In 2016, I published The General’s Daughter and I was a finalist in the Romance Writers of Australia First Kiss competition and Valerie Parv Award. I’m currently working on my first full length novel, working title A Wife for Christmas, which I hope to get finished next year.
Although I’m a Melbournite at heart, I now live in Canberra, Australia with my two cats, who love to sit on my keyboard while I write, my dog Booth and my own personal hero. When I’m not writing or reading romance, I’m watching Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead and Grey’s Anatomy…and I have a slight addiction to Survivor.
When did you start reading romance?
When I was 19. On a whim I picked up a copy of The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn at a Lifeline book festival. The cover was a mock James Bond cover with rapier instead of a gun, and though I’m not a fan of James Bond at all, I was amused enough to shell out the $5 for the book (big money for me back in those days!). That was my first introduction to the romance genre, and I’ve never looked back. Whenever someone tells me they’ve never read a romance, I always send them to JQ as a great gateway into the genre.
To this day, Julia remains my favourite author, and historical romance remains my favourite genre. I met her a few years back and I’m embarrassed to admit I totally fan-girled. There were tears. I’m also a massive fan of Suzanne Enoch and Tessa Dare because, like Julia, they have incredible wit and humour in their narrative voice. I liken their books to an easier-to-read Jane Austen.
You’ve clearly read a lot of romance. In your opinion, what makes a great romance hero?
I can tell you what I think is not a good hero (for me anyway). The alphahole. Don’t get me wrong, I love my heroes strong and manly, but I love my heroes to be nice. That’s what I value in my personal life, and that’s what I want to read. They may be angry (which causes some not so nice behaviour), they may be disillusioned, but they have to be genuinely sweet guys.
The hero in my anthology piece, A Light In the Snow, is the closest I’ve gotten to the ‘bad boy’ hero. He’s angry and bitter because the love of his life deserted him, and that leads to some pretty dark humour and petty behaviour. It’s a short story, but throughout the story, I hope you get a sense of what he was like before he had his heart broken, and what he’ll be like at ‘the end’.
How do you balance writing with other aspects of your life? You used to be a teacher, right?
Emphasis on the ‘used to be’. I loved teaching, but it is a demanding job. I know some authors who can teach and write; they must have superhuman powers. I was so knackered by the end of the day there was no room for writing. When we moved to Canberra for my partner’s job, I took the opportunity to try something new. Now I’m a copywriter for a marketing company. It pays $20,000 less, but I’m not as exhausted and my personal writing actually gets done now! In fact I use my lunch hours and my commute to work. I can get 500 words done before I even get home from work. When I taught I was lucky to go to the bathroom during the day.
If you had one piece of advice for aspiring authors, what would it be?
If your goal is to be traditionally published, a best seller, or award-winning, then you’ve made things really hard for yourself, because you don’t have control of most of that. You’re leaving your ability to achieve your goals in the hands of others. If your goal is always to be better, then you can achieve every day, regardless of whether or not Avon Romance has signed you for a three-book series. Choose something to focus on. Maybe it’s Deep POV, maybe it’s using the five senses in your scenes, maybe it’s scene structure. Choose one, read about it, read novels to study how the greats do it, then give it a go in your own writing. Focus on that for two months, and I guarantee you, your writing is going to get better. Goal achieved.
And of course, find a group of people to support you. There are organisations across Australia, there’s meetup.com, the RWA and so many online groups. Find your tribe. Surround yourself with people that believe in you. I’m lucky enough to have a partner who wants me to succeed in this almost as much as I do, and my family are terrific.
Where can readers find out more about you and your books?
Oh my goodness, there are so many ways. I have a book blog TheseBookishDays. Not only will you find updates on what I’m doing, but there’s a whole heap of bookish goodness there for lovers of genre fiction—particularly if you’re a Harry Potter or Game of Thrones fan.
There’s also my website where you can sign up to my newsletter.
Find more about Samara :
A snippet from A Light In The Snow
Dutch stood in the trees looking up at Charlotte. What snow made it through the thick evergreen branches piled up on the cape of his greatcoat. A single candle burned in the window, and he could see each stroke of the brush as she ran it through her blonde hair.
He hadn’t seen her in two years, but in the years before he’d come to memorise every inch of her. Every delectable inch. Her milky skin, her light blue eyes that held the tiniest specks of deep sapphire. Charlotte was everyone of Botticelli’s golden goddesses in one, and more treacherous than them all.
It was cold. His fingers and toes were going numb. He stamped his feet a little to get the blood moving, clenching and unclenching his fists in his pockets.
‘Damnation.’ A sensible man would go home.