Creating a world as large as The Chatsfield must be very exciting – did you discuss the hotels with the other authors?
One of the best things about writing a book in a continuity is that you get to work closely with, and bounce ideas off, a bunch of authors you like and admire. Given these are people you usually only meet up with at conferences, it’s very very cool. And while we’re working together, sorting out the details of what a particular hotel looks or feels like, we’re also having a lot of fun.
What was the most fun bit about creating this luxurious, scandalous world?
Being handed an outline of a story of one of the characters in a scandal ridden family, all set in the most sumptuous of settings and being able to flesh it out in all its glorious detail! And even though Franco’s story is set largely in a vineyard in rural South Australia, I was able to take my characters to Sydney’s gorgeous Chatsfield Hotel and give my characters a taste of five star luxury.
Did you do any extra special research for writing this book? A sneaky cocktail at an exclusive hotel perhaps?
No sneaky cocktails for me – but a certain amount of very good sparkling wine may have been consumed – all in the name of research, of course!
Seriously, researching for this story was a very good excuse for a weekend away with my hubby, as we headed down to the Coonawarra area to find out about this beautiful fertile region first hand. We spent the weekend visiting wineries and talking to local vignerons and cellar door sales persons, getting all kinds of hints and insights into this fabulous region and the people that make it so special. It really helped me get to grips with my heroine, Holly, and her place in the world.
What did you most love about writing your story?
Apart from the research, you mean? I think it was taking two characters who were so unimpressed with each other and so full of resentment for each other in the beginning, and slowly chipping away that resentment until there could be no denying the pesky attraction that simmered away beneath. And as respect between the two grew, that attraction meant Franco and Holly wanted to spend more and more time together. That attraction and respect soon developed into something much more powerful.
When writing your hero and heroine’s story, did they surprise you in any way?
Holly sure did! She was such a homebody, and so comfortable in her Purman Wines polo tops, I had no idea when I started writing her story that she had a wicked secret going on underneath.
I have to say, that wasn’t the only surprise she had for Franco either!
To your mind, who is the most scandalous Chatsfield?
Definitely not Franco, though he’s got his fair share of secrets. He left the scandal to his siblings when he moved away when he was sixteen – but the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree! Learning he’d fathered a child before he’d left was a bit of a wake-up call, though he’s managed to curb his ways in recent years.
If you could have given your hero or heroine a piece of advice before they started on their journey in your story, what would it have been?
If I could have had a quiet word to Franco before he embarked on his long trip to Australia to get Holly’s signature on that contract, I would have warned him to maybe not take too much for granted – that some people might not be as impressed with doing business with the Chatsfield empire as he might like!
Name five things on your desk when you write.
My computer, of course.
One of either a big cup of coffee, an earl grey tea or a glass of water, depending on what time of the day it is.
A print out of my pages to date, so I can check anything I need to quickly, but most of all to reassure me that the manuscript is actually growing.
A collection of pens in different shades so I can mark up those pages.
A beautiful ruby red crystal heart I bought from Tiffany’s in New York at my first ever Romance Writers of America conference in 2003, a month after selling my first book. It reminds me of those first heady days and how lucky I am and how fantastic this job is.
Do you listen to music when you write?
I do. I don’t put a specific sound track together for a book, because the tracks I like to listen to while writing my Presents books give me the right tone for Presents. I know the words by heart so absorb them rather than have to listen to them, but I will find some tracks work more for particular scenes. These I might play over and over while writing a love scene, for example.
What is your worst habit when writing?
Eating far too much! I try to counter that by taking the dog for a walk every chance I get, which also helps with thinking through plot problems, but some days, the eating wins. J
Do you have a writing routine? If so, could you share a bit about it with us?
When my girls were all in school, I did. I had between 9 and 3 to work in relative peace at home. These days, however, the girls are all either in their final year of high school or at uni, so their contact hours are all over the place, and there’s people coming and going all hours of the day. I think my routine has become more a case of “write-when-you-can”, and I look back at those lovely blocks of time and wonder why I didn’t do more.
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