Behind the story: Susanne Bellamy

 

2011-headshots

Today’s special guest is the delightful Susanne Bellamy, who was born and raised in Toowoomba, Australia. Susanne is an author of contemporary and suspense romances set in exciting and often exotic locations, and rural romance set in Australia. She adores travel with her husband, both at home and overseas, and weaves stories around the settings and people she encounters.

Her heroes have to be pretty special to live up to her real life hero. He saved her life then married her. 

Susanne is a member of the RWA and was a finalist in their 2011 Emerald Award. She placed third in the 2015 Pan Macmillan short story competition with Chez Romeo. Mentoring aspiring writers, and working as a freelance editor keeps her off the street! She loves connecting with readers and fellow writers. 

What inspired you to write Hearts of the Outback?

My first rural romance was released in September last year. Second Chance Love (A Bindarra Creek Romance) was written as part of a wonderful series set in the fictional NSW town of Bindarra Creek, a place all thirteen of the authors ‘know’ exists. I loved the experience and genre so much I decided to create my own rural series set in northwest Queensland.

 During NaNoWriMo, I set my goal to complete the first book in one month. I wanted to write about the wonderful Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) and acknowledge the invaluable service they give to remote parts of our vast land. My plan was to write stories connected by both setting and characters, and Captain Amy Alistair’s brother was to get his turn after her. But when it came time to begin book 2, one minor character from book 1, Lizzy Wilmot, would not be quiet and I had to find out why.

My brother-in-law had passed away earlier in the year and my sister was trying to deal with the loss of her husband. In Heartbreak Homestead I think I was trying to work through my own grief by working through Lizzy’s. Certainly her story is darker than the others. She has to deal with death and unexpected responsibilities, and face the demons of her past when she returns to the family property.

The process of writing about difficult and emotional events is cathartic and that may be what resonates with readers who can identify with characters’ feelings. Feisty, independent, passionate Lizzy is a strong character with resilience, much like several women I know, and her success in dealing with all the ‘stuff’ life throws at her is uplifting.

hoto_hhWhy did you decide to set the series in northwest Queensland?

While my earlier books had contemporary settings (from Melbourne, to Hawaii and Italy) there is something about small towns that is incredibly appealing. Writing a series where I could stay in that world for more than a single story was a very attractive idea, and each new book excites me as I return to the Isa.

 Many years ago, I taught in Cloncurry. It was the northwest hub for several government departments, including Main Roads, and Queensland Rail, and had even been the base for the RFDS until the 1960s, when it was moved to Mt. Isa. The people I got to know were open, hardworking, and wonderful, willing to lend a hand, and incredibly community minded as so many in our small towns and remote places are. I wanted to create a series that celebrated them and a way of life that I think captures the essence of what it is to be Australian. While a sense of community etcetera is in no way limited to the Outback, it is perhaps more noticeable in remote places.

I hope you enjoy a brief sojourn in my beautiful state as you read Hearts of the Outback.

hoto_-woc_coverWinds of Change (Book 4) is available on pre-order, and releases 1 December

More about the book:

When famous actress, Willa Raynolds, comes home to the Australian outback to film a mini-series, the last person she expects to see is her first love, Jax Heathwood. Their breakup was unpleasant and he is the last person she wants on the set.  Jax, an army major, is on injury leave and to his dismay has been seconded to provide technical advice on location for Willa’s series.

But when Willa is the subject of a stalker, Jax’s protective instincts kick in with a vengeance and he realises he’s never got over her.

Who wants to harm her? Can Jax keep her safe and convince her to take another chance on them?

You can buy a copy of Susanne’s book here: http://amzn.to/2drvVGt

You can find her at the following:

  1. Facebook https://www.facebook.com/susanne.bellamy.7
  2. Twitter https://twitter.com/SusanneBellamy
  3. Website http://www.susannebellamy.com/
  4. Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com/susannebellamy/
  5. Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/list/6869630.Susanne_Bellamy

Or on her website: http://www.susannebellamy.com

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Behind the Story: Sandy Curtis

Sandy Curtis headshot June 2014.jpgToday I am delighted to introduce you to the lovely Sandy Curtis, who lives on Queensland’s Central Coast, not far from the beach where she loves to walk and mull over the intricate plots in her novels. Her husband says he doesn’t know how she keeps it all in her head, and her friends think she must be far more devious than she appears. After having dealt with the chaos involved in rearing three children, dogs, cats, guinea pigs, and a kookaburra (teaching it to fly was murder), creating complex characters, heart-wrenching stories and edge-of-your-seat suspense is a breeze for Sandy.

Interviewers often ask Sandy to describe her normal writing day. “Normal is when the chaos in my life subsides to frantic rather than frenzied. I once told a friend that I must have a chaos attractor glued on my forehead and she said that creativity hovers on the edge of chaos, to which I replied that I’d long ago fallen off the edge into the middle.”

Her various occupations, from private secretary to assistant to a Bore Licensing Inspector, as well as hitch-hiking around New Zealand and learning to parachute, have given Sandy lots of people and research skills. It’s the paperwork going feral in her office she has trouble with.

Thank you so much for being on the blog today, Sandy. Please, tell us about your story behind the story!

Alli, thank you for having me as a guest on your blog. It’s wonderful to be here.

Although my previous books were romantic suspense and short contemporary romances, my women’s fiction, Murder, Mayhem & Men On Pause, has a lot of humour and focuses on the lives of the three main female characters (although there’s a gorgeous cop with a more-than-professional interest in Ellie and a novel use for avocado oil).

What inspired you to write Murder, Mayhem & Men On Pause?

I’m not sure where the idea for this book came from. I started writing it over ten years ago, but after the first few pages I couldn’t keep going. I had envisaged the story of three friends whose lives suddenly implode and they are forced to confront the loss of everything they value. It was going to be full of angst and drama, and, frankly, it depressed me to think about it.

Fast forward ten years and my long-rejected characters, Ellie, Cass and Kandy, raised their voices in protest. They told me that I had had enough time to realise that women have the kind of enduring strength that enables them to cope with what life can throw at them. Yes, they might go down for a while, but they grit their teeth and get back up and take control of their lives.

But what they really emphasised is that women support each other. Women look out for their friends. And women often see the humour in life, especially when it comes to men and relationships.

So I started writing the story again, but this time with a different flavour. Yes, there are losses, and sorrow, but there’s also happiness and laughter, and the kind of friendships that I’ve been incredibly lucky to have in my life.

mmmop-coverWhy did you decide to set the story in Brisbane?

I grew up in Brisbane and although I haven’t lived there for quite a few years I still love the city, and I particularly love the suburb of New Farm. It’s such a diverse area and offers so many iconic settings such as the Powerhouse.

New Farm was also where I met the first person who considered themselves a “writer”. I left school at fifteen because Mum couldn’t afford for me to continue, but I’d always wanted to write. I tried to become a cadet journalist, but at 152cm and 43kg I looked more like a jockey than a tough “journo”, so started working for accountants. My boss, on discovering I wanted to be an author, introduced me to a bookkeeper he knew who wrote short stories and she invited me to lunch at her unit (called a ‘flat’ in those days). Greying hair, less-than-average height, plump, living alone, she was soft and gentle and kind, but to my sixteen-year-old sheltered self she was someone who was living only half a life. No excitement, no adventure – none of the things I wanted in my future.

It’s funny, isn’t it, how we remember certain things. She cooked us lamb chops, mashed potatoes and peas, followed by lemon pudding and custard.

Although life, in the form of love, marriage and children, intervened in my writing journey, I never forgot the three-storey red-brick building she lived in, or the marvellous view from her unit to the river in the distance. Or New Farm park with its massive trees and echoes of past lives.

Those memories live in Murder, Mayhem & Men On Pause. As I wrote Ellie walking up the wide timber staircase to the top unit, I felt again the admiration I had for generations past who lived without the conveniences we take for granted. As I researched the furniture Ellie would need to give an authentic 1920s feel to the units, I marveled at the craftsmanship, the elegance, the intricate detail of the beautiful pieces. Like Ellie, I learned so much. And like Ellie, I felt the joy of having friends who were there for you no matter what happened in your life. So far from being the angst-ridden story I had initially envisaged, it became a joy to write, and Ellie, Cass and Kandy sprang from the pages and allowed me to share their lives.

Thanks so much, Sandy, what a fabulous story behind your story! Folks, you can find Sandy’s books here:

AMAZON

AMAZON (Australia)

KOBO

You can find out more about Sandy HERE.