Researching and writing the book also involved a lot of help from good friends of mine. My friends Kim and John started up their own vineyard, Lillicur Estate, in country Victoria, just outside of Talbot (a tiny town between Ballarat and Maryborough) several years ago. I have visited often – even helping with some of the initial planting of grapes a long while ago, which to be honest were really just twiggy little sticks! The experience of watching Kim and John’s hobby grow to the point that they had wine in bottles (as well as having been a long-time fan of drinking wine!) let me to start thinking about writing a story set on a vineyard.
And so Hugh and Zoe’s story was born. There were more phone calls and emails than I can count to Kim, asking her various questions about wine making processes. I had a pretty clear idea of my character Zoe and I knew she was the independent type – wanting to do as much of the work at the vineyard as possible. But exactly how much could a lone woman do? Viticulture is really just farming, and a lot of the tasks require brute strength and more than one pair of hands. But, I thought, I’ll make it so that Zoe doesn’t have to deal much with the vines, she just has to worry about finishing a wine that’s already in barrels. Problem solved, right?
Well, not quite.
Winemaking is an involved and delicate process, but there’s still the matter of the fact that you’re dealing with litres and litres of liquid in heavy oak barrels that have to be moved around, tested, added to, blended . . . The list of jobs goes on and on.
Which is kind of perfect, in a way – at least from a romance story teller’s perspective. All that gave me a reason for Hugh and Zoe to come together, despite the personal reasons that made them want to stay miles from each other. As much as Zoe wants to do everything herself, she just can’t, and Hugh can’t help but step in.
I’ve been absolutely thrilled with the reception In His Eyes has got in the few short days that it’s been available. Lots of people have commented that it’s a very sad story and I agree – I definitely set out to take my readers through a tangle of emotions. I guess it’s only writers that will take it as a compliment that we made someone cry!
To celebrate the release of In His Eyes there is lots of promotion going on. Anyone who leaves a comment on my blog during the month of August goes in the running to win a pair of Riedel wine glasses, so pop over and say hi: http://emmiedark.blogspot.com.au
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