Your debut novel, ‘A Venetian Affair’, was released on March 15. Congratulations! Can you tell us a little about your book?
Thanks so much, it’s definitely a dream come true! In ‘A Venetian Affair’, Helen Stoddardt has snatched a week out of her cold sterile existence back home in Sydney, singing as part of a trio in Venice. When she meets merchant banker Gabriel Venier, she experiences one night of incredible passion and then leaves at dawn, thinking she’ll never see him again…
Can you give us a sneak peek from your book, maybe a brief excerpt from a favourite scene, or the first sentence?
He was here again.
Helen Stoddardt couldn’t help the little flutter of excitement that accompanied the recognition. Safe behind her half-mask and dark-haired wig, she allowed her eyes to linger on the man seated at one of the tables, left of the little stage.
It was the third evening in a row…An earnest waiter had delivered a flower after Helen’s first performance. It wasn’t one of the standard, wrapped single roses from the flower sellers plying their trade in St Mark’s Square but a lily. A deep pink lily, already open and releasing its magnificent scent.
Where did the idea for ‘A Venetian Affair’ come from?
Two scenarios helped me create this book. My wonderful husband took me on a tour of Europe a while ago and one of the absolute highlights was visiting Venice Island. I loved the old cafes and the little groups of opera singers that wandered here and there.
Also, I really enjoy opera but my favourite artist is classical singer named Filippa Giordana. So it was easy to imagine my heroine, Helen, singing in St Mark’s Square. Bella!
How important is being a member of the RWA to you, and do you have a critique partner?
Being an RWA member is extremely important to me. Without the RWA and its fabulous support network, contests, awesome volunteers and industry contacts, I think realising my dream of being published would have taken me a lot longer.
I have a couple of CP’s. The awesome Louise Reynolds that I have learned so much from and count as a dear, dear friend who has been along my journey from when I first joined RWA. I also have a CP that does not read romance but is happy to critique my manuscripts. Also, my mum loves to read my work but is always asking, ‘Do they have to make love in every book?’ *tee hee.
What is the best advice that anyone ever gave you?
The feedback from my first contest entry in the Valerie Parv Award in 2008! All other feedback stated that my entry was less than readable (I think I came second last out of more than 80 entrants!). But one judge wrote in big letters at the end – Don’t. Give. Up.
After sobbing my heart out and not writing for three days, I toughened up and kept going. Thank you, kind judge, you will never know how much your words have helped keep my dream alive.
Panster or plotter?
I am both! Which makes writing life so hectic. There are times I am all in my head. Yet other times, I feel a need to write out the plot on the back of a discarded envelope (I can hear the plotters shrieking in horror, LOL). Mostly, I’m a panster. I think of various scenes and then create my characters, building their personalities, their dreams and disappointments and childhood memories – all in my head.
Discovering GMC has been the highlight of my writing journey! And most of the time if I do write a plot, my characters take over anyway. J
Did you want to be a writer when you were growing up?
No. I had struggled for years to find something that interested me enough to actually stick with. Writing has been the only profession I’ve ever stuck with, through good times and bad. There have been times when I’ve written four words for the entire night/day. But I’ve still written, so that suggests to me that I’m pretty much going to do this until the end of days.
What have you done to develop your craft?
Because of children and working, I haven’t had time to do any writing courses and have never had any formal education in writing. However, RWA contests have been the best thing for my career. I never entered a contest to win, but entered for the feedback – it’s gold. That, and the conferences. I can’t urge people enough to try their best to get to a conference. Just being around other writers, industry professionals and pitching in front of editors gives you and your craft such a boost. Pitching almost makes me vomit, I get that nervous, but it’s something I’ve forced myself to do, just to experience sitting in front of an editor talking about my book!
What would you say to new writers working on their first novel or stories?
Don’t. Ever. Give. Up! Haha, it’s true. I know so many people that don’t receive encouragement from their family or friends because they’re writing ‘romance’. At the RWA, we are your writing family and we will always encourage you.
If it’s your dream to have a book published, have a willingness to learn, don’t aim too high only to experience crushing disappointment, however don’t sell yourself short. Be humble, listen to those who can inspire you and tell the negative thoughts in your head to take a hike!
When do you find the time to write?
Ha! I have two small children in primary school and I work full time. I’m usually out the door by 7.00am and coming home around 5.30pm. Most of my writing is done at night or on the weekend (depending on other activities), so I don’t get a lot of time, or a lot of sleep! But I love it and am committed to it 100%. When you love doing something, it’s not a hardship. I only wish I was committed to exercising as much, LOL.
Thank you for taking part in our Author Spotlight!
You can read more about ‘A Venetian Affair’ or contact Dana at the following:
To be in the running to win a $25.00 e-Gift Card from either Amazon, Apple i-Books or Kobo, simply describe in 20 words or less why you think Venice is so romantic.
This competion is open worldwide and will be drawn on Wednesday April 2, 2013.