Behind the Story: Sarah Williams

profile.jpgToday I’m delighted to welcome Sarah Williams to my blog. Sarah spent her childhood chasing sheep, riding horses and picking Kiwi fruit on the family orchard in rural New Zealand. After a decade travelling, Sarah moved to tropical North Queensland to enjoy the heat and humidity and run around after Crocodiles.

When she’s not absorbed in her fictional writing world, Sarah is running after her family of four kids, one husband, two dogs and a cat. She helps to run the local writers centre and supports her peers achieve their publishing dreams.

Take it away, Sarah!

The Brothers of Brigadier Station is my debut novel, but not the first novel I ever started to write. I have always loved reading and writing fiction and wrote my first full length (historical) novel in high school. It wasn’t until I attended a ‘How to write a Romance’ presented by Barbara Hannay, in Townsville in 2015, that I found my genre. Everything clicked together. Not only was I a romance writer, but I was also a rural romance writer.

The next day I outlined The Brothers of Brigadier Station and after many rewrites, editing, writing workshops and practice, it is finally out in the world!

As well as writing, running a business with my husband and raising four young children, I am an avid reader. I love all Australian rural romances, but I am partial to ones set in Queensland. I have lived in this state for the last fifteen years and have travelled extensively around it. Julia Creek was my setting simply because I knew people there, but after actually spending time there I fell in love with it. Admittedly it is too remote for me to want to live there myself, but it is a fantastic setting. It is flat, dry and rather desolate. We visited in the midst of the worst drought ever and I have used that in this novel and will continue it in the rest of the series.

landscape 2In The Brothers of Brigadier Station we meet Lachie, Darcy and their mother Harriet. The second and third books in the series will be released in 2018. Everyone has a story to tell and I am excited to share it with my readers!

Blurb:

She came to the outback to marry the love of her life. She just didn’t expect him to be her fiancé’s younger brother.

When Meghan Flanagan, a vet-nurse from Townsville, moves to Brigadier Station in outback Queensland to marry the man of her dreams, she is shocked to discover that perhaps her fiancé isn’t the man she wants waiting for her at the altar. The man she’s destined to marry, just might be her his younger brother.

Cautious of women after a disastrous past relationship, Darcy is happy living on his beloved cattle station, spending his spare time riding horses, going to rodeos and campdrafting. He didn’t expect the perfect woman show up on his doorstep. Engaged to his brother.

With the wedding only hours away, Meghan must make the decision of a lifetime. But, her betrayal could tear the family apart. She knows all too well the pain of losing loved ones and being alone.

Now that she has the family she so desperately wants; will she risk losing it all?

Set in the drought stricken plains of Julia Creek, North Queensland and the coastal city of Townsville this is a rural romance that will leave you asking: Will she marry the right man, for the right reasons?

landscape 1The Brothers of Brigadier Station is the first in the Brigadier Station series and can easily be read as a standalone. Each of Sarah’s stories are linked so you can find out what happens to the other brothers and your favourite characters in future books.

Buy links:

http://mybook.to/TheBrothersofBrigadierStation

https://www.bookdepository.com/The-Brothers-of-Brigadier-Station-Sarah-Williams/9780648046202

coverThe Brothers of Brigadier Station ebook is available only on Kindle Unlimited until mid-August 2017.

It is available in print through all online booksellers.

Sarah is regularly checking social media when she really should be cleaning.

You can find her online at:

www.sarahwilliamsauthor.com

Sign up to Sarah’s mailing list and receive a free 3 chapter preview!!

www.facebook.com/sarahwilliamswriter

www.twitter.com/SarahW_Writer

 

 

 

 

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Behind the Story: Camille Taylor

profileToday I’m delighted to introduce you to the lovely Camille Taylor, a romantic suspense author who lives in Canberra, Australia. She spends her time reading, writing and procrastinating on Pinterest looking at nail art, books, and cake decorating. A bookworm, she enjoys most genres, particularly romance and mysteries and is HEA chaser. Her short story, The Healing Gift appears in the 2016 Romance Writers of Australia Little Gems Anthology. Camille is an incurable genealogist and has traced her heritage to England, Scotland, Ireland and Russia.

Camille, please tell us about your story behind the story:

I’ve always written. I can’t not write. It’s almost an addiction. As far back as I can remember I wrote. Many of my ideas came to me while living on a rural property in Victoria during my teens. Back then we didn’t have internet or much of a connection to the outside world except for TV and books. I watched a lot of Indiana Jones and James Bond (I had a serious crush on Timothy Dalton). I also read Agatha Christie novels and my eldest sister’s Mills and Boons romances she’d smuggled in. I guess the combination of crime and romance cemented in my subconscious and now that world comes naturally to me.

My first book, though not the first published, came to me one evening walking along a lone stretch of highway near our house. A herd of sheep we’d been taking care of had escaped the paddock and we were busy heralding them back onto the property. It was dusk and while the main road for the area, and joining to a smaller town several kilometers away only a couple cars drove past. My mind wandered, as it often still does, wondering what it would be like to be stuck out in the middle of nowhere at night with a broken down car and help so far away. The idea took hold and in the next minute I had a serial killer involved and Not Forgotten, first titled The Butcher was born.

Writing a novel wasn’t my first choice of careers. A bit of a daydreamer, I’d imagined being an actress and made up stories with me as the heroine who would be as far from my character as possible. Confident. Sassy. Perfect. I’d also get the hunk instead of mooning after the boys who never noticed me in school. But when the words inside my head wouldn’t be quietened, I began writing them down.

As I grew up, I decided acting wasn’t for me. I still am to this day super shy. Instead, I turned my attention to polishing my old screenplays I’d written in hopes of seeing them played out on the big screen. Yet another of my many dreams before I found my place as an author. After a few years, I once again moved on and tried my hand at converting the script into a novel and the first draft was written way back in 2003.

quoteAt first, I wanted to be a brilliant psychological thriller writer like Lisa Gardner. But I love my HEA’s too much and my all-time favourite part of being an author is matchmaking my characters. I’m a big fan of wounded souls overcoming the darkness in their lives for a chance at happiness.

Not Forgotten is the first in the Australian set Harbour Bay series and focuses on psychologist Natalie Miller as she is called in to assist Detective Matt Murphy in unlocking the mind of the only witness to a horrific crime. Her own dark past resurfaces while she and Matt fight their attraction. Bringing a killer to justice might just be last thing Natalie does…

Once a standalone, as were all my stories I sent off Not Forgotten for an assessment and turned to Open Wounds, already in first draft stage and on a whim I decided to make them into a series. I, myself absolutely love series which focus on different characters each novel but also include characters from other books and give a glimpse into their lives after their HEA’s. Thus the Harbour Bay series was born and I still continue to work on them today.

About the Series:

Harbour Bay is a fictional town set on the Australian New South Wales coast. The series focuses on the hot detectives of the LAC, their family and friends and the women who stole their hearts. Often one or both have wounded souls, or a dark past which they must overcome to find happiness. Each book, while a part of the series, is standalone and can be read in any order (buy links below).

Buy Links:

Not Forgotten (Book 1): http://bit.ly/1YmC7ku

Open Wounds (Book 2): http://bit.ly/1YmC7ku

The Dead Don’t Lie (Book 3): http://bit.ly/1LkuDuN

Doppelgänger (Book 4): http://amzn.to/23dAiaD

 

Social Media Links:

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER

books

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.

 

soldier

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.

fighters

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?

 

GIVE AWAY!

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. 

Buy Links

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Nocturne-Elizabeth-Ellen-Carter-ebook/dp/B01B78MG1

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/au/book/nocturne/id1080555614

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/nocturne-elizabeth-ellen-carter/1123351022

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 – http://amzn.to/29cxZnE). 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 http://www.carlacaruso.com.au, ‘Carla Caruso Author’ on Facebook, @CarlaCaruso79 on Twitter, or her blog, http://www.theunitalianwife.com.

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.

 

Story Behind the Story: Cassandra O’Leary

profileToday’s guest for the Story Behind the Story is the delightful Cassandra O’Leary, who is a romance and women’s fiction writer, communications specialist, avid reader, film and TV fangirl and admirer of pretty, shiny things. 

In 2015, Cassandra won the We Heart New Talent contest run by Avon Maze/HarperCollins UK and her debut contemporary romance/romantic comedy novel, Girl on a Plane, releases in July 2016. She was also a 2015 finalist in the Lone Star writing contest, Northwest Houston Romance Writers of America, and a 2014 finalist in the First Kiss contest run by Romance Writers of Australia.

Cassandra is a mother of two gorgeous, high-energy mini ninjas and wife to a spunky superhero. Living in Melbourne, Australia, she’s also travelled the world. If you want to send her to Italy or Spain on any food or wine tasting ‘research’ trips, that would be splendiferous.

Cassandra, please tell us about you Story Behind the Story!

Travel is one of my joys. Since my first flight at about five years old, from Melbourne to Brisbane, I’ve found it exciting and fascinating. Back then, kids were allowed to walk right into the cockpit and meet the captain – I’ve never forgotten the moment I received a shiny pair of wings that Mum pinned to my shirt.

Once I grew up and started earning money, I took off, travelling to some fascinating places. My first trip was a university study tour, an eight-week whirlwind from Hong Kong to London and across Europe. I added on a solo trip through Italy, to Vienna by train and then across to New York City. The food, culture, music…the food! I loved it all. I guess I was infected by the travel bug! Later I travelled heaps with my boyfriend (now husband).

SAMSUNG

Cassandra in Seville, Spain

I took a long time to come to creative writing, having worked in PR, marketing and communications for years. When I started writing my debut novel, Girl on a Plane, I found inspiration in places I’ve visited including: Melbourne (my home city), Singapore, London, Paris and Thailand. I also have a family member who is an ex flight attendant who has some stories! I was interested in the idea of writing about someone whose home is the entire world, but nowhere, at the same time. If you’re always in transit, it can be hard to form friendships and relationships or find your true north.

I also love romantic comedy movies and those influences flooded into my work. In Girl on a Plane, you might spot references to Love Actually, When Harry Met Sally and maybe more. I don’t think I’ve mastered the witty banter that screenwriters like Richard Curtis or Nora Ephron are so brilliant at, but it’s something I aspire to emulate.

Girl on a Plane is a contemporary romance/romantic comedy that’s sexy and sassy, about an Irish flight attendant named Sinead, who meets a gruff and gorgeous Aussie CEO, Gabriel, in first class. Their Melbourne to London flight is diverted when a storm hits in mid-air, and they’re thrown together in a Singapore hotel. What follows could be a one-night stand, or something else entirely.

I started writing the book about two years ago, in a short story incarnation, and re-worked it several times. I received a publishing contract for Girl on a Plane after winning the global We Heart New Talent contest run by HarperCollins UK in 2015. That was a thrill! The digital-first team at Avon Maze have been fantastic to work with, and we’re preparing for take-off now, as the e-book released globally on 18 July.

brighton beach

Brighton Beach, Melbourne, where part of the story takes place

My main character in Girl on a Plane, is Irish flight attendant, Sinead. She’s 26 years old and has been working for Mermaid Airlines for five years. The story begins with Sinead on board a flight, going through the motions of a silly dance to the airline’s theme song. She’s getting tired of the routine and the constant travel, even when she plasters on a pretty smile.

Sinead is quirky and funny, but also resilient – tougher than her glamorous exterior might suggest. At first glance, if you saw Sinead dressed in her flight attendant uniform with immaculate hair and makeup, you might assume she’s a light-weight, but you’d be wrong. Without giving away spoilers, she’s had family issues and an ex-boyfriend stalking her, and trouble finds her again. Her background and hesitant reaction to the hero are explained as the story progresses.

The hero, Gabriel, isn’t what he seems either. He’s a handsome, rich, Aussie surfer-in-a-suit CEO who’s cocky and sure of himself, but under the façade, he’s struggling with life-changing personal issues. Giving Sinead and Gabriel a happy ever after was satisfying as a writer, and I hope readers enjoy Girl on a Plane too!

coverGirl on a Plane 

A sexy, sassy, summer read. CLIMB ON BOARD . . .

When feisty Irish flight attendant Sinead Kennealy locks eyes with sexy Australian CEO Gabriel Anderson in First Class, sparks fly. But as they jet across the globe from Melbourne to London, it’s clear that they’re in for a turbulent journey . . .

Stressed-out Gabriel doesn’t do relationships. And Sinead isn’t about to be fooled by another bad boy after escaping her stalker ex. Then a storm hits, causing the plane to land unexpectedly, and Sinead and Gabriel are thrown together in Singapore.

The pressure rises as Sinead’s unhappy past threatens to catch up with her. But might Gabriel be the one to heal her heartbreak? If he could open up about his troubling secrets, maybe a relationship could actually get off the ground. Fasten your seatbelts – this WON’T be a smooth ride . . .

Buy links:

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Girl-Plane-sexy-sassy-summer-ebook/dp/B01FSGGGXK

Amazon AU – https://www.amazon.com.au/Girl-Plane-sexy-sassy-summer-ebook/dp/B01FSGGGXK

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Girl-Plane-sexy-sassy-summer-ebook/dp/B01FSGGGXK

HarperCollins AU – http://www.harpercollins.com.au/9780008197025/girl-on-a-plane-a-sexy-sassy-summer-read/

Kobo – https://store.kobobooks.com/en-AU/ebook/girl-on-a-plane-a-sexy-sassy-summer-read

Google Play Books – https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Cassandra_O_Leary_Girl_on_a_Plane_A_sexy_sassy_sum?id=x2AuDAAAQBAJ

iTunes US – https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/girl-on-a-plane/id1115614626

iTunes AU – https://itunes.apple.com/au/book/girl-on-a-plane/id1115614626

 

Story Behind the Story: Michelle Somers

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Today I’m delighted to introduce you to the lovely Michelle Somers, who is a bookworm from way back. An ex-Kiwi who now calls Australia home, she’s a professional killer and matchmaker, a storyteller and a romantic. Words are her power and her passion. Her heroes and heroines always get their happy ever after, but she’ll put them through one hell of a journey to get there.

Michelle lives in Melbourne, Australia with her real life hero and three little heroes in the making.

Michelle, please tell us about your story behind the story. 

I’m often asked why I write what I write. Why pair the warm fuzziness of romance with the deadly chill of suspense? And then there’s my debut novel, Lethal in Love – how and why did the story come about?

So many factors influenced my decision – my need – to tell Jayda and Seth’s story.  

Growing up, I fed my imagination on a steady diet of Sweet Dreams, coupled with The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. From there I grew into Harlequin and the likes of Harlan Coben, Mary Higgins Clark, Patricia Cornwall and so many others.

I loved the diversity and richness of these stories and their characters. Loved that reading romance allowed me to fall in love during every single story. Loved that reading suspense and detective stories led me to experience places and situations I could never and would never imagine visiting outside the pages of a book.

My imagination soared, as did the thrill of escapism, and the ability to feed both by immersing myself into the world of fiction.

Psychology has always fascinated me. The whys and wherefores in a person’s mind. Why do they act the way they do? Why if you drop two people into an identical situation, will they react differently? What is it in their psyche that makes this happen?

With such an avid interest in what makes a person tick, as well as a love for the written word, is it any wonder that romance became my genre of choice, closely followed by suspense?

My novel, Lethal in Love, and its sequel, Murder Most Unusual, were born of my equal passion for both genres. And little by little, layer by layer, the story evolved.

Conflict is the lynchpin of any great story, and the age-old idea of pitting detective against reporter intrigued me, especially if that detective was female, sassy, no-nonsense and had damn good reasons to dig her heels into her anti-reporter stance.

Next came the decision on setting. How could I not choose Melbourne? A city of great beauty and diversity, that became my home when I met and married my husband.

Finally, I reached my story’s pièce de résistance – the Night Terror. A serial killer terrorising young women in the streets of Melbourne. What a deliciously evil piece of fiction – almost… To delve inside the mind of my serial killer meant delving into the minds of real-life examples, of which the internet holds a plethora, sadly. It wasn’t long until I lost myself in the world of psychopaths, a place where I found the perfect ‘role model’ for my fictional killer – Theodore Robert Bundy.  

Ted Bundy – to me – is the epitome of serial killers. Attractive. Smart. Charismatic. And one of the most prolific serial killers in U.S. history. More dangerous for his ability to mimic emotions he had no capacity to feel, and his inability to understand or feel compassion – factors that when combined, made him a ruthless and deadly predator against young women.

But what turns a seemingly well behaved, attractive teen with so much promise into a monster? This was the question that fascinated me most of all. So I delved deeper, first into Bundy, then into the Night Terror. I discovered the cold calculation. A past containing a trigger after which there was no going back. And then it was time to build the killer back up from ground zero.

I’ll take the words from Ted Bundy himself.

“We serial killers are your sons, we are your husbands, we are everywhere.”

I hid my killer in plain sight then crafted a story I hope did him and the rest of my characters justice.

Let me know if you agree.

And if you’ve yet to read Lethal in Love, I have some exciting news – in August this year, Penguin Random House will be releasing the story as a single title ebook!

More about Lethal in Love:

Homicide detective Jayda Thomasz never lets her emotions get in the way of a case. So when a serial killer re-emerges after 25 years, the last thing she expects is to catch herself fantasising over the hot, smooth-talking stranger who crosses the path of her investigation.

Reporter Seth Friedin is chasing the story that’ll make his career. When he enters the world of swinging for research, he never imagines he’ll be distracted by a hard-talking female detective whose kiss plagues his mind long after she’s gone.

Past experience has shown Jayda that reporters are ruthless and unscrupulous. But when the murders get personal, will she make a deal with the devil to catch the killer? How far will she and Seth have to go? And do you ever really know who you can trust?

BUY LINKS (book one):

AMAZON

AMAZON (Aus)

iBOOKS

KOBO

GOOGLE PLAY

eBOOKS

head shotMore about Michelle:

For exact dates, an exclusive cover reveal and any other news, visit my website www.michelle-somers.com and sign up for my newsletter. A newsletter will only hit your inbox when there’s an announcement or freebies to give away, so I promise it’s worth it!

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Story Behind the Story: Anna Jacobs

Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 3.24.13 PMToday I am delighted to introduce you to the wonderful Anna Jacobs. Anna writes historical and modern stories, complex tales of people and relationships. She is the fifth most borrowed author of adult fiction in the UK. Her 75th novel (A Time to Rejoice, #3 in the Rivenshaw series) came out in May 2016 – in the same week she turned 75. She lives half the year in the UK, half in Australia and produces 3 novels a year. She’s happily married to her own hero, and has two daughters and a grandson.

So, Anna, we’d love to hear your story behind the story …

My latest series of novels comes straight from my heart and reflects my own early life. It’s set in the UK just after World War 2, an era historians often call the austerity years.

I was born at the beginning of the war, my father went overseas when I was 6 months old and I didn’t ‘meet’ him till I was four and a half. My mother and I lived with my grandparents and aunt in a terraced house in Rochdale, Lancashire.

When I suggested writing this series, my youngish editor didn’t like the idea because she thought it was a miserable period of history. I had to set her right. OK, there were problems and shortages, but the war was over and those involved were coming home. That made lots of people happy!

Little Shez and Lucy

Anna, aged four, and her mother. This photo was sent to Anna’s father who was in the Middle East during the war.

In my family, my mother hadn’t seen the husband she adored for four years, because he’d been stationed in the Middle East. She was over the moon to have him back, as he was to be with her. (They both lived to 87 and their love never faltered.)

I remember clearly the night of my father’s return. I was in bed asleep and they woke me. A big soldier came into the bedroom, and I didn’t want to be woken. As he loomed over the bed, I stuck my tongue out at him. He never forgot that or stopped teasing me about it.

I think the current generation is so overloaded with possessions, and sometimes a desire for more, more, more, that they don’t realise you can be short of possessions (and we were!) but still happy. We didn’t need smart phones for that, just the people we loved, safe from being killed or maimed.

Us kids played out without fear, using our imaginations or bits and pieces we picked up, using sticks to spur on an imaginary horse, pebbles to build ‘walls and castles’ on waste ground, bomb shelters to sneak into for ‘caves’. Maybe that fostered the internal story-telling that has been with me all my life.

The stories set in the imaginary Lancashire town of Rivenshaw focus on people pulling their lives together, clearing up the debris of the home front and building new homes. Over 2 million homes had been destroyed by bombing so finding homes loomed large. I wonder if that’s why all my life I’ve cared so deeply about my home and been fascinated by the history of homes in general?

Luckily my father was good at getting to know about places to live before others did. When other people had to stay with their grandparents, my dad had us into first one home then another, each a little better than the one before.

My new series reflects this situation. My characters are returning from war and setting up a building company, the men from the Army, one of the women from the Wrens (in which my aunt had served), others from work on the home front. They need to make new lives now they’re out of the services and it isn’t always easy to adjust to peacetime.

It was fascinating to research with an adult’s understanding the years I remember clearly with my child’s eye.

ATimeToRejoice HBRivenshaw series: A Time to Remember, A Time for Renewal, A Time to Rejoice, Gifts for our Time (coming out 1/2017)

Buy links:

A TIME FOR RENEWAL

A TIME TO REJOICE

Under the Spanish Stars – cover reveal and preorder!

Wow, it’s been a busy couple of days! I am delighted to reveal the cover for Under the Spanish Stars, out with Kensington Books 6 December for those outside Aus/NZ. (If you are an Aus/NZ resident, please click  here. for your version).

Here goes …

Amid the vivid beauty of Granada, a woman entrusted with unraveling a family secret will discover the truth about her heritage—and the alluring promise of love…

When her beloved grandmother falls ill, Charlotte Kavanagh will do whatever she asks of her—even if it means traveling to a country that broke her abuela’s heart. Can an unsigned painting of a flamenco dancer unlock the secrets of her grandmother’s youth in Spain? To find the answers she needs, Charlotte must convince the charismatic and gifted musician, Mateo Vives to introduce her to a secluded gypsy clan.

The enigmatic Mateo speaks the true language of flamenco, a culture Charlotte must learn to appreciate if she wants to understand her grandmother’s past—and the flamenco legend that has moved souls to beauty, and bodies to the heights of passion. As Mateo leads her into the captivating world of the music and the dance, Charlotte embraces her own long-denied creative gift and the possibility of a future rich with joy…

UTSS Kensington

Isn’t it gorgeous? I’m one lucky gal, indeed! I’m very much looking forward to sharing the story of Charlotte, Mateo, Katarina and Raul with you. 

You can pre-order your copy below:

AMAZON

Google

Kobo

Barnes and Noble

 

 

Midnight Serenade – cover reveal and preorder!

You may recall I signed a three-book deal with the wonderful Lyrical Press (Kensington Books) so my books will soon be available outside Australia and New Zealand. I’m happy to announce my first book MIDNIGHT SERENADE (Luna Tango in Aus/NZ) will be available on 5 July with UNDER THE SPANISH STARS is coming out on 6 December. Book three is likely to come out mid 2017. The first two books are now up for preorder!

For book reviewers, MIDNIGHT SERENADE is currently up on Netgalley.

So, without further ado, I will treat you to the cover of MIDNIGHT SERENADE today with UNDER THE SPANISH STARS to follow in the next day or two. 

For those living outside Australia and New Zealand, these books will be available worldwide, so if you have any friends or family who may be interested in my stories, please feel free to send them the link to the books. 

Ooh – and keep an eye out for Goodreads give away AND a way to unlock some special material prior to release day!

Drumroll, please …..

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Isn’t it beautiful? I absolutely love the pose of the dancers with Buenos Aires in  the background and my gorgeous heroine, Dani, with her blonde hair and luscious red lips. 

Here’s a rundown on the story with pre-order links:

On the sultry streets of Buenos Aires, the daughter of a world class tango diva searches for answers about the mother who abandoned her—and uncovers decades of lies and deception…

After twenty years of wondering why her mother chose tango over her, Dani McKenna finally travels to Argentina. What was it about this beautiful, mysterious land that enticed one woman away from her own child—and broke another’s heart? As a journalist, Dani may have the opportunity to find out. And an enigmatic tango dancer may hold the key to her quest—if she can break down his defensive walls.

Carlos Escudero had been Dani’s mother’s protégé. Tragedy ended his career and he refuses to be interviewed. But he will give Dani some insights, on one condition: she must agree to his tango lessons. As the two begin the intricate dance of passion, Dani’s quiet, logical world is exchanged for one of music, motion—and mystery. For the clues to a dance legend’s murder may lead Dani to the truth about the past and its impact on her family—and free her to move toward a future she can claim as her own at last…

You can preorder through (please check your ebook seller in your country for links outside of the USA):

THE BOOK DEPOSITORY

KENSINGTON BOOKS

AMAZON

IBOOKS

KOBO

BARNES & NOBLE

Behind the Story: Elise McCune

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Photo by Alex Fevola

It my pleasure to introduce the fabulous Elise McCune who is an Australian author born in Cronulla, NSW, Australia. In 1973, she moved to Perth, Western Australia and raised her two children, Lisa and Brett.

She worked for ten years in the Western Australian Museum and after this she lived on a 5000 acre farm, two hundred kilometres north of Perth.

The type of story she likes to read has passion and intrigue and a family secret at its heart.  Exactly the type of story she likes to write. Elise now lives by the bay in Melbourne, Australia.

Tell us all about your story behind the story, Elise!

Thank you Alli for the opportunity to share with your readers how I came to write about a castle in my novel Castle of Dreams and also how I research.

The inspiration for Castillo de Suenos in my novel Castle of Dreams came to me some years ago when I was staying in Mission Beach in far north Queensland. I visited the castle ruins at Paronella Park a magical place in the rainforest near Cairns.

I’m sure lots of WW2 romances started there when the Australian and American servicemen came out to the Saturday night dances with their Cairns and Innisfail girlfriends.

CastleOfDreams_HighResCastle of Dreams has two narrative strands, one set in WW2 Australia and the other in contemporary times. It’s full of all the things I love in a novel: romance, mystery and betrayal, everything to keep you turning the pages to find out what happened next.

For my research I read primary sources like diaries, letters and newspaper reports (Trove is wonderful!). I read books written about and of the period I am researching. I use Google but online information can be inaccurate so be careful and check more than one source. I use my wonderful local library and inter-library loans for books I don’t necessarily want to keep on my bookshelf, and also, I always read bibliographies carefully in each book as they are a source of more information on the subject you are researching.

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Photo by Luke Evans

Luke Evans, son of owners, Mark and Judy Evans, was always willing to answer my many questions about the fascinating history of the park.

I talk to experts in the area I am writing about. I have a military friend who is also a writer of novels and as one period of Castle of Dreams was set in WW2 during the Pacific War I asked him many questions and most importantly I could rely on his answers.

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Photo by Luke Evans

I write about the things and places I love: mystery, England, Cornwell, and history all sprinkled with a touch of magic.

You can find more information about Elise and her books at www.elisemccune.com