author, Beneath a Sicilian Sun
Give us a bit of your background (where are you from, your family, traveling adventures)
I live in Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales. My town has an interesting history and was very prominent around the Industrial Revolution as it was the biggest supplier of Iron to the world. Nowadays, you can still see signs of its industrial past as we still have a beautiful castle in the town [Cyfarthfa Castle] which was owned by the wealthy Ironmasters. Although it’s not the town it once was, it still has some beautiful surrounding countryside. Incidentally, when I was growing up that castle was a school that I attended. I took it for granted at the time. Not many children can say they went to school in a castle! My wedding photographs were taken in its grounds and it was also the setting for my first book launch. The book launch was held in a room just yards away from the classroom where the teacher read my stories out to the class!
I’m the mother to two grown children and I also have a grand daughter who is almost a year old who is my world. I can’t believe the time has gone by so fast since her birth. I baby sit her two days a week for her mother to go to work and I write on the other days I have available to me.
I’ve travelled to a lot of European countries, Spain, Austria, etc but one country that left a lasting impression was Sweden. I went to stay at a pen friend’s home when I was just seventeen. Looking back, I can’t believe I was brave enough to take my first ever flight alone from Heathrow Airport to go somewhere unfamiliar to me. Whenever I lack courage these days, I remind myself of that trip which turned out very well for me.
Fill in the blank favorites - Type of hero. Type of heroine.
Type of hero: I like strong Alpha Male types. The type of man who knows his own mind and isn’t afraid to make decisions. I also love Mediterranean men for their physique, general good looks, love of life and good food. My latest hero in ‘Beneath a Sicilian Sun’ is a man who is very much the Alpha hero. He knows what he wants and how to get it!
Type of heroine: I like my heroines to be strong feisty sorts but who occasionally show their vulnerability. They’re not afraid to laugh, cry, scream or shout. Come to think of it, they’re a lot like me!
Most writers are readers. What are some of the books you have on your nightstand and/or on your "must read" list?
I read a lot of autobiographies but also enjoy romance novels [as you’d expect!]. At the moment I’m reading David Jason’s autobiography. He’s a well -known television actor in the UK and loved by the general public. I also have an historical romance written by Annemarie Brear, ‘Kitty McKenzie’, loaded on my Kindle. I read it years ago in paperback and loved it so much that I want to read it again!
Say your publisher has offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming book, where would you most likely want to go?
Italy most definitely but I wouldn’t turn down another trip to Sweden either!
What is your favorite genre to write?
Contemporary romance, though I’m in the middle of writing a series of books for a Historical Romance publisher. I’ve signed the contract and now on book three.
What is your favorite genre to read?
What is one silly fact about you?
I love splashing around in puddles in my wellies!
What got you started on your writing journey?
I used to write as child and the teacher often read my stories out to the class. This was when I was around the age of fourteen. At that time I read a lot of romance stories in magazines. They were aimed at women over eighteen but I loved those stories and I’m convinced that I learned a lot from them! They were written in the first person, which I felt drew people into the story. I didn’t take my writing seriously though until the approach to my fortieth birthday. I attended a nurses’ twenty year reunion around that time and was so inspired by the group of women I used to work with that I went away and wrote a short fictional story about a reunion. I then sent it to a magazine. It didn’t get published as I later discovered they didn’t accept unsolicited stories but it gave me the writing bug. The handwritten note I received from the editor was very encouraging. Incidentally, It was the one and only time I ever received a letter that was handwritten from an editor! I then joined a writing group at a local library and there was no holding me back after that. I literally haven’t stopped writing since!
Why do you choose to write clean/sweet romance? Do you write steamy romance as well?
Yes I write both. It depends on the story for me. My historical stories are clean, things happen behind the bedroom door as it were and a lot is left to the imagination but I have written steamier tales.
What other things do you have planned with your writing for the next year or so?
Well I need to complete the third in my series of historical romance. I might possibly write a fourth novel taking the time period up to and including the First World War.
What is the most rewarding thing about being a writer?
Being able to do something I love doing. I live a lot in my imagination and my characters feel real to me. It’s great when the characters take over as the story practically writes itself and I surprise myself as the story evolves.
Where do your ideas come from?
I get ideas from practically anywhere. Sometimes it might be a snippet of overheard conversation in a public place or a newspaper article or headline. I got the idea for my romantic comedy ‘A Taste of Honey’ from a newspaper article about honey trappers. Women who set up cheating spouses for their wives. I suddenly thought: “What would happen if a honey trapper accidentally set up the wrong guy?”
Please share about your book
My latest release is ‘Beneath a Sicilian Sun’ published by Taliesin Publishing April 3rd. This is the book’s blurb:
Journalist Joanne Smith encounters Sicilian millionaire Dante Alphonso while conducting an interview for Life Today magazine. Dante has been well known to the media for years, where constant scorn has been thrown upon the playboy lifestyle of his younger years. He detests that reputation as he would much prefer to be known for his charity work for The Children’s Hope and Dream Foundation, an organization he established to help terminally ill children achieve their wishes.
Dante has already had his fingers burned by bloodhound journalists, but takes a chance on Joanne, inviting her to his home country to visit his vineyard and meet the Alphonso Family. Things begin to sizzle between them under the Sicilian sun as Joanne embraces their lifestyle.
A thorn in the side for Joanne is Dante’s ex, Carla, a strong alpha female whose family owns a rival vineyard in the area.
Carla betrayed Dante before, so trusting any woman is difficult for him.
However, Joanne has a secret she has kept from Dante, which is stopping her from growing close to him. The secret is revealed after he invites her on board his luxury yacht on the way to the island of Lipari.
Will their love for one another be strong enough to withstand the stormy seas that lie ahead? Or will it get washed up on the shore?
If you could sum your main character into five words, what would they be?
Passionate, Feisty, Creative, Sexy, Vulnerable
What are your hero and heroine of the story like?
They’re both quite strong independent characters. But as I mentioned previously, Dante Alphonso is an Alpha Male.
So he’s used to making decisions. The type of man who commands respect from others. Joanne Smith has an air of vulnerability due to the secret she has been keeping. She is quite a moral person, who as a journalist is quite ethical.
Dante has not met this type of journalist before and due to past bad experiences finds it hard to trust. Honour is very important to him.
Use no more than two sentences. Why should we read your book?
It will transport you to another place [Sicily] where you’ll learn more about the culture and lifestyle. The romance between Joanne and Dante starts off slow before it begins to sizzle under a Sicilian sun. I carried out a lot of research for the book, and you as the reader, will salivate over the food and wine mentioned. In fact, it might even prompt you to book a vacation in Sicily!
Do you have a favorite character you have written so far?
One of my favourite characters I’ve written about is Kathleen O’Hara from ‘White Roses’, the second in the series of historical books. Set in 1870s South Wales. Kathleen is Irish and sings like an angel. She’s a feisty character and comes up against another character in that book that will annoy readers. That character is Maggie Shanklin. An older, Irish woman who lives in the same small village and is obviously jealous of Kathleen. She likes to make mischief by spreading gossip. I love my villains as well as my heroes. They make stories more interesting!
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