Author: Nicole Murphy/Elizabeth Dunk
First published with Escape:
As Elizabeth Dunk – 2013 (Arranged to Love)
As Nicole Murphy – 2014 (Loving the Prince)
Favourite romance trope: Forced proximity
Ideal hero: Compassionate, resourceful, understanding
Ideal heroine: Intelligent, daring, kick-arse
Latest book: The Making of Henri Higgins
What began your romance writing career? Why do you write romance?
I was working on my Dream of Asarlai trilogy (my original publication) and I was trying to write fantasy with a romance subplot and it occurred to me that I was being ridiculous – the romance was what I loved, so kick it up and write romance. I write romance because I love stories that focus on women – on their desires, needs, circumstances – and tells great stories about how they go out and make their dream life come true.
How do you write? What is your process like?
It actually is a little different depending upon whether I am writing contemporary romance or the science fiction/fantasy romances. For the contemporary romances, I do a lot of planning. I work out the beats of the story, the conflict (both external and internal) for heroine and hero and the inciting incidents and happily ever after, and then write. With the science fiction/fantasy romances, I work out the general rationale of the story, make sure I have the character development spot on and get a view of the end point and then I just write and see what will happen. This means that my contemporary romances don’t require anywhere near the re-writing that the science fiction/fantasy ones do. I think it’s because the world of the contemporary romances needs to remain real, whereas I can indulge flights of fancy with the other genres.
What was the best writing advice you ever received?
I did a course with fantasy master Jack Dann. We all had to put in a piece of writing and then it was critiqued, not only by Jack but by the rest of the class. Mine was the last one critiqued and it was pretty much clawed to pieces (and quite rightfully – it was early in my writing career and I had a lot to learn). One of the things Jack talked about was the importance of detail and not just that you have lots of it – but that you choose the RIGHT detail. The classic example is James Bond. His drink – a martini, shaken not stirred. The fact he drinks a martini versus say a beer already says a lot about his character – suave, debonair, not your normal guy in a pub. But then the fact that he likes it shaken (which is TOTALLY the wrong way to make a martini) says even more – that he doesn’t care what people think, that he wants things a certain way and he won’t accept anything else. All those instant messages about his character, just from the choice of what he chooses to drink. That is what great detail in a story does.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/familiar? Do you have one already?
I’ve always been very taken with eagles. When I was a young girl, my imaginary friend was a yellow canary called ‘Tweetie’. Yes, well, it took me a while to become original. Anyway, Tweetie ended up with a husband, who was a wedge tailed eagle (that’s original!). As I walked to school Tweetie would sit on my shoulder and her husband would soar above us, keeping us safe. Then they had kids – canary eaglets. Yes, even as a child, I was a romance writer. But that aspect of soaring high, free of bonds, able to see all, has always appealed to me.
I don’t have a pet eagle, but my husband and I have two beautiful budgies – Freddy and Pinkie. They are very funny and adorable, but they are not affectionate like budgies are supposed to be, which causes us no end of angst. But sitting at my desk, like I am now, I can hear them out in the dining room singing and it’s so peaceful and lovely. Plus, unlike a cat or dog, they don’t interrupt my writing time!
Out of all your protagonists, who do you relate to the most?
In terms of published protagonists, it would be Cassandra, the heroine of Loving the Prince. Cassandra is kind-of wish fulfillment – she’s the me I wish I could be. I first developed Cassandra as a character more than 30 years ago and she is still inspiring me. To be stronger, to be a risk taker, to be prepared to give it all. Otherwise, there’s a character in my next release who has been pulled right out of my psyche in terms of who she is, what she wants and her relationship with her family. Look out for Gwendolen.
Henri Higgins is bored by everything – his life, his work, even the models he regularly sees socially (and privately). So when a close friend suggests a high-stakes, friendly competition, a ‘fame’ game, Ree leaps at the opportunity for a little shake-up in his daily routine. The rules are simple: the competitors are to take the first person that they meet at a certain time and make them as famous as possible within two weeks.
But Ree doesn’t expect Elizabeta.
Elizabeta Flores del Fuego has a plan. An office manager by day, she moonlights at a number of creative Canberra businesses by night to learn all she can about the fashion industry and put her in the best place possible to help launch her beloved daughter, Angelina’s design career. Cleaning the office of Higgins Publishing is just one of those jobs, but when Henri Higgins offers her a week’s worth of work and a paycheque large enough to get Angelina Designs on its feet, it’s an offer she can’t refuse.
But Elizabeta doesn’t expect Ree, and neither expect the lessons in love they’re both about to learn.