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

 

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

Nine Naughty Questions with… Julie Anne Long, author of The Legend of Lyon Redmond

the-legend-of-lyon-redmondThe Booktopia Book Guru asks

Julie Anne Long

author of The Legend of Lyon Redmond 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?

Some of those covers are pretty artful and striking (a certain gray necktie against a black background springs to mind), but for my genre I love covers that capture true emotion and kind of tell a story with the visual. Which is why I completely love the cover of The Legend of Lyon Redmond. Not only is there dynamic movement (which we don’t seem to see very often on covers), it’s so…poignant. The emotion, the longing, the joy, the pain, is all there. I think it captures the story PERFECTLY and I was beside myself with happiness when I first saw it.

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

Blood sweat and tears! I’ve typed the “e” and “t” letters clean off the keys of my laptop, that’s how impassioned it gets behind closed doors. And by night I don a black unitard and cat ears and fight crime.

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 Author: Julie Anne Longcharacters, and have their stories been affected by your personal experiences?

I think all my characters are me and I am all my characters. Very broadly speaking, that is. I think a writer can only only tell a story through the filter of her own view of the world and her own experiences, so my own experiences colour every character I create, and the actions and feelings of those characters. None of my characters or the events in my books have been drawn specifically from real life, but they’ve been shaped by my interpretation of real life, if that makes sense.

Empathy is pretty important, I think. You have to crawl right inside your characters and BE them, feel their feelings, see what they see, in order to make them seem real to the reader.

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

Nah, readers have always had a naughty streak. I think the genre has…diversified, shall we say? Fragmented? Specialized? E.g., I just read a Faith Baldwin romance written in the 30’s (she was kind of the Nora Roberts of her day—an incredibly prolific, charming writer who wrote into the 70’s, I believe, and a number of her books were made into movies), and it featured two love interests, one of whom was a married man, and she flew a plane because her father owned an airline. And none of this was treated as any big deal in the story —every character was well-rounded and sympathetic. This was a “penny romance,” basically what we consider a typical mass market today. Now today we’d find most of these themes in another genre, maybe—women’s fiction?

I don’t write erotica or porn, so I don’t have definitions of those genres at my fingertips and I don’t consider myself an expert, and would never speak for the writers of those genres. I would imagine it relates to the emphasis in the story—romance fiction might place the emphasis on the emotions, with sex a net result of that; with erotica, the emotions might originate from or result from the physicality; porn seems to be more focused on the physical, with an emotional arc not critical to the genre.

the-legend-of-lyon-redmond5. Please tell us about your latest novel! Did you have a secret alternative title while you were writing it?

I always knew what it was called, truthfully!

Grab a copy of The Legend of Lyon Redmond here

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

One guy friend read my first book (The Runaway Duke) and asked why the heroine didn’t “karate chop in the larynx” a guy who made an untoward pass at her. I had to gently explain that most Regency Romance heroines don’t necessarily default to karate. At least he was indignant on her behalf and wanted her to be able to defend herself.

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

I’ve been fortunate that most people I’ve personally encountered are more intrigued and supportive than anything else. Usually the denigrators are people who’ve never actually read a romance, or 1be45016e9bb2a2e11e845e16cc9963eread one once, say, in 1985, and decided on the basis of that they didn’t like the genre. Would you decided you hated all of, say, Asian cuisine if you tasted a pot sticker and decided you didn’t like it? I use that analogy, frequently: there are a vast number of genres and sub-genres and voices in romance, and there are a near infinite number of ways to tell a love story—and that’s what a romance novel is. Don’t we enjoy romantic films? A romance is similar, in that (if the book is doing its job) you’re immersed in the story and rooting for the hero and heroine to reach a happy ending. What could possible be objectionable about that? Writing quality varies, but quality is subjective. Romance has something for everyone.

One thing I’ve encountered puzzles me: often writers who consider themselves journalists—and are frequently very good ones—feel free to make generalisations or use romance-oriented metaphors (usually involving the words “bodice ripper” or “Fabio”) that are incredibly, jarringly dated and incorrect. I wonder: why would someone who would normally be careful with facts be careless about this kind of thing? Five or ten minutes of googling would probably provide a good quick education about today’s romances.

I think the media helps perpetuate generalisations about the genre, but I’ve found that once you get a chance to patiently explain it, readers are usually intrigued and open.

the-husband-s-secret8. Romance readers love discovering new authors. Please tell us about five books you recently read and loved to bits.

I’ve glommed Liane Moriarty (The Husband’s Secret and all her others—fantastic vibrant voice, a great balance of warmth, wit and depth, great characterisations, the perfect blend of lightness and darkness) and Kerry Greenwood (Phryne Fisher mysteries—fabulous history, very unique heroine who unapologetically takes lovers willy nilly) recently. That’s a lot of books right there :)

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

Oh my goodness….I had such a wonderful time writing It Started with a Scandal that I woke up a little sad the day after I turned it in, because I was sorry I wasn’t going to be spending the day with Lavay and Elise. I had moved in with them for so long, so to speak.

I loved writing every scene, but one of my favourites is between Lavay and Elise after his assembly, where he finally learns the entirety of her secret. A little drunk, full of warring emotions, he rings for her, and manages, with a sort of controlled, tender, ferocity, reveal to her what he knows about her past…and to create a safe place (or as safe as any place that includes a dangerously appealing man can be) for her to tell him more about it…and he also grills her. And this is where they sort of…negotiate…what they’re going to do about their feelings, not to mention their overwhelming desire, for each other. There are a lot of layers of things going on in this scene and it was a bit of a crescendo.

Julie, thank you for playing.


The Legend of Lyon Redmond

the-legend-of-lyon-redmondThe Pennyroyal Green Series : Book 11

by Julie Anne Long

Bound by centuries of bad blood, England’s two most powerful families maintain a veneer of civility . . . until the heir to the staggering Redmond fortune disappears, reviving rumors of an ancient curse: a Redmond and an Eversea are destined to fall disastrously in love once per generation.

An Enduring Legend

Rumor has it she broke Lyon Redmond’s heart. But while many a man has since wooed the dazzling Olivia Eversea, none has ever won her—which is why jaws drop when she suddenly accepts a viscount’s proposal. Now London waits with bated breath for the wedding of a decade . . . and wagers on the more…

Grab a copy of The Legend of Lyon Redmond here

Nine Naughty Questions with… Molly McAdams

Booktopia’s Romance Specialist asks

Molly McAdams

author of Forgiving Lies

Nine Naughty Questions

———————————-

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

Haha, uh, great question! I definitely never thought I would be a writer. I failed out of Creative Writing in college. But I’ve always been a flirt and storyteller, and dated A LOT … and I write a lot of my real life in my books. So I guess born?

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 do think so! They get a real-life feel along with the fantasy. And I probably should feel exposed, but I don’t. I know if something has happened to me, then its most likely happened to someone else—and maybe by sharing my story, I can help that person.

3. Please tell us about your latest novel…
Forgiving Lies has a little bit of everything: comedy, romance, suspense, thrill factor. I’m so excited for my readers to get this one in their hands, it’s different from anything I’ve written so far.

You can pick up a copy of Forgiving Lies by Molly McAdams here

4. Is the life of a published romance writer… well… romantic?

Read Forgiving Lies and From Ashes. Gage (From Ashes) and Kash (Forgiving Lies) are both made after my hubby. You tell me. ;)

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?

There is, and I so wish I could tell you … but, unfortunately, I can’t. I plan on writing it into one of my stories … don’t want to spoil it now.

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?

Romance doesn’t equal sex. Romance is the love and the passion. Passion and love can both be displayed without sex. But I think its secretly something the readers crave, and for most of our story lines, it’s what would happen in that time, so we’re going to write it.

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?

I can’t do five books so I’ll do five authors, okay? Haha. (#cheater)

1. Nicholas Sparks
2. A L Jackson
3. Stephenie Meyer
4. Madeline Sheehan
5. Tara Sivec

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

I think it will always be hot. Women want an escape, and they want a romantic escape. Who doesn’t? It started for us with the Disney fairytale princesses! Haha

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

Never give up, and always write for yourself!

Thanks for joining us Molly!


Molly McAdams grew up in California but now lives in the oh-so-amazing state of Texas with her husband and furry four-legged daughters. When she’s not diving into the world of her characters, she can be found hiding out in her bedroom surrounded by her laptop and cell, and fighting over the TV remote. Molly has published four New Adult novels and is a New York Times bestselling author.

Romance at Booktopia’s Nine Naughty Questions: Travel Edition with… Zoe Archer

While gallivanting around the American countryside, Booktopia’s Romance Specialist Haylee Nash is taking the chance to catch up with some of the USA’s great romance writing talent, the first of which is Zoe Archer, author of paranormal, historical and adventure romance.

On my first less-than-scorching day in Los Angeles, I got the opportunity to meet with the lovely Zoe Archer. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of hailing a cab (which, I have since learnt, you DO NOT DO) and, after spending my shopping, eating and boozing allowance on the fare, turned up to Zoe’s apartment over an hour late.

Thankfully, Zoe was forgiving and after having some cuddles with her super friendly, and fluffy, cat Whiskey (which were much-needed as I was, and am still having, serious pet withdrawals), we got down to business.

Many thanks to Zoe Archer and her equally lovely husband (and fellow romance author) Nico Rosso, for inviting me into their apartment, for the interview, and for the ride home!


When not working on increasing her waistline through sampling gratuitous amounts of America’s fine food and liquor, Haylee Nash is an unabashed romance fan and all things fluffy.  Haylee is also the Romance Specialist at Booktopia.

Fiona Palmer, author of The Sunburnt Country, answers Nine Naughty Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Fiona Palmer

author of The Sunburnt Country, The Road Home, Heart of Gold and The Family Farm

Nine Naughty Questions

———————–

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

Hmm, you know I’m not sure. Maybe it’s both? I think it was reading romance books at a young age that gave me the bug, but then again maybe it was just me, I could have been predestined to love romance.

My life before publication, well it was a simple country one, where my kids and work took up most of my time. Now the computer and my characters are my best friends. (I do have real ones, it’s just hard to see them as much with the distances out here.) I grew up and now live in my tiny five house town, and because it’s so small you find yourself on every volunteer list. Not that I mind but out here you don’t just get to do a secretary job for a few years. Oh no! The last lady I took over from had done it for 17 years, so I expect I’m in for the long haul. And that’s just one position I have. But in such a small community it’s needed and just what you have to do. Being an author doesn’t change that at all either.

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?

Yes, I think so. It’s a real emotional journey, you try to connect with your readers, and that takes a lot of personal stuff. I do get embarrassed when people I know read my work, well I used to. I think now that I’m published and the books are selling well I don’t cringe as much. But I do get emotional. On the outside, I think I come across as strong and impenetrable but on the inside, it’s a whole different story. (I’m rather a softy and can tear up at the simplest things.) Now, I’ve never been good with the spoken word, can’t seem to express how I feel, yet when I write it’s a whole different experience. I can pour my heart out to my computer, or in a letter, yet when it comes to my mouth…nothing comes out. So I wonder if this is why I can fill my books with so much passion and heart as it’s a form of release?

3. Please tell us about your latest novel…

My latest novel is about Jonelle Baxter, a 26-year-old mechanic from the small rural town of Bundara. Her town is struggling through a drought, which affects not only her business but her friends and family around her. And things go from bad to worse when a new city bank manager comes to town. Daniel Tyler has his hands full as he tries to rein in the spiraling debts of Bundara.

Click here to buy The Sunburnt Country from Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore

FROM THE PUBLISHER

Jonelle Baxter is a young woman in a man’s world – a tough, hardworking motor mechanic from an idyllic country family. But lately things in her perfect life have been changing, and her workshop isn’t the only local business that’s struggling.

Daniel Tyler is new in town, posted from the city to manage the community bank. As he tries to rein in the spiralling debts of Bundara, he uncovers all sorts of personal dramas and challenges.

The last thing Jonny and Dan need is an unwanted attraction to each other. She has enough problems just keeping her livelihood going and he’s fighting pressures that stretch all the way to Perth. It’s going to take more than a good drop of rain to break the drought and bring change in love and in life.

A moving and heartwarming story about the beauty that’s found in the bush, especially in the most trying of times.

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

Ha ha, no. Didn’t you know that’s why we write romance? So we can get some in our lives! No actually, I can’t complain. I’ve just come back from a romantic weekend with the hubby. We are coming up to our 12th anniversary and it’s certainly getting better with age. But when you have kids, the romance is hard to find sometimes. That’s why taking time out together or even just for yourself is so important.

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?

Well, when my husband proposed, I got the red roses, the cooked meal, nice set table and a gorgeous ring and that was very special and hard to go past. But I think in my writing I use more of the first sparks of lust/love. Nothing is more electric than that first meeting of eyes or that first kiss you’ve been hanging out to plant on someone. For me, the tension and lead up is just as important and sometimes much more exciting. I can still remember the moment when I went to work and saw my hubby across the road. I still remember what he was wearing, what he looked like. It’s those moments that tend to stay.

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 author and what they feel comfortable doing. I enjoy reading it because you are with the characters for the whole lead up and then its like, wham, they shut the door on you and you’re missing the bit they have been building up to. It’s like someone steeling your cappuccino you’ve just watched being made to frothy perfection and hiding around the corner and drinking it. You’ve got to at least be able to enjoy it with them. I don’t like to go overboard, and I have my parents who read my work and they soon tell me if I have. They are like my censors. “Darling that part was far too vulgar.”

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?

Oh gosh. I guess I would have to start with the first romance book I read, Summer’s End by Danielle Steele when I was in primary school. Julie Garwood’s Ransom was another that I picked up early and every few years I re-read. And Rachael Treasure’s Jillaroo was the first rural book I had read. I had just written my first draft so her book gave me the confidence to get mine out there also. I also love YA, I think it’s young love and that first attraction that hooks me in (also I still think I’m 17 – in my mind at least.) I just finished Storm by Brigid Kemmerer and loved it. And my publisher put me onto Immediate Fiction by Jerry Cleaver, brilliant book on writing (and the only one I have).

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

Oh I am a big fan of this genre. Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy is one of my favourites. One, because her lead character is a strong, determined, gutsy girl. My kind of reading, and so much like my own characters; and because they are so fast-paced. In addition, there is that magic component, or super powers side of it. They are all beautiful and love fiercely.

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

Write what you love, what you know and just keep writing. I get Dory’s line from Nemo stuck in my head all the time, but change it to ‘just keep writing, just keep writing…’

Fiona, thank you for playing.

Click here to buy The Sunburnt Country from Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore

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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