What Cathryn Read – The July Round Up (by bestselling author Cathryn Hein)

Popular Australian novelist Cathryn Hein, author of Rocking Horse Hill, Heartland and more gives her verdict on the books she’s been reading.

Regency-set intrigue and determined rakes, a classic adventure, some sexy magic and mystery, wallbanging and a hot Scot in a kilt. My July reads were as romantic as they come.


Son of the Morning

by Linda Howard

When Australian historical romance author Anna Campbell (A Rake’s Midnight Kiss) described this book as “out Da Vinci-ing The Da Vinci Code” I had to give it a run. And what fun I had, too. Loads of action, an unusual romance with a hot Scot, Templar treasure, deadly danger, time travel and a good dose of sex for extra spice.

Scholar Grace St John finds her life destroyed when she begins translating an ancient Templar document. Forced on the run, with the police and a terrible enemy after her, she manages to survive on her wits and friendship. As Grace eludes her hunters she continues her translation, uncovering a secret force and the warrior bound to protect it forever. To save herself, and the world, from evil she must travel back in time. And face the raw passion and power of Black Niall.

Romance, adventure and men in kilts. You can’t go wrong!

Grab a copy of Son of the Morning here


The Winter Bride

by Anne Gracie

Oh, how I adore this series! It started with The Autumn Bride, which was absolutely gorgeous and I thought couldn’t be bested… until I read The Winter Bride. Loved it. Like really, really loved it, to the point that this is now my favourite Anne Gracie.

The Winter Bride continues the story of the Chance Sisters, this time focusing on Damaris Chance and muffin-fearing (yes, you read that right), steadfast rake Freddie Monkton-Coombes. For their own reasons, both have sworn off marriage, but when circumstances call for a fake betrothal, Freddie and Damaris are thrown together. All goes well. Too well, in fact. Which leads Freddie into thinking that this muffin caper isn’t so frightening after all. But can he convince Damaris of the same?

Not only was this story an absolute delight with it’s cute muffin theme, it was also hugely emotional. Freddie’s and Damaris’s backstories left me in tears, the poor darlings, but also cheering madly for their happily-ever-after. An absolute delight. Go buy it. You’ll have a ball…

 Grab a copy of The Winter Bride here


Wallbanger

by Alice Clayton

I admit that I was reluctant to read this book but fellow author Rachael Johns (Outback Blaze) remained adamant that it was brilliant. With nearly 80,000 Goodreads ratings indicating the same, I figured I’d better see what the fuss was about. About 10% through I sent Rach a cranky email along the lines of “I told you this wasn’t my thing!” but she insisted I read on. The story picked up. Then it really started romping and next thing I know I was having a fantastic time.

Olivia has lost her O. Simon, her hot neighbour, definitely hasn’t. When Simon’s over-active sex life leads to a hallway confrontation, attraction smacks them both in the face. But with Olivia loving her single life (even if she is missing her O) and Simon busy with his harem, romance is out of the question. Friendship, however, blossoms and it’s the growth of this friendship that makes this book so wonderful. That and super snappy dialogue, naughty cat antics, friends in messed-up relationships, and some tasty baking as an added bonus. And wallbanging. Mustn’t forget that!

Humorous and heart-warming. Yep, Rach and all those Goodreads ratings were spot on. A hugely enjoyable contemporary romance that’ll leave you smiling.

  Grab a copy of Wallbanger here


City of Lost Dreams

by Magnus Flyte

The first in this series, City of Dark Magic, was a blast of a read. Sexy, funny, full of adventure and history, with a bit of the paranormal thrown in to liven things up. The second, City of Lost Dreams, is the same, albeit with a more complex storyline. But the same unique characters I fell in love with are back, and in a nice pickle too.

Musicologist Sarah Weston is in Vienna looking for a cure for her dangerously ill young friend Pollina. When the scientist who could cure Pollina suddenly disappears, apparently on the run, Sarah is forced to help her. But mysterious things begin to happen, to Sarah and those she comes in contact with. Meanwhile, Prince Max is in Prague, investigating the sudden re-appearance of people long dead, while Nicholas Pertusato is on his own mission, chasing fast-disappearing alchemist’s relics. When they realise the connections, the trio discover it might not be only Pollina’s life under threat.

This sequel was wonderfully entertaining. Great pacing, lots of intrigue, fabulous atmosphere, sexy and fun. Can’t wait for the next.

Grab a copy of City of Dreams here


King Solomon’s Mines

by H. Rider Haggard

I’ve been meaning to read this book for donkey’s. Now I wish I had before because I’d probably be on my second or third read now. What a hoot! Except for the elephant shooting. Can’t say I appreciated that at all, but those were the times, sadly. The rest was a great fat adventure with plenty of drama and heroism and brilliant characters. Alan Quatermain was much more subtle and interesting than his Hollywood hero, Sir Henry had me in tears with his heroics, Captain Good and his lovely white legs provided comic relief, Umpoba was brilliantly regal, King Twala twisted by violence and corruption, his witch Gagool perfectly evil, while the Kukuana warriors were magnificent, courageous and fierce. What amazed me the most was how King Solomon’s Mines read. I’d expected a bit of a slog given it was published in 1885, but it romped along like a modern boy’s own adventure.

  Grab a copy of King Solomon’s Mines here

 


A Dangerous Madness

by Michelle Diener

I’m not afraid to admit I’m a total Michelle Diener fangirl. I could rave for hours about her Susanna Horenbout & John Parker series. They’re like reading Tudor-set James Bonds, full of action, intrigue and a delicious romance. A Dangerous Madness is set in the ever-popular Regency era and while it’s connected to previous novels The Emperor’s Conspiracy and A Banquet of Lies (both brilliant), it can be easily read alone.

When Phoebe Hillier is jilted by her fool of a betrothed, instead of despair, she’s rather relieved. Until she discovers Sheldrake had been involved in something unsavoury. Something that places her in grave danger. Enter the Duke of Wittaker, on his own investigation of a plot against the Prime Minister. When it leads him to Phoebe sparks fly. But who can be trusted during these dangerous times? Especially when they’ve both been living lies.

In all Diener’s books, the pacing of both the thriller plot and romance is superb. I also adore her characters. They’re courageous, clever, interesting and possess great integrity. But I really love how she brings the politics of the period to life, whether that be in the court of Henry VIII or the Regency era. The author notes at the end of the book also make for fascinating reading. Highly recommended.

  Grab a copy of A Dangerous Madness here

 


Hein, CathrynThanks Cathryn Hein, we look forward to seeing what you have read next month!

Cathryn Hein was born in South Australia’s rural south-east. With three generations of jockeys in the family it was little wonder she grew up horse mad, finally obtaining her first horse at age 10. So began years of pony club, eventing, dressage and showjumping until university beckoned.

Armed with a shiny Bachelor of Applied Science (Agriculture) from Roseworthy College she moved to Melbourne and later Newcastle, working in the agricultural and turf seeds industry. Her partner’s posting to France took Cathryn overseas for three years in Provence where she finally gave in to her life-long desire to write. Her short fiction has been recognised in numerous contests, and published in Woman’s Day.

Now living in Melbourne, Cathryn writes full-time.

Click here to see Cathryn’s author page

Rocking Horse Hill

by Cathryn Heinrocking-horse-hill

Who do you trust when a stranger threatens to tear your family apart?

Ever since she was a little girl, Emily Wallace-Jones has loved Rocking Horse Hill. The beautiful family property is steeped in history. Everything important in Em’s life has happened there. And even though Em’s brother Digby has inherited the property, he has promised Em it will be her home for as long as she wishes.

When Digby falls in love with sweet Felicity Townsend, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, Em worries about the future. But she is determined not to treat Felicity with the same teenage snobbery that tore apart her relationship with her first love, Josh Sinclair. A man who has now sauntered sexily back into Em’s life and given her a chance for redemption.

But as Felicity settles in, the once tightly knitted Wallace-Jones family begins to fray. Suspicions are raised, Josh voices his distrust, and even Em’s closest friends question where Felicity’s motives lie. Conflicted but determined to make up for the damage caused by her past prejudices, Em sides with her brother and his fiancée until a near tragedy sets in motion a chain of events that will change the family forever.

Rocking Horse Hill is a moving family drama and passionate love story from the author of Heartland.

Grab a copy of Rocking Horse Hill Here

What Cathryn Read – The June Round Up (by bestselling author Cathryn Hein)

Popular Australian novelist Cathryn Hein, author of Rocking Horse Hill, Heartland and more gives her verdict on the books she’s been reading.

What a great reading month! From a literary award winner to a labyrinthine thriller to a frolic with a rock god, plus some lovely romances to get gooey over. I’d love to say my to-be-read pile was lowered a little but, as usual, I ended up buying more than I read. Oh well, I’ll just have to read even more in July.


Mariana

by Susanna Kearsley

I’ve been hooked on Kearsley since reading The Shadowy Horses. It, The Winter Sea (aka Sophia’s Secret) and The Splendour Falls are my favourite Kearsleys. In Mariana, the heroine, Julie, buys Greywethers, a house she’s been drawn to since childhood, only to find it acts as portal between times. As Julie explores the past she uncovers the mystery of her historical predecessor Mariana. It’s a popular novel among fans but I didn’t warm to it the way I have her other books. Not in the beginning. Then came the last 100 pages and OH! Now I understand why it’s so adored. The ending was completely sigh-worthy. I cried. Love it when that happens. The Shadowy Horses remains my most cherished though. That book was stunning.

Grab a copy of Mariana here


Chocolate Cake For Breakfast

by Danielle Hawkins

Danielle Hawkins has only 2 books out. I wish she’d hurry up and write more because I’ve become a huge fan. Her debut, Dinner At Rose’s, was a wonderful read, heart-warming, romantic and funny. Chocolate Cake For Breakfast didn’t disappoint either. This book is a hoot. Helen McNeil is a rural vet who just happens to trip (literally) into a relationship with an extremely hunky rugby player. And not just any rugby player. A member of New Zealand’s beloved national side, the All Blacks. What follows is a funny and gorgeous romance that will leave you smiling. It even made me feel a little sentimental about the All Blacks. Very unpatriotic!

.

 Grab a copy of Chocolate Cake for Breakfast here


Wolf

by Mo Hayder

Crime and thriller writer Hayder never disappoints. The Devil of Nanking (aka Tokyo) remains one of the best thrillers I’ve ever read. Her Walking Man series, featuring smouldery Detective Inspector Jack Caffery is a favourite. Wolf is the 7th book in the series and a cracker. A wealthy family is being held hostage in their home and tormented in bizarre ways. Meanwhile, Caffery is challenged by the Walking Man to find who attached a ‘help us’ note to the little stray dog he’s found. As the two mysteries unfold, Hayder takes us through a labyrinth of clues, red herrings and twists you won’t see coming. Brilliant.

  Grab a copy of Wolf here


Burial Rites

by Hannah Kent

The book everyone has been raving about and showering with prizes. With good reason. This was a fascinating read, with beautiful writing, an evocative landscape and masterfully drawn characters. Set in the early 1800s, it tells the story of Agnes, an Icelandic woman condemned to death for the murder of her master. The truth of what led her to this predicament is slowly revealed as she waits her execution. I was immediately drawn by Agnes’s voice, the beauty of her observations, her secrecy and the way she rationalised her terrible predicament. Here’s a small sample:
Sometimes, after talking to the Reverend, my mouth aches. My tongue feels so tired; it slumps like a dead bird, all damp feathers, between the stones of my teeth.

As for the ending, wow. That’s still resonating.

Grab a copy of Burial Rites here


Lick

by Kylie Scott

Oh, what fun! It’s like a girly fantasy come true. Good girl Evelyn wakes up in a hotel room in Las Vegas with the hangover from hell only to discover she’s married a tattooed rock god. Awesome. What follows is a romance that will leave you smiling and barracking these two great characters on. No wonder the book has been such a hit. The dialogue is smart, the hero and heroine hugely likeable, there are witty friends and cheeky rock band members, flash cars, private jets and helicopter rides, and plenty of sex to spice things up. Pure escapism. And there are more books to come as Scott works her way through the Stage Dive band members – Play, the ebook of which is out now, and soon Lead. Rock on!

  Grab a copy of Lick here

 


Hein, CathrynThanks Cathryn Hein, we look forward to seeing what you have read next month!

Cathryn Hein was born in South Australia’s rural south-east. With three generations of jockeys in the family it was little wonder she grew up horse mad, finally obtaining her first horse at age 10. So began years of pony club, eventing, dressage and showjumping until university beckoned.

Armed with a shiny Bachelor of Applied Science (Agriculture) from Roseworthy College she moved to Melbourne and later Newcastle, working in the agricultural and turf seeds industry. Her partner’s posting to France took Cathryn overseas for three years in Provence where she finally gave in to her life-long desire to write. Her short fiction has been recognised in numerous contests, and published in Woman’s Day.

Now living in Melbourne, Cathryn writes full-time.

Click here to see Cathryn’s author page

Rocking Horse Hill

by Cathryn Heinrocking-horse-hill

Who do you trust when a stranger threatens to tear your family apart?

Ever since she was a little girl, Emily Wallace-Jones has loved Rocking Horse Hill. The beautiful family property is steeped in history. Everything important in Em’s life has happened there. And even though Em’s brother Digby has inherited the property, he has promised Em it will be her home for as long as she wishes.

When Digby falls in love with sweet Felicity Townsend, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, Em worries about the future. But she is determined not to treat Felicity with the same teenage snobbery that tore apart her relationship with her first love, Josh Sinclair. A man who has now sauntered sexily back into Em’s life and given her a chance for redemption.

But as Felicity settles in, the once tightly knitted Wallace-Jones family begins to fray. Suspicions are raised, Josh voices his distrust, and even Em’s closest friends question where Felicity’s motives lie. Conflicted but determined to make up for the damage caused by her past prejudices, Em sides with her brother and his fiancée until a near tragedy sets in motion a chain of events that will change the family forever.

Rocking Horse Hill is a moving family drama and passionate love story from the author of Heartland.

Grab a copy of Rocking Horse Hill Here

What Cathryn Read – The May Round Up (by bestselling author Cathryn Hein)

Popular Australian novelist Cathryn Hein, author of Rocking Horse Hill, Heartland and more gives her verdict on the books she’s been reading.

I had a slow reading month and didn’t get as many books read as I would have liked, but those I did read were excellent. Some made me cry. Always good! Unless it’s on public transport…

Here’s what I’ve read this month:


Marina

by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

I’m a total Ruiz Zafón fan girl. I thought nothing would overtake The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel’s Game as my favourite Zafóns but Marina has. The moment I finished all I wanted was to read it again. Set it a wonderfully evoked Barcelona, Marina tells the story of young Oscar Drai and his relationship with the mysterious and beautiful Marina. Together they uncover one of the city’s darkest secrets. With Gothic horror, love, adventure and truly gorgeous writing, this held me captive from the opening page. Brilliant.

Grab a copy of Marina here


Outback Blaze

by Rachael Johns

Johns has done it again with another delightful tale from Bunyip Bay. Her knack for detailing the warmth and bonds (and sometimes failings) of small rural communities has been proven in previous tales like Jilted, Man Drought and Outback Dreams, but in Outback Blaze the Bay and its workings are drawn even more vividly. Nothing like a mysterious fire to bring a town together and the gossipmongers out! Drew, the local policeman with a secret, and Ruby, a woman carrying her own heavy past, are adorable characters that I loved from the get-go and it was huge fun to follow them on their journey to happiness. Heart-warming rural romance with a nice touch of mystery.

 Grab a copy of Outback Blaze here


Being Jade

by Kate Belle

I was fortunate enough to score an advance review copy of Being Jade and am so thrilled I did. What a book!

I thoroughly enjoyed Belle’s debut, The Yearning, but this is even more accomplished. The story is cleverly written from alternating point of views, swapping between poor, dead Banjo and his daughter Lissy as they try to unravel the truth behind Banjo and Jade’s marriage. A riveting, complex and beautifully written tale of love, betrayal, tragedy, and the difference between love and sex. This book made me think. A lot. And snivel embarrassingly on the train. Can’t recommend it highly enough.

  Grab a copy of Being Jade here


The Perfect Wife 

by Katherine Scholes

Another author whose books are an auto-buy for me and The Perfect Wife didn’t disappoint.

Set in the late 40s in Tanganyika in East Africa, it follows young Australian woman Kitty Hamilton as she tries to live up to her husband Theo’s expectations of a proper wife. Scandal has forced Theo to take a government post in its groundnut scheme, far from his aristocratic roots, with the hope this new life will rebuild their marriage.

There is so much going on in The Perfect Wife: the power of art, the affects of war, class snobbery, the loss of dreams, colonialism, a subtle love story. All combining to create another sweeping Scholes read. Great stuff.

Grab a copy of The Perfect Wife here


Hein, CathrynThanks Cathryn Hein, we look forward to seeing what you have read next month!

Cathryn Hein was born in South Australia’s rural south-east. With three generations of jockeys in the family it was little wonder she grew up horse mad, finally obtaining her first horse at age 10. So began years of pony club, eventing, dressage and showjumping until university beckoned.

Armed with a shiny Bachelor of Applied Science (Agriculture) from Roseworthy College she moved to Melbourne and later Newcastle, working in the agricultural and turf seeds industry. Her partner’s posting to France took Cathryn overseas for three years in Provence where she finally gave in to her life-long desire to write. Her short fiction has been recognised in numerous contests, and published in Woman’s Day.

Now living in Melbourne, Cathryn writes full-time.

Click here to see Cathryn’s author page

Rocking Horse Hill

by Cathryn Heinrocking-horse-hill

Who do you trust when a stranger threatens to tear your family apart?

Ever since she was a little girl, Emily Wallace-Jones has loved Rocking Horse Hill. The beautiful family property is steeped in history. Everything important in Em’s life has happened there. And even though Em’s brother Digby has inherited the property, he has promised Em it will be her home for as long as she wishes.

When Digby falls in love with sweet Felicity Townsend, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, Em worries about the future. But she is determined not to treat Felicity with the same teenage snobbery that tore apart her relationship with her first love, Josh Sinclair. A man who has now sauntered sexily back into Em’s life and given her a chance for redemption.

But as Felicity settles in, the once tightly knitted Wallace-Jones family begins to fray. Suspicions are raised, Josh voices his distrust, and even Em’s closest friends question where Felicity’s motives lie. Conflicted but determined to make up for the damage caused by her past prejudices, Em sides with her brother and his fiancée until a near tragedy sets in motion a chain of events that will change the family forever.

Rocking Horse Hill is a moving family drama and passionate love story from the author of Heartland.

Grab a copy of Rocking Horse Hill Here

2013 Romance Writers of Australia Conference: Top 10 moments

Recently our Romance Specialist Haylee Nash flew the flag for Booktopia at the 2013 Romance Writers of Australia conference in Fremantle. These are her stories.

dancing up a stormFor those of you who have never been to a Romance Writers of Australia (RWA) Conference, or indeed any kind of romance conference, let me paint you a picture. Imagine a modestly sized room, filled with women. Hundreds of women. Each of these women are writers, romance writers, who spend their day behind a computer (if they’re lucky enough to be able to live from their writing) and in the rest of society are often derided for writing “those books”. So it’s fair to say that these women don’t often get the pleasure of speaking about romance, certainly not with fellow enthusiasts. Now to this joyous scene add oodles of champagne, a nautical theme and a conference venue that  is far enough away from most attendees to require staying at the hotel, sans husbands, significant others, kids, pets or any other responsibilities. Into this melee I walked, and, rather than wincing at the noise and leavig, I grabbed a champagne and, with stupidly big grin on my face, entered the fray. Continue reading

Australian Romance Author Showcase with…Cathryn Hein

As part of Australian Romance Month, Romance Specialist Haylee Nash will be interviewing one Australian Romance author per day. Much like a beauty pageant, each author will be using their charm, wit and grace (and the power of social media) to take home the Booktopia Romance Bestseller crown. Booktopia invites bestselling author of rural romance Cathryn Hein to the stage.

1. Describe the perfect date.
A beautiful spring day, al fresco dining with delicious food and wine, some gentle music or perhaps the sound of the ocean or birdsong, and the man I love. Although I could just as easily be suckered in by  a trip to the SCG to watch my beloved Sydney Swans in action. Throw in a hot pie and a big win, and perfection is found! Continue reading

Cathryn Hein, author of Heartland, answers Six Sharp Questions

heartlandThe Booktopia Book Guru asks

Cathryn Hein

author of Heartland and more…

Six Sharp Questions

———————————-

1. Congratulations, you have a new book. What is it about and what does it mean to you?

Heartland is the story of Callie Reynolds, a young woman who, since the death of her sister, has spent her life running from those who care for her. When her grandmother dies and leaves her Glenmore, a property Callie has always loved, she’s torn between what her heart aches for and the powerful need to honour her sister’s memory. All she wants is to sell up and move on, but the world keeps conspiring against her. The farm is full of memories and longing. Then there are the animals she’s been saddled with and an injured neighbour she feels responsible for – all surmountable problems. Until a very sexy and determined ex-soldier comes along and complicates matters…

Continue reading

Cathryn Hein, author of Heart of the Valley and Promises, answers Nine Naughty Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Cathryn Hein

author of Heart of the Valley and Promises

Nine Naughty Questions

 ——————————

1. I wonder, is a Romance writer born or made? Please tell us little about your life before publication.

I was brought up in Mt Gambier, in South Australia’s rural south east and had an idyllic childhood dominated by beach holidays and horse mania. After studying agriculture at Roseworthy College I worked for a couple of pasture seed companies before a doing a complete about-face and becoming an investment advisor. I’ve always written – short stories and bad angst teenage poetry at school, followed by umpteen attempts at full length fiction that never made it past the 10,000 word mark. Only when my partner and I moved overseas did I realise it was now or never. Once I’d experienced that first ‘I’ve just written a 100,000 word book’ high there I was no stopping me!

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 sometimes think reading romance is like a benign drug addiction. There’s such a rush of feeling and absolute satisfaction when you reach the end of a brilliant love story that all you want to do is experience it again. I call it the Happily Ever After High.

Feeling exposed comes with the territory. Despite writing characters that can be nothing like yourself, there’s always some piece of you on the page. There has to be to make it real. Many quotes about writing, like Hemingway’s ‘There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed’, exist because they’re true. You do bleed. In my case, it’s often from banging my head over and over against the desk in acute frustration.

3. Please tell us about your latest novel…

Heart of the Valley is my tribute to the magnificent NSW Hunter Valley, a place I fell in love with during my pasture seed days.

It tells the story of Brooke Kingston, a talented equestrienne whose world is turned upside-down after a terrible accident. When her well-meaning family, desperate to get her to Sydney so they can take care of her, hire a farm manager to take over her beloved property she digs in her spurs and refuses to leave. But Lachie Cambridge proves more than a match for Brooke…

Due to his job, my partner and I move around quite a bit, and this lifestyle has had a great affect on my concept of home. For me it’s wherever Jim is. For others home will always be a place. Heart of the Valley explores this theme. Is home a place or is it where your heart lies?

Click here to buy Heart of the Valley from Booktopia,
Australia’s No. 1 Online Book Shop

4. Is the life of a published Romance writer… well… Romantic?

Ha ha. It has its moments!

But there’s a great joy to the lifestyle. It’s incredibly satisfying to be able to live your dream, and that flows over into your relationships and overall life.

5. Of all 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?

I have a couple of special moments that I use for comparison. Adolescence is a great mine of emotion. Everything feels so intense when you’re young, over-hormonal, and enchanted by the endless possibilities and adventure of love. If I can recapture that on the page then I’m a very happy camper. As for revealing those special moments? Now, that would be telling…

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’t see a thing’ mild. How important do you think sex is in a Romance novel?

 I think it depends on the novel and the characters. Some of the most intensely satisfying romances have no sex at all. Others simply wouldn’t work without sex because it would be impossible to think of the characters not getting it on. Sex in some instances can really raise the dramatic stakes for the hero and heroine, while in others the same scene could be pointless. Each book dictates what works.

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?

Number one would have to be Jilly Cooper’s Riders. My copy has been read so many times that it’s in tatters. Polo would follow very closely, along with Rivals and The Man Who Made Husbands Jealous. These books are an absolute hoot to read and completely over the top, but I simply adore them. Rupert Campbell-Black is one of my all time favourite heroes – he’s just so naughty! I also love the way she makes the animals characters in their own right. I think that’s definitely rubbed off in my own work.

Paullina SimonsTully. It’s not a romance but the complexity of the characters amazes me. I’ve read this book many times and it never fails to keep me entranced. The book polarises people because the main character, Tully, is so difficult, yet at the same time she’s utterly compelling. You may not like her but you can’t stop reading her story.

Michelle Paver’s A Place in the Hills. I wish I’d written that book.

Andrew Nicoll’s The Good Mayor. I adore the way Nicoll captures the absurdity of being in love. The Mayor does so many undignified things, which he knows are silly and only add to his hopeless state, but he can’t help himself. He’s so in love it hurts!

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson. One of the sweetest romances I’ve ever read. I sighed so hard at the end of that book. Absolutely gorgeous.

8. Paranormal Romance writing is ‘so hot right now’, do you have any thoughts on why?

It’s the complete fantasy of it. If the world-building is done well, a good paranormal can take you to a land of pure magic; another realm where anything is possible. Sometimes we don’t want the real world, not even a tiny fictional scrap of it. We want to kick back and bury our nose in pure escapism. Paranormal romance caters for this need plus, being a romance, readers are guaranteed of a good dose of that addictive happily ever after high!

9. Lastly, what advice do you give aspiring writers?

Write. Don’t fiddle and faff. Write. Because the more you write the better you get. Then, when you’ve finished that first manuscript, put it away and write another. You’ll be stunned at how much better the second book will be.

Take the time to learn your craft. Writing isn’t easy – it’s very hard work and like any profession you need to hone your skills.

Always remember that everyone has a different process. There is no right or wrong way to do this. Some people are intricate plotters, nailing every tiny aspect of the book before they write a single word. Others are more organic and follow wherever their characters lead them. Some people write extremely rough first drafts then polish like crazy. Others – me included – can’t write another word until a chapter or scene is absolutely perfect. Whichever way you work, make sure you understand it. Once you’re published you’ll have deadlines, so knowing your process – how long it takes to write and edit your work – is vital.

Find good critique partners. They are treasures you can’t do without. Not only for their feedback on your work, but for their understanding and support during the dark times. And believe me, there will be dark times.

Join the Romance Writers of Australia. This is an extraordinary organisation. With them you’ll find information, education and amazing support. And friendship!

Cathryn, thank you for playing.

Click here to buy Heart of the Valley from Booktopia,
Australia’s No. 1 Online Book Shop

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