Author Abby Green’s The Mediterranean Billionaire’s Blackmail Bargain

by Abby Green, author of The Mediterranean Billionaire’s Blackmail Bargain

My fifth Harlequin Presents is out this December in the US, and I still can’t believe I’m lucky enough to be writing these books. I had a friend who lives in Los Angeles go into her local bookstore the other day and the book was already on the shelf in November!

This story was born out of a single image in my head. No plot, nothing, just an image inspired by a film – Oceans Twelve. In it, we see a character who is played by Vincent Cassel, the charismatic french actor, who, in the film, lives in a palatial villa on Lake Como. As you do!

We see a montage sequence of shots that feature this character who has to be the pure incarnation of an arrogant Harlequin Presents alpha male hero! He’s on his sleek yacht; getting out of a sumptuously rumpled bed leaving behind a beautiful woman; walking through a glittering hotel foyer with two different and even more stunning women on either arm…the mood created is pure decadence and the indelible impression of a man who can snap his fingers and have what he wants, who he wants, when he wants.

But the shot that stuck in my mind was of him driving along the shores of Lake Como in a beautiful car just as dusk was falling, before arriving back at his jaw droppingly opulent villa. Alone.

Why was he alone? And why was I wondering about that? I couldn’t get that image out of my head, it was so evocative, and then couldn’t help imagining a story around it. And that story is: The Mediterranean Billionaire’s Blackmail Bargain.

The scene that inspired the story is near the beginning of the book, but what happens after that and how the story built up around it – I sometimes wonder how all the synapses fire to create such linkages and ultimately a story – and I’m just happy that they do!

Dante D’Aquanni is the hero and Alicia Parker, a humble English nurse is the heroine who gets swept off her feet, literally.

I’d love to know if any films or even just shots from movies have inspired any of your stories? And then is the story you end up with radically different to what you started out with?

It might be necessary go and watch a lot of delicious movies with glamorous locations and devastatingly handsome men so if you feel you must, go right ahead!

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Comments ( 8 )
  1. Heidi Rice
    December 8, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    Yes, I remember that scene in that movie. Actually it was probably the best scene in Ocean’s Twelve cos let’s face it the rest of that movie was a bit of a dud (despite the presence of gorgeous George and his pals). Can’t wait to read the story now, I’m totally intrigued too.

    And don’t get me started on scenes from movies that have inspired my stories… There are way too many to count. But just at the moment I’m writing a story with a movie star hero, and after seeing The Sex in the City movie and Samantha’s sexy neighbour in the buff in his outdoor shower I can’t get this vision of my hero’s luxury Malibu pad out of my head, and my gorgeous hero in his shower out of it either.

    I guess I’m just going to have to incorporate it into my ms somehow! Well, what’s a girl to do?

    Heidi x

  2. MarilynS
    December 8, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    Abby, you know how much I loved Dante, the setting and the beautiful and fierce Alicia. I loved it so much that I’m giving a copy away on my blog.


  3. abby green
    December 8, 2008 at 6:37 pm

    Heidi I love those scenes in Sex and the City with Samantha’s gorgeous neighbour, now there’s a presents hero. If you check out India Grey’s blog, she’s got a great clip featuring Rodrigo Santoro. Yummy.
    And thanks Marilyn for running the competition!
    x Abby

  4. Sabrina Philips
    December 9, 2008 at 5:24 am

    Hi Abby,

    Great post! Having just returned from a fab time in Las Vegas to cold, wet England I’ve been re-watching all the Oceans and I’m loving the Presents-style glamour!

    No film has specifically triggered off a book for me yet, but I recently re-watched Casino Royale and the scene when Bond meets Vespa for the first time on the train had my brain racing with ideas. I think the dialogue is fantastic and very Presents-esque. In fact, being that Bond is so alpha I find all the films very inspiring in general…although I have to say I prefer Pierce Brosnan to Daniel Craig!

    Not a film I know, but my first book ‘Valenti’s One-Month Mistress’ was actually partly inspired by a TV programme – Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares. I didn’t particularly love the show, but the idea of a headstrong woman having to ask a man for help with her family restaurant business, and then being forced to run it his way, seemed like an irresistable conflict – particularly when I added in a shared history and a red-hot sexual attraction!

    Cant wait to read The Mediterranean Billionaire’s Blackmail Bargain.

    Sabrina xx

  5. India Grey
    December 9, 2008 at 6:30 am

    Abby, you know I’m pretty much film-illiterate (particularly compared to you and Heidi!) as I have a terrible habit of falling asleep about two thirds of the way through every film I watch…

    What I tend to absorb most are the atmospheric details of the settings. When I was writing Taken for Revenge Bedded for Pleasure, which is out next month, I was going through a James Franco phase and managed to stay awake through most of Flyboys, which is set in Northern France. There are some beautifully shot scenes of the countryside in the early morning, where everything is shades of misty blue. These were very vivid in my mind when I was writing and seemed to infuse themselves into the parts of the book that were set in Normandy– so quite a lot of action takes place at dawn!

    Like Marilyn I adored Dante and Alicia, and that opening scene is absolute dynamite. (The closing scene is pretty darned gorgeous too– and everything that comes in between!!)

  6. Kate Walker
    December 9, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    Hi Abby

    Congratulations on another great Presents title. I read this book when it came out in the UK in July and I loved it then.

    I love stories of the tiny moments or images that create the ‘seed’ for a story in a writer’s mind and your image from the film is just perfect – it’s the sort of scene that would set me thinking too. So evocative and inspiring. And the great thing is that we would all probably come up with a different story even if we began at the same starting point. It’s wonerful they way that when you have the perfect opening scene then so much just flows from it.

    But you did stir my conscience a bit – I haven’t watched enough films for a while. I need to do more of that to ‘fill up the imagination banks’.

    I hope TMBBB is another great success for you



  7. Heidi Rice
    December 9, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    Umm, maybe I’m the only one thinking this (excuse me and my one track mind), but blimey India, what are you doing watching the countryside, when there’s James Franco to oggle????

  8. India Grey
    December 10, 2008 at 7:01 am

    (snurk) It must be my mum-training in the art of multi-tasking, Heidi… I knew it would come in handy one day!