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Starting the day at Craig's Hut

Starting the day at Craig’s Hut

So, I left off at the end of day 1 last time, so I’ll pick up from there… On with the story…

We stayed the first night just below Craig’s Hut. It was really cold – the first true cold we’d experienced all year. I’d taken my son’s new sleeping bag, but hadn’t realised how narrow it was and underneath the swag’s canvas, with thermals on under my flannelette pyjamas, I found I could barely turn over, but it was better than freezing! (I did vow to get a larger sleeping bag for myself though the next time I had to go somewhere I needed a sleeping bag).

The horses, despite their exertions of the day, were a bit argumentative during the night and we heard them thumping around their enclosure, having a bit of horsey fisty-cuffs with each other. But even with this disturbing our sleep, my sister and I didn’t mind and woke up the next morning feeling surprisingly good. I was certain I wasn’t going to be able to move – I mean, it had been so long since I’d been on a horse and even longer since I’d been on a horse for that long, and it had been hard riding, not to mention that I’ve had a back problem for a few years now that I was worried might play up, especially as I’d had to see the physio before I went away and get some dry needling done (OUCH!) because I’d had spasms in the muscle, but the movement of the horse was quite soothing on the back muscles and my back felt better than it had for some time. As for my other muscles, they were sore, but nothing that would stop me from enjoying a day in the saddle. My sister was the same.

Breakfast's Up!

Breakfast’s Up!

We got dressed in the frosty air in our tent and opened the flap to find that the smoke from the back-burning had cleared a little, and our camp bosses were up and about getting breakfast ready and feeding the horses. One of the horses – Ned, who was a sweat boy who didn’t trust many people but for some reason decided I was all right and came to me for pats and to be bridled – had received a nasty kick where his saddle would go, so our trail leader had to ride another horse, which wasn’t a problem seeing we’d taken along a spare horse. The loose horses were amazing – once past a certain point, they pretty much just follow the rest, and could be let off the leads. We just had to be careful at certain points where there was a split in the trail to make sure they didn’t take the shorter option and head home – they really knew where they were.

Morning Cuppa

Morning Cuppa

We had eggs and bacon and toast for breakfast and I’ve really not tasted anything better sitting around the campfire in the clear, cold mountain air, the smell of gum trees and horses and burn off smoke tinging the air. It was so peaceful and wonderful and I felt relaxed and exhillarated in a way I don’t feel except for when we go skiing every year. Also, my sinuses were pretty clear and I didn’t have to take any medication for the terrible hayfever which has become a bane of my existence over the last few years – which was fantastic!

We helped feed and saddle our horses and then headed up to Craig’s Hut to see if we could see any more of the view. While the smoke had cleared a little from where we were, it was still thick enough across the mountains that we couldn’t see any more of the view than we had the day before, but it was nice to see the hut again and say goodbye to the Stirling side of the mountains, because we were about to ride down the other side from which we’d come up the day before and down into the Howqua Valley.

Steep Hills

Steep Hills

I thought riding up had been tough, but riding down was just as tough – possibly even tougher on the horses. We were riding down rocky roads that had been carved up by heavy rains and four wheel drive vehicles and it was slow going. My Uncle Richard took photos of us in front of him trying to get the perspective of just how steep it was, but the photos don’t do it justice. It was Man From Snowy River country and we were riding down the kinds of hills he rode down – except we were doing it slowly and allowing our horses to take the path they thought best for them, so nowhere near as dangerous or awe-inspiring, but still pretty difficult for us.

Just when I thought my bum knee (old skiing accident) was going to snap in half from the stress of pushing down into my stirrups to keep my weight off the saddle – which was the only thing I could do to help my brilliant horse, Chelsea, on the steep terrain – we came out onto a wide road where our 4WDs were waiting for us. Along with a gleaming firetruck.

20150313_114856We thought the firetruck might be there for the back-burning, but it wasn’t simply gleaming red in the sun just because they’d washed it, but because it was brand new and they’d brought it out for a photoshoot. We had a much needed break and walk around, chatted with the fireys and then headed off. We kept riding downhill for the rest of the morning and up until lunch, although most of it was along fairly gentle sloping winding roads. In comparison to the riding we’d been doing, it was pretty staid, but it gave us a different view of the mountains again and was the only way to get to where we were going – Pikes Flat on the banks of the Howqua river.

Steep Hills

More steep hills

We stopped off to look at some lovely falls (for the life of me, I can’t remember what they were called, but they were very pretty) and had a late lunch at a camping spot that many four wheel drive enthusiasts camp at, but was empty of anyone that day. The day had heated up and it was really pleasant sitting in the sun eating sandwiches and drinking cold drinks with the horses in the background and the river tinkling away beside us. We were only about an hour or so from our camp site, which we were all relieved to hear, but discovered that the hard riding of the day before was about to be repeated, because we had to ride up a small mountain and back down the other side to get down to Pikes Flat. It was worth it though, because we went through some really lovely bush that you wouldn’t see any other way. It was with relief though when we sited the flats and headed down to our camp site.

Setting up camp

Setting up camp

Pikes Flat was lovely and we soon had the horses unsaddled, washed and fed, our tent up, swags made up and – most amazing of all – were able to have a shower. Paul had a pump and hose that pulled water up from the river and had a gas water heater he’d built onto one of the trailers. He put up tarps and a shower head and voila! A hot shower in the middle of the Snowy Mountains. It was amazing having a shower and looking up at the trees and sky above and to feel clean after a sweaty, dusty day of hard riding was a real treat.

A well-earned drink

A well-earned drink

We were treated to a delicious meal again, cooked by Kay, our camp cook, and sat around the camp fire as we had the night before as Uncle Richard held court telling stories of his adventures and making everyone laugh. You really need an Uncle Richard type personality around a camp fire – we were all thoroughly entertained. Even my sister and I, who had heard a lot of his stories before, were laughing with everyone else and adding our own bits.

IMG_0337Sunset is amazing in the mountains – the soft pinks and purple of twilight seeming to last forever, and then suddenly it’s pitch black, with only the light of the moon and stars and the campfire to light the surrounds. It was all so peaceful as well, because there is no signal up there and so nobody was able to be on their phones and while we could charge our phones to take photos the next day, nobody was listening to music or anything. It was just the sounds of the mountains, the horses and us.

Sunset over Pikes Flat

Sunset over Pikes Flat

We would have thought we were all alone there, except for the fact we knew there was another group camping at the other end of Pikes Flat, so far away, we couldn’t see them or hear them. The only reason we knew they were there was because every now and then one of them would troop over to use the pit toilet that was near us rather than dig their own. We were kind of bemused by this, because it was a long way for them to troop just to use a pit toilet, but then one of our group was over there when one of them came across and we found out why they were making the trek. Kay had put a scented candle in there and wet wipes and it was really quite pleasant, even with the spiders. So pleasant that the other campers decided that it wasn’t too far to tramp over there to go to the loo! The simple things really do make a difference. 😉

That brings me to the end of the second day. I will about the excitement of our third day on the trail next time.

RichardKizandMeLast year, my sister came to me with an idea to do something a bit different and challenging every year together. Part of the reason for this was because we practically used to live in each other’s pockets (terrible sibling rivalry when we were growing up was transformed into a true friendship when she came to work with me in the theatre restaurant I owned and ran back in my twenties), but life and obligations to children, spouses and work means we don’t see each other as often we used to (although, we still see each other every week – some would say that’s enough, but we really are good friends!) Red sunThe other reason is because there are things she wants to do that she can’t do with her hubby, partly because he has an injury which stops him from doing a lot of things, but also because he’s not inclined to do things to get your blood rushing in that way. She also wanted to show our children that you can do whatever you want when you put your mind to it.

I thought it was a great idea, so, last year, we went on our first special outing together – a face first abseil down a 6 story building. We did it 3 times that day, each time just as scary but better than the last. Without meaning to sound like I’m tooting our horn, the man who ran it said we were the best at doing it he’d seen for a while. Not bad for 2 forty-year old mums!

So, what to do next?

P1020719When I was 14 I went on a 5 day horse riding trek with my Uncle Richard (who is a horse enthusiast too – the only one in my family at the time) starting from Omeo and riding through the Bogong High Plains, camping out near old stockmans’ cottages every night. We rode up and down mountains, through the plains near the top of Fall’s Creak and down through the riverlands. It was an amazing experience we still talk about today.

At the time, my younger sister wasn’t really interested in horse riding and showed no interest in coming with us. Cut to 30 years later, six years of holiday horse riding camps down near Anglesea when we were at school and a few other rides besides, a damaged knee (me), a dislocated shoulder (her), marriage and children (both of us) and bodies showing the wear and tear of age and an active and sometimes reckless approach to our sports, and she suddenly decided a trek like I went on when I was 14 was just the thing, complete with Uncle Richard – who had given up city life years ago to live in the country and still horserides. So we approached him with the idea. Of course he was really keen to do it.

And we were off.

The Buckle Up Crew - Kay, Geoff, Karen, Paul and Shelley

The Buckle Up Crew – Kay, Geoff, Karen, Paul and Shelley

My sister found a place called Buckle Up Bushrides near Merijig who were able to do a 4 day ride at a time that suited us all. We booked in, bought new riding boots and jodhpurs and were off. We met Uncle Richard in Merijig the night before the ride and had a great country meal at the Merijig Inn and were sleeping in bunk rooms that reminded me of staying up at the snow. The next day we got up to a red sun and the smell of smoke – they were back burning up in the mountains – and headed to the Buckle Up Bushrides farm.

It has been 18 years since I rode a horse and since I’ve truly been around horses like that, but the moment I got out of the car, I felt like I was home. The scent of horses and paddocks, the dust and smoke in the air, the sound of whickers and hooves pounding the earth in the distance, were all sounds and scents I’d experienced many times before and made me feel instantly relaxed.

Me and ChelseaWe had met the trail bosses the night before at the pub – Paul and Shelley, a really lovely couple – and then met the rest of the crew, Paul’s mum, Kay who was the camp cook, and Geoff who was Paul’s hand and camp supervisor. We met one of the others riders – the other wasn’t arriving until lunch and would be brought in by Paul in the 4WD), packed our gear into their trucks and then set off up the mountains in the 4WDs.

The horses had been trucked part way up Mt Stirling which was our start off point and where we met the other trail supervisor, Karen. We met our horses, and because all of us had a lot of previous experience riding, mounted up and headed off. I can’t tell you how fantastic it felt to be on a horse again. My sister and I were quite worried about sore muscles, and even though we did have them, it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as we thought it was going to be. It was like the old riding a bike cliche. I remembered everything right away and my horse, Chelsea, was lovely, and after testing me to start off with, caught on that I was experienced and wasn’t going to let her get away with the kind of stuff she might try on a less experienced writer, and we settled down into a partnership right away.

DSCN0870That’s what this kind of horse riding is all about – a partnership between rider and horse. If you don’t respect each other, the ride is not nearly as enjoyable. Chelsea was doing a lot of the hard work – that first day was a lot of riding up steep hills – but it was my job to get up off the saddle on the steep parts and trust her ability to take the best path for her and me, looking after her so she could look after me, and it was her job to take my instruction when necessary. The first few hours were spent figuring each other out and after that, it was pretty smooth riding. She was a really good horse.

Me and my sis on Mt Stirling

Me and my sis on Mt Stirling

We rode through really rugged country up to the top of Mt Stirling on that first day. Very unfortunately, the backburning meant that there was smoke obscurring the view that would normally be fabulous, but we had a lot of laughs as we peered through it, trying to make out the village on Mt Buller (only just) and the other mountains surrounding there. I had never been up Mt Stirling before, but had viewed it many times skiing on Mt Buller – so it was kind of cool to see the view (what we could see) from the other highest point in the area.

Riding uphill is a lot of hard work on rider and horse and riding downhill is the same. By the time we got to just below

Cantering outside Craig's Hut

Cantering outside Craig’s Hut

Craig’s Hut late that afternoon, everyone was tired and happy to see our camp crew had set up the basics of the camp – although, before we settled down, we rode up to Craig’s Hut, had a canter in front of it like The Man From Snowy River did in the movie, and had a look around

Craig's Hut

Craig’s Hut

Craig’s Hut which was built there for the movie – although, the one that’s there now is just a replica as the original was burnt down a number of years ago in bushfires.

We all got back to camp, looked after the horses first as any good horseperson will do, and then my sister and I set up a tent for ourselves, rolled out our swags – first time I’ve ever slept in a swag – and settled down around the camp fire, swapping stories, having a good meal and just taking in the relaxing atmosphere that I only ever really find in the mountains. I think I must be a mountain girl at heart.

Our tent

Our tent

Given I’ve got so much to say on this amazing adventure, I’m going to split this blog into 2 parts. So, this is enough for now. Next week I’ll cover the rest of the trip – but I will say this now. If you are thinking of going on a horseriding trek in the mountains, the crew at Buckle Up Bushrides are fantastic. They love their horses and what they do and are incredibly friendly and helpful. DSCN0901They are a relatively new company up there, but they have been working with some of the biggest trail rides up there (Kay is a Lovick – one of the big cattle families in the region and the family made famous for their work on The Man from Snowy River) and really know the mountains. I want to do this again with my family some time in the future and I will most definitely be doing it with them.

Enough said for now – next week I’ll be talking about the challenging trails we did on day 2 and 3 and the excitement when one of the trail bosses had a spill off a very narrow, high track above the Howqua river.

 

 

 

 

Halloween pic-Freeimages.com

Halloween pic-Freeimages.com

Last week I had Carla Caruso on discussing the superstitions around Halloween, which I thought was fascinating. I always love learning about things like that, the origins of belief and how they have come into being. I always try to weave a little bit of this into the make-believe worlds in my novels, because I think it adds something of the human experience to what I create out of my own little mind. Dark Moon is set around Halloween, or Samhain as it is known. The eve the veil opens between worlds and the dead can be seen. The time I chose to set it was essential to the plot and the build toward what happens – in a way, Samhain is as much a character in the plot as the other secondary characters.

I love to share this fascination with mythology, legends and superstitions with my children, to help encourage their imaginations but also have an understanding of the world around them however it comes. To expand their minds and keep them open to new ideas – or ancient ones.

 

Darth and Chewie

Early Years – Darth and Chewie

Many people say that Halloween is an American thing, that it’s commercial, a reason for businesses to make us buy stuff that we don’t really need. As we discovered from Carla last week, this isn’t true. Maybe it means this to many people, which is why they resist the fun of it, but at heart it is an Irish tradition based in Paganism (you can read all about that here), a celebration of harvest, of beginnings and endings, a tipping the hat to those past and an acceptance of all life has to offer. There are some lovely mysticisms and stories woven around the traditions of Halloween, of the carved pumpkins and the reason we dress up. But for me, Halloween is also about the gorgeousness of make-believe.

Zombie Skeleton and Glow in the Dark Skeleton

Zombie Skeleton and Glow in the Dark Skeleton

 

Of pretending unreal things could be real. Of looking into mythology and seeing fun and life and meaning. Of expanding imagination and having FUN.

Yes – the ‘f’ word – Fun. I love Halloween because for that one night, kids and adults can dress up and walk the streets together in friendship and the spirit of exploration and enjoyment. Yes, there is the whole trick or treat thing, with the expectation of lollies. But for me and my kids, that’s not the most enjoyable aspect of the night. It’s meeting others who have taken the time to dress up and have fun with make up and costumes and make-believe, chatting with strangers and hearing exclamations of delight (or horror as the case may be) of those who open their doors.

Little Monsters

Little Vampire Monsters

It’s also about my kids understanding choices and that everyone is entitled to theirs; that just because someone hasn’t joined in by greeting them with lollies at the door, doesn’t mean anything other than they just don’t want to. Or that they have other beliefs that don’t include celebrating All Hallow’s Eve. Which is A-Okay.

Another delight for us is the costume preperation – deciding what to dress up as and then finding things to make those ideas ‘real’ for the night. My favourite bit is the make-up. I love dabbling in make-up effects and have had lots of fun in the past turning my youngest into a fearsome vampire and Freddy Kruger

My Little Monsters

Last year’s Skullman and Freddy

(both his choices). My eldest doesn’t like the make-up, but the youngest LOVES it as much as me (lucky for me).

This year, the youngest has decided to go as a Zombie. And not any pale skin, black lipped, black eyed zombie most kids go as. He wants the full on desiccating zombie effect. And so I have watched YouTube videos on how to do the zombie ripped skin effect.

Zombie ripped flesh effect

Zombie ripped flesh effect

If you have the right equipment (mainly liquid latex, tissues and an array of costume make-up colours and of course, facke blood and lots of it!), you can create quite realistic effects. I did a test run on my son’s arm the other night – what do you think? For a first try, I don’t think it turned out too badly. Perhaps a little more blue for a bruised skin effect around it, but it was quite easy and didn’t take too long either.

So, on Friday night, I will be doing Zombie make-up on my son and his cousin – and if I’ve got time, I might do up my sister and me too. I even bought some white contact lenses to give that truly ‘crazy walking dead’ feel. I’m going to a friend’s 40th birthday afterwards – it might just be fun to turn up as a zombie. And it might just give me a chance to share a little bit of the mythology of Halloween and zombies with other people if they’re interested. Can’t wait.

I just read this on Chuck Wendig’s website and I have to say to Chuck – hell yeah!.

http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2014/10/09/why-four-women-playing-ghostbusters-is-not-a-gimmick

Ghostbusting women…gve me more. The idea of a female Doctor does go agasint the original Doctor being a man turning into a man scenario, but with the latest seasons they’ve broken so many rules anyway, why not another one. I was always surprised they didn’t follow the story of The Doctor’s daughter anyway (you know, the one that was made from the DNA from his hand?) I love women who can kick arse. Two of my favourite shows to date are Buffy

Image courtesy of Buffy.wikia.com

Image courtesy of Buffy.wikia.com

and Alias – women who could be real and emotional but completely hold their own. I don’t see why women coudln’t Ghostbust too. And I certainly don’t see how this could be considered a gimmick. I think it will give the story new life, a different perspective, will challenge the set up in different ways – how is that a gimmick? That cheapens the value women bring to things to think we’re only a gimmick.

So, to hell with those calling it a gimmick and hell yeah to those who are bringing us this remake of a classic. I look forward to seeing what you bring to the melting pot.

I’ve just been over on Mary Costello’s blog where Mary allowed me to prattle on about a subject that isn’t much written about. (http://marycostelloauthor.wordpress.com) I was talking about sidekicks and secondary characters and why I think they are winners too and I thought I’d share it here too.

HOORAY FOR SIDEKICKS – an ode to the secondary characters I love.

I’ve recently blogged elsewhere about my love of paranormal books, being a mum and a writer, my love of the romance genre in general and answered a bunch of questions about my writing process and so on. I’ve loved writing all these blogs, and I think they cover really important topics, but I wanted to talk today about something that was a little different.

Everyone always talks about the hero and the heroine, the story arc and main plot, the scene or image that started the story. And I love to hear all those things – and talk about them too. The whys and wherefores, the ins and outs – they are all endlessly fascinating. But what I rarely hear about is the sidekick. The secondary characters.

Image courtesy of popmythology.com

Image courtesy of popmythology.com

Those poor duffers who have a life we never hear about. Who often are held up as a mirror/reflector to the main protagonists and their story, often having to suffer through all the misery while gaining none of the glory. I mean, where would Batman be without Robin? Where would Wolverine be without the X-Men? Quite frankly, where would any superhero be without a villain? Or looking back at the classics – where would Elizabeth Bennet be without her family and the multitude of characters that both ruin and enlighten her life? What about Jane Eyre? She would never have got to the end of her book without the honourable Blanche Ingram or her long lost cousins.

Image courtesy of flickeringmyth.com

Image courtesy of flickeringmyth.com

And Pip in Great Expectations? What kind of story would he have been in without Mrs Haversham and the escaped prisoner, Abel Magwitch?

In a boring story, that’s where.

Before I was published, a regular comment I used to get from judges or editors or others who read my WIP’s was, ‘I love your secondary characters.’ Well, I think part of the reason they come across so well is I love them too. I can’t leave the wallowing in the dark of obscurity. I want to breathe life into them. They should be funny and empathetic and fully realised, because without them, the hero and heroine have no-one to really talk to, to bounce their woes off, to learn from.

I’m going to go back to one of my favourite TV series that shows exactly what I’m talking about, (mostly because Joss Whedon is a genius with a secondary character and we could all learn a thing or two from him): Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

Image courtesy of Buffy.wikia.com

Image courtesy of Buffy.wikia.com

Buffy was a funny, quippy, multi-layered character with great strength but also deeply vulnerable who shone on the screen. However, none of this would have shown up so well if she was surrounded by cardboard cut-out characters. I’m not talking about Angel, because he is Buffy’s hero (although I could wax on here about him being the tortured hero set to redeem himself against the odds and how dreamy that made him – but that’s a whole other blog!) I’m talking about the sidekicks – the Scooby Gang primarily.

Willow could have just been the brainy and dorky best friend, a 2 dimensional character whose sole purpose was to show up and point Buffy in the right direction, and show us how super and kick-arse amazing Buffy really was. But she wasn’t. She showed up Buffy for her flaws as much as for her kick-arse amazingness. Some of the funniest lines in the show were given to her or Xander, even though Buffy was the recognised pop-referrential quipster. And I think the reason the show worked so well as a whole was because all of the secondary characters had their own life and story breathed into them right from the first episode. Willow was the heroine in her own story – a story that often ran parallel to Buffy’s and yet wasn’t on the main page like Buffy’s, but an important story all the same. This was true for Xander and Giles, Cordelia, Spike and so on. As the series grew, the characters were given episodes that focused on their story which just made it so much more worthwhile for me (especially when the unexpected happened in that story – who could forget Cordelia being killed by vampire Willow and Xander when she wished for a life without Buffy?) DarkMoon_cover

For me, the secondary characters come to life at the same time as the hero and the heroine, and even though they may not be telling their story on this page, it is still an important story, and I make sure they have at least one person to tell it to – me. Their stories are all in my head. And luckily for many of them, I love the kinds of novels that extend into series – which means many of them will end up being able to explore their story on the page in their own books.

I have already had a bunch of reviewers love the main romance but then ask if some of their other favourite characters from Dark Moon and Killing Me Softly will get to come out and play – which for me, is so rewarding. I love that readers want these other characters’ stories to be played out for them. Because it means I’ve done my job. It means I’ve breathed life into my whole story, that there is depth beyond the surface picture with a vast, glistening spiderweb of tangled and interconnecting stories underneath. And for me, there can be nothing better than that.

Long live the sidekicks – you are eternally awesome!

I was tagged last week by the fabulously talented Jennifer St George and then on the same day there was another tag by another wonderful fellow RWA author, Heather Garside in this series of rolling blogs where I’m asked to talk about my writing – I feel very popular! Thanks ladies for thinking of me and including me in this lovely event.

But first, before I talk about me, let me tell you a little about Jen and Heather.

The Billionaires Pursuit of Love

 

I have known Jen for a number of years now through Romance Writers of Australia. She is a powerhouse of a woman, talented, funny and gorgeous to boot. If she wasn’t so lovely, I’d probably hate her. 🙂

Jen was one of the first authors picked up by my publisher, Penguin’s Destiny Romance and writes sexy, exotic contemporary romances and has been nominated for best novel of the year in the Australian Romance Readers of Australia Awards (ARRA) this year. Her latest novel, The Billionaire’s Pursuit of Love, is set in London and Brunei with betrayal and a heady dose of passion and love wrapped up in a fast paced read that I devoured in a few sittings. You can find out more about Jen and her books on her website and can buy The Billionaire’s Pursuit of Love at AmazoniTunesDestiny RomancePenguin and Google.

 

Breakaway CreekI have actually never met Heather in the flesh, but she is a regular contributor on the RWA published author loop and from everything I’ve read and heard, a very talented author. Heather writes historical romances. Breakaway Creek, her latest release, was a finalist in the QWC/Hachette Manuscript Development Program – very impressive. It is a rural romance written with a dual timeline. You can buy Breakaway Creek at Clan Destine Press, Kindle, Kobo, Lulu, Nook and iTunes.

She works part time at the local library, at home on the farm and helps produce a local monthly newsletter, amongst other voluntary activities. Find out more about her on her website here.

Now to me. It’s time for me to sit in the hot seat and answer the questions they both posed to me.

What am I working on?

I am currently working on redrafting and polishing Healer Moon, the book that follows on from Dark Moon in the Witch-Were Chronicles. I am also writing the 3rd in the series, Blood Moon and when I get time, I am also working on completely overhauling a pet project of mine that has done well in competitions and has garnered interest from publishers and agents, but just doesn’t quite work as a whole. I think, after ruminating on it for some time, I’ve realized why and am now trying to (slowly, given everything else occupying my time) work through the story again and breathe some new life into it.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

I am a very plot oriented person, the trickier the plot, the happier I am. I like twists and turns and unexpected happenings as well as having really solid overarching themes in individual novels and in the series as a whole. Suspense and mystery plays a big part of my work, as does mythology and history, yet I change things to suit the tone of my work and then add more suspense and more plot twists and turns. There is a lot of the fantasy world building in my paranormal novels. An editor and writer I took a class with one time were trying to place my work in a way they could market, and when I was finished explaining what I was working on, they said, ‘Oh, so it’s a dark urban epic fantasy paranormal.’ I think that sums it up.

Why do I write what I write?

I think I kind of answered that above. I write what comes to me. I write the kind of thing I would love to read. I write a culmination of all the things I love to read. I write because I have to and because I love it. I write the stories the characters in my head are dying to tell me.

How does my writing process work?

I don’t really have a writing process. I did years ago before I had children. I had to have a certain amount of time to write and I needed to do a certain series of things before I could write to get me into the mood. But after I had my eldest son (in a very traumatic pregnancy and birth) I suffered from some post-natal depression afterwards and the therapist I saw told me to stop making excuses and putting up blocks and to just take any time to write – because I obviously needed to be creative in some way to be happy. I realised she was right and I was being an idiot about it. So, now, I don’t have a ‘process’. I just write when I can. I think that’s helped by the fact I’m a pantser – someone who just writes without any clear idea where it’s going to lead, so I can just sit down and let myself go. Sometimes it’s for 10 minutes, sometimes it’s for hours, but I take what I can and go with it. However, I do prefer to have a large cup of tea beside me and my heat bags heated up and on my back when I sit to write.

Now that I’ve been in the hot seat, it’s the turn of 3 other writers. And the winners are…

Irresistible EnemyMary Costello

Mary is my release buddy at Destiny Romance this month. She is a funny, witty ex-pat Irishwoman who has come to love Aussie Rules Footy more than many Australians do and if you talk smack about her beloved team, Collingwood, you better watch out! Her first novel, The Reluctant Wag, was about that very subject – just with a healthy dose of romance and passion thrown in.

Mary’s new novel, Irresistible Enemy, features a nature loving heroine matched up against a wealthy business tycoon who has come to her little part of country Victoria to build a horrible new housing estate, but passion and an irresistible attraction get in the way of their war. Irresistible Enemy will be on sale as of the 15th March at all good eBook retailers.

 

Uncovered By Love

Madeline Ash

Madeline is also a fellow Destineer and a more gorgeous and talented young woman you’re not likely to meet. She says she’s emotionally allergic to spontaneity, and yet doesn’t mind the weather that drags her into rain when she’s planned for sunshine. She likes to call this her wild side. But I think her true wild side is expressed in the sweet and sexy contemporary romances she likes to write, chock full of compelling emotional conflicts.

Her first novel. Uncovered by Love was nominated for a Ruby Award last year – Romance Writer’s of Australia’s premier award. Her newest novel, The Playboy’s Dark Secret, will be out in April and features a return home story, a hero tormented by a dark secret and a young, carefree independent heroine who pushes past his carefully constructed restraint. Hmm, sounds enticing.

Threes a crowd

Edwina Darke

I met Edwina last year when she flew down from Sydney just to have lunch with the Melbourne Destineers. If that hadn’t impressed me (it did), then she certainly did. A tall, vibrant, gorgeous person like Edwina had to write something sparky and fun, and that’s exactly what she’s done. Having gone travelling at 18, working as a ski instructor and studying fine art in Florence before jetsetting off to live in New York, she certainly has lived the kind of life her heroine in Three’s A Crowd would be jealous of.

Three’s a Crowd is set among the hard and fast paced world of publishing in Manhattan, and is a funny story of life and love in New York. If Sex and the City and The Devil Wears Prada were cup of tea, then Three’s a Crowd is the perfect book for you.

 

Catch up with Mary, Madeline and Edwina next Monday when they answer the hot seat questions about their writing. Take it away girls.

Romance Writers of Australia