Story Behind the Story: Elizabeth Ellen Carter

profile eec.jpgToday I have the pleasure of introducing you to the delightful Elizabeth Ellen Carter. Elizabeth Ellen Carter is an award-winning historical romance writer who pens richly detailed historical romantic adventures. A former newspaper journalist, Carter ran an award-winning PR agency for 12 years. The author lives in Australia with her husband and two cats.

Please, tell us about your story behind the story …

Toward the end of last year my husband and Lisa, a good friend of mine, were commissioned to chronicle the lives of the men and women of the Canungra district who volunteered to serve during The Great War.

There are many such cenotaphs and obelisks marking the service and sacrifice of our Diggers around the country, but the Canungra memorial in Queensland memorial is different – it marked all who served, not only those who fell.

Some of their stories were inspiring – the brothers who became brothers-in-arms; poignant – the faithful fiancée at home writing for news of beloved who would never return and humorous – the 15 year old boy who lied about his age and was pulled off the troop carrier by his irate father, leaving his hit to go on the journey without him.

Those who came back did not do so unscathed. Some suffered shell-shock and spiralled into alcoholic depression, others lost limbs, and others, the full use of their lungs ravaged by mustard gas.



Jim McDonald Sharp

One man who survived to leave a legacy beyond his war service was a man by the name of James (Jim) McDonald Sharp.

Initially reported dead, Jim was critically wounded and later credited his survival to the courage and bravery of his best mate, Jack Bartle, who secured his removal to a dressing station behind the front line.

With shrapnel wounds to the left foot and leg, left temple, ear drum and head, Jim was evacuated to England and admitted to hospital in London on May 15, 1916.

There, a steel plate, which he would carry for the rest of his life, was inserted in the left side of his skull. The damage to his eardrum was irreparable and he remained partially deaf.

After the war he became a successful dairy farmer and for many years served the local community and local government.

Jim’s service was recognised with awards of the King George VI Coronation Medal in 1937 and the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal in 1953.

The web site was launched in late December last year on the 100th anniversary of the evacuation of Gallipoli and, after reading page after page of these remarkable stories, I started thinking of a war 100 years earlier – the Napoleonic Wars.

I thought about what it must have been like to come back physically broken and what courage and fortitude it must take to build a life irrevocably changed.

Inspired by those incredible stories I wrote my first novella, Nocturne in January this year.

The hero, Thomas Worsley is blind and lame because of his wounds in the Battle of Quatre Bras. He is a recluse, partly by choice, partly by the machinations of his brother.

He would be largely content with his life lived after dark, where he plays piano alone and in peace, if it not for the arrival of the inquisitive new governess Ella Montgomery.


Detail from the Battle of Quatre Bras by Lady Butler

So, as you see history was brought to life to me through this remarkable web site. It reminded me that the men and women on memorial are more than just names – they were people who lived, loved, laughed and have since died.

Nocturne gave me the opportunity to explore the aftermath of war and to count some of its great cost.

And that is the story behind the story.

In her first posting as governess, Ella Montgomery discover beautiful Blackheath Manor hides family secrets and suppressed passions.

EEC cover

Mysterious music in the darkness of night draws Ella to the talented Thomas Worsley, the brother of her employer, the Earl of Renthorpe.

Grievously wounded in the Napoleonic Wars that killed his beloved twin brother, Thomas is held prisoner at Blackheath by more than his blindness and scars.

Fuelled by a bitter jealousy, the Earl has ensured Thomas is only a memory, his name etched on a marble memorial in the Bedfordshire village graveyard.

Drawn together by their love of music, Ella and Thomas begin a clandestine affair, but how far will the Earl go to keep his family’s secret?



Elizabeth has kindly offered the chance for three lucky commenters to win an e-copy of Nocturne. Just leave a comment below for your chance to win. 

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Behind the Story: Carla Caruso

New Carla pic 1.jpgToday I am super pleased to introduce you to the lovely Carla Caruso. Carla was born in Adelaide, Australia, and only ‘escaped’ for three years to work as a magazine journalist and stylist in Sydney. Previously, she was a gossip columnist and fashion editor at Adelaide’s daily newspaper, The Advertiser. She has since freelanced for titles including Woman’s Day, Cleo and Shop Til You Drop.

These days, in between writing romantic comedy novels (sometimes with a touch of cosy mystery), she plays mum to twin lads Alessio and Sebastian. Her books include the ‘Astonvale’ rom-com mystery series (kicking off with A Pretty Mess), Catch of the Day, Starcrossed, and Cityglitter.

She’s also an editor of the Romance Writers of Australia journal, Hearts Talk, and writes a monthly column for the Australian Romance Readers Association. Plus, she’s obsessed with running, horoscopes, fashion, trashy TV, and cats.

Welcome Carla! We’d love to hear about your Story Behind the Story.

A friend recently commented that I often write fish-out-of-water tales. And it was a revelation for me.

I knew I’d written a novel or two about heroines who were thrown outside of their comfort zones, but I hadn’t realised it was a common thread through pretty much all of my stories.

It began with Mommy Blogger (for US publisher Eternal Press), which surrounds a child-free singleton who pretends she has a baby in order to secure a mummy blogging gig, and is plunged into a world of  ‘mumpreneurs’, play cafes and mum-and-bubs yoga.

In Cityglitter (for Penguin’s Destiny Romance), my heroine is half-fairy, half-human and has to keep her wings ‘under wraps’ in her new city home. For Christelle, there’s a constant battle between being true to herself and trying to project a certain image.

In Catch of the Day (Penguin), a fashion editor is banished to coastal South Australia to set up a beach lifestyle magazine after a regrettable incident at the office Christmas party. She’s determined to get back to Sydney within two months, but must try to fit in amongst the close-knit local community in the meantime.

And on it goes…

The reason, I realise, I’ve written a lot of fish-out-of-water tales is simple. Because I’ve often felt like an aquatic creature on land myself.

Firstly, there was being an Italian-Australian kid at a very Aussie, very blonde primary school. I remember one kid asking what country I was born in and when I said ‘Australia’ (though it was true), they told me I was wrong, and to try again. I also recall being picked to stand at the front of the class during a SunSmart presentation as an example of an olive-skinned kid who’d need the barest of sunscreen (compared to the others wearing hats, zinc, long sleeves etc.) Having no trouble getting a tan was a virtue later in life, though!

On cray fishing boat in Kingston SE

Carla getting inspiration for her novel Fish of the Day

Again I felt like a fish-out-of-water as a sheltered city kid who moved to the country as a cub reporter. My first journalism gig was at a rag at the small coastal town of Kingston SE (which, a decade later, inspired my novel, Catch of the Day). For the first time, I had to cook, clean and pay bills for myself (little wonder I dropped a dress size with my culinary skills!). But it was the role that followed, working for a daily, statewide newspaper back in Adelaide, where I most felt like a fish-out-of-water.

In truth, I wanted to be a magazine journalist, not a newspaper one, but there wasn’t much option for the former in Adelaide at the time. Though my parents had always had the paper delivered daily, I only ever read the comics and star signs. So my stomach would tie up in knots every day I worked on the ‘general news’ floor and had to approach the chief-of-staff with my article ideas. (What ideas? I was a kid with no contacts, or clue!). Crime, politics and court cases were not my forte.

So it was a godsend when there was an opening on the gossip column, Adelaide Confidential, and I slotted in, then later moved on to become the paper’s fashion editor. I was much comfier in the ‘fluffy’ features world – styling fashion pages, interviewing celebs and reporting on A-list parties –though hard-nosed reporters scoff at such gigs.

Later, when I moved to Sydney for three years, I felt out of my element again. Though I was working in a similar world, as a features and fashion writer for a weekly mag, it was a lot different doing it on a big-city scale than a small-city one. The parties the media were invited to were a step above in terms of glamour and the calibre of the stars was even scarier. (I interviewed Kim Kardashian and rubbed shoulders with Chris ‘Mr Big’ Noth!)

Some faux pas of mine included awkwardly stepping onto a yacht for a party in a fitted pencil skirt (no mean feat), and at a long lunch, moving a platter stand to make way for a plate, not realising it was actually meant to go on top (der).

Carla and boys.jpg

Carla and her gorgeous twin boys

Then after living a fairly footloose, fancy-free life, I returned home and discovered I was having twins with my hubby! Talk about fish-out-of-water…

The story theme returns in my short tale in the ebook chick-lit anthology, Winter Heat (out FREE everywhere including Amazon – The heroine is outside of her usual environment, once again, staying in her late grandma’s beach cottage and trying to make something of her screenwriting dreams…

While most people would have felt like a fish-out-of-water at some point in their lives, I bet authors, being sensitive types, would have felt it the most keenly. But that’s okay, because such experiences can later be drawn on and add a ‘human touch’ to our writing.

Visit, ‘Carla Caruso Author’ on Facebook, @CarlaCaruso79 on Twitter, or her blog,

Winter Heat coverWinter Heat

Six sizzling fun-size chick lit stories…

Wish Upon a Star by Sarah Belle
Abby can’t wait to marry her gorgeous fiancé, Xander – until she realises they’ve never had an argument. How can she expect their marriage to weather life’s storms when their relationship has never truly been tested?

A Friend in Need by Laura Greaves
When her best friend announces that it’s not possible for people in committed relationships to have single friends of the opposite sex, Megan is determined to prove her wrong. But are her feelings for her boyfriend’s best mate, Rye, purely friendly – or is Megan playing with fire?

The Reject Club by Carla Caruso
Tired of being rejected in both her personal and professional lives, Maya has retreated to her grandmother’s seaside cottage to clear her head. The last thing she needs is a man to complicate matters – especially one as alluring as Garrett…

The Getaway by Vanessa Stubbs
When Dominique heads to the Tasmanian wilderness with husband Ricky, it’s a make-or-break weekend for their struggling marriage. Is Ricky the same man she fell in love with – or is rugged Cal what she really needs?

Bad Things Come in Threes by Belinda Williams
First her marriage collapsed. Then she lost her job. Wynter isn’t sure whether she can cope with another disaster. And when Marty enters her life, she doesn’t know whether he’s the best thing to happen to her – or the very worst.

Songbird by Samantha Bond
Washed-up pop star George would do anything for another crack at the big time, and when he discovers talented young singer Annabella he sees his chance. There’s just one problem: Annabella’s feisty mother, Catherine.