Saturday Spotlight: Interview with Cherry Adair

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Our guest today is Cherry Adair, an award-winning and best-selling romantic fiction writer. Cherry is from South-Africa, but now lives in the Seattle where she has built her dream home and office.

I met Cherry Adair at the Romance Writers of Australia conference in Sydney, 2014. She is an inspirational speaker and it is my pleasure to have her appear on the blog today to tell us more about herself and her writing.

Helen R 🙂

Welcome to our blog, Cherry. Can you tell us a bit about your journey to becoming an author.

Long before I could read (or physically write, for that matter) I’d get pencil and paper and pretend to write a story. Then I’d ‘read’ the hieroglyphs to my mother. She was a very appreciative audience. I eventually learned how to write – although my handwriting still looks like hieroglyphics – and never looked back.

I sold my first book – The Mercenary to Harlequin Temptation in 1994.  I’d written 17 full manuscripts before I sold, all of which I shredded the day my contract from Harlequin arrived.  It was up for a RITA (It didn’t win but it was an awesome experience nevertheless) and I thought that was the start to a long and illustrious career. Instead it took me another five years to sell book two – a Single Title -Kiss and Tell. I now teach classes on how to write a Career Plan when you don’t have a Career! lol

Over the last decade-ish J I’ve carved a niche for myself with my sexy, sassy, fast-paced, action adventure novels which have appeared on numerous bestsellers lists, won dozens of awards and garnered praise from reviewers and fans alike. When people ask me- “What’s the book (any of my books. Lol) about?” My response is – “Running-chasing-attraction-shooting–wild-money-sex-running-shooting-more-wild-monkey-sex-running-chasing-shooting-happily-ever-after”.

I loathe writing first drafts. To me it’s like wading through wet cement, and it take me forever because there’s always something I’d rather be doing . Which is why I stopped writing the seat of my pants very early in my career and came up with my plotting by color method. Now the map of my story is easy to follow and relatively painless. Once that first draft is done, it’s another story. I can’t be torn away from my computer. I go back and layer and texture, polish, tweak, and fluff!

I’ve just completed book #42.

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You write Romantic Suspense…what made you choose this genre?

I think most readers – male as well as female- are the main protagonists in the books they read. We like to put ourselves into the skin of these characters so that we’re smart, sassy, and quick with the smart come-backs and one liners. We want to be the one having awesome wild monkey sex. Action-adventure romances are exciting and larger than life. I love putting my characters into situations fraught with danger, and let them wriggle out of it just in time to have awesome sex. LOL (I always know where they can take a shower beforehand – no matter where they are!) I enjoy writing exotic locales, and unusual places, so that they, too, become characters. I write what I love to read, with characters I’d enjoy knowing in real life.

I write T-FLAC, my counterterrorist organization because the safety of the world is a relevant topic in today’s climate. I’m fascinated by military personnel and what it requires for these true-life heroes to go out every day to make the world a safer place for the rest of us.

Do you have a personal favorite out of all the books / series you’ve written?

That’s like asking a mother which of her children is her favorite. Lol I don’t have a favorite book, but I do have favorite scenes from each of my books, and favorite characters. But if I had to pick my favorite book, it would be the one where I just typed The End.

Does your own life weave its way into your stories?

I have had some hair-raising experiences in my life so far, so some of them end up in my books, But I don’t like getting my hair wet, or wearing bad shoes, or not wearing make-up or hiking through a tropical rain forest. I don’t want people shooting at me (although I do have a bullet wound in my knee from a robbery gone bad. No, I wasn’t the robber!) I don’t do scaling mountains, or treasure hunting. I have traveled to many of the exotic locals in my books, but not all of them. I don’t like creepy-crawlies or not being anywhere near a shower or a flushing toilet! (And observant readers will  notice that my heroines don’t like the same things! )  But I LOVE reading and writing character who not only do all those things, they thrive doing them.

From research and first drafts, to edits and polishes, what’s your favourite part of the writing process and what’s your least favourite?

Least favorite is the first draft. I plot the book well, and I try to get that first draft written as quickly as possible. (that is to say, a little faster than a full stop! Lol)  I go at a snail’s pace, and it’s agonizing. Once the first draft is done, however, I love to layer and texture, adding all the things that make the character’s three dimensional, I love going in an refining the dialogue, adding descriptions, layering in more sexual tension, adding all the little bits of business that make my books my books.

What do you think the appeal is of books written in a series?

Readers connect with the world the author has built. Even if the same characters don’t move through all the books in a series, the reader knows that Universe.

I was lucky enough to meet you at the Romance Writers of Australia conference in Sydney 2014. Do you enjoy speaking at events and motivating other writers / aspiring writers?

I LOVED that conference, and everyone I met there!! So, so much fun. I wish I could attend every year. I must start begging for an invitation again soon!

I love, love love teaching everything I’ve learned about writing over the years to other authors. It give me such a kick to see the OMG! look in someone’s eyes a second before their head goes down, and their fingers fly as they write or type at lightning speed. I know that whatever I just said resonated, and she’s no longer even in the same room, but off applying it to her own story, oblivious to everyone around her. I know what that feels like, and I want the writers/students in my classes, to have that ah-ha moment every time a teach the craft of writing.

Tell us about your online motivational group on Facebook: BICC.

I have a passion for mentoring other writers, particularly fledgling writers at every stage from rank beginners, to author’s with several books under their belts. So many people say they want to write a book, but they never sit their butts in the chair and actually write. Or they write the same three chapters over and over again, tweaking and polishing and changing a word here and there (sure, lady – that’s the EASY part! Lol) . Many of them enter every contest, get fabulous feedback on the same three chapters, year after year, after year…. but never finish the book. I gently, with great love, and very little sympathy (sure it’s hard, cupcake. But if you want it badly enough you’ll stop talking about it, and buckle down and put in the work.)  I motivate them to sit their as- butts in the chair and write, and finish the book! Lol I have an active  motivational group on Facebook called Butt In Chair Challenge   https://www.facebook.com/groups/ButtInChair/) for anyone who needs a weekly nudge.

They have to report in once a week with their anticipated word or page count, then come back the following week to let me know if they met their goal.  (threats and bribes are involved!) Sometimes all I need to do is show them a picture of a great high heel – I can motivate with graphics.)

I’ve kicked a LOT of butts over the years, and have dozens and dozens of published books filling the shelves in my office from people I’ve mentored. Proving that sitting one’s butt down and finishing the damn book pays off!

I don’t delude myself, I know I have very little, if anything, to do with their success. I think of myself as the magic feather Dumbo was given to help him to fly. J Everyone needs to be seen. We all want to be acknowledged. No one sits behind us as we type, saying “WOW! That sentence is amazing!” I don’t read my mentees (is that a word??! Lol) work. But I am always right there beside them mentally, encouraging them to keep going, urging them to finish this book, and start the next, propping them up when they get that rejection letter, encouraging them to keep submitting, keep writing, keep learning. I want to see them publish. I want their success. There’s plenty of room for all of us. I can’t wait to buy their book the second they tell me it’s available. Their success gives me enormous satisfaction and joy.

I bought your Writer’s Bible after you recommended it at the conference and I’ve found it irreplaceable when planning my next novel…what made you put the Writer’s Bible together?

I had no intention of sharing that with anyone! I have a 3-ring binder for each of my books. In them I have all my research, and my character profiles etc. It’s massive – usually a 6-10″ binder. Over the years I formed what I called my Bible for each book. In it I fill in the same questionnaire, asked the same questions, in the same order, and note details about each character with images to go along with their descriptions. This is my Master Document, and one I fill in for every single book. Sometimes it’s a pain in the butt to take the time to do this, but for me, it pays off a hundred fold. (this is another of my left brain- analytical- tools for myself, a right brain writer) My Writers’ Bible is my lifeline to everything about my characters, plus some things I keep tend to forgetting to do, or ask myself in every book! If I know something, and forget to do it, I need something to jog my memory.

Every time I do a writers workshop I would show people the Bible for  whichever book I was working on as an example of whatever the subject is for that particular class.

Everyone wanted it.

Oddly I was reluctant to share this with everyone. After all I’d taken 25 years to put this together, adding things over the years, refining it etc. For myself. Then I realized how selfish that was. If I say so myself 🙂 this is a fabulous tool, a great resource for fellow authors. I knew how well it worked for me (I can’t write a book without it) so it’s now for sale. This is not a book book. (although if someone must, it can be bought as such.) This is a template. Download it, save it as a template, then open and save into your current WIP before starting the new book.

Your books often feature a very sexy hero on the front cover…do you ever get to go on photo shoots and choose the best ‘fit’ for your book?

Occasionally I’ve attended one of the photo shoots. But more often than not the publisher and I discuss what I’d like to see on the cover, and they send me a contact sheet to choose the image I like best.

When writers start out they often have a makeshift workspace/study. I was no exception…my last writing area was in our walk-in-wardrobe! We’d love to hear about the amazing house you’ve built in Seattle and the study that you work in each day.

cherry3My office is right near the front door with a view of my front garden. I like to look at a blank wall when I write. No distractions. My walls are lined with bookshelves. I have thousands of my keepers filling the ceiling to floor, wall to wall shelves. I have a fireplace, and two comfortable easy chairs (one for each dog so they can keep watch outside in case a squirrel shows up.) My desk is L-shaped and I have my framed covers on the wall in front of me. Usually I don’t see anything around me while I write. It all disappears in a blur. lol

 

 

 

And finally, can you share anything with us about your work in progress?

cherry6I’m putting the finishing touches on PLOTTING BY COLOR (May 2015)A left brain tool for right brain writers. I’ve incorporated my love of color ( I used to be an Interior Designer) with what I’ve learned about plotting. This book will work well for plotters and those writers who like to write by the seat of their pants. It’s a map, a guide, to doing the left brain, analytical work up front so that when you’re ready to write the book you don’t have to stop to figure out your plot. It’s a way to keep each thread intact, from beginning to end, and not miss any pertinent information. It’s all there, and you can just be creative. I’m very proud of this book, and think it’ll help many, many writers to write faster, more tightly, and keep track of all the details.

My next releases will be GIDEON in March (a follow up to HUSH – See? He didn’t die! Lol) BLUSH, a Single title out in April, and PLOTTING BY COLOR in May. At the end of the year I’ll have three new Cutter Cay books out. cherry4

For more info on my books people can visit my website www.cherryadair.com. And for fun and daily shenanigans, come and play with me on https://www.facebook.com/CherryAdairAuthor and/or Twitter

https://twitter.com/CherryAdair
This was fun! Thanks for having me. 🙂

Cheers,

Cherry

 

Thank you for visiting our blog, Cherry! I hope to bump into you at another conference some day…

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Book Group: The Oddest Little Chocolate Shop by Beth Good – reviewed by Rachael Thomas

My book choice for this month’s read was chosen with the criteria of a short, fun read. As soon as I saw it, I knew this book was the perfect choice and the title drew me in. I love all things chocolate related so The Oddest Little Cho51a0UC+RExL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX324_SY324_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA346_SH20_OU02_colate Shop by Beth Good was just perfect!

The heroine, Clementine, reminded me of Bridget Jones, who I love, so I was more than happy to follow Clementine through her adventures in this book. I laughed at her misfortune and rooted for her to get her man. Dominic is the French owner of the chocolate shop – and he’s totally delicious!

This well written, witty romance is a perfect pick-me-up to enjoy during these dark winter days. I could easily picture the chocolate shop and certainly taste each chocolate. I can’t help wondering how much research went into that part of the story!

I loved the fluffy cat that appeared in the beginning and weaved its way throughout the story, linking beautifully at the end. As for Clementine and Dominic, well they did live happily ever after, but you’ll have to read it to find out how.

The Oddest Little Chocolate Shop by Beth Good.

Next month Helen Phifer will be reviewing her choice of Shallow Waters by DI Hannah Robbins #1

Saturday Spotlight: Me and my new baby! by Lynne Pardoe

My first published book didn’t have quite the same beginning as others I had written.  Usually I delve deep into my my memory and write in the first person but this one was totally different, and one that I never guessed would do so much good. It all began because of an illness and my totally bored octogenarian mother.
FB_20150120_18_33_36_Saved_PictureThis is the story. It started it one gloomy winter’s day a couple of years ago. Unusually I was at a loss to know what to do, so I let myself daydream for a moment. I’d been reading Alison Uttley’s lovely autobiographical books and Thomas Hardy, my favourite all time novelist. My daydream was hardly original. You can imagine the sort of thing, young woman in period dress opens a gnarled, ancient, wooden door to her parents’ home. A little while later she’s skipping along an ancient  green path on her way to her job in the big house when she falls and breaks her ankle and has no way of getting home.
Well, that was it, real life intervened and I got caught up in a flurry of family duty and I forgot all about that book, believing that my future lay in writing fiction books about social work, which I enjoy and have had a lot of interest in. But my mother became ill, she desperately needed a hip replacement but her bad heart prevented her undergoing any sort of surgery.
Visits to her became difficult, we couldn’t take our usual trips around the shops and she was very bored. So I told her about my story and we were both enthralled. Mum made quite a few helpful suggestions about character, motive and so on. Before long I had a plot.
I wrote it up, thinking it needed to be 50,000 words but it ended at 40,000, so I left it on my hard disk and there it stayed for many months. Then one day someone sent me a link to the People’s Friend message board and on there was a call for stories for their Pocket Novels – and guess what, they wanted stories of 40,000 words!
So I rescued the story from a dry and dusty corner of the hard drive, gave it a bit of a polish, and sent it off to Tracey Steele. Within a day she asked for the full, within a week she’d bought it!
I was delighted! Tracey arranged to put mum’s name, Margaret Pardoe, on the cover leaving my Lynne Pardoe nameMeant for each other cover free for my social work stories, so people know what they’re buying when they look at each.
Well, it hasn’t quite spawned a miracle, mum still isn’t very well, but she is so chuffed to have her name on the cover and I’m so pleased it was accepted. It bought us closer together. I liked the story, I have a soft spot for the heroine, who took a big risk to do what is right. It’s my baby and I was really chuffed to see it on the shelves!
Lynne

Dealing with Rejection by Alys

I got two rejections last week.  One of the upsides of having an agent is that those emails don’t come directly to me anymore.  But one of the downsides is that my agent seems to store them up and I tend to hear about two at a time which is a real double whammy.  I also get more feedback these days as the editors give at least a line or two about the book, giving a couple of positives before they get to the reason why they turned it down.

Doubt Kills More Dreams

I thought the feedback would be a good thing, give me an idea of what I need to work on in my writing.  But they’re so contradictory that I don’t know what to take from them.  One of this week’s rejections said they didn’t like Maeve, the antagonist, whereas an editor who turned me down before Christmas said Maeve was a great character.  It’s making me realise how hugely subjective the whole thing is.  What one editor loves, another says doesn’t work for them.  And what should I take from the comment that ‘they didn’t sufficiently connect with the heroine’?  Is that in my writing or is it just a personal reaction? I can think of dozens of books where I didn’t love the heroine but I still enjoyed the book.  Do editors need to feel a deep personal connection with all the characters to take a book on?

I’m getting better with rejections though.  These two made me mutter and moan for about half an hour whereas when I first started submitting rejections could knock me back for days.  Of course, it helps if there’s a few positives in there as well.  One of these said that Beltane was ‘crisply written’ which took some of the sting out of it.

I asked the other Write Romantics if they’d had any really positive rejections.  Jessica got a reply from an agent that said:

‘There’s an awful lot I like about it.  However I am afraid in the current tough market I do have to be completely bowled over by something to take it on….I’m sorry that it’s been a near miss for me.”

rejection

Jo received this lovely rejection from a publisher:

‘As we are finding the market so competitive at the moment, we will unfortunately have to pass on the book, but personally I think you have great potential and would encourage you to keep going as you have qualities we have previously seen in other newbie authors who have made it big.’ 

Both Jessica and Jo said that these emails kept them going through the dark days of other less tactful rejections.

And we’ve had some of those.  Helen R received:

‘Sorry but this market has collapsed and I don’t think we could find a publisher for this.’

Fortunately she can laugh about it now (particularly as Crooked Cat are publishing her novel next month) but it must have hurt at the time.  My worst one was from a very well-known agent who gave me the standard two line rejection and then tried to sell me her book on understanding the publishing industry.

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I know rejections are part of the process and if I talk to non-writers about it they always quote J K Rowling.  Everyone forgets how many times she was rejected (apparently it was twelve which doesn’t seem that many to me anymore!) but it’s become urban myth that she was knocked back a lot.  Margaret Mitchell got 38 rejections before she found a publisher for Gone with the Wind and Beatrix Potter was rejected so many times she decided to self-publish The Tale of Peter Rabbit and look how well that worked out!  Louise M Alcott was told not to give up teaching and it took Agatha Christie 5 years to land a publishing deal.

So if you’re feeling down about a rejections try to remember that you’re in really great company.  Pretty much every writer I can think of, other than PD James and Georgette Heyer, have been turned down.  Which just goes to show that editors are as prone to mistakes as the rest of us.  Except perhaps the editor who told Dan Brown’s agent ‘it’s so badly written’; he might just have had a point!

If you’ve had any particularly unhelpful or really positive rejections then we’d love to hear about them.  You can leave us a comment by clicking where it says ‘Leave a comment’ or ‘comments’ in teeny, tiny type below.

Saturday Spotlight: Interview with Cathy Mansell

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Our guest today is Cathy Mansell, writer of romantic suspense novels set mainly in the nineteenth century Ireland and England. Cathy was born and brought up in Ireland and now lives in Leicestershire.  I met her at the Romantic Novelists’ Association winter party, and her bubbly enthusiasm for her writing made quite an impression on me so I invited her along to tell us more.

Welcome to our blog, Cathy.  I believe you had written more than one book before you were published.  Was that always the plan or did you approach publishers with your first book?

Shadow-Across-The-Liffey-by-Cathy-Mansell-500-200x300Yes, that is true.  I had three books written and was writing my fourth before I got lucky. By this time, I was desperate to see my books published and hold one in my hand. I had done the rounds many times, for years, in fact, with the first two books, ‘Where the Shamrocks Grow’ and ‘Her Father’s Daughter’, without success. Strangely enough, it was my third book, ‘Shadow Across the Liffey’, that was picked up first.

I understand you were a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme until ‘Shadow Across the Liffey’ was published.  What advice do you have for new writers joining the NWS now?

I love the RNA. The help and support I received over the years from the New Writers’ Scheme has been priceless. We’re so lucky to have this level of support for new writers. Encouragement and friendships have developed through being a member of this brilliant group.

How has your Irish heritage influenced your writing?  Does setting your stories in Ireland mean you get to go back there often?

Yes, I think being Irish and writing Irish books is my advantage. When I was writing ‘Where the Shamrocks Grow’, I visitedHer-Fathers-Daughter-by-Cathy-Mansell-500-200x300 Ireland for research. ‘Her Father’s Daughter’, set mainly in Cork city, took me to Cork four times.  It was lovely to get to know the city and the people.  But I don’t need an excuse to take a flight across the sea. I’m very fond of Ireland in spite of having lived in Leicestershire for over forty years

How much do you research the historical settings of your novel?

The historical part of ‘Where the Shamrocks Grow’ came partly from family stories, history remembered from my school days and having once had a family member who lived in America. I do love the research part of writing and find I always learn something new that can be unexpected and exciting.

We’ve seen your books described both as romantic suspense and family sagas.  Which of those do you think best applies to your books, or are they a mixture of both?

Where_the_Shamrocks_Grow_by_Cathy_Mansell_-_200I see myself as a romantic suspense writer but sometimes the books are put into a niche that says they are sagas. Having said that, I think ‘Where the Shamrocks Grow’ could be classed as a saga, more so than my other three books.  I’d like to be known as a romantic suspense writer because I always have an undesirable character lurking in there somewhere.

Some of us might like to try our hand at writing romantic suspense in the future. Can you give us any advice on writing in that genre?

I think the suspense part of the novel gives the romantic side of the story an added dimension, and I would always advise anyone writing romantic suspense to make sure they have a realistic sinister character. Important not to let them take over from your main heroine or hero.

Do you have favourite times of the day when you feel the most creative?  How do you organise your writing time so that you achieve all your goals and deadlines?

Early morning is my time and again late at night. I get a lot of interruptions during the day. I’m on the internet morning and evening blogging and promoting my books. I’ve not had any major deadlines yet, but I usually try to give a certain amount of time to each project I’m doing, and keep going back to it until I’ve finished.

When you’re planning a new book, which comes first, the characters or the story?

The title comes into my head first, and then the character. I know, most authors don’t choose a title until the book is Galway-Girlfinished.  I work the story and the characters around a working title. It keeps me on track

Could you tell what you’re working on at the moment and what your writing ambitions are for the coming year?

I’m writing a new romantic suspense set in Dublin and Birmingham around the 60s. I have a strong heroine who has troubles from the word go. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for another publication in late 2015, and have been contracted by Magna large print for all four books for library and audio in 2015. I’m a happy lady.

Thank you for asking me to feature on The Write Romantics’ blog. I’ve enjoyed answering your questions.

It’s been a pleasure, Cathy.  Best of luck with your 60s book, and I’m looking forward to seeing you again at this year’s RNA events.

Deirdre

You can find out more about Cathy and get in touch with her through her website http://cathymansell.com/

If you’d like to leave a comment, please click where it says ‘leave a comment’ or ‘comments’ in tiny little writing at the bottom of this post.  

Deirdre

Wednesday Wondering – Life Swap with a Fictional Character

Hello there and welcome to the first Wednesday Wondering of the year. Hope the first two weeks of 2015 have been good to you and, if not, there are still 50 to go so plenty of time for improvement.

How many times have you read a book and recognised yourself in the protagonist? Or perhaps one of the characters says or does things that you’d love to do if you were older/younger/prettier/slimmer/taller/more daring/less self-conscious and so on. What if you could swap lives with that protagonist? How exciting would that be?

With this in mind, my question for The Write Romantics this month is:

If you could leap into any book, current or historical, which character would you like to be and why?

P1060112I’ve read hundreds of books in my time and I have definitely related to characters (particularly Bridget Jones) and I’ve definitely been envious of where other characters get their happy ever after (particularly  classics brought to life on the big or small screen like Emma and Pride & Prejudice) but there is only one occasion in my life where I’ve absolutely wanted to be someone else. So much so that I used to actually write her name in books and on other possessions. The name of the character was Darrell Rivers which will probably bring back memories for so many of you as the protagonist of Enid Blyton’s wonderful Malory Towers series.

I loved Darrell right from the start as a rather sullen judgmental character who made quite a few mistakes right through to the mature, popular individual she became at the end. Talk about a major character arc! I would imagine she went on to be incredibly successful with a wonderful partner and perfect children and never had to diet in her life. So who wouldn’t want to be her!

Here’s what the rest of the WRs said …

Alys says …

photo-1When I started thinking about this I realised that although I’d love to say Elizabeth Bennett if I actually had to live her life I wasn’t sure I could handle Regency plumbing. So it had to be someone post-1900 and then the answer was obvious. You’ve all heard me bang on about Dorothy L Sayers and my love of Lord Peter Wimsey. If I was going to live a character’s life then I’d want to be Harriet Vane, the crime novelist that Lord Peter falls in love with. Harriet has an amazing life. She’s a very successful writer, she studied at Oxford, goes on healthy walking holidays in Devon (where obviously she finds a corpse!) and has dates in glamorous nightspots with Lord Peter. There is just one complication which is that she also gets tried for the murder of her former lover. Obviously she’s not guilty as Lord Peter proves but she spends rather a lot of time in prison and the penalty for murder at that time was hanging so I’d really rather avoid all of that. So if I could take over just before the start of Have His Carcase then that’d be great, thanks!

Lynne says …

It wasn’t till I thought about this post that I realised that many of the heroines of books I’ve enjoyed are tragic heroines!

But there is one who is totally not a tragic figure, more a very lucky person indeed, and this is Elizabeth Bennett, heroine of Pride and Prejudice, who learns during the course of the story to ditch her pride and prejudice and take up with the totally dashing and handsome Darcy who comes complete with a huge and very beautiful home.

Anyone who knows me will know that I love ancient buildings and help run the Gloucestershire group of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings which was started by William Morris. I also had a couple of false starts in the relationship department, it took me a while to find someone who was a worthy partner.

Together they make an irresistible package, handsome and kind man with a ready made property ready to fill with babies, what more could any girl ask for? So, without a doubt, Elizabeth Bennett is my choice!

Jo says …

P1060110I thought about trying to come across as intellectual when answering this question, but then I thought “stuff it, I’ll be honest instead!” I think, at times when I need comfort, there isn’t anything better than returning to the books I read and loved as a child – nothing quite gives me that cosy feeling and sense of home. If I had to have one feeling for the rest of my life, it would be that and so it is one of these characters I have to choose. My dad always read Wind in the Willows to me and I wouldn’t mind being Mole. He’s got a close group of friends and he overcomes his fears but ultimately loves nothing better than his home life. Sounds, good to me.

P1060111I loved Paddington and Winnie the Pooh growing up too and, if I became a bear, I could give up the battle to try and lose weight that I’ve tried to fight (mostly unsuccessfully) for my whole adult life. Plus, who doesn’t love the cover-all-qualities of a duffle coat? However, I think it’s Pooh’s friend, Tigger, I’d most like to be. His boundless energy, capacity for bouncing and, as AA Milne put it, “love for everything” has to be a recipe for happiness, so I’ll take that.

Rachael says …

This is a great wondering, but the question is whether to go for a modern character or a historical one?

School_Gate final jpegIf I were to choose a historical character it would have to be Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Bennett, a favourite for many I’m sure. Her constant denial of Mr Darcy throughout the story holds you from the beginning to the end. But what did she really think? Stepping into her shoes would be a fascinating experience. Check out this link.

On the other hand, to choose a modern character, I’d like to leap into Kerry Fisher’s The School Gate Survival Guide, a book we reviewed last year in our book group. I so want to be Maia and sort that no-good-for-nothing husband of hers out. You’ll have to read it to find out why!

Deirdre says …

Friends at Thrush GreenI’ve always thought I’d like to be Miss Read.  Miss Read is the pen-name of Dora Saint, and she appears as a character/narrator in many of her own books which are based largely on her own life experiences.

The stories are set deep in the heart of1950s rural Oxfordshire. Miss Read is headmistress of the village school at Fairacre and lives in the adjoining school house with her cat, Tibby. Despite her friends’ attempts at matchmaking, she has never married (although Dora herself did), but she is no lonely spinster. She leads a busy and fulfilling life among the lively inhabitants of Fairacre and the neighbouring village of Thrush Green, and there’s no shortage of children in her life as generations of them have passed through her capable teaching hands.

Fairacre AffairsMiss Read’s life has its moments of high drama but any troubles she encounters always resolve themselves, and then it’s all about jam-making and jumble-sales, tea at the vicarage, and the yearly round that constitutes country life. Post-war Britain was a peaceful yet celebratory time and the villagers needed little excuse to put out the bunting. As the headmistress, Miss Read is a well-loved and respected figure who plays a key part in village life, but at the end of the day she shuts her door, lights the fire and turns to her many books for company. Yes, I’d definitely like a taste of that.

photo-2Helen P says …

If I could be anyone it would be Bella Swan from Breaking Dawn. Who wouldn’t want Edward or Jacob fighting over them. Plus I’d get to be a vampire, I love vampires. I’d also get to drive a really nice Mercedes and sparkle every time I stepped into the sunlight. What more could a girl ask for 😉

Helen R says …

If I could leap into any book I’d like to leap into The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton, as any of the children, Jo, Bessie and Fanny! They had such amazing adventures, even just climbing the tree in the first place. What fun it would be to meet Saucepan Man, Moon-Face, and run from Dame Washalot when she pours water down the tree. I’d love to discover new lands at the top of the tree, forever guessing what we would come up against next.

Sharon says …

FollyfootThis is a tricky one. At first I tried to be sophisticated and thought of all those classics – Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Rebecca…then I thought, fascinating as those stories are, would I really want to live the life of Jane, Elizabeth or the second Mrs DeWinter? The truth is, I wouldn’t.

So then I tried to think of characters who I thought had fabulous lives and that proved more difficult than I thought, too. The trouble is, of course, that fictional characters have such rollercoaster lives. The very thing that makes them interesting – all the ups and downs and trials and tribulations that they have to endure – is the very thing that makes me think, no thanks. I have quite enough problems to deal with without going through all theirs.

My initial reaction was, I’d like to be Dora from Monica Dickens’ Follyfoot books. Then I thought, but hang on – Dora was ever-so-slightly over-emotional, highly sensitive, suffered the endless angst of worrying about all those poor ill-treated horses, and seemed to spend most of her time in tears. So I scrapped that and tried to think of someone else. But you know what? I kept coming back to Dora, and I think it’s Dora I would choose finally.

Dora and SteveWhen I was a child, she was my absolute heroine, and I thought she had the perfect life. Really, when I look at it I think she did. Okay, she worried endlessly about the fate of all those horses, but we all have to worry about something and I can’t think of a better thing to worry about. Plus – she was surrounded by horses! And she got to rescue so many of them! And she lived at Follyfoot Farm which seemed like pretty much the perfect home to me. She had an uncle who doted on her and friends who shared her compassion and beliefs – even the tearaway, Ron. And she had Steve! I mean, Steve! Even if he did mysteriously change his name from Paul (I suspect something to do with the television series) he was a bit of a sweetheart wasn’t he? And he loved horses, too, while being calm and rational enough to balance and steady Dora who sometimes let her heart rule her head far too much.

So yes, I’d be Dora from Follyfoot. Not the most sophisticated choice, but I think I’d have a jolly nice life!

We’d love to hear from you. Which character would you be and why? What do you think of our choices? Would you go for one of the ones we’ve chosen?

Thanks for reading.

Jessica xx

Saturday Spotlight: Adrienne Vaughan

It’s an absolute pleasure to welcome Adrienne Vaughan to the blog today. Author of the romantic suspense ‘Heartfelt’ series, editor of Romance Matters and aspiring Bond Girl, Adrienne is also one of New Romantics Press, an  inspirational group of self published authors  who have recently taken part in an author showcase at Waterstone’s Kensington branch.  With her being such an amazing lady the Write Romantics had lots and lots of questions for Adrienne… 

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We know you’re a journalist and editor of Romance Matters as well as a writer. How hard is it to find time to write? 

I was given a turquoise Petite Typewriter when I was seven and my fate was sealed. I used to sit at the kitchen table and cut out articles and pictures, then paste them onto pages, making my own magazines. My mother would often sit down with a nice cup of tea and Woman’s Own, only to find I’d snipped out half the magazine when she wasn’t looking! I run a busy PR practice, and Romance Matters is just one of the magazines I work on, the others are more corporate, featuring architecture, construction and property. My creative writing is what I do when I’m not at my ‘official desk’. I write long hand – so my first typescript is an edit – usually very early in the morning,  or when I’m on holiday, in an aeroplane, on a train, anywhere really. I think you have to make time to write, I know I do.

How has being a member of the New Romantics benefitted you? 

Being a founder member of the New Romantics Press was, and still is, totally inspirational. Four very different writers, with distinct styles and voices, yet  I now have three buddies I just can’t imagine being without. We support each other, nag each other, admire each other and love each other. I say unreservedly, I would not be a published writer without  Lizzie Lamb, June Kearns and Mags Cullingford. They’ve helped my dream come true. End of.

June, Adrienne and Lizzie at the Waterstones Author Showcase (Unfortunately Mags Cullingford was recovering from knee surgery and couldn't join them)

June, Adrienne and Lizzie at the Waterstones Author Showcase (Unfortunately Mags Cullingford was recovering from knee surgery and couldn’t join them)

How big a help has social media and the New Romantics blog been in promoting your books?

Social media – particularly for an independent – is the main route to our audience, our readers. Without it I wouldn’t have readers who have both enjoyed my books and written some great reviews too. My first novel, The Hollow Heart has been downloaded by over 30,000 people, how else would I have reached even 300 without social media, Amazon and the internet.

We know you’re lucky enough to own a horse (Sharon Booth will be so jealous!) When did you get it? Does riding influence your writing at all?

My beautiful horse was extremely elderly and went to heaven at the end of last year. It was his time and it was a happy ending but I do miss him. One of the most fascinating things about riding, is that you have to communicate with another animal in a way it will understand and you must always remember, the animal you have given your complete trust has a brain of its own too. When it goes right, like a fabulous hack out, or winning a competition, it’s the most amazing feeling. My latest novel, Secrets of the Heart, features riding within the story and of course, the book is dedicated to my horse, Marco, as well as my late grandfathers …all wonderful gentlemen.

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 What’s next now the ‘Heart’ series of books are finished?

Tough question. I currently have two on the go. The Scandal of the Seahorse Hotel and A Most Deadly Affair – both romantic suspense and both totally different, although ‘Deadly’ will involve a lot more research, so I think that will take a back seat to ‘Scandal’ until that’s finished.

  •  Why do your books have an Irish setting?

Although born in England, I was brought up in Dublin and my family are all Irish. I have lived in the UK for over thirty years now, although I flit between the two countries very regularly.

My first novel – still (unsurprisingly) unpublished – was written thirty years ago, inspired by Maeve Binchy’s, Light A Penny Candle, so maybe writing about Ireland keeps me connected. I do have to check with family and friends I don’t fall into what they call ‘Plastic Irish’ – if my ‘voice’ wasn’t authentic, they’d soon tell me about it!

Did you have anyone in mind when you created the sexy Hollywood actor Ryan?

Yes.

(And that was all she’ll say on that one, I’m afraid!)

How did you become editor of Romance Matters (the magazine of the Romantic Novelist’s Association) and what does that involve?

I’d just joined the NWS – a total godsend to me – and there was a notice in the magazine to say the lovely Myra Kersner was standing down after eight years, could anyone help. My hand shot up! The job involves all the wonderful things about being an editor, commissioning articles, planning features, interviewing really important people and making lots of new friends. What’s not to like?

What are your writing plans for the next year?

Hmm, good question. I’m hoping 2015 is the year I start on that long road to becoming recognised as a writer. With three books under my belt, two of which have been shortlisted for an award at the Festival of Romantic Fiction, I’m currently seeking an agent, so we’ll see where that leads. Plus the New Romantics Press has plans for a very special short story anthology later this year, and I also have a small collection of short stories I’m hoping to publish too. I’m hoping I can become a true hybrid, published both traditionally and independently. Although, at the heart of things, it doesn’t really matter, I’ll always write, it’s what I do.

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We see that you had ambitions to be a Bond Girl. Have you based any of your heroes on James Bond?

Had? What do you mean HAD ??? Look, if Dame Judy Dench can do it, there’s hope! The character Ryan plays in his movies, Thomas Bentley is based on a sort of James Bond, but for me, Ryan is a true ‘James Bond’. Daring, single-minded, handsome and very hot – yet totally loyal to both Marianne and Joey – even when things get a bit rocky, he sticks to his guns and gets his girl in the end. Well, thanks for having me and a very happy and fruitful new year to you and all the Write Romantics …keep at it and never, never, never give up. Now, must dash …booked my first skiing lesson …well, you never know, do you?

 

You can check out Adrienne’s website at here, buy the Heartfelt series here and follow her on Twitter at @adrienneauthor. You can find the New Romantics Press here. If you’d like to read Write Romantic Sharon’s review of The Hollow Heart then click here

Huge thanks to Adrienne for joining us today. If you’d like to leave a comment or ask Adrienne a question then please click where it says ‘leave a comment’ or ‘comments’ in tiny little writing at the bottom of this post.  Have a great weekend! Alys x