Nine Naughty Questions
1. I wonder, is a Romance writer born or made? Please tell us a little about your life before publication.
I think a romance writer is probably born. According to my mum I was always an optimistic little soul who resolutely refused to find anything but a silver lining in every cloud. (That may well annoy those around me!) I started writing angsty poetry when I was a teenager, moved to short stories with unhappy endings, and then graduated to articles for community newsletters. When I sat down to write a book, however, the story was a romance. Since I’ve always been a lover of crime fictions as well as happy endings it’s not surprising I write romantic suspense. Two stories for the price of one!
2. For all the glitz and the glam associated with the idea of Romance novels, writing about and from the heart is personal and very revealing. Do you think this is why romance readers are such devoted fans? And do you ever feel exposed?
I think as a writer I definitely need to pour my heart and soul into my characters. Romance readers know authentic love when they see it and that means we as writers need to live and breathe it. I do draw on some of my own experiences, but I don’t feel exposed by telling those stories. However recounting the experiences of people who’ve provided inspiration for my characters can be emotional…
3. Please tell us about your latest novel…
Set in remote Cooktown, Northern Heat is a story of redemption, but also about finding the courage to walk away from violence. As my heroine, Kristy, says, ‘Tomorrow is a new day.’
While the research into domestic violence was harrowing, I met many women who’ve lived through hardship and emerged stronger, more resilient and determined to make better choices for themselves and for their children. It takes courage to trust enough to love again and I hope I’ve done their stories justice.
4. Is the life of a published Romance writer… well… Romantic?
Lol, nothing romantic about a full time job requiring upwards of 50 hours a week plus writing a book a year! But come July we’ll be casting off the mooring lines and heading Roobinesque, our 40ft catamaran, north into the Coral Sea – that’s going to be a whole lot more romantic than managing 260 pilots!
5. Of all of the Romantic moments in your life is there one moment, more dear than all the rest, against which you judge all the Romantic elements in your writing? If so can you tell us about that special moment?
My romantic moment was when Capt G, a mere work colleague at the time, scooped me up in his arms and carried me off a sports field after I’d badly damaged my knee in a touch footy game. He stole my heart as he whisked me away to the local hospital. That was 30 years ago :)
6. Sex in Romance writing today ranges from ‘I can’t believe they’re allowed to publish this stuff’ explicit to ‘turn the light back on I can see something’ mild. How important do you think sex is in a Romance novel?
I think love scenes are very important to a romance, whether the bedroom door is closed or open! But it needs to show the emotional connection between the characters, even if they’re enjoying smokin’ hot sex. And it needs to be true to the characters. I think readers expect a sensuous element in romances and the rise of erotic romance would suggest that it’s increasingly important.
7. Romance writers are often Romance readers – please tell us your five favourite (read and re-read) Romance novels or five novels that influenced your work most?
1. Hungry as the Sea by Wilbur Smith, because it was the first romantic suspense I’d read. Althought I doubt Wilbur Smith thinks he writes romance!
2. Northern Lights by Nora Roberts, becaues the heroine flies a float plane!
3. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen, because Elizabeth was so quick witted and Mr Darcy so honourable but constrained.
4. Tai-Pan by James Clavell – just because.
5. Dune by Frank Herbert – I find something new every time I read it.
8. Paranormal Romance writing is ‘so hot right now’, do you have any thoughts on why?
Paranormal romance offers pure escapism which lets our imaginations take off. I’m not a huge reader of Paranormal but I do love the Psy Changeling series by Nalini Singh and Kerri Arthur’s Dark Angels series.
9. Lastly, what advice do you give aspiring writers?
You can’t edit a blank page so get writing! So many people start a book and never finish it so the first big hurdle is to get your story down on the page. Also remember that all those ‘writing rules’ are for guidance. Sure you need to be concious of grammar, punctuation and spelling, but every writer has a unique process. Developing your voice and your writing process is all part of learning your craft.
Thanks for joining us Helene!
by Helene Young
In steamy northern Queensland, Conor is living under an assumed name and rebuilding his shattered life. Working at Cooktown’s youth centre has given him the chance to make a difference again, and a chance to flirt with Dr Kristy Dark.
After tragedy tore her family apart, Kristy fled to Cooktown with her feisty teenage daughter, Abby. She hoped being part of the small community would help them both heal, but Abby’s sports coach is turning out to be a compelling distraction.
When a severe cyclone menaces the coast, threatening to destroy everything in its path, tensions come to a head – and the weather is not the only danger in Cooktown. Cut off from the world and with her life on the line, Kristy will have to summon her courage and place her trust in Conor, or they’ll both lose someone they love.