

If you are truly ready to get lost in a book, maybe you should check out Lost In Kakadu.

Lost in Kakadu was eight years in the making and many many people have touched it in one way or another. It would never be a finalist in such a prestigious award without each and every one of you. This award nomination is for all of us.

Thank you Romance Writers Australia for this wonderful opportunity, thank you Australian readers for believing in my story, and thank you Escape Publishing for believing in me. Congratulations also, to all the very talented authors who are RUBY finalists too.