Friday, April 27, 2012

Interview with Tanith Davenport

A warm welcome to Tanith Davenport, whose debut novel, "The Hand He Dealt", has been shortlisted for the Joan Hessayon New Writers' Award. Many congratulations on your short listing, Tanith, please tell us about your journey as a writer, how you started, and the excitement of getting that first call.

I had been working on my first novel for three years when it was accepted, including the rewrite suggested during the New Writers’ Scheme. Before then I had written various novel-length pieces but never with any intention of getting them published, which is just as well as they weren’t very good!
My husband and I were on our way out for dinner when the email from Total-e-Bound popped up on my phone. I had always thought I would run around screaming if I ever got published, but instead I spent the evening wearing a ludicrous grin and celebrating with champagne cocktails.

Where do you find inspiration for your ideas and characters?

All kinds of places, but I admit that dreams are responsible for a lot of them. I tend to dream very vividly, which gives me the advantage of having effectively lived through whole sections of storyline. Anything that makes a vague kind of sense gets written down and used later.

Do you have a yearning to write some other type of novel, and if so, what genre would it be?

The advantage of writing romance is that you can cover a lot of genres, so if I feel the urge to write paranormal fiction I can call it “paranormal romance” and it will still fit. However, I would love to try literary fiction one day.

If you were fortunate enough to win the Hessayon Award who would you wish to thank?

A lot of people! Most specifically, I would like to thank my NWS reader, whose guidance led to the rewrite which ultimately led to my contract (I know who it was, although I don’t know if I’m allowed to give her name). I would also thank my fiction writing tutor, Valerie Loh, who first directed me to the RNA; Debi Alper, who was my book doctor at a publishing workshop I attended before submitting my novel to publishers; and let’s not forget my husband Mark, who has had to put up with such inane queries as “What would happen if you squeezed a full can of beer?” and “How would a ghost come out of a bathroom mirror?”

Can you tell us about your work in progress and how you got the idea for it?

I have just had accepted a paranormal erotic romance which is the first in a series about a team of paranormal investigators. It began when, after watching shows such as Most Haunted and Ghost Hunters, I decided to go on a paranormal investigation myself to see how they worked. It wasn’t the most exciting experience of my life – we didn’t get much more than a few bumps and bangs – but it served as great writing material, and I am now working on the second story in the series.

Does your dog or cat help with the writing?

If I’m having trouble with a scene, I’ll go and sit on the sofa and my cat Tigger will join me – it’s amazing how therapeutic petting a purring cat can be for a brain crash.

What was your most embarrassing moment at an RNA event?

I was so badly sunburned at the RNA conference in 2010 that I looked like a Belisha beacon.

Which is your all time favourite book?

It varies, but right now it’s “I Capture the Castle” by Dodie Smith.

What would represent a romantic gesture to you?

Offering a massage, or to buy me dinner. I’m not one for flowers and chocolates.

Do you have any little phobias, superstitions or habits connected with your writing?

I can’t write in a dressing gown, which means that even on weekends when I don’t have to leave the house I still have to get dressed before I can write.

Thank you for talking to us Tanith. We wish you continued success with your writing and good luck with the Joan Hessayon Award.

To find out more about Tanith and her work visit her website here:

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Interview with Scarlett Wilson

Today we meet Scarlet Wilson, who is a contender for the 2012 Joan Hessayon Award. Many congratulations on your shortlisting, with your debut novel, "It Started with a Pregnancy", Scarlet.

Please tell us about your journey as a writer, how you started, and the excitement of getting that first call.

I started getting serious about writing around three years ago.  I heard about the New Writers Scheme via the blogs of Kate Hardy and Kate Walker and signed up as soon as the 1st January came round.  I went through the New Writers Scheme twice and got some really positive feedback (even though my first attempt was rubbish!)  I won an online pitch for medical romance on eharlequin, then was lucky enough to meet the editor I was working with at the RNA conference in London.  I got the Call on 21 January last year.

Can you tell us something of your work in progress and how you got the idea for it?

My second and third books were inspired by seeing Michelle Obama on the news and realizing that for the first time in fifty years we had the potential for a white house baby.  My mind started asking a lot of What if? questions at that point.  My fourth book is a Christmas story and my fifth is set on a cruise ship.  Medicals are a lot of fun!

Can you share with us the craft tip that has helped you the most?

Once I’ve finished my book I set up a table that summarises each scene in a sentence.   I find this helps when I get revisions as I can move things around easier and see the impact that any changes will have on the overall story.

Do you have a yearning to write some other type of novel, and if so, what genre would it be?

Yes and no.  I’d like to write a historical medical – probably set in the Wild West.  But I’m not that sure there’s much call for those!

If you were fortunate enough to win the Hessayon Award who would you wish to thank?

I’d start by thanking the New Writers Scheme and all its readers.  I really feel for the person who read my first attempt at a manuscript and decided on the best way to try and give positive feedback.  She succeeded, but I’m working on the assumption it was a difficult job!
Who is your favourite hero?

It probably goes against being a writer but I’m quite a visual person when it comes to heroes.  I think my favourite is ingrained from my childhood and was Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark.  I would be the girl in the class that had written LOVE YOU on her eyelids!

What was your most embarrassing moment at an RNA event?

I’ve been to two RNA conferences so far and been badly behaved at them both.  My fellow Mills and Boon authors are the worse culprits.  Anne Fraser led me astray at my first and India Grey, Natalie Rivers and Fiona Harper at my second.  There might have been a chocolate stealing incident at 1am at the second but my lips are sealed.

If you could reincarnate yourself as some other author, who would it be?

Enid Blyton every time. (Although I know she was supposed to be difficult in real life). I loved her books as a child and even though they seem terribly dated now I’m still envious of the woman who dreamed up the Faraway Tree.

How does chocolate help you in your writing?

Chocolate is a staple part of life. Being diabetic since childhood can make this tricky as I can’t sit down and eat a box of Milk Tray the way I’d like to.  However, after thirty-one years I’m an expert at tweaking insulin depending on what I’m eating and my level of activity, so a little bit often works fine for me.

What is most likely to stop you from writing?

Time and children.  I don’t have enough hours in the day.  I work full-time and my two young sons have activities every night of the week.  I’ve become quite an expert at capturing 1000 words every day in my half hour lunch break.  I always know what I’m sitting down to write and if I need to do research I’ve done it the night before.  It works well for me and keeps me on track.

West Wing to Maternity Wing!  - Out May 2012

The President's Baby Doctor

Famous neonatologist Lincoln Adams is looking after the President's newborn daughter when nurse Amy Carson arrives at the hospital, posing as his very pregnant wife!  Amy's had first-hand experience of Linc's skilful hands and he's the only person she trusts to look after her precious cargo, but trusting him with her fragile heart is another matter...

Thank you talking to us Scarlet, we wish you continuing success with your books. Good luck with the Joan Hessayon Award on May 17th.

To find out more about Scarlet and her work visit her website at 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Interview with Fanny Blake

I’m delighted to welcome novelist and journalist, Fanny Blake to the RNA Blog today. Her career has spanned almost every aspect of writing. She was a publisher for many years before becoming an author. She has written best-selling non-fiction, ghost-written several celebrity autobiographies and has written two novels, WHAT WOMEN WANT and WOMEN OF A DANGEROUS AGE - published on April 26th by Blue Door. Fanny is also the Books Editor of Woman & Home. 

She lives at home with her husband, a novelist, an ancient cat that’s young in spirit, and however many of their three sons happen to be at home at the time. She goes to the theatre more than is good for her bank account, loves long country walks and chocolate.

As a former publisher and journalist who has previously written non-fiction and done ghost writing of celebrity autobiographies, how did the skills needed to write your first novel differ from this type of work?

Writing non-fiction and ghosting gave me the confidence to write a novel. When I worked as a publisher, I thought that was what other people did and I edited. It’s odd to find myself on the other side of the fence now. In fact ghosting helped me because it taught me so much about adopting someone else’s voice, and about structure and pace. Of course, in those ghost-written memoirs, most of the material was already there, so the novelist’s skill that I’m still learning is how to invent characters and situations and make them credible.

Do you edit and revise as you write, or after you have completed the first draft? What method works best for you?

A bit of both. When I sit down every morning I go back over what I wrote the day before and work on it until I don’t feel too despairing. And then I start writing again. But I find it hard going forward unless I’m reasonably happy with what I’ve already done. That’s not to say that it doesn’t need revising when I’ve finished the final draft. It does! I’d love to be a more spontaneous novelist who could just let it all come out in a rush, but that’s not how I work. But I’m sure one of the keys to writing is ‘Know thyself’ and another is, just get on with it.

Which do you find the hardest part of the novel to write, and how do you cope when the going gets tough?

In the novels I’ve written so far, panic has always struck at about the 40,000-word mark, when all the balls are just about in the air and I’m convinced that a) they’re all about to come crashing down in the wrong places and that b) a monkey could write the novel better anyway. That’s the moment I’m tempted to delete the whole lot and start again. So far, I’ve always managed to stop myself doing that.

My first way of coping is chocolate or biscuits or preferably both, then I phone a friend, who conveniently doubles as a bestselling novelist. She understands exactly what I’m going through, having experienced the same thing regularly herself. She calms me down and orders me to keep going, reminding me that once I’ve got something on the page I can always change it. Of course, she’s right. You’ve enjoyed a long and successful career, and are still very involved in other writing related tasks, not least as books editor of Woman & Home magazine.

Tell us something of your daily routine and how you fit everything in. I often only get things done by the seat of my pants.

I’m always at my desk by about 9am and stay there for a full working day. My working method’s rather haphazard, which I means I do things as they come up. Someone once told me you should only touch each piece of paper once, the same applies to emails. Once opened, it’s got to be dealt with, filed or deleted. Most of my job for Woman & Home involves reading, so I tend to do that in the evenings, on buses if I’m going out, or on weekends then put aside a couple of days or so a month to write the reviews. Otherwise, I put in a normal working day, stopping for a quick lunch of soup or baked beans. I know, not inspiring - but filling.

I try to write a 1,000 words of my novel a day although that varies depending whether I’m doing research which holds me up, stuck, or whether I’m on a roll. Answering queries, writing features and anything else just gets fitted in somewhere. And of course, I spend ages displacing on the Internet!

Your novels are full of humour and wit, did this come naturally to you or was it a skill you needed to learn? 

I don’t think I learned to write the way I do, it just happened. I find myself putting my poor characters into situations that make me laugh. So a suitcase might fly open at an airport, wine get spilled over someone at an important dinner, people see things they shouldn’t, or end up with unsuitable partners and row over ridiculous things. You only have to look around you to see there’s usually a funny side to almost everything. But I hope I’m making one or two serious points about women of a certain age and the lives we lead as well.

Tell us about your latest book and how you came by the idea for it.

WOMEN OF A DANGEROUS AGE came to me when I was having one of those moments when you look at your life and ask yourself: Is this it? That prompted me to write about two women who had reached the same point in their own lives: one a wife and mother; the other a serial mistress. The first of them came to me just when I should have been concentrating on my pelvic floor in a pilates class! Lou is a woman who wants to stand up and say, ‘I’m not going to be a victim anymore.’ She and Ali decide that it’s not too late for another throw of the dice. They start down a path to reinvent themselves despite a couple of startling discoveries that almost put paid to their resolutions.

That sounds absolutely fascinating. Now for some slightly humorous questions. Do you manage to off-load the housework when you’re writing? 
One of my greatest talents is being able to ignore housework, so we live in an embarrassingly messy house.

Do you have an exercise routine to help you avoid writers’ back problems, and does it work? 
I try to go for a brisk walk every day (and often don’t) as well as doing three hours of pilates a week (and do) which seems to keep most problems at bay.

Have you ever made an unfortunate error in one of your books and got away with it?
If I had, I wouldn’t tell you!

Apart from writing, of which accomplishment are you most proud? 

Apart from my family, I’m most proud of paragliding in the Alps given I practically get vertigo standing on a deep-pile carpet.

Where would you most like to escape to and write?
Nowhere. I’m very happy writing in my room just off the kitchen, even if it is too close to the biscuit tin for me ever to have a waistline again.

How does chocolate help you in your writing? 
See above!

That was both informative and entertaining, Fanny. Thank you for sharing your secrets with us, and we wish you continuing success with your wonderful books.
Best wishes, Freda 

Interviews on the RNA Blog are for RNA members, although we do occasionally take guests. If you are interested in an interview, please contact me: 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Interview with Tamsyn Murray

Tamsyn Murray currently writes the Stunt Bunny series for Simon and Schuster and the YA Afterlife series for Piccadilly Press. Her most recent YA novel, My So-Called Phantom Lovelife, was shortlisted for the YA Romantic Novel of the Year RoNA and her books have been translated into five languages. She lives in London with five rabbits, one cat, one dog, one husband, one daughter and one very small son. When she isn't writing, she likes to sing. Her family wishes she didn't. Do tell us what made you want to write and how you got your first break? 

I actually owe my success in part to another RNA member - Jane Wenham-Jones. It was reading her book, Wannabe A Writer?, that kicked my writing into life. I'd toyed with it for years, starting things and never finishing them, and Jane's book suggested trying to write short stories for the women's magazine market. I wrote a couple and struck gold with My Weekly. That gave me the confidence to branch out into YA fiction and my first novel (My So-Called Afterlife, Piccadilly Press Ltd) was published less than two years after that first hit.

Do you juggle writing with the day job? What is your work schedule?

I still work full-time, although I'm currently on maternity leave. At the moment, I squeeze in snatches of writing here and there while the baby is napping but I'm hoping one day to be able to make writing my full time job.

Teenagers are notoriously picky, what do you find are the particular challenges in writing for young adults?

For me, getting an authentic teen voice is critical and one of the hardest things to achieve. I'm not necessarily talking about the language used, more the tone you adopt as an author. There's nothing more cringe-inducing than reading a book where it's obvious it has been a long time since the author was a teenager.

I also think it's important to ensure that romantic encounters are age appropriate - it's unreasonable to think that sixteen year old characters would be content with chaste little kisses but I know that my YA books are read by a younger audience than I intended so I'm careful about what I write. It helps that a lot of my characters are ghosts. However, I do think YA fiction should reflect the realities of teenage life and sex is a reality for many teens so I wouldn't shy away from it if the story demanded it.

You also write for younger children, what is the inspiration behind these books?

I have five rabbits, so no prizes for guessing where the ideas for the STUNT BUNNY series come from! One of my rabbits escaped and it took me forever to catch her again. I started to think about an escapologist bunny and the character of Harriet Houdini was born. The plot for my forthcoming picture book, SNUG AS A BUG (Simon and Schuster, Feb 2013), came to me in a dream - always keep a pen and paper next to the bed!

What do you enjoy most about being a writer? And which is the hardest part of the job for you?

I love letting my imagination run away with itself and seeing where we end up. And I especially enjoy the sense of achievement when I finish a first draft, knowing I've got a story I can polish and hone to become something a bit special. The hardest part of being a writer for me at the moment is finding the time to do it - anyone got a cloning machine they can lend me?

Have you ever won or been short-listed in any competitions or awards, and do you think they help with a writer’s success?

Being nominated for awards is something which gave me a real buzz - when I found out I'd been short-listed for the Romantic Novel of the Year YA RoNA this year, I was utterly delighted. Even though I didn't win the prize, I was in great company and really enjoyed the glam award ceremony last month.

What is your craziest ambition?
To appear on a TV talent show like Britain's Got Talent!

What was your favourite book as a child?
The Weirdstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner

If you could know the future, what would you wish for? 
To have no regrets.

My So-Called Phantom Lovelife

I knew the boy was different when I saw him walk on water… When fourteen-year-old Skye Thackery meets Owen Wicks, it’s not exactly love at first sight. She’s getting over a broken heart and he’s – well – a ghost. But as Skye gets to know him, she can’t help wondering what it would be like to kiss him. Dating a ghost isn’t easy, and things get worse when Owen declares he’s found a way to stay with Skye forever. His plans make her uneasy – the shadowy organisation which claims to be able to help him is bad news, and it seems Nico, her ex, is involved too. As Owen prepares to risk everything, Skye begins to wonder if she really has a future with him, or if his desire to be more than just a ghost will cost them everything. 
Third in the Afterlife series.
Published by Piccadilly Press Ltd. 

Thank you Tamsyn for finding time to talk to us today, it’s been fascinating and I hope your rabbits don’t escape again. We wish you continuing success with your books.
Best wishes,

You can find out more about Tamsyn and her books here: 
Twitter: @TamsynTweetie 

Interviews on the RNA Blog are for full RNA members, although we do occasionally take guests. If you are interested in an interview, please contact me:

Friday, April 13, 2012

Interview with Elizabeth Bailey

I’m delighted to welcome Elizabeth Bailey to the blog today. Liz claims to have been an avid reader from an early age, grew up in colonial Africa under unconventional parentage and with theatre in her blood. Back in England, she trod the boards until discovering her true m├ętier as a writer and fulfilled an addiction to Heyer by launching into historical romance with Harlequin Mills & Boon. Writing was fuelled by teaching and directing drama, and writing plays. 

Retired from both teaching and romance, Elizabeth switched to crime. Still writing in her favourite historical period, Elizabeth sets her female sleuth in the Georgian world of intrigue, elegance, aristocrats and rogues. 

You have certainly served an interesting apprenticeship for writing. Your latest book: THE DEATHLY PORTENT, is an historical crime in the Lady Fan series. Tell us how you came by the idea, and what is the special appeal of this genre. 

The basic premise was an idea for a discarded historical romance, but I liked the second sight/witch scenario and felt it would appeal to Ottilia. I love most the historical setting, which gives me a lot of freedom in terms of investigation, unhampered by modern policing and forensics. More tricky in some ways as I need to know what was possible in the era, but it enables me to be inventive.

How do you think your work as an actress helps with setting the scene in your writing, and creating the right mood?

It’s absolutely key, as it gives me an almost innate understanding of emotional highs and lows, motivation and character creation. In theatre we talk of a mood line through the play and as a director I’ve learned the importance of atmospheric background – visuals, sounds and the element of surprise. It’s also been incredibly useful with dialogue because of speech rhythms and subtext.

Having been involved in drama myself, albeit as an amateur, I can see exactly what you mean, and you obviously enjoy what you do. Do you think writers should follow the latest hot fashion or write what they love?

Far more important to write what you love, because if you don’t love what you write, it will show in the writing. But you can always gear what you love to a specific genre, as writers must be prepared to adapt their voice to the needed parameters. Forget fashions – by the time you’ve finished the book and got it into the hands of a publisher, the trend is probably on the wane.

Absolutely, I do agree. But this is a tough profession, has a rejection ever caused you to stop writing? Twice.

Very early on, an editor was disgracefully sarcastic about my use of exclamation points and I have a phobia about them to this day. I didn’t write for a while after getting that crit. The second one was when an agent, having taken on one book and failed to sell it, then totally trashed the next one I sent in. Needless to say, we parted company, but I didn’t write for eighteen months. Artistic talent is a delicate plant and one must never be brutal in crushing it.

So what next? Can you tell us a little about your work in progress?

I’m doing the third in the Lady Fan series. It concerns a beautiful girl who is mentally unbalanced. When her guardian drops dead, it’s a question whether a murder has actually been committed. But Ottilia becomes suspicious when she encounters the emotional cross-currents in the odd collection of individuals, lately arrived from a Barbados sugar plantation, who surround the lovely Tamasine.

And now to a lighter view of writing: If you could clone yourself, which job would you hand over? A spare Liz who raced around handling the house and non-writing jobs would be a godsend.

Which book would you take with you to a desert island?
Shakespeare, without a doubt. Plenty of reading, plenty of drama, and I can act it all out for the crabs.

What is most likely to lure you from your writing den when in the heat of writing? 
If I’m really going strong, the house better be on fire. Otherwise, beware the tongues of flame!

That was fascinating Liz, and such fun. Thank for sparing the time to talk to us today. 
We wish you continued success with your books.
Best of luck, Freda

The Deathly Portent
Prime Crime
7 June 2012
A thrilling historical mystery set in the heart of Georgian England. A violent murder has left a small village aghast, a young woman believed to be a witch is blamed. Soon the witch hunt escalates out of control. However Ottilia, former ladies maid and bride to Lord Francis suspects that the witch is simply a scapegoat. She uncovers a raft of suspects with grudges against the dead man, one who is determined to incriminate the 'witch'. As foul play runs rampant, Ottilia must wade through growing hysteria, protect the innocent and discover the true culprit.

To find out more about Elizabeth Bailey and her books, visit her here: 

Interviews on the RNA Blog are for RNA members, although we do occasionally take guests. If you are interested in an interview, please contact me: 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Interview with Giselle Green

I’m delighted to welcome Giselle Green to the blog today. Giselle was brought up in Gibraltar and then moved to London to study Science at University. She is mum to six boys (the youngest being twins) and lives in Kent. Her first published book was the non-fiction title The Writer’s Guide to the Zodiac. Her debut novel Pandora’s Box won the RNA New Writer’s Award in 2008 and her books have sold across Europe. You write with heartbreaking emotion, do you find it difficult to put your heart on the page?

I think my real breakthrough came when I learned to do precisely that. The trick with emotional scenes is to get yourself into the right ‘space’ in which to write them, get your thinking brain out of the way and just feel it. I imagine that’s how actors must work – I’ve always admired how unselfconscious great actors are in front of the camera; they’re not looking over their shoulder all the time, they are completely and utterly centred in the scene. They immerse themselves in it and it becomes real. I think the same holds true for writing as well. You are known as the English Jodi Picoult, what attracted you to this particular genre? Jodi writes about ethical dilemmas, and I tend to write about dilemmas of the heart. By that I mean my characters need to do some soul-searching, they need to really examine what feels right or wrong to them, even when their heads might be telling them something different. The characters are always put in a situation of huge conflict - the traditional ‘rock and a hard place’ - but the key thing that interests me is always the emotional catharsis that results from the testing situation.

When I listen to the news every day I often think it’s full of extraordinary events about ordinary people ... it’s about everyman and everywoman put into situations often beyond their control that bring out extraordinary qualities in them. I like to write about people who have been pushed right out of their comfort zone, who’ve been forced to take a stand or make a difficult choice, because whenever we make those kinds of choices, we’re making a statement about what we truly value, we’re learning about what gives meaning to our life.

Your books are often on the bestseller lists, what do you think is the secret of your success, your magic ingredient?

I think every writer’s own magic ingredient is their ‘voice’ – and what that voice is, is not some stylistic trait or signature, but the sum total of what that writer ‘says’ every time they open their mouths (or write a book). Your voice is the message you are sending out when you write, it’s what you stand for. It’s what will make all your books consistent and recognisable as coming from you. That’s why I never advocate anyone to write according to what the market says it ‘wants’ or to study any particular style or genre, because it’s what each writer has to offer that is unique to them that’s the most precious thing. When you write from the heart, there’s an easily-recognisable truth to that and I like to think that’s what my readers appreciate about my books.

What do you do when the going gets tough?

It depends why it’s just got tough. If I’ve been over-working then sometimes the only solution is to take some time off and go and do something else – a sunny afternoon beckons, or coffee with a friend. We are our own employers, so we have to treat ourselves kindly! However - if I’ve got to a space in the novel that I don’t want to write or don’t know HOW to write, then I usually find it helps to go and talk it over with someone. Either another writer, or my husband usually, who has become very good at helping me with how I think about things and hone in on the bit that is causing the discomfort. I often write scenes completely out of sequence – and then come back when I’ve psyched myself up to write the tough scene.

There were a lot of those tough scenes in my latest novel - FALLING FOR YOU. The scene where the hero Lawrence finally has to confront his brutal father was a point in hand - the confrontation between them was a smoking gun set at the beginning and I knew there was no way I could avoid it and that it would be tough! I wrote one short scene and kept coming back to it again and again until it eventually spanned three scenes, but I had to let myself feel the discomfort of those characters being in that space. You’ve got to be prepared to go into those dark places or the reader will feel cheated.

With the increasing popularity of e-books, how do you think digitisation has helped or changed your own career as a writer? Have you self-published anything? 

I’ve recently self-published my latest book – FALLING FOR YOU as an e-book, and it has done extraordinarily well. It reached number three in the kindle charts in January, which I assume was because my previous bestselling title A SISTER’S GIFT reached the number one kindle slot over Christmas. The best thing about bringing it out as an e-book was that I could do it all to my own timing – with huge family commitments, the one book a year contract with my publisher was something I found hard. I think the e-book phenomenon is totally revolutionising the publishing world just now. In a little while the boundaries may be reset by other factors but right now it’s an exciting time to be e-publishing.

Have you ever won or been short-listed for any awards and do you think they help with a writer’s success? 

My debut novel PANDORA’S BOX won the RNA New Writers’ Award in 2008. It was fabulous to be recognised by my peers, of course. My feeling is that awards and recognition of any sort in the writing world can generally only be of help to aspiring authors. Having said that, I don’t think it’s by any means essential – loads of books that have never won any awards will go on to sell in huge numbers simply because they are popular.

There are some thought-provoking answers there, Giselle. Now for some lighter questions. Do you work with the door locked? 

No. I need to keep my finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the rest of the house. I can’t just ignore the phone or the doorbell, unfortunately.

This is the view from your office, but where would you most like to escape to, to write?

A deserted island, in a hut by the beach somewhere sunny. I could go for long walks and enjoy the sea views every time I needed a break. A chef and a cleaner would be included in the package of course.

What was your favourite book as a child? 

Anything by Rosemary Sutcliff. Let’s go with Eagle of the Ninth. I also liked ‘Simon,’ set during the civil war.

If you could clone yourself, what job would you hand over? 

The never-ending taxi-ing to and fro of various of my sons!

If your book could be a movie, who would play the hero?

Tricky one, this. I’m not actually sure what my latest hero, Lawrence in FALLING FOR YOU actually looks like! The husband Richard in A SISTER’S GIFT could be played by Richard Armitage because he’d portray the right kind of old fashioned qualities (and no, before you ask - I didn’t nick his name from the actor).


A modern-day Romeo and Juliet with a twist, set over five days at Christmas. 18-yr old Rose’s life is devastated - as sole carer for her disabled father, her own dreams of pursuing a career or finding love are fast fading. In desperation, Rose borrows from pagan knowledge and casts a spell. 22-yr old Lawrence has been working as a paramedic in war-torn Sri Lanka. Compelled to return home, he’s suddenly a man on the run. Lawrence ends up sheltering near Rose’s family farm in Kent. When a fierce snowstorm traps Rose in the same isolated ruin for 48 hours, the two meet and fall in love - the beguilingly gentle and handsome Lawrence is everything Rose has dreamed of but why does he keep warning her away? As the opportunity to pursue her own dreams suddenly open up for Rose, she discovers just how far she is prepared to go to keep him. 

I know you are a busy lady so I thank you for finding the time to talk to us today, and wish you continuing success with your books. 

To find out more about Gizelle, you can check her out here:

Interviews on the RNA Blog are for RNA members, although we do occasionally take guests. If you are interested in an interview, please contact me: 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Interview with Emma Lane

Today I’m delighted to welcome guest interviewee, Emma Lane, member of our sister organisation the RWA. Emma tells me that she lives in Western New York near Lake Erie on a few picturesque acres with her ever patient husband. They own and operate a small herbtique, a plant nursery, which keeps their days busy and interesting during the summer months. Their village is a perfect example of small town USA. They have two brilliant grown-up children and a wonderful pair of grandchildren. In one way or another, the entire family contributes to her stories. They are her biggest fans and she is ever thankful for it. “I never saw a printed word I did not like,” she says. 
So tell us Emma, what first kickstarted your career?

MY PASSIONATE LOVE, a Regency Romance, the first of a series of three. Yes, it was the most thrilling of times to see my pen name in print. Musa Publishing has a great group of editors which helped immensely. There was so much I didn’t understand about e-books at first.

Which author would you say has most influenced your work?

Tough to answer. For my Regency novels, Georgette Heyer hands down. If I want to be inspired, I read anything by John Steinbeck. That man was a virtuoso with words.

Do you take advice before sending your baby out into the wide world? If so, who from? 

My hubby is my primary reader. I have several friends and relatives who do beta readings for me. My daughter teaches college English and helps me edit.

How do you relax? What interests do you have other than writing? Do you think it important for a writer to take time off? 

I am part owner of a small plant nursery, a herbtique. My Spring and Summers are very full and I can only write in snatches at night. Mostly I write in the Fall and polish in the Winter. Time off is when my hubby drags me to Florida for a few weeks in January. I doubt writers ever really take time off. If I am not writing, my mind is planning to write and I am always reading if given the chance.

Can you tell us something of your work in progress? 

I am into edits on a Contemporary Romantic Suspense to be published by Desert Breeze Publishing. It’s called GONE TO THE DOGS and is a sequel to already published SANDPIPER AFFAIR. Both are set in Florida. The heroine is a wild life photographer and the hero is a wealthy hunk who does advocacy work as a Park Ranger. There is lots and lots of nature and wildlife. The first novel is about the beginning of a romance. The second one is about the deepening of the romance as the couple learn to sort out their individual differences set against the rich flora and fauna of tropical Florida.

And now for a few less serious questions. Who is your favourite hero and why?
Superman He can fly. (I’m married to a commercial pilot, but they need machines.) He doesn’t seem to need food fixed for him. Only wears one suit of clothes so no laundry. He’s a handsome sort of man of steel. Great muscles.

Nice thought. If you could know the future, what would you wish for?
World Peace and plentiful food for everyone.

Where would you most like to escape to and write?
I have a pretty nice office with a view of the park across the street, but Hawaii wouldn’t be bad.

If you could be something other than a writer, what would you choose to be?
Lois Lane, of course. In lieu of that, perhaps a lawyer. I love to argue and debate.

Apart from writing, of which accomplishment are you most proud.
I feel I’ve done a presentable job making a home for my family. I’m not bad at designing gardens either.

My Passionate Love

The vicar’s eldest daughter, resigned to spinsterhood, has developed an unreasonable prejudice against her handsome neighbor, but Lord Sutcliffe is smitten by her passionate nature and vows to win her over. The two young people struggle to take their rightful places in society and, on the way, to share a lasting love for each other. Lord Sutcliffe meets a pretty miss on a dusty country road and rescues her from her embarrassing dilemma. It must have been magic as his intention was only to steal a quick buss. Instead he is astonished to find himself involved in a passionate kiss which leaves him shaken to the core. Frances, the vicar’s daughter, should have put that impudent, frivolous lord in his place. Why she responded to his kiss the way she did, she’d never know. She knew she should not have, but the feelings were just too delicious to resist. 

Thank you so much for sparing the time to talk to us, Emma. We wish you every success with your new titles. 
Best wishes, Freda

You can check out Emma’s books here:

Interviews on the RNA Blog are for RNA members, although we do occasionally take guests. If you are interested in an interview, please contact me:

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Interview with Elle Amberley

Our guest today is Elle Amberley. Not a member of the RNA but a prolific author who writes Women’s Fiction, Literary, short stories and features. Her publisher tells me that Elle’s particular strength is writing positive stories with a strong theme of being lost and finding yourself again. Having overcome many obstacles in her life, including a very difficult childhood, she chose to reconstruct her life. Rather than writing a memoir like many abuse victims she prefers to marry fiction with some of her own experiences.

Do you have to juggle writing with the day job? What is your work schedule? 

Writing is my job, I’m lucky in that respect, not sure what else I’d do if I was not a full-time novelist. I have two pen names, Elle Amberley being very new. It was a bit of an experiment, trying a different style as I normally write Literary Fiction. Mind you, I also homeschool my children, so I do juggle. I don’t have a particular schedule but when I write my first draft, the story has usually been festering in my brain and bursting to come out, which means I forget the world out there as it all comes out fast and furiously.

Can you share with us the craft tip that has helped you the most? 

Reading is an important part of a writer’s life. I start reading when I was 3 and haven’t stopped. The more you read, the better you write. Other than that I’m an impulsive writer, I don’t follow any particular rules, apart from listening to the voices. Well, I hope you know what I mean.

Are you a plotter or a panster? 

Tough one, I’m not sure. I do at times write the outline, not always before I write the first draft, it varies. I have the story in my head and it just flows out. I guess I have it all worked out in my head until I can’t bear to not to write it all down. So, no, I don’t spend hours agonising over what’s going to happen next. The process is very organic in my case.

With the increasing popularity of ebooks, how do you think digitisation has helped or changed your own career as a writer? 

I prefer books, I can see all the advantages of ebooks particularly when travelling, but find them hard to read. Also I spend so much time in front of a screen I like to disconnect. Saying that, you have to stay in tune with changes. It probably helps more with my new pen name than it does with the other. It’s exciting and it helps authors who might not have been published otherwise. I hear a lot more publishers do ebooks only.

Can you tell us about your work in progress and how you got the idea for it?

My work in progress is a novel in French. I’d never written in French until a couple of years ago. A very personal event prompted this, a way to release the pain buried inside me after a period of intense grief. This was part of the inspiration behind Lost in your time, my latest novel, based in Paris. I found I enjoyed writing in French more and more and enjoyed the contrast between the two languages and how it has influenced my writing.

Elle's children also love Paris.

And now for some lighter questions:
Who is your favourite hero? 
People who have touched me, the ones who try and change things, or step in to help others.

Do you work with the door locked? 
No, at times I can write in the middle of complete chaos around my children. At others when I do need quiet, I get organised.

What would represent a romantic gesture to you? 
My husband pushing a piece of cake in front of me, together with a cup of coffee while I’m in oblivion and tapping away on my keyboard. Little things, big things, it all counts.

Lost In Your Time
published by Indio Press, a new, small and independent press.

Ah, the dangers of the internet! We’ve all been warned, but do we take notice? When Natasha clicks on a link, her whole life is turned upside down. A flash from the past, a chance meeting with a gorgeous French rock star...

A chance to start over and forget the pain and misery from the last two years. But can Natasha let go? Will she accept this new twist in her life?

Thank you Elle for sparing time to talk to us today. We wish you every success in the future. Best wishes, Freda

To find out more about Elle Amberley you can find her here:

Interviews on the RNA Blog are for RNA members, although we do occasionally take guests. If you are interested in an interview, please contact me:

April Releases

Headline Review
12th April
'I need you to say that I was with you.' For thirty years, best friends Steph and Pip have been through thick and thin. There's nothing they would not do for one another. Until these simple words change everything. Steph, eternally solid and dependable, is begging her friend to lie to the police as she's desperately trying to conceal not one but two scandalous secrets to protect her family. Pip, self-consigned to the role of scatty hot-head, is overwhelmed;she's normally the one asking for help in a crisis. It's a big ask. So what would you do? How far would you go for your best friend?

Random House on 26th April 2012
Violet Saunders is astounded when her boyfriend gets down on one knee and proposes. At size 18-20, she can't think why anyone would want to marry her and euphoria quickly turns to horror as she contemplates squeezing herself into a wedding dress. When a leaflet from dieting club New You! drops through her letterbox, she hurries to enrol, but is soon traumatised by the terrifying Trudie, who secretly despises her fat clients. Things go from bad to worse; everyone just gets fatter on the horrible New You! drink shakes. At work, Violet's half-Italian boss looks on in amazement and finally persuades her to take a break and lunch with him at his family's delicatessen. All at once Violet experiences an explosion of beautiful tastes and textures. Inspired, she persuades her fellow dieters to form a new club, with secret weigh-ins at her house - while pretending to Trudie, of whom they are all petrified, that it is the New You! diet which is transforming them. Fabulous Italian recipes gradually begin to work their magic, but can Violet the duckling really become Violet the swan in time for her wedding?

Electra Shepherd LOVE MACHINE
Ellora's Cave
4 April 2012
US$4.45 (appx £3.00)
If you’ve got a six-foot hunky robot offering to relieve your sexual frustration, you’re not going to say no, right? Even if he is sort of…well, definitely…blue?

Xcite Books Ltd
16 April 2012
£5.91 Paperback - 3 novellas
Early 19th century well-born Rebecca, desperate to escape marrying a tyrant, tumbles from the sand dunes to land at smuggler Jac’s feet. Danger awaits him as he helps plot her escape. Jac also has to fight his own conscience as secret meetings with her bad boy transform Rebecca’s girlish innocence into a woman’s passion.

Harlequin Historical
Miss Aimee Peters craves respectability after a life spent dodging scandal.  Captain Corcoran wants a wife by any means.  But neither of them is ready to trust a member of the opposite sex.

Noelene Jenkinson BARRATT'S RUN
Whiskey Creek Press

April 2012

Anne Gray is forced to marry for the chance of a better life. Until she learns that her cruel husband murdered his first wife and now threatens her, so she flees Devon and escapes to Australia.
James Barratt emigrated from Sussex to Australia to make his fortune. After his fiance jilts him, he takes a mistress, vowing never to fall in love again. But she convinces him to try again.

In Australia, Anne changes her name and answers James' advertisement for a wife. But her blossoming romance and marriage is shortlived when her past returns to haunt her and, once again, she is forced to flee. Pregnant and homeless, Anne struggles to resolve her future until James finds her and the real truth is uncovered. 

Vanessa Devereaux TAKE A CHANCE ON ME (Perfect Pairing Series)
Evernight Publishing
E Novella
April 12th
Thanks to a witch named Sadie, who's been sent to the Department of Love for punishment, two lonely souls who never thought they'd find their dream partner, meet through her Perfect Pairing service.

Astraea Press 
Cornish farmer, Noah Penwarren is sworn off city girls, especially deceitful ones. Posy Carmichael is a city girl through and through. When romantic sparks start to fly will Posy’s secret end their Easter romance before it’s even begun?

Choc Lit Publishing 
7th April 2012
Paperback £7.99 ebook £1.99
Sophie's in trouble. Must be a Tuesday. Book five of the Sophie Green mysteries.

Hodder & Stoughton
Ismay Deagan has one wish, to leave Ireland and join her brother, Bram, in Australia. But her father orders her to marry their vicious neighbour Rory Flynn. After Rory brutally attacks her, Ismay runs away. After meeting Adam Tregear on the ship, she finally starts to believe her dreams of future happiness may come true.
On the way, however, she’s flung into adventures in Suez, Ceylon and Singapore. Dare she tell Adam the truth about who she really is? Does he have secrets of his own? Or will her past catch up with her and ruin her new-found happiness?

Chrissie Loveday TIES THAT BIND
Large Print hardback
“Sophie’s dream is to be a fashion designer and the dynamic Adam is determined to make it happen. But dare she love this man with a reputation and can she overcome the conflicts always in her way? Why does the glamorous Rachel figure in their lives?”

Chrissie Loveday TO LOVE AGAIN
Peoples’ Friend Pocket Novel
April 5th 2012
The fourth story in the saga if the Vale family. Lizzie is the youngest daughter, facing the traumas of WW2 ending in her role as a nurse. Working with physically and mentally injured men, she finds life tough until Daniel begins to fill her life. Can their love possibly conquer the obstacles?

Liz Fielding Beaumont Brides Collection - Wild Justice, Wild Lady and Wild Fire in one volume
Available to buy or borrow on Kindle, from Amazon  $4.99

Victoria Connelly MR DARCY FOREVER
1st April
Two estranged sisters meet again at the Jane Austen Festival in Bath but what tore them apart and can the magic of Jane Austen help to bring them back together again?

12th April
A romantic comedy about a movie star who swaps Hollywood for the Highlands in an attempt to find out who she really is.

Xcite Books Ltd
16 April 2012
£5.91 Paperback - 3 novellas

Samhain Publishing
3rd April 2012
$15.00  discounted to $10.50 for limited time only.
Dr. Nick Sewell. Cambridge fellow. Werewolf. Struggling with his feral nature and with a visceral attraction to Julian Lauder, a troubled young German student—until a strange wolf is seen around college, and Julian disappears.

Ellora's Cave Blush Line
Historical Romance Novella(15000 words)
April 19TH
Their love breaks all bounds. Richard is lord of Wykeford—and Eleanor’s lord. She is a former bondswoman, now free. When they meet, their lives change forever as a love that cannot be denied flames between them. She is strong and fierce. He is a gentle warrior. Together, they fight for their future against all odds.
But there is one in the lord’s household who is not pleased and who will stop at nothing to break Richard and Eleanor apart, even at the cost of murder. 

The People's Friend Fiction Special No 58
Sherlock Holmes has Watson. Victorian boy detective, Michaelmas Jolly, meets his own partner while solving the mysterious case of the missing ring.