Romance Writers Australia hit me with a couple of questions for their Hearts Talk Magazine.
How did you feel about winning a Ruby with your DEBUT novel? Not a bad effort!
Just being a finalist in this incredible award was amazing. I’d completely convinced myself that it wasn’t possible that I could also win, hence my out of control speech. To win with my debut novel is extraordinary, especially as my hero is very unconventional. But it goes to show how much romance is changing. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.
With a survival theme, fabulous Australian setting, secrets, grief, adventure, and of course a happy ending, what more could a reader want? But this story isn’t just a wild ride with unconventional characters… I hope it also makes readers think about how we need to live our lives to the fullest and to be true to ourselves. I think readers love my action adventure style of writing, my hidden messages about accepting who we are, and if they love my characters as much as I do, then they too truly believe in love. Sometimes crashing down to earth is exactly what we need.
Some say ‘romantic suspense’ is a hard sell in Australia. What would you say to that?
Romantic Suspense may be a hard sell, but to be truly passionate about their work an author should only write what they believe in and not be swayed by market trends. Besides, I’d say Romantic Suspense is only just hitting its straps. Romance always ends in a happy ever after, so why not make the journey there an exciting one. My publisher called my debut novel Lost in Kakadu - meaty, challenging, and risky. This is a perfect description of how I like to write. I don't censor when it comes to crunch time, so some of my characters go to hell and back. When I develop my characters, I need to understand what makes them who they are and rationalise the way they behave too. But most of all, I want my readers to be sorry to say goodbye to them at the end of the story. Romantic Suspense is a thrilling ride for both author and reader alike.
Tell us about some of the crazy research you did for Lost in Kakadu!
I did many crazy things while researching this book. I hiked in our sweltering Australian bush until my blisters almost needed their own postcode. I ate witchetty grubs that I dug from my garden, not only so I could describe their weird texture and nutty flavour but also so I could see what they did when I tossed them onto a hot pan. I made slingshots with my bras and actually hit the target a few times. I sat in the bush in the pouring rain and smelt the damp leaves, listened to the raindrops filtering through the foliage and tasted tree sap straight off the bark.
When and why did the travel bug bite? Ever had any nail-biting travel experiences you weren’t sure you’d get out of?
My father died in a car accident when I was only 4 years old, yet it’s had a profound effect on the way I live my life. I believe in experiencing life, not just living it. Travel and adventure are my drugs of choice. So far I’ve explored 36 countries and I always have a holiday on the horizon. I’m an adventure junkie. I love hiking, scuba diving, white water rafting, snow skiing, hang gliding and basically anything that makes me scream.
We scooted over the edge but it quickly became apparent we’d made a very bad decision. At this point we were laughing about how foolish we were. But with our skis, poles and enormous heavy boots, we found it impossible to climb back up the slope. We decided going down would be easier, after all how far could it be, right?
It was a very, very long way. And after what seemed like an eternity of literally sliding down the snow on our bottoms, we still couldn’t see the end. We couldn’t abandon our equipment because we needed them to haul us back up the slope. As quick as a gear change, a storm rolled in and we could tell by the aggressive hand signals and rapid fire words from other skiers we needed to get out of there ASAP. In a matter of minutes we couldn’t see a metre in front of us. We huddled close together.
Math does come easy to me, English doesn’t. So when I scribbled ‘Write a Book’ on my bucket list, it was my idea for improving my spelling, grammar and vocabulary. I never imagined how much those three little words would change my life.
But writing Lost In Kakadu was the easy part. Editing that first shitty manuscript took eight years of hard slog. I did several editing courses. Then I hired a professional editor who also offered mentoring. But my inexperience and downright ignorance nearly drove her to give up on me many times. I had to learn everything. And I mean everything. I learnt about POVs and clichés, first person and third person perspectives. I learnt syntax, synonyms, sentence structure and just about everything else in between. I wrote short stories, drafted two more manuscripts and learnt the joys of character arcs. I worked hard, did my homework, read the prescribed reading, experimented and practiced. Then practiced some more.
So to answer your question, yes math comes easy to me, but it’s just plain boring. Words are a challenge, one that I absolutely love. Finding the perfect word is like a puzzle, so maybe my mathematical brain helps after all.
2015 is promising to be a huge year for me. I’ve sold my Action Adventure series to Escape Publishing. Treasured Secrets is due for release April 2015 and Treasured Destiny in October 2015. I have also sold my first Crime novel to Harlequin Mira and my print book Double Take will be released June 2015. This is also the first book in a planned series. Exciting, fun times ahead.