author, Holding Back
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?
I have a hankering to see Sicily at the moment – and that's down to watching the Italian series Inspector Montalbano, especially the opening credits with superb aerial shots. I am absolutely fascinated by the towns built amongst the mountains as if they, too, are made of rock. And of course the coastline looks lovely.
What is your favorite genre to write?
My two published books so far are contemporary romances, but my current work-in-progress is humorous women's fiction with just a hint of romance. I guess that means that whatever I write, the romance is bound to creep in somehow … which is surprising, because most of the time I'm the most dreadful cynic!
What is one silly fact about you?
I’ll cry at absolutely anything – I’m hopeless. My husband has to vet my TV viewing to limit my misery!
Why do you choose to write clean/sweet romance? Do you write steamy romance as well?
My two books so far have been sweet romances (with a heated clinch or two!) This wasn't intentional on my part - it was just that the stories worked out that way. In Warm Hearts in Winter, Jack is a widower still coming to terms with the death of his wife and it didn't seem appropriate that he would just fall into bed with the heroine Abby. In Holding Back, the hero and heroine – as the title suggests – are both reticent about romance, so steamy sex scenes didn't seem appropriate in their story, either.
My current work-in-progress involves betrayal and does have the odd sex scene (not graphic!) and a little swearing because the story is quite down-to-earth, following a woman's journey through a difficult patch in her life, so that style seemed more appropriate.
To be honest, I'm happy to write a story whichever way it feels right to me as it develops. I do think readers should have a wide choice of romance to suit their sensibilities and I know not everyone wants to read 'steamy', so it's great that there are clean reads available for those who want them.
What is the most rewarding thing about being a writer?
I like the unexpectedness of it best. I don’t really outline much at the start – I’ll have a basic idea in mind and certain points or events that I definitely want to get to, but beyond that, I let my characters to take me where they want to go.
It's more fun and certainly more interesting that way.
Do you have a favorite comment or question from a reader?
I was thrilled recently by a 5-star review from a book reviewer who said Holding Back is "the most enchantingly romantic book I’ve read in a very long time ... it is exquisite torture and it feels every inch natural and true, as do this couple who are not perfect, but are perfect for each other." I work so hard to make my characters and their interactions realistic.
These comments felt like validation for all that time and effort!
What are the elements of a great romance for you?
For me, a romance must be character-led. The hero and heroine need depth and I must be able to empathize with them.
No plot or sub-plot matters in a romance if the author hasn't invested enough time in developing the main characters. I want to know their motivations, the events in their past that affect the way they behave in the present, the reasons they ultimately fall in love with each other. Dialogue is also important for me. As a reader, I’ll make allowances for a different writing style or the fact that the author is of a different nationality - but at the end of the day, if the dialogue sounds unrealistic, it’s the one thing guaranteed to put me off the book quickly.
Please share about your book.
Holding Back is a summer romance set in northern Portugal, and in this case, it was definitely the place that inspired the book. I'd visited there a couple of times and it was so beautiful that it stayed with me over the years until my imagination came up with the characters and story to go with it. Readers so far have commented on the setting in particular, saying that reading the book was like taking a vacation there!
What are your hero and heroine of the story like?
Daniel and Laura don't get on at first, despite – or perhaps because of - their mutual attraction. They're too busy, too tired, too cynical for romance, Laura because of her past, Daniel because of his present. Since my characters tend to develop a mind of their own as I write, getting them together proved more of a challenge than I'd envisaged, but I got there in the end!
Use no more than two sentences. Why should we read your book?
Why not transport yourself to sunny Portugal for a few hours? Daniel and Laura will lead you through a minefield of attraction, misunderstanding, friendship, emotion … and ultimately romance.