Behind the Story: Pat Esden

Pat_Esden 2-12Today I’m delighted to introduce you to fellow Kensington Publishing author, Pat Esden. Pat would love to say she spent her childhood in intellectual pursuits. The truth is she was fonder of exploring abandoned houses and old cemeteries. When not out on her own adventures, she can be found in her northern Vermont home writing stories about brave, smart women and the men who capture their hearts.

An antique-dealing florist by trade, she’s also a member of Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, and the League of Vermont Writers. Her short stories have appeared in a number of publications, including Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, the Mythopoeic Society’s Mythic Circle literary magazine, and George H. Scither’s anthology Cat Tales.

Thank you for stopping by to tell us your story behind the story. Take it away, Pat!

I’m so excited to be here today. Actually, I’ve been dancing on air since the end of June when REACH FOR YOU, the final novel in the Dark Heart series, came out.

Even though REACH FOR YOU is the third book in a trilogy, the concept for it came to me at the same time as the first book. My decision on how to end the series came directly from my love of fairy tales. More specifically, the idea came from tales where lovers are separated for a majority of the novel and the hero must battle dragons and chop their way through a walls of thorns to save their love.  Well, in the case of REACH FOR YOU, there aren’t any dragons or princes and the one doing the rescuing is a woman, but the idea is the same. The only thing hard about using this fairy tale concept is finding ways for the couple to have sizzling romantic moments when they are apart for a large portion of the novel. It took some creativity, but believe me it’s possible and perhaps even hotter because of the emotional pain caused by the forced separation. I should add, I also included one of my other favorite concepts that fairy tales often lack. I love the idea of strong people being even more powerful as a couple, and that is how I chose to close the very last chapters of the series. A true HEA.

coverREACH FOR YOU

Her passion is her greatest weakness.

His legacy is his prison.

 To reunite, both must fight the demons within.

A world of deception and danger separates Annie Freemont from her mother—and from Chase, the enigmatic half-ifrit with whom Annie’s fallen in love. But she vows to find her way back to them, before Chase succumbs to the madness that threatens his freedom. The only person who can help is the magical seductress, Lotli, a beautiful, manipulative woman . . . a woman who has disappeared.

Annie must stay strong, even as the future she imagined is slipping away. With the help of family and friends, she discovers that Lotli is being held against her will, by those who want to exploit her powers. But though weakened, Lotli remains a powerful alley and adversary. A bargain is struck. And now Annie’s only chance to rescue Chase could also tear them apart . . .

Loyalties will be tested, walls will be breached, and enemies will be fought, yet Annie’s greatest battle lies within her own heart—to trust her love for Chase to overcome its greatest enemy, and to save those she holds most dear from the terrifying realm of the djinn . . .

 

 

 

 

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Behind the Story: Shona Husk

profile.jpgToday I’m excited to introduce you to Shona Husk, who is the author of the Shadowlands, Blood and Silver, and the Face the Music series. You can find out more information about Shona at http://www.shonahusk.com or follow her on Twitter @ShonaHusk, Facebook http://www.facebook.com/shonahusk or join her newsletter: http://mad.ly/signups/119074/join

Shona, please tell us about your story behind the story …

The Blood and Silver series came out of a challenge I set myself when I was made redundant during the Global Financial Crisis. I’d been writing for a  couple of years and had finished 2 novels (which still lurk in the back of a cupboard, but around that time I’d come to the realization that if it took me over a year to write a novel it was going to take me a long time to learn the craft. So I’d turned my attention to novellas and was reading heaps of them (on my computer because I didn’t have an e-reader…I’m not even sure e-readers were around or had reached Australia back then). Novellas had plot and character and dialogue and setting, all things a novel needed but without subplots. I thought if I could learn to write a novella, I’d be able to transfer those skills to a bigger project.

So while I was jobless and looking for work I set myself the goal of plotting and writing a novella every 2 weeks. I was aiming for more words a week than I’d ever written, but then I did have more spare time because of the lack of a job.

Lady of Silver wasn’t called that back then. It was the last 15k novella that I wrote before finding a job. It was also the one which I knew could be more.

The other three novellas sold. The next novel I wrote sold (so my theory about honing story structure by writing novellas paid off, YMMV). Lady of Silver got re-written and expanded. I plotted the next book in the series because I now knew what the overarching plot thread would be—I like series linked by a plot thread (although I have written a few stories that share a universe but no common thread).

Then the paranormal romance market died. As a paranormal romance writer this hurt both creatively and financially.

So I dabbled with contemporary romance, I started writing urban fantasy under a different name and I kept writing paranormal romance on the side because I knew it would come back eventually.

I re wrote Lady of Silver again, because I still believed in the idea and it combined a few of my favourite things.

I love lost civilizations. Stories about ruined cities found in a jungle/under water/buried in a desert will always get my attention. What happened to the people? What was it like when they lived there? Who were they?

Medieval witch hunts have also fascinated me, how can people be whipped up into such a hateful frenzy? And be so cruel to others (I’ve been to a medieval torture museum and it was sickening)? Unfortunately as I’ve gotten older I can see how easily it happens…

I also wanted to read a story where the hero was human and the heroine was the one with the magical powers and he had to come to grips with her world because usually in paranormal romance it’s the other way around.

So the premise for the Blood and Silver series was the survivors of an ancient and magical civilization struggling to live on, while being hunted by those who still see them as a threat. Oh and there’s vampires…evil vampires…because it’s about time vampires got back to feeding and killing and be bad.

lady-of-silver-highres-smallMore about Blood and Silver: 

A man on a mission
A brutal crime is haunting detective Dale Morgan. A young woman has been murdered on the city’s outskirts, and her blood drained. Dale suspects the leader of a depraved cult may be to blame. Yet with barely a shred of evidence at the crime scene, Dale will have to turn to the one person despises almost as much as the killers he puts behind bars.

A woman with secrets
To humans, Saba Venn is a psychic, but she’s Albah, a race long forgotten by humans but who live amongst them, her powers fueled by blood and silver. She agrees to help Detective Morgan, if it means stopping the vampire cult she believes is behind the killing. But the attraction she feels with Dale is immediate, and as their relationship intensifies she begins to doubt she can keep her secret from him.

Buy links: Amazon Kobo iBooks Barnes and Noble All Romance eBooks
Website: http://www.shonahusk.com

Story Behind the Story: Christina Philippou

prfileToday I’m delighted to introduce you to the lovely Christina Philippou. Christina’s writing career has been a varied one, from populating the short-story notebook that lived under her desk at school to penning reports on corruption and terrorist finance. When not reading or writing, she can be found engaging in sport or undertaking some form of nature appreciation. Christina has three passports to go with her three children, but is not a spy. Lost in Static is her first novel.

Welcome, Christina. Can you please tell us about your story behind you story?

Hello Alli, and thank you so much for having me on your blog today to talk about the story behind Lost in Static.

Based in a university, Lost in Static tells the same story of first year betrayal, lust, and violence through four students’ (sometimes very) different perspectives. Rather than the story, I’m going to talk about what the book’s focus really is about: the writing structure.

For years, I have hunted down multi-point of view stories, as people’s different perspectives have fascinated me. I loved The Alexandria Quartet by Alexandre Dumas, mainly because it does what few other multi-POV stories actually do: retell the story from a different perspective rather than ‘pass the baton’.

And then came my own history. Every time my (long-suffering) husband and I reminisce about how we got together, our versions of events are markedly different, and not all of that is to do with the passage of time – they always were completely different. Every one views events through their own likes, dislikes, ‘tinted glasses’, culture, and personal history, amongst other things, and I’ve always been intrigued by that and it’s lack of exploration in fiction.

When I sat down to write a piece of fiction (that subsequently became my debut novel), I started thinking about perspective. To add to the husband’s version-of-events disagreement, a friend and I had been to a party the previous evening and our recollections were not aligned.

“Right,” I thought, “let’s get this human predisposition for spinning the truth depending on narrator into a story.”

And so Lost in Static was born, along with its four protagonists, which required a lot of thought to enable me to tell the story the way wanted to: from a variety of viewpoints. This is why, for example, the protagonists are not polar opposites to each other. I didn’t want culture to play too large a part in the differences in the narrative, so I gave them all English middle-class (albeit with disparities in income and county of origin) backgrounds. With similarish cultural background, one of the variables in reasons for altering perspectives was ‘stable’.

For similar reasons, I didn’t include disability or obvious racial differences (of the protagonists). I made them similar in those ways and then hit them with differences in schooling, intelligence, character (part nature, part nurture) and money. I then rendered my characters raw by giving them secrets they would go to great lengths to ensure remained so, and then put them in situations that would bring prejudices (or lack of) to the fore.

Writing the same events from four different perspectives was very stretching, as I kept having to put myself in (sometimes very dislikeable) shoes and see how the event in question would appear to them. But it was also very rewarding.

One of the things I have loved most about reading reviews of Lost in Static is how individual readers seem to like or sympathise with different protagonists. And that, to me, has been the most rewarding thing about bringing this multi-perspective seed to life.

coverLost in Static

Sometimes growing up is seeing someone else’s side of the story.

Four stories. One truth. Whom do you believe? 

Callum has a family secret. Yasmine wants to know it. Juliette thinks nobody knows hers. All Ruby wants is to reinvent herself. 

They are brought together by circumstance, torn apart by misunderstanding. As new relationships are forged and confidences are broken, each person’s version of events is coloured by their background, beliefs and prejudices. And so the ingredients are in place for a year shaped by lust, betrayal, and violence… 

Lost in Static is the gripping debut from author Christina Philippou. Whom will you trust?

Links

 Lost in Static is available from, amongst others, Amazon UK, Amazon US, and direct from the publisher, Urbane Publications.

You can connect with Christina on her websiteTwitterFacebookInstagram and Google+.

Behind the Story: Lea Darragh

prfile.jpgToday we have the lovely Lea Darragh telling us about her Story Behind the Story. Lea is a wife, mother of three children and an Early Childhood Educator. A Nutella enthusiast and red wine drinker. An explorer of nature. Geelong Cats fanatic. She was once a dreamer of words and stories, until she decided one day to put her hand to create a whole new world. Telling stories of hope, desperation, love and loss, she has written characters that everyone can relate to at one point or another. Her stories are realistic and cover topics that can be difficult to face, and she will never shy away from the difficulties that life throws, and will bravely continue to write about them.

Welcome, Lea. Please, tell us about your story behind the story: 

You know, it’s typically difficult to pin-point one reason for a book when I write it, but with This Love I know why, absolutely. Writing is a cathartic experience for me, and I needed this book to help work through my every day life after it had been changed dramatically because of the death of a close relative. People grieve in personal ways, and there’s not always room for much else other than heartbreak. Sometimes the sadness is expressed as anger, frustration, motivation and desperation, and I needed Emmy and Jack to walk me through that, to help release the confusion that comes from a sudden death.

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San Remo

It was Emmy who came to me first, then her hero. I wanted to break them both beyond repair, and then slowly figure out how to work them together, to have them be each other’s strength in a time when all you want to do is literally drown in your grief.

During the process of writing them, Emmy and Jack took their time showing me their true colours, and who they were to each other. I had to be patient, and also ready for the decisions they were about to make. It took some difficult reflection on my own beliefs before I could fit them perfectly together, and to accept the relationship I had set up for them. I’m expecting controversy from this story, they are not a run-of-the-mill couple. Demons can force away light, and this relationship, (without giving away a spoiler) I guarantee, will have you questioning your strength and your every moral. I’ve put Emmy and Jack through their paces. They’ve earned their story. Why not put characters through hell, let them sink, and then rescue them? What greater way is there to tell a story? And I needed that as I healed in my own way.

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Phillip Island

Other stories I write all revolve around the ugly side of love. How we are forced to question ourselves before we can ever decide to make a life work with someone else. My debut novel Almost Mine does this, and of course, This love, pushes the boundaries.

To give my characters space to learn and grow, I set them up in sceneries that promote calm. This Love is set in a fictional town of Cobblers Cove, hidden along the Great Ocean Road. Emmy becomes morbidly attached to the ocean, especially in the dead of night when not another soul can stop her from losing all hope. I gave her the cleansing salty sea air. The sound of the water lapping on the shore… It was intoxicating the way the crashing waves soothed me. Knowing they’d be pulled out again, they never stopped reaching for the shore. 

This book is a contemporary one, yet the issues are not new. Death surrounds us, has been experienced by all, and the one thing I have learned is that all grief is subjective. Like many issues I explore within my writing, it’s something I wanted to learn from, and writing This Love gave me the outlet. I thank Emmy and Jack for their bravery, and for being a vessel for the acceptance I found while writing their story.

I hope readers find it as honest as I have.

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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

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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.

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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

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

Behind the Story: Jenn J McLeod

Jenn
Today we welcome the gorgeous and talented Jenn J McLeod to share her story behind the story. Jenn lives the gypsy life in a fifth-wheeler caravan, her days spent writing heart-warming, small town tales: tapestries of friendship, family and contemporary country life. House for all Seasons was Nielsen’s #5 Best Selling Debut Novel in 2013. Her fourth novel, The Other Side of the Season, is out now with Simon and Schuster Publishers.

Three things inspired the writing of this book

  1. winter.
  2. a newspaper article
  3. and a rock.

Anyone who’s read my novels will know I’m inspired by the seasons.

My first book, House for all Seasons—a four-part story of four women who return to their hometown to spend a season each in an old house—allowed me to dabble and experiment with writing each season. Simmering Season was, as the name implies, a sticky, steamy, stormy season with a small town school reunion turning the heat up. While for the setting in Season of Shadow and Light I immersed myself in a summer flood event in a small country town.

This year, while I’m taking readers from the country to the coast for a sea change, you might expect a summer setting, but as you’ll discover when you read The Other Side of the Season, I prefer to do the unexpected. *nudge/wink*

Instead, to complete my Seasons Collection, I decided to give winter a voice and let it shine.

While looking for wintery inspiration, I discovered this quote from a celebrated American painter. It was perfect for a story with a strong art theme and the Andrew Wyeth Office (in Pennsylvania) granted permission, so you’ll find this at the beginning of my story:

I prefer winter when you feel the bone structure of the landscape,

the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter.

Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show.

Now, about that local newspaper article . . .

In 2014, two brothers were hanging up their last bunch of bananas after seventy years working the slopes of an iconic Coffs Harbour plantation. I read the article and my writer’s brain took over:

  • What if my fictional brothers, tied to each other by the land, didn’t get on?
  • What if one had different dreams?
  • What if something went terribly wrong?

As for how I turned a rock into a book . . .  

I’ve always wanted to incorporate The Nambucca V-Wall into a story. For those who don’t know it, there is an ocean breakwall on the mid NSW coast and its massive boulders are a graffiti gallery of funny, heartfelt . . . often curious messages. Hidden amongst the memorials, the mosaics and the marriage proposals was this rock.

stone(Transcribed from picture.)

Brianna

A thousand words

couldnt explain

how strong the

Love is that i have

for you. You are the

Love of my life the one

i want to be my wife.

Without you i dont know how i

would get through. You are my

soulmate my rock my everything.

Dean

I’ve never met Dean or Brianna. I don’t know them and I don’t know if this message was intended as a proposal when Dean wrote it, or if he was simply a man expressing his feelings for everyone to see.

If it was a proposal . . .

  • Did Brianna say yes?
  • Did she and Dean marry and live happily ever after?
  • Or did one of them meet with tragedy, or have an affair, or did they fall out of love?

I stood there, staring at that rock, not knowing anything—except the urge to correct his grammar and add apostrophes!

So, I had a Coffs banana plantation idea, a rock on a breakwall in Nambucca, two brothers—one a budding artist.

Those early days of a new story for an organic writer like me—when the words flow on to the page—are fabulous. Only sometimes you don’t recognise the challenges until it’s too late. There were moments I cursed myself for attempting such a huge, sprawling story that included multiple character point-of-view and complex, interconnected lives. There was no other way to approach a story spanning three decades but to use a dual time period structure, rather than over-using flashbacks that frustrate and confuse readers. So I channeled Kate Morton for some dual time period structure inspiration and started over.

A dual time period piece means I am essentially presenting two stories (1979 and 2015) to be read simultaneously, both with vague (often invisible) connective concepts in the early stages. Not until much later in the book do the connections become clear and those crumbs I’ve sprinkled get swept into a nice neat pile of plot revelations for readers to devour. But first I needed to make sure I kept readers reading.

And read it they are. I couldn’t be happier with the end result, and the reviews (like this one) calling it ‘my best yet’ are very comforting for this, my fourth small town story: a story of first love, family love and forever love.

coverAbout The Other Side of the Season:

When offering to drive her brother to Byron Bay to escape the bitter Blue Mountain’s winter, Sidney neglects to mention her planned detour to the small seaside town of Watercolour Cove.

Thirty-five years earlier, Watercolour Cove is a very different place for brothers David and Matthew and the teasing and tantalisingly pretty Tilly from the neighbouring property. When tragedy strikes in the winter of 1979, those who can leave, do, while one stays, trapped on the mountain and haunted by memories and lost dreams. That is until the arrival of a curious young woman, named Sidney, whose love of family shows everyone that the truth can heal, what’s wrong can be righted, the lost can be found, and . . .

 . . . there’s another side to every story.

Book information and BUY links – www.jennjmcleod.com/book-room  

Connect with Jenn on Facebook www.facebook.com/jennjmcleod.books and Twitter @jennjmcleod or join in the discussion at Readers of Jenn J McLeod Facebook group (no cat memes allowed!)