See Bryan Cranston Bring the Legendary Writer to Life in Trumbo!


“…a fitting tribute to one man’s extraordinary resilience.” (The Guardian) and “A Screen Triumph!…” (Deadline), Trumbo is truly a film not to be missed!  And since we don’t want Booktopians to miss out, we decided to add a 2-For-1 pass with every purchase of Trumbo: Film Tie-in Edition.

*Please note: this offer is not available to NZ customers. Offer available while stocks last and limit one 2-For-1 pass per order. Present the pass at a screening of Trumbo at any participating cinema and receive two tickets for the price of one full-priced adult ticket.


A Biography of the Oscar-Winning Screenwriter Who Broke the Hollywood Blacklist

by Bruce Cook 

The Oscar-winning screenwriter who broke the Hollywood blacklist. Soon to be a major motion picture starring Bryan Cranston.

Dalton Trumbo was the central figure of the infamous ‘Hollywood Ten,’ the screenwriters who, during the McCarthy era, were charged by the House Committee on Un-American Activities for their associations with the Communist Party. Due to their refusal to cooperate during the investigation, Trumbo and his fellow screenwriters were declared in contempt of Congress and were ultimately blacklisted from Hollywood and some were even jailed.

Although Trumbo was one of several hundred writers, directors, producers, and actors who were deprived of the opportunity to work in the motion picture industry from 1947 to 1960, he won an Oscar under the pseudonym Robert Rich for The Brave One in 1956, and he was the first to see his name on the big screen again in 1960 with Exodus, one of the year’s biggest movies.

All his life Trumbo was a radical of the homegrown, independent variety. From his early days in more…


BOOK REVIEW: Geoffrey Blainey’s The Story of Australia’s People: The Rise and Fall of Ancient Australia (Review by Justin Cahill)

In his 1994 A Shorter History of Australia, Geoffrey Blainey confided that for “…many years I have been intermittently writing a very long and multi-sided book about Australia’s history, a book which I might never finish.” Coming from the doyen of Australian historians, this was exciting news. A single-author, inclusive and up-to-date account of our past is long over-due.

the-story-of-australia-s-peopleFast-forward over twenty years, and Blainey is still keeping us in suspense. But he has offered us something of what may be to come in The Story of Australia’s People: The Rise and Fall of Ancient Australia.

This work consists of revised versions of two of Blainey’s earlier books, Triumph of the Nomads, an account of Aboriginal Australia first published in 1975, and A Land Half Won, a history of European Australia up to 1850 first published in 1980. Blainey has updated these earlier works to accommodate several decades of new discoveries and scholarship.

He begins with one of the greatest, but least appreciated achievements of our species: how the Aborigines adapted to dramatic environmental change.

When they first arrived some 60,000 years ago, much of Australia was temperate. At Lake Mungo, for example, the landscape was covered in woodland and the lakes were full, providing the local people with a varied diet. But when the most recent ice age peaked about 20,000 to 18,000 years ago, the woodland began to die off and the lakes dried up. Within about 10,000 to 8000 years, it was a desert.

Blainey catalogues the impact of these changes on Aboriginal society. He dwells, for example, at length on infanticide and abortion as means of population control. How the Aborigines managed to survive these episodes of radical climate change have profound implications for us. Blainey does not engage directly with theories concerning the wider impact of population growth. Yet the experiences of the Aborigines appear to support Ester Boserup’s model of population and economic growth. It holds that the pressure exerted by a growing population on available resources is the spark that ignites technological development and economic change.


Geoffrey Blainey

That the Aborigines managed to continue supporting themselves through hunting, gathering, burning off and gardening over such a long period raises important social and economic questions. Did they consciously reject technological development? Put another way, did they believe the land provided them with enough and so they consciously spared it from further exploitation ? If so, what does this suggest about likely result of continuing on with the exploitative, destructive impacts of capitalism on the environment here ?

This question is raised by Blainey’s account of the early settlement of Sydney. After briefly rehearsing the well-worn arguments for why Britain established a colony here, Blainey poses perhaps a more fundamental question: why did Britain not abandon the colony when it was conspicuously failing ?

The Europeans who arrived on the First Fleet had no idea how to find or grow food in the new colony. By 1790, the stores they brought with them had begun to run out and they faced starvation. The arrival of the Second Fleet averted this. So the answer to Blainey’s question may be good luck rather than good management. But the key lesson was over-looked. Instead of learning from the Aborigines how to adapt to their new land, the Europeans sought to exploit it by imposing their own system of agriculture, clearing its forests and polluting its waterways – even the famous Tank Stream on which Sydney’s residents relied on for fresh water.

Over two hundred years later, these lessons remain unlearned. While many eagerly await Blainey’s long history, The Story of Australia’s People provides a thought-provoking introduction to how we must learn to live sustainably on the margins of a desert continent. And whether we will still be here in 60,000 years time.

3ef42bc8jpjc-e1397089423193Justin Cahill is a Sydney-based naturalist and historian. His publications include a biography of the ornithologist Alfred North and A New Life in our History, a history of the European settlement of Australia and New Zealand told from the perspective of ordinary people. He has also written on Chinese history, including the negotiations surrounding Britain’s acquisition of Hong Kong and its decolonisation in 1997.

Justin’s most recent publication is the first part of Epitome for Eleanor: A Short History of the Known Universe, written for children. His current projects include a natural history of Sydney’s Wolli Creek Valley.

He regularly contributes reviews to Booktopia.

Nine Naughty Questions with… Maisey Yates, author of Hometown Heartbreaker

hometown-heartbreakerThe Booktopia Book Guru asks

Maisey Yates

author of Hometown Heartbreaker

Nine Naughty Questions


Headless washboard abs, a torrid embrace, the sprawling homestead, an elegantly dressed décolletage, or the vaguely kinky object against a dark background – what’s your favourite type of romance cover and why?

I really like a clinch cover, personally. It’s classic romance to me. I like seeing the couple together, and I like how clinch covers often give you a sense of the story setting.

2. What is the secret life of a romance writer? What goes on between you and your keyboard (or quill) behind closed doors?

Basically a lot of coffee consumption, good friends available to answer my random texts when I’m having a story crisis and a lot of emailing, Facebooking and…yes, writing. That’s the most essential part!

3. At the heart of a romantic story is the way in which the main characters reveal their true natures to each other. How much of yourself do you put into your characters, and have their stories been affected by your personal experiences?NewPic-967x1024

I think my own personal experiences definitely inform how I look at the situations in a story. None of us are neutral. I don’t write characters that I always agree with, and I work hard to empathize with them and their decisions, which for me is where the main personal stuff comes in. I may never have been a small town rancher trying to keep the family spread from going under, but I’ve been afraid. I’ve wanted things. I’ve lost things. And I think as a writer you need to draw on those honest, universal emotions because that’s what makes your story resonate with readers.

4. I’m interested in how you differentiate between romance fiction, erotica and porn. Are romance readers getting naughtier?

I think romance fiction as a broad term is simply a story where the romantic relationship is at the center, and there is a happy ending. (Basically following the Romance Writers of America definition there.) Within that, there can be explicit sex, no sex and everything in between. Regardless, the story is the focus. The romantic journey is the focus – whether or not it includes love scenes. They’re simply part of it.

Erotic romance is more sexually focused, but still has a HEA. The emotional arc is tied to the sex scenes. The emotional journey of the characters still matters, it’s just that they’re working those emotions out through sex.

Erotica is different still in that it doesn’t necessarily require a happy ending (at least not of the traditional fairy tale sort…).

I think romance has always had a range of heat levels. I’m not fond of the term ‘not your mother’s romance’ mostly because…I hate to break it to you, but your mom’s romance was pretty hot too. Do I think the sexuality in romance is more front and center now as women feel more liberated to discuss it? Yes. That is probably true.

I feel like porn is one of those things…you really don’t have to question when you’ve seen it. You know. It exists purely for sexual gratification and no other reason. The emotional journey isn’t part of it.

I find it fascinating that a film like Shame for example can be sexually explicit and win awards, and not be accused of being pornography by most people, and yet the presence of sex in romance novels is this big talking point. Which I feel pertains to the fact that it is marketed to women, and is an extension of women being told that the things they enjoy are silly or fluffy or wrong in some way.

hometown-heartbreaker5. Please tell us about your latest novel!

Hometown Heartbreaker is a novella in my ongoing Copper Ridge Series, set in a small Oregon town. It’s the story of Aiden, a farmer’s son desperate to keep his alcoholic father from destroying the family business, and Casey, a woman who has spent her whole life moving from place to place.

It was fun to write the dynamic between the vulnerable bad girl who has never depended on anyone, never put down roots, and the solid, good guy who has really never been anywhere but his small town.

And it’s always fun for me to revisit Copper Ridge and give my readers glimpses of other favourite characters, like Eli from Part Time Cowboy and Ace from the upcoming One Night Charmer.

Buy your copy of Hometown Heartbreaker here

6. What’s the most memorable reaction you’ve received after a friend or family member read one of your books?

One of my friends called it marriage therapy for under $5. I was okay with that.

7. Romance writers are sometimes denigrated and asked when they’ll write ‘real’ books – what do you tell the haters?

It’s hard not to just laugh at them. Because it’s such a ridiculous sentiment, and it stems from their lack of education, both about the genre and about the publishing industry as a whole.

But that aside, I’m very proud of what I do, and I believe strongly in my books. I have no trouble telling anyone that I love what I write. I feel good about writing books that focus on love, which is something our world desperately needs.

8. Romance readers love discovering new authors. Please tell us about five books you recently read and loved to bits.9781250051783 (1)

So many books!

I’m cheating by recommending a series but… The Hathaway Series by Lisa Kleypas (alpha males, regency England, forbidden love…so good!)

Rebel Cowboy by Nicole Helm – Ex-hockey player turned llama rancher hero and the heroine he hires to help teach him how to handle his new land in Montana.

Edge of Obsession by Megan Crane – Erotic dystopian Vikings. What more do you need?

You Are Mine by Jackie Ashenden – A dark contemporary romance with a hint of suspense. The hero is to die for.

Castelli’s Virgin Widow by Caitlin Crews – I was lucky to read this M&B Sexy early, and it’s just fantastic high fantasy goodness.

9. Please tell us your favourite scene from your latest book, and why it’s particularly delicious!

I think my favourite scene is when Casey realizes that Aiden’s family and home and security – all things she’s never had – aren’t really an asset to him because of the cost. That he has a deficit too because no one in his life really loves him. I love when the differences in characters become the catalyst that really affects change.

Maisey, thank you for playing.

hometown-heartbreakerHometown Heartbreaker

A Copper Ridge Novella

by Maisey Yates

He knows that Copper Ridge’s newest bartender is running from her past… but will he recognize that she’s his last chance at salvation before she leaves town?

Aiden Crawford knows all about responsibilities. He’s already shouldering more than his share when beautiful drifter Casey James cruises into town with a broken car, a chip on her shoulder, and enough secrets to have her ready to leave Copper Ridge the second she can afford the auto mechanic’s bill. Aiden has more…

Buy your copy of Hometown Heartbreaker here



We’re a passionate lot at Booktopia, and it has taken weeks of reading, re-reading, meetings, angry coffee dates and re-re-reading to come up with The 2015 Booktopia Books of the Year

These selections are not in order, and while some amazing books have missed out, we can’t resist a list so here we are. Hopefully you see some of your favourites too.


by Hanya Yanagihara

An emotionally brutal story about adulthood and the demons of the past, very unlucky not to have taken out the Man Booker Prize. Marked Hanya Yanagihara as one of the most exciting and ambitious novelists working today.

Click here for more details

by Charlotte Wood

One of Australia’s finest novelists delivers again with an intense, unsettling dystopian fable of misogyny, power and the dark corners of the human condition.

Click here for more details

by Elena Ferrante
Continue reading

BOOK REVIEW: Life and Death (Twilight Reimagined) by Stephenie Meyer (Review by Ashley Sime)

Life and DeathLoyal Twilight fans, take a deep breath and release a collective sigh… Stephenie Meyer’s Life and Death is not the long-awaited Midnight Sun (the expected ‘Twilight as told from Edward Cullen’s perspective’) but an exploration into gender roles – a theory that Meyer wanted to indulge.

Stephenie Meyer describes the novel as ‘a pretty straight-across-the-board gender swap’, which it is, but she also wrote it to address the criticism that Bella Swan received in the original Twilight novel, as consistently being the ‘damsel in distress’.

In Life and Death, we are introduced to Beaufort Swan and Edythe Cullen, male human and female vampire respectively, with Meyer striving to highlight the species juxtaposition where Beaufort is depicted simply as a ‘human in distress’ who only appears weak due to the fact that he is constantly surrounded by superhuman characters.

While the novel follows a similar path to the original storyline, it is refreshing to see events recounted from a male perspective. Beau is an insightful protagonist who is less flowery with his words and less emotional than Bella. Life and Death also puts forward a whole new development of character personalities; including changing tough vampire Emmett to intimidating Eleanor and a pack of female werewolves that prove a force to be reckoned with.

Some may see this new installment as Meyer trying to resurrect the series and fit in with society’s current interest with gender fluidity or a thought-provoking new take on the popular novel. Either way, Stephenie Meyer proves a point, making it clear that gender and species has no effect on intense passion which is first love.

Grab your copy Life and Death as a part of the
Special Tenth Anniversary Edition of Twilight here

Grab your copy Life and Death as a part of the
Special Tenth Anniversary Edition of Twilight here

GUEST BLOG: What Katie Read – The August Round Up (by award-winning author Kate Forsyth)

One of Australia’s favourite novelists Kate Forsyth, author of The Impossible Quest, Bitter Greens, The Wild Girl and now The Beast’s Garden, continues her monthly blog with us, giving her verdict on the books she’s been reading.

August is always one of the busiest times of the year for me and so I gave myself the month off writing and researching, allowing myself to catch up on my reading. It was lovely!

9780091893828The Snow Goose

by Paul Gallico (illustrated by Angela Barrett)

I remember reading this beautiful book when I was a child. It’s the story of a young crippled man, a girl, and a snow goose in 1940s Essex, in the lead-up to World War II. It’s a story of kindness and friendship, of the beauty of nature and our need to protect it, and of the importance of not judging by appearances. It is also a love story. Philip Rhavader is a hunchback, shunned by all, who looks after hurt and injured animals. He makes friends with a young girl named Fritha who brings him a snow goose to tend. As she grows into a beautiful young woman, he falls in love with her but cannot speak of what is in his heart. Then the Second World War breaks out, and Philip sails across to France to help rescue the thousands of soldiers stranded at Dunkirk. As a child, the book made a strong impression on me, but I had not read it in years. When I saw this lovely new edition, with exquisite illustrations by Angela Barrett, I had to buy it for my daughter.

Grab a copy of The Snow Goose here


The Chateau on the Lakethe-chateau-on-the-lake

by Charlotte Betts

I love books set in France, and have had a particular fascination with the French Revolution since reading my grandmother’s ancient copies of The Scarlet Pimpernel by the Baroness Orczy when I was a teenager.

I settled down with this novel and a cup of tea, hoping for a great swashbuckling romantic adventure. I was not at all disappointed. The voice of the heroine Madeleine is pitch-perfect – intelligent, highly educated and argumentative, she is the daughter of a French nobleman and an English lady. Fallen on hard times, they have opened a school for rich and well-bred young ladies, where Madeleine teaches. There are secrets in her parents’ life, however, and when they die tragically, Madeleine sets out to discover her hidden heritage. Her search takes her to France, and she witnesses the execution of the French king, Louis XVI, which shakes her understanding of the world to the core.

Trapped in a France gone mad with bloodlust, Madeleine finds herself falling in love …

The Chateau on the Lake is one of the best historical romances I have read for a while, and I was pleased to realise that I had previously read and enjoyed one of Charlotte’s earlier books, The Apothecary’s Daughter … and she has a few other books in her back list. I’ll be hunting them down forthwith!

Grab a copy of The Chateau on the Lake here


isbn9780751549256The Cuckoo’s Calling

The Cormoran Strike Series : Book 1

by Robert Galbraith

I really enjoyed The Silkworm when I read it earlier this year, and so I grabbed The Cuckoo’s Calling when I saw it. It is the first in the series of Robert Galbraith’s contemporary crime novels (Robert Galbraith being, of course, the pseudonym of J.K. Rowling). I enjoyed this one even more. It introduced Cormoran Strike, one-legged private detective, and his pretty red-headed sidekick Robin, in a compelling and surprising murder mystery that shines a spotlight on the murky world of modelling. The victim is Lula Landry, a young black model, who died after plummeting from her apartment one bitter winter night. Her adopted brother refuses to believe it is suicide, and hires Cormoran to investigate. I love murder mysteries in which the reader pits their wits against the detective and tries to guess the murderer, and I also love murder mysteries with strong and interesting characters, so this series is right up my alley. I have already pre-ordered the third in the series!

Grab a copy of The Cuckoo’s Calling here



by Angus Donald

This novel of Robin Hood has a tagline ‘Meet the Godfather of Sherwood Forest’, promising lots of gore and violence. The book delivers, with an unflinching look at how the famous Robin of Locksley may have ruled his criminal empire. It has a lot more to it, however. The book sweeps along with an unrelenting pace, filled with sharply drawn chase-and-battle scenes. The narrator is a young man, Alan Dale, who swears allegiance to Robin after he is condemned to death for stealing a pie. The historical setting is fabulously well done, and the characters all complex and well-drawn. I can really recommend it for anyone who loves a gripping, fast-paced historical thriller.

Grab a copy of Outlaw here


713C2HeV6dLChildren of War

by Martin Walker

I’ve really been enjoying this series of contemporary murder mysteries set in the Dordogne in the south-west of France. The first few books were gentle, warm and character-driven with lots of descriptions of Bruno cooking delicious meals and looking for truffles in the forest with his dog. The later books have become more like hard-edged thrillers, with a bit of sex and a lot of political intrigue thrown in. I am still enjoying them, but not as much. Bruno was such a lovable character to begin with, but now he’s bed-hopping a little too much for my taste. I’d like less torture and more romance and feasting. Ah, well! Still a very enjoyable read.

Grab a copy of Children of War here



The Girl Who Came Home81H61VA4rqL

by Hazel Gaynor

This a bittersweet, delicate novel which moves between Chicago, 1982, and Ireland, 1912. A young American woman Grace discovers that her grandmother Maggie is a survivor of the Titanic, and asks her to tell her story. Maggie was one of fourteen Irish emigrants to leave a single village to sail on the Titanic. They all have hopes and fears for the new life they are sailing towards, and many are leaving behind friends and loved ones. Hazel Gaynor deftly moves back and forth between the two narrative threads, showing how grief and loss can cast its shadow over lives, and how important it is to seize love when you find it.

Grab a copy of The Girl Who Came Home here



9780007267002 (1)Kaspar: Prince of Cats

by Michael Morpurgo, Michael Foreman (Illustrator)

This is my daughter’s favourite book, and she returns to it again and again. I was curious to know why, so I wrested it from her and sat down to read. It really is a delightful book, gorgeously illustrated by Michael Foreman. It tells the story of Johnny Trott, a bellboy at the Savoy, who makes friends with a cat named Kaspar.

‘From his whiskers to his paws he was black all over, jet black and sleek and shiny and beautiful. He knew he was beautiful too. He moved like silk, his head held high, his tail swishing as he went.’

Kaspar belongs to a Russian countess who befriends Johnny, and introduces him to a world of beauty and art and music. When the countess tragically dies, Johnny must keep Kaspar safe from the horrible head housekeeper, called ‘Skullface’ by the hotel staff. He is helped by the daughter of a rich American who is staying at the Savoy. They have all sorts of adventures – including escaping the sinking of the Titanic – before finding happiness and safety in America. I asked my daughter why she loves it so much, and she said, ‘because it’s about a cat, and a boy and a girl who save it, and because it makes you sad one minute, then happy the next.’ Wonderful!

Grab a copy of Kaspar: Prince of Cats here


The Spring Bridethe-spring-bride

by Anne Gracie

Anne Gracie is my favourite living romance author. Her Regency love stories are a perfect blend of romance, humour and pathos, and I never fail to finish with a lump in my throat. The Spring Bride is the third in a series following the romantic entanglements of four young women struggling to make their way in the world. The series began with The Autumn Bride, and continued with The Winter Bride – I would definitely start at the beginning. This one involves a rescued mutt, a gentleman-turned spy, a murder mystery, and a girl who fears to fall in love. Can’t wait for the next in the series!

Grab a copy of The Spring Bride here


91S2AFtIYnLSnow in Summer

by Jane Yolen

Jane Yolen is a wonderful American children’s author known for her interest in fairy tales and folklore. I have read and enjoyed many of her books, in particular The Devil’s Arithmetic and Briar Rose. Snow in Summer is a reworking of the Snow White fairy tale, set in the hillbilly mountains of West Virginia during the Great Depression. The story is both familiar and unfamiliar, as the best fairy tale retellings are. It is not her finest work, but a must-read for anyone interested in the imaginative use of fairy tales.

Grab a copy of Snow in Summer here


Rodin’s Loverrodin-s-lover

by Heather Webb

I remember watching the movie ‘Camille Claudel’, starring Isabelle Adjani and Gerard Depardieu in the late 1980s, and being stirred by the intensely romantic yet tragic story of this young sculptor as she struggled to make her way as a woman and a creative artist in the male-dominated world of the late 19th century.

Heather Webb has now brought Camille Claudel to life on the page, in this delicate and haunting novel told from her point of view. We see her as a strong-willed and determined young woman, stealing clay from a garden late at night so she can use it for her sculptures. Then we see Camille’s meeting with Auguste Rodin, the controversial sculptor, and the beginning of their tumultuous affair. The tension between Love and Art torments Camille. She breaks off their relationship as her work is dismissed as being copies of his, even as she longs for him. Her emotional and psychological breakdown is deftly and sensitively handled, and the ending brought tears to my eyes. A beautiful novel for anyone who (like me) loves books inspired by real-life artists.

Grab a copy of Rodin’s Lover here


9781845951542-1-edition.default.original-1The Mystery of Princess Louise: Queen Victoria’s Rebellious Daughter

by Lucinda Hawksley

In recent months, I’ve been reading a lot of non-fiction books written by the British biographer Lucinda Hawksley, and enjoyed them all. So I was drawn to read this biography of one of Queen Victoria’s daughters as much by the author as by the promise of the blurb: ‘packed with intrigues, scandals and secrets, (this is) a vivid portrait of a royal desperate to escape her inheritance.’

I was not disappointed. Lucinda Hawksley has a knack for bringing stories alive on the page, and Princess Louise is a wonderful character. Outspoken, creative, and sensual, she smoked cigarettes, rode bicycles, and refused to wear a crinoline. It is rumoured she had an illegitimate baby, smuggled out of the palace by the queen’s doctor, and one of her lovers’ may have died in her arms. It is impossible to know the truth because – nearly 70 years after her death – her archives are stoutly locked away and no-one is permitted to read them. A fascinating mystery, indeed.

Grab a copy of The Mystery of Princess Louise here

Kate FKate Forsyth is the bestselling and award-winning author of more than twenty books, ranging from picture books to poetry to novels for both children and adults.

She was recently voted one of Australia’s Favourite Novelists. She has been called one of ‘the finest writers of this generation”, and “quite possibly … one of the best story tellers of our modern age.’

Click here to see Kate’s author page

The Beast’s Garden

by Kate Forsyth

the-beast-s-gardenA retelling of The Beauty and The Beast set in Nazi Germany

The Grimm Brothers published a beautiful version of the Beauty & the Beast tale called ‘The Singing, Springing Lark’ in 1819. It combines the well-known story of a daughter who marries a beast in order to save her father with another key fairy tale motif, the search for the lost bridegroom. In ‘The Singing, Springing Lark,’ the daughter grows to love her beast but unwittingly betrays him and he is turned into a dove. She follows the trail of blood and white feathers he leaves behind him for seven years, and, when she loses the trail, seeks help from the sun, the moon, and the four winds. Eventually she battles an evil enchantress and saves her husband, breaking the enchantment and turning him back into a man.

Kate Forsyth retells this German fairy tale as an historical novel set in Germany during the Nazi regime. A young woman marries a more…

Click here to grab a copy of The Beast’s Garden

Nine Naughty Questions with… Mary Jo Putney, author of Not Always A Saint

9781420127171The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Mary Jo Putney

author of Not Always A Saint and many more…

Nine Naughty Questions


1. Headless washboard abs, a torrid embrace, the sprawling homestead, an elegantly dressed décolletage, or the vaguely kinky object against a dark background – what’s your favourite type of romance cover and why?

I like having people on the cover, preferably a couple in a moment of tenderness and emotion.  Note: tenderness – crazed, stoat-like passion isn’t as interesting. But it can be difficult to get a cover with two really appropriate looking people–male models are often too young and they lack gravitas – so a single appealing person is also good.  My publisher, Kensington, has done some very fine covers of women in gorgeous gowns which may not be historically accurate, but – GORGEOUS!

2. What is the secret life of a romance writer? What goes on between you and your keyboard (or quill) behind closed doors?

I look at my computer, my computer looks at me.  I pause to pet whatever cat is lying in front of the keyboard. I sigh with frustration.  Real progress tends to kick in only when deadline panic looms!

Mary Jo Putney

3. At the heart of a romantic story is the way in which the main characters reveal their true natures to each other. How much of yourself do you put into your characters, and have their stories been affected by your personal experiences?

I think it’s necessary to have empathy with all characters in order to make them believable, so all of mine have some connection with my own experiences.  Sometimes the original experience is transmuted into an event so different that only I understand the connection – but that connection must be there.

4. I’m interested in how you differentiate between romance fiction, erotica and porn. Are romance readers getting naughtier?

The heart of a good romance is the developing relationship.  It’s how two people fall in love, develop trust, overcome challenges, and make a deep, lasting commitment.  There may or may not be graphic sexuality – some of the most wonderful romantic stories I’ve ever read were “sweet” books such as those by Eva Ibbotson and Georgette Heyer.  What matters is the relationship.

In erotica, graphic sexuality is essential.  The erotica that is written for the romance genre has the sexuality, but relationships are an essential part of the mix.   Porn is sex for sex’s sake, and there may be elements of “Sex is dirty and isn’t that great!”

I don’t know if I’d say that romance readers are getting naughtier, but there is a very large market for very hot books.  A well known writer friend of mine speculates that perhaps the genre might split in two, with one part focusing more on the relationships and the other on the sexuality.  I don’t know if it will happen, but it’s an interesting theory!

97814201271715. Please tell us about your latest novel! Did you have a secret alternative title while you were writing it?

Actually, no!  As soon as I started thinking about the characters and the story I thought of that title, and it was so right that I never considered anything else.  Luckily, my editor and publisher agreed with me.

Grab a copy of Not Always A Saint here

6. What’s the most memorable reaction you’ve received after a friend or family member read one of your books?

Mostly they want to know when the next book will be out.

7. Romance writers are sometimes denigrated and asked when they’ll write ‘real’ books – what do you tell the haters?

I’ve never actually been asked that question, but if I was, I’d say something like, “I love what I write and they sure look like real books to me!”  If I was feeling catty, I might ask, “How many romances have you actually read?”  Often the answer would be “none.” But my friends and family are too polite to actually ask such rude questions.

8. Romance readers love discovering new authors. Please tell us about five books you recently read and loved to bits.

1) The Spring Bride by my friend Anne Gracie.  A delicious Regency historical, and third in her Chance Sisters series.the-spring-bride
2) Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs.  She’s a terrific urban fantasy writer who creates wonderful relationships.
3) The Hanged Man by P. N. Elrod.  It’s a Victorian/steampunk/urban fantasy/mystery and the first in a new series.  Pat Elrod is a terrific writer, and the book was a real page turner, with a nice little bit of romance as well.
4) The Year We Fell Down, Book 1 of The Ivy Years by Sarina Bowen.  This is New Adult romance, intelligent and intensely emotional.  In the first book, the heroine was an athlete who had a life changing accident that put her in a wheelchair, and the hero is an athlete who smashed up his leg and is living in the room across the hall. It’s brilliantly done.
5) The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison is a fantasy novel, and a finalist for the Hugo for best novel of the year, which is the top award in American science fiction.  The youngest, mixed blood, and most despised son of the elven emperor, Maia is raised far from the court in virtual exile.  Then his father and older brothers die in an airship accident and Maia is suddenly emperor.  But while he is young and under-educated, he is not stupid.  It’s a great story with great worldbuilding.

9. Please tell us your favourite scene from your latest book, and why it’s particularly delicious!

I was still working on Not Always a Saint when my publisher, Kensington, asked what I’d like for a cover.  I didn’t have much time to think about it, so I said, “The heroine is in a gorgeous red gown sweeping up a staircase and peering mischievously over her shoulder.”  Artist Jon Paul Ferrara did exactly that, and the result is spectacular!   So I wrote the wedding night scene to match the cover. Daniel and Jessie had a lot of fun that night.

Mary, thank you for playing.

9781420127171Not Always A Saint

The Lost Lords Series : Book 7

by Mary Jo Putney

After the death of his sweetheart when he was at university, Daniel Herbert buried his grief in medical studies and his passion for healing. Viewed as a saint by those who know him, in his own mind he never quite manages to live up to his own high standards.

Most men would be thrilled to learn they’ve inherited a title and estate from a distant relative, but Daniel is appalled because the burden of wealth will interfere with his medical calling. Warily he accepts that he must enter society and seek a wife-a sensible woman who can oversee his properties, leaving him free to continue his work. He does not expect to become intoxicated by a woman called the Black Widow, who is as mysterious as she is more…

Grab a copy of Not Always A Saint here


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