Eva Scott Uncovered

Eva Scott (1)Tell me a bit about Red Dust Runaway. How did it come into being? What was your Eureka! moment?

It all started with the Queen’s annual variety show on the telly. One Direction, the opening act, had appeared exhausted and strung out. Poor lads looked as if someone had propped them up with sticks and told them to sing. They took a well-deserved hiatus after that. It got me thinking about the music industry and how it can suck the very marrow from your bones if you let it. I’d started life as a sound engineer. The music industry is harsh and you have to have skin like old leather to survive. Couple that with my husband planning a trip across the Nullarbor starting at his home town of Kalgoorlie… One thing led to another and Red Dust Runaway was born.

Can you give us a little tease of the relationship between Iris and Kit? How did that come about in your head and subsequently the book?

Do you remember the last time you met someone and sparks flew, light arced between you and you just KNEW they were the one for you? That’s the moment I wanted to create. Of course, life is never that easy and inevitably there are obstacles to overcome in situations like that. I wanted to take the reader on that journey, make them feel all those delicious emotions and set it against the vast, stunning backdrop that is the Australian Outback.

What came first: the plot or the characters? What was it like writing a road trip story?

I had Kit first. My poor mother had cancer which had reduced her to being able to do not much more than watch television. She’d lost interest in everything. Then one morning she called me up to tell me to check out the Trivago Man. He was so super hot he’d managed to catch her interest. The rest is history. Mum didn’t live to see this story written but I’m sure she would have approved of my choice of hero! See what you think:

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgdLG5uihww

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

I have met so many versions of Iris. I think we all have a little Iris inside us. She’s trying to figure out if she’s on the right path, testing her dreams and assumptions. She wants to live, have one big adventure under her belt, before she knuckles down to the business of life. Her tenacity and resilience build as the story progresses. She doesn’t start out as strong as she ends up, learning some valuable lessons along the way about herself and the people around her. What I like best is she’s not afraid to have a go, to put herself out there even if everyone else thinks it’s a bad idea. Sometimes the best adventures are had that way.

And Kit’s as a hero?

He’s coming from the opposite end of the spectrum to Iris. He’s had an exciting life and a big career. What he wants now is something different, he just hasn’t figured out what that is yet. He wants to reinvent himself, change his life direction, swap out high-level success for high-level satisfaction. I think we can all relate to that at some stage in our lives. What I like best about him is his vulnerability. He makes mistakes by the bucket load and grows through the process of sorting out the mess he’s made.

What began your romance writing career?

Pregnancy. Seriously. I was on maternity leave from a high-pressure job and looking for ways to keep my mind occupied. I’d worked writing freelance and as a technical writer, but never tried writing a novel. I figured if not now, when? I submitted The Reluctant Wedding Planner to RWA’s Emerald Award and I’ve never looked back.

Your other Red Dust novels explore the vast setting of outback Australia, what draws you to the setting? And rural romance as a genre?

Both sides of my family come from the country – Victoria and Queensland respectively. My cousins own a couple of cattle stations in the north. I am the exception to the rule, having been born and bred in Melbourne. The thing about the country is it strips away any pretensions you might have and helps to reveal who you are. That’s very attractive to me and my characters are often going through personal transformations where the country is an active participant in that process. And as for rural romance as a genre – who doesn’t love a country boy, right?

What are your favourite books/authors to read? Romance or otherwise? What draws you to those books?

I am a complete magpie when it comes to books. I’ll read almost any genre (except horror). Anything that’s well written will have my undivided attention. I don’t have favourite authors as such, but I do have authors whose books I’ll buy in a heartbeat. Just tell me they’ve got a new book out and I’ll be at Dymocks, waving my wallet. I picked up Laini Taylor’s new book, Strange the Dreamer, and I cannot wait until my exams are over and I can lie about in the garden reading it. Kathy Lette is in town tonight and you can’t go past her for a rollicking read. But if you talk to me next week I’ll have a different list to share.

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

I have an old pine desk jammed in the corner of the living room (where I can keep an eye on kids). I grab writing time where I can find it. When I’m “in session” I’ll write a minimum of 2,000 words 5 days a week. I would like to think I can write every day but the truth is the house is full of people at the weekend making it impossible. As if I’d give up a chance to socialise! I like to map out each chapter by hand in a notebook. I bullet point the action and then use it as a guide. Sometimes things go in an entirely different direction to the one I planned, but you get that.

Can you give any advice to aspiring authors out there?

Read, read, read, read. And not just authors representing the genre you’re interested in. Read literature to see how people use language or pop culture novels to capture the zeitgeist of the moment. Reread the classics – they remain popular and relevant because the plot and characterisation is so damn good. Stay open to good writing – that includes TV and film. Pay attention to how tension is escalated, how plots are unwound and characters revealed. There is always something to learn.

What do you do when you’re not writing? Any quirky hobbies?

When I’m not writing, I’m jamming the day full of other projects. I’m studying my Graduate Diploma in Education to be a history high school teacher, so there’s assignments, lectures and exams to keep me busy. I’m loving being at university. I’ve met so many intriguing people. Plenty of fodder for new novels!

I’m also a meditation teacher and I work with my husband who teaches Persian Yoga. Together we run Blue Sky Yoga and Meditation. We’re currently putting together a workshop so that keeps the dinner table conversation lively. Drives our 6-year-old nuts. He’d rather talk about how to make his own Jedi Kitten You Tube videos starring out long suffering cat, Maui. Making tiny light sabres that a cat can “hold” is harder than you’d think.

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I volunteer at the local primary school teaching creative writing. Those kids have imaginations and creative skills that just blow me away. My job is to open them up to all the creative possibilities, wind them up and then let them go. We’re working on putting together an anthology of their work at the end of the year. I can’t wait for the community to see what these kids are capable of.

I live in a lovely, friendly seaside town so if there’s any time left over I love to head out into the community and, well, chat. A lot. I adore the fact I can wander about town and inevitably run into someone I know, or catch up with a local business owner, or even make an entirely new friend. And it makes a great diversion from writing. Or should that be procrastination….?

I hear you have some adorable dogs in your life. Do they help or hinder the writing process?

I adore dogs. I live in a town that adores dogs. A dachshund moved in next door recently. Her name is Sausage. Heaven! There’s another one nearby named Snickers – she looks like a caramel chocolate bar too. I have an elderly cocker spaniel named Taj. He’s almost entirely blind and as deaf as a post but still full of joy and playfulness. We just have to make sure the house is well lit so he doesn’t walk into things. He’s lying next to my chair as a I write this, snoring his head off. In a moment, he’ll leap up and start barking at nothing at all. Sausage will join in and I’ll spend the next five minutes trying to get them to stop. If nothing else, it ensures I don’t sit at the computer for long stretches of time.

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31475One jaded rock star. One sheltered classical musician. One hell of a red dust road trip…

Sheltered, coddled, gifted, Iris longs for something more than practice and performing. She wants to rebel, break the rules, have a hot affair, fall in love — to really live before happily committing to her classical music bubble. But her strict parents and her stricter schedule keep her confined to her gilded cage, even as she yearns desperately to be free.

Super star, successful, and sick of all of it, Kit just wants to stop. Stop the touring and the recording and the media and the bickering with his band mates. After two years on the road, he’s coming apart at the seams. He has to slow down, calm down, clear his head — to really think before recommitting to his rock star lifestyle. But his manager and the tour schedule keep him locked to his super star lifestyle, even as he rages against the confinement.

A chance encounter in a car park leads to a snap decision and an enormous risk: suddenly Kit and Iris are on an extraordinary road trip together across Australia, making their own choices, breaking all the rules. But reality is chasing them more quickly than they can know, and soon Kit and Iris will have to decide whether they are just running away — or running away together.

Available now!

 

 

Juliet Madison Uncovered

1497As one of the first authors contracted with Escape, what is it like being with a publisher from brand new to established?

Escape was brand new when they published my novel Fast Forward, and I was a brand new author. So it feels like we grew up together! It’s been exciting to watch the growth of Escape and I’m proud and grateful to be one of their authors, and now have ten books published with them.

The importance of family is a long-running theme in many of your books, why is the inclusion of extended family so important?

Family is important to me, and I think it defines many of our life experiences and memories, and I like to capture this in my books. Writing about family also touches on the need for belonging that is common for everyone, whether it be with real family or those who feel like family. My Tarrin’s Bay series is about people finding their new beginning and a sense of belonging, both to a place, and with the people they care about.

Your new book Memories of May is out on the 5 May, it also explores the themes of family; What was your inspiration for this story? What was your Eureka! moment?

When I started writing the first book in the Tarrin’s Bay series, The January Wish, I created a bookstore that one of the characters gets a temporary job in – Mrs May’s Bookstore. From that moment, I knew I would write a book (for the month May, of course) about this bookstore and the family behind it. Over the next few years I would get little ideas here and there about the May story and jot them down, and then I included the main character Olivia, who runs the bookstore, as a secondary character in April’s Glow. I was inspired to show the importance of family in defining our lives and memories, and how a legacy can live on through generations. I had two grandmothers who were a big part of my life and I have many happy memories with them, and so I also wanted to acknowledge that and honour their memory. I also love bookstores, so there’s that. 😉

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Can you give us a little tease of the relationship between Olivia and Joel?

I loved writing this opposites attract romance between Olivia and Joel. She has been living a safe and predictable life of routine to provide for her daughter, while Joel has been living on the road as an adventure traveller-turned-author who takes risks and lives in the moment. From the moment he turns up in Tarrin’s Bay at her bookstore, her life turns upside down as he tries to encourage her to live outside of her comfort zone and experience book-worthy moments. As they spend time together doing his list of challenges, and as Olivia is a student in his memoir writing course, sparks start to fly and a few more personal challenges present themselves. They have a fun, friendly connection with cute and flirty text messages, but believe nothing can happen because of their different lifestyles, but their unexpected feelings for each other have them both questioning their beliefs.

The corners of Olivia’s lips turned upwards in a smile as their flirting triggered feelings she wasn’t sure how to handle. She texted him back with a hashtag and a kiss emoticon.

#didyoujusthashtagkissme? he asked.

#yes

#youresocute

She couldn’t contain her smile. Especially when he sent another text with a hashtag and two kiss emoticons.

#didyoujusthashtagkissmetwice? she asked.

#yes, he replied, and then her heart hashtag-fluttered at what he added next: #andthatwasntpretend

What kind of qualities most endear you to Olivia as a heroine?

She is devoted to her family and raising her daughter on her own, as well as carrying on her grandmother’s legacy by running the family bookstore that was set up after the war. Olivia is committed, reliable, caring and kind, and also understands the healing power of a warm beverage and a good book!

And Joel as a hero? What is your ideal hero?

He is courageous and a ‘doer’. He doesn’t wait for life to bring him good things, he goes out and gets them. He takes responsibility for his life and encourages others to do the same. Plus, he writes! I like a hero who’s intelligent both emotionally and intellectually, energetic, adventurous, and not afraid to be himself. Authenticity and confidence is sexy.

What came first, the plot, or the characters?

Actually, the setting! Mrs May’s Bookstore. From there, it was characters… who is Mrs May? Who are her family? And what secrets could be hidden in the pages of their unwritten story? The characters came easily, the plot took a bit more work. Especially as the story alternates between past and present, through an elderly Mrs May recalling her memories of life and love as a young woman. I had to go back and forth to make sure everything made sense, so it was a more challenging book to write in that sense, but very rewarding.

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I hear you write across genres, from Romance to colouring books; what is it like to publish vastly different works? Do you find it difficult to switch or does it keep you on your toes?

I find it creatively stimulating and exciting to publish different works. I never set out to write different genres, because for me, it’s always about idea first, genre second. When I get an idea, I go with whatever it is and then see where it fits. I don’t find it difficult to switch between them, and sometimes I have a couple of completely different books on the go at the same time… I actually find it easier and more fulfilling than writing the same type of book every time.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Any cool or quirky hobbies?

I love to do anything artistic; create drawings and paintings, and I love to cook (and share the results on my instagram page @julietmadisonauthorartist !) I also like to take photos of just about anything that takes my interest, and I love eating out at good cafes and restaurants and having fascinating and positive conversations where small talk doesn’t play a role. 😉

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

I write in a variety of places; at my dining table, in bed, on my balcony, on the couch, or at a café. I also write on the train or a plane if I’m travelling somewhere. I like to set a timer and do writing sprints in 30 minute segments. That’s the process that works for me to help me write fast. Before this, I always do a plot outline, because I find that makes the writing process easier and faster too.

*I always make a Pinterest board for each of my books to help inspire me as I write and to give readers a visual idea of what the book is like, you can see the Memories of May board here.

Can you give any advice to aspiring authors out there?

Write what you care about, what you feel passionate about. Allow your unique self to shine through and don’t try to be anyone else. Trust your own voice. Also, learn about the craft of writing to keep improving, and always work on showing versus telling so that the reader can ‘experience’ the story, and not just be ‘told’ the story. Most importantly, if you love writing, never give up! Just keep doing it, even if you get rejections. Do it for the love of it and it will show through in your writing, and people will see that.

 

 

AK Leigh Uncovered

7386121Tell me a bit about Triple Threat. How did it come into being? What was your Eureka! moment?

My ideas for stories often come out-of-the-blue, and Triple Threat was no different. A sentence popped into my head one day: “The Farris Triplets were back in business”. I knew it was going to be a romantic suspense, crime-themed trilogy because the basic plots soon followed. Even so, I was uncertain about going ahead with it. I thought it must have all been done before. If my stories weren’t going to be original, I couldn’t see the point. So, I went and bought a heap of books with identical triplet themes. I discovered that many were either overly stereotyped (e.g. they all had similar names, played tricks on people, behaved the same, AND finished each other’s sentences – I mean, come on!) or highly sexualised. That was the ‘eureka moment’. It irritated me that identical triplets were being represented that way. I knew my personal experience with being an identical triplet could be used to show people how that translated in reality.

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

I knew Gabe was going to fall in ‘insta-love’ with Lizzie. I also knew that Lizzie would be hesitant about giving him a chance. The way that played out surprised me though. Gabe’s first glimpse of Lizzie occurs via a newspaper article. I LOVED that he could tell her apart from her sisters even then! Lizzie’s first impression of Gabe is not good because she mistakes him for a journalist looking for a story on the high profile, cold case murder she and her sisters are working on.

Below is a short teaser from Triple Threat, showing their first meeting 

Can I help you?’

The man standing to the side of her doorway hesitated, then took a step inside the room. She saw him swallow. Then he mumbled, ‘Hi, um, you’re Elizabeth Farris.’

He said it in a way that showed he already knew the answer.

Jesus Christ. Not another one. Looked like the six-month hiatus from being harassed had given her a false sense of security. She had to force herself not to roll her eyes. Sure, they were only doing their job, but that didn’t mean they could barge into her personal life whenever they wanted. This was her workplace for goodness sake.

She made herself sound calm when she replied, ‘I’m not interested in doing an interview.’

Oh. I’m not a reporter … although I am a journalism teacher here … but I’m not here for a story.’

How can I help you?’

His expression turned serious, ‘It’s something of a sensitive nature. Would you be free for a coffee?’

You mean now?’

If you’re not too busy.’

She glanced at the pile of assessments on her desk then back at him. ‘I’m not too busy.’

What came first: the plot or the characters?

With the Farris Triplets series, it was the plot that came first (that’s not always the case). The characters were more difficult to write because I’d put so much pressure on myself to write something different when it came to identical triplet characters!

I understand you are one part of a similar set of triplets. Are your characters based on your sisters? Are there any other real life influences in either the characters or plot of Triple Threat?

Ha ha. I’ve been asked this question a couple of times! The characters are not based on my sisters and I, but they do share a MINOR personality trait with one of us. Other than that, the only thing Lizzie, Nina, and Carrie have in common with us is the fact that they are vegetarians. Unfortunately, we do not solve cold cases or work in law enforcement either 😀

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

I love how forthright she is. She knows what she wants in a relationship and doesn’t see the point in wasting time or settling. Her romantic side also endears her to me.

And Gabe’s as a hero?

Gabe is just adorable! Such a sweet heart and old-fashioned romantic. The fact that he shares the same traumatic history as Lizzie also drew me to him. He can understand her in ways that other men would struggle with.

How did you begin your romance writing career? What drew you to contemporary/suspense romance? Is it the genre you enjoy reading in?

The funny thing about that is, for years I believed I wrote “mysteries” or “thrillers”. In my twenties, I was reading an article about genres in fiction and was shocked to discover that I’d actually been writing romance all those years! After the initial cognitive dissonance, I embraced the stories that came. To paraphrase Stephen King, I wasn’t drawn to contemporary/suspense romance, it was drawn to me. My reading choices are fairly open. I’ll read just about anything.

Jilted bookpageWhat’s your favourite romance trope? And favourite portrayal of that trope?

I have two: friends to lovers and second chance lovers! My favourite portrayals of the latter are Persuasion by Jane Austen, Be Mine, Cowboy by Jane Porter (what is it with the Jane’s?!), and Jilted by Rachael Johns. One of my friends to lovers favourites is Small Town Storm by Elise K. Ackers.

Can you give any advice to aspiring authors out there? What is some of the best writing advice you have received?

Advice: attend as many writing workshops as you can, network, keep going, believe in yourself.

Best advice I received: writers write.

persuasion-cover-vintageWhat are your favourite books/authors to read?

I know it’s clichéd to say this, but Jane Austen is my all-time favourite writer! For someone who was middle class, she had remarkable insight into the lives (and loves) of the upper classes. Her stories are multi-faceted, with more than one plot going on most times. The love stories are sweet and timeless. What’s not to admire? 

I also love Mary Higgins Clark. She writes in multiple view points like me and her plots are often intricate and detailed.

Rachael Johns is my favourite Australian author. I was only introduced to her books, via a happy ‘coincidence’, a few years ago and I haven’t looked back since. Love her characters. They are always memorable.

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

I can write anywhere, but at this stage, it’s usually with my computer on my lap! I am in the process of building a writing nook though, so that will change soon. I already have my writing desk 😀

My process usually starts with a one sentence quote, character, or plot. From there, it morphs to a basic outline. After that, I work on four different drafts. My motto is to get the first draft down as quickly as possible, hence it is more like a glorified outline. The meat comes onto the bones, so to speak, with the subsequent two drafts. The fourth draft is a final once over to pick up anything I may have forgotten etc. Then, it’s off to the publisher or editor … and the edits begin!

What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Any quirky hobbies (like the sisters of Triple Threat)?

In my spare time, I like to read, watch movies, go for hikes, spend time in nature, and hang out with my kids. Is any of that quirky?


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They’re beautiful, accomplished, and they have identical interests…

In their spare time, identical triplets the Farris sisters work together to solve cold cases. Lizzie uses her skills as a Criminal Profiler, Nina her Scenes of Crime Officer experience, and Carrie assists through her work as a both a Forensic Scientist and Forensic Anthropologist.

Romantic and idealistic, Lizzie is picky about men. But despite the good-natured teasing of her sisters, she refuses to settle for anything less than ‘The One’. She loves her life, her job as both a profiler and a university lecturer, and her sisters, and won’t make changes for anything less. If that makes her unrealistic, then so be it.

Gabe Montcoeur has just moved across Australia from Perth to Cairns and starts a job as a journalism teacher at Cairns University: the same university where Elizabeth Farris works. On the surface, the move seems innocent, but he has an ulterior motive. Gabe wants to elicit the aid of the Farris sisters in solving the murder of his family members, and the only way to circumvent their notorious ‘no contact’ policy is to reach out to them in person.

But when Gabe meets Lizzie for the first time, the attraction is instantaneous — and mutual. The deeper they fall into each other, however, the more guilty Gabe feels about his real motivation for getting close. Lizzie wants the real deal, the one, true love — can Gabe ever offer her the future she deserves if he keeps holding on so tightly to the past?

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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.

Amanda Knight – Uncovered

Tell us a bit about Situation Critical: How did it come into being? What was your Eureka! moment?

I’ve always been involved with supporting our uniformed communities in one way or another – whether paramedics, police, military or other service organisations, and I read many related stories, often. This story came into being when I came across Finnegan’s inspiration, Sarbi, an Australian Special Forces explosion detection dog who went missing in Afghanistan for 14 months and was found! Her story planted a seed for a book, that wouldn’t stay quiet. My canine hero character in Situation Critical, Finnegan, the bomb detection dog (although he had a different name!) started out at the centre of a very short story, one I entered into a competition and finalled! I loved Finnegan, and the idea of a human who was ‘his’ so much, that I wanted to know more, see what happened next, way past the details that were in my short story.

My Eureka moment came when I sat down to craft Nate, and he just jumped off the page. I couldn’t type fast enough to catch all of who he was—his life, his story—onto the page at the pace it was hurtling out of my head. It was the first time I’d had this happen for a character, at that level of intensity—and I wondered if perhaps, just maybe, this story might be special… I couldn’t wait to write it!

Give us a little tease of the relationship between Sergeant Nate Calloway and Captain Beth Harper:

A bit of a different take, I’ll share what I love most about Nate and Beth’s relationship:

  • They’re each other’s protectors: from the moment he realises Beth’s life is in danger, Nate vows to keep her from harm – as she has done, and continues to do for him. She saved him once, and if he falls ill again, he could die – his life is in her hands.
  • Their battles of wit and will: they’re equals, and whether it’s when they’re verbally sparring or in a fight for their lives, each is a match for the other in different ways. They both develop a grudging appreciation for the fact that they challenge each other, and have different strengths, and that when combined they really are something else!
  • They respect each other: They each have a job to do—and the balance of power between them can and must shift, depending on their circumstances. This leads them to trust each other, share and discover sides of themselves they’d not shown to another soul.
  • Their love conquers all: When it seems all is lost, their hearts will find their way back to each other (not a spoiler alert – we know this is a romance, and must have an HEA, right?!).

What drew you to Beth’s qualities as a heroine?

I love to listen to and be among strong, smart women who also have a vulnerable side that isn’t evident at first, but there’s something about them that allows others to feel safe – Beth is that person! I love that she isn’t perfect, but can hold her own amongst her peers (mostly male), but doesn’t see it as a male/female thing, simply a ‘person’ thing to be the best she can be. That she doesn’t let Nate (or anyone) treat her any less than she deserves, no matter how bad things get. She holds Nate accountable for his actions, and also allows him to redeem his mistakes, with his dignity still intact. She’s gutsy without being reckless, and has the courage, the tenacity to do what needs to be done, even when she is terrified. She can say she’s sorry, and admit to her mistakes… I admire her!

What are the qualities of your ideal hero? How does Nate fit into those ideals?

Ideal hero qualities for me… a man strong of mind and body, and who displays honour, integrity and loyalty in action and thoughts – he is a man of his word, knows what he will and won’t stand for, and doesn’t waver, unless it is to protect someone he loves. He has well developed EQ and IQ, and has a non-arrogant self-confidence. He is fiercely protective of those he loves, intensely passionate and if ever he can give his heart (I do love a bit of a tortured hero!) it will be deeply and a one time only thing! My perfect hero also loves a strong, smart woman who makes him want to be the best man he can (even if it talks him a while to realise it!) someone who can push his buttons, make him ask the hard questions of himself, and have him always want to get back to her when they’re apart… above and beyond anyone, and anywhere else.

Nate embodies all of these elements: some we don’t see until near the end of the book! He is deeply committed to what he sees as right and just and will take action, always. He’s somewhat unpredictable, but his moral compass and loyalty to those closest to him is unshakeable. He can be hotheaded, and rude when his emotions are pushed outside his comfort zone, but when Beth’s life is under threat, in part, because of his decisions/actions, he won’t stop until she’s safe. A protector and a warrior – he can soothe her soul when she’s wrapped in his arms. AND the big one, he loves his dog! I am a serious sucker for a fella who loves animals!

How did you begin your romance writing career?

I’ve always written—whether it be poems, blogs, journals or workplace newsletters… I’ve tried to stop—but I can’t NOT write! My romance writing career started when I’d finished a short story, and wanted to ‘learn’ how to craft a page turner, and whether my manuscript had any potential. After googling books, courses and everything in between, I stumbled on Romance Writers of Australia.

I went along to my first conference that same year, and pitched my work to a well-known editor, who’d asked for the first 5000 words of my manuscript prior to the pitch. The book I pitched was loosely in the genre of thriller with romantic elements. The editor told me that they felt I was stifling something in my ‘voice’ and perhaps it was the romance, to let it ‘flow’ in my work and then send it… I went away, and stopped pushing the romance aside (which I’d previously done when those characters screamed at me to include it!) and indeed let it flow… and then I was hooked! Can’t go past a good love story, and now its a part of almost everything I’ve written!

never-give-up (Amanda Knight)

What’s your favourite romance trope?

I do love the redemption trope… can’t go past a good military/protector one either!

What is your process like?

I am a part plotter, part pantser. I used to be an all-out plotter, but found it ended up stifling me creatively. So now, once I have my core idea,and an inkling of my black moment/and or story ending, I spend quite a bit of time ‘listening’ to who my characters are as the initial step, filling in a character bio of sorts (mine is a bit of a combo of the detail in Cherry Adair’s character bible and KM Wieland’s character interview with elements of my own thrown in) and then learning all I can about my characters. I research the specific or unique elements of each of their worlds, so I can see life through their eyes and experiences. Often, I will also write the first couple of chapters when I’m still in this phase, but usually, by the time I’m at chapter four to five-ish, I am fairly well acquainted with my primary characters, and the essential elements of their goals, motivation and conflict.

I work an almost full-time job outside of my writing life, and am mum to three children, so I have to be pretty regimented in committing to my writing time, or it just doesn’t happen. At the very least, no matter what kind of day I’ve had, or how tired I am, I force myself to write 500 words a day, and have one day dedicated to reaching at least a 2k word count, and I aim for 5k per week, at the very least. I find if I miss a few daily sessions, I lose my mojo, and can then go a number of weeks without writing a thing – super dangerous! So have learned I must make that 500 words happen EVERY day!

What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Any quirky hobbies?

My day job and family stuff takes up a very good portion of my non-writing time – however, I do dabble in a couple of different ‘other’ interests when I can! I am a lover of new vintage clothing, and shoes (especially the shoes!) and do spend *ahem, cough* a little bit of time searching new looks, and new spaces and places to check out looks, and purchase said items!

1940s shoes - faves (Amanda Knight)

I am partial to the late 1940s/early 1950s era, and my go-to websites at the moment are ModCloth, Elise Design, Kitten D’Amour and Royal Vintage Shoes. I’m also a bit of a crafter (mostly card making) – although, that’s a bit adhoc these days, and as needed, given the time challenges!

Craft Cupboard (Amanda Knight)

Of course, reading is an absolute on my daily ‘hobby’ list, as are a number of shows that I tend to binge watch when I can (thank goodness for Netflix!) I especially do this when I am stuck in my writing… I find dissecting the characters, and analysing the rhythm of the story in TV shows helps! A few of my more recent faves – Outlander (actually, this is long-time staple go-to for me!), Stranger Things and This Is Us top the list!

So I read in your bio that you have some adorable pets… do they hinder or help you when you write?

My darling, gorgeous Golden Retriever (Bonnie) true to her name has the most joyful spirit, and brings such warmth and calm whenever she’s in the room.

Bonnie blissed out in the sun (Amanda Knight)

When I’m writing, she’ll often curl up (then stretch out!) right beside me. She’s hilarious when I am testing out character dialogue out loud. She’ll raise her head and watch me, with her very expressive eyebrows jiggling in response to my chatter, and an expectant look on her face. It’s like I’m telling her something amazing and wonderful, and she hangs off every word! It usually takes her a moment or two before she realises I’m not actually addressing her, and resumes her relaxed pose, and goes back to snoozing.

Bonnie and Vincent together (Amanda Knight)

 

When I’ve been deep in research mode, discovering the most heart-breaking (or heart-warming) stories, or writing scenes that’ve resulted in a bit of a teary moment (alright, an out loud sob fest!) she’s quick with a nudge to my leg, or her head resting in my lap, calmly letting the tears fall on her head till I make it back to some semblance of normal! There’s lots of her in Nate’s beautiful dog, Finnegan!


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Amanda’s debut novel, Situation Critical, releases on the 5th of April. You can preorder the title from your favourite e-tailer site, and we would love you to leave an honest review either at point-of-sale or Goodreads.

Early reviews:

“Really well developed story …well balanced when it came to the suspense and romance” – Jeri’s Book Attic

“I really liked the storyline and felt the characters were so real and interesting.” – Laurel, Goodreads

“A great romantic suspense” – Tracie, Goodreads


A taut debut novel about a wounded soldier, a courageous doctor, and a dog in desperate need of a rescue

Soldier, surgeon, traitor, dog…

When Sergeant Nate Calloway is carried into the field hospital with no memory of how he got there or where the other members of his unit are,  Australian army surgeon, Captain Beth Harper cares only about repairing his broken body. But it’s clear that something went terribly wrong on the other side of the wire, and as Nate slowly recovers, he becomes more and more anxious to return to duty, go back into the field, and rescue his friends, his unit, and the bomb detection dog that he loves.

The only way Nate can be released to active duty is if a doctor agrees to accompany him, and Beth surprises everyone by volunteering. Her role is to monitor Nate and take him right back to hospital the instant that his health deteriorates enough to put their rescue operation at risk. But as she stays close, she finds herself inexplicably drawn to his courage, his determination, and his commitment to his fellow soldiers.

Instead of a straightforward recovery, however, Nate and Beth soon realise they’ve stumbled on a tangled web of deceit and danger, and the enemy is no longer outside the wire. He is one of their own, a traitor, and he has them in his scope.