Welcome to the Author Spotlight, Elisabeth and congratulations on the release of ‘E for England’. This is your thirteenth – wow! You write across a variety of genres, which is your favourite?
Thanks for the opportunity to chat about my books, Sarah. I know, thirteen is hard for me to believe and I’ve just done the edits on Mango Kisses which will be out in November. So fourteen books!
I have begun to dabble in romantic suspense and mysteries but I’m only published in contemporary romance stories as yet. Most are sweet but my Wild Rose Press and Whiskey Creek Press releases have sex scenes. I think my natural voice is for the sweet end of the scale.
Of all the characters you have created, do you have a particularly soft spot for one?
I really like Primrose in Trouble In Nirvana. She tries so hard to fit into country life, impress Tom the farmer next door and make amends with her estranged brother, but causes nothing but trouble.
In your opinion, what types of characters make for compelling reading?
I like reading characters who have secrets — either bitter pasts, character flaws or new revelations they try to hide. Sometimes these are things they won’t even admit to themselves.
Are you a plotter or panster?
Definitely a pantser. I only have a vague idea of where the story is going when I start but once the writing takes over I do map a little ahead.
From where do you get your inspiration?
Everywhere. E For England was from an anecdote my daughter told me about her knickers blowing off the clothes horse on her seventh floor balcony. The Ripple Effect came from an article I read in the paper about a husband and wife who found out after many years of marriage that they were brother and sister, both adopted out at birth. The idea for Mango Kisses came from a radio interview I heard years ago with a woman who runs a kissing school. What self respecting romance writer could pass that up?
You have a musical background, do you have any other creative pursuits?
No. Writing and music take up a good portion of my time. I do active things like tai chi and tennis – the tennis scoring could be called creative though when none of us can remember the score.
You have also travelled Europe – which was your favourite destination and has it featured in any of your works?
I loved Austria and Italy and we plan to return soon and visit the places we missed first time round. I’ve also been to Africa, Egypt, Jordan, Istanbul, New Zealand, Japan and China but I haven’t used any of them in my books. I did have a vague idea for a story set in a tour group in Africa but haven’t developed it yet.
What would we find on your bookshelf?
Apart from several dictionaries, Complete Shakespeare, Book of Quotations, thesaurus, grammar and punctuation books etc ? I have a lot of Penguin paperback classics from when my grandfather died and his vast library was divvied up. I have a small shelf of contemporary romance keepers but am strict about what I keep because it can get out of hand so easily and there’s never enough bookshelf space in the house. I always have library books too, any genre, depending what’s next in the H section. I’m reading through my local library — a very, very longterm project.
What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
Donald Maass’s tip about being able to pick a page at random from your work and there be something intriguing, interesting or exciting on it. If it’s a page of blah non-action get rid of it.
Congratulations again on the release of ‘E for England’. Could you tell us a bit about it and perhaps give us a sneaky peek at one of your favourite parts, please?
Thanks Sarah. Many of my stories are family oriented. I like writing children because they can cause such problems for their parents without even trying. As do many mothers, heroine Annie puts her children ahead of herself to the point where her own needs and desires always become secondary. Her friends see it but she can’t.
This is the ‘knickers’ scene where Annie and Hugh first meet.
Inside Apartment 1 Hugh paused at the kitchen bench, bottle of wine in one hand, two glasses in the other. Something was rummaging around in the bushes outside the window.
‘What’s going on out there?’ He gestured to the darkened garden. Branches rustled and shook violently but there wasn’t enough wind to cause such a stir.
James came to stand beside him, leaning forward to stare through their reflections. He opened the window. Cool night air swirled in, the rustling suddenly louder.
‘Is it a possum?’
‘Could be a cat,’ Hugh said.
‘Maybe it’s a burglar.’
‘Not a very good one if he’s trying to climb the oleanders.’ Hugh put down the wine and glasses. ‘It’s stopped. I wonder if it knows oleanders are poisonous.’
‘We might have frightened it away.’
‘You haven’t,’ yelled a female voice. ‘It’s me.’
‘Who’s me?’ James looked at Hugh with eyebrows raised and a smile beginning.
‘Hello, Annie.’ Hugh leaned over the bench and peered into the darkness. ‘What on earth are you doing?’
‘Trying to get my undies out of the bushes.’
‘Right.’ James let fly a cackle of laughter.
‘They blew off my balcony upstairs.’ Something cracked and the oleanders shuddered. ‘Bugger! Ouch.’
‘Hang on, I’ll get a broom and a torch.’ Hugh headed for the laundry. Females in the shrubbery retrieving their undies? What on earth went on upstairs? Sounded as though whatever it was might be fun. Well worth a rescue effort.
Annie pulled a twig and a few leathery leaves from her hair while she waited. Good idea, a torch. She hadn’t thought of that. Oleanders were poisonous? Was that true? Which bits? Minutes later the dark figures of two men swung around the corner with a broom, the torch and broad grins.
‘Where are they?’
Annie pointed. The other one, with the stronger English accent, squinted up into the darkness and pinpointed her wayward knickers in a strong beam. ‘Mmm. Very nice.’
His mate poked with the broom and down came Victoria’s pink and black Secret. Annie pounced and stuffed them into her jeans pocket.
‘Thanks very much.’
‘Our pleasure,’ said the Englishman. He held out his hand. ‘Hugh Clelland.’
‘Annie Fisher.’ His grip was firm; from what she could see in the gloom he was relatively young with a tousle of dark hair and looked at her with more than a hint of interest. No prizes for guessing what he was thinking based on a glimpse of sexy lingerie.
The friend said, ‘James Clelland.’
‘Are you brothers?’ Different accents, similar builds and dark hair.
‘Cousins,’ said James. ‘Would you like to come in for a drink? Hugh was just opening a bottle of wine.’ Wow! Victoria’s Secret worked a treat on these two.
‘Sorry. No.’ She flapped her hands. ‘I mean I would but I can’t. My children are upstairs in bed. I can’t leave them alone any longer.’
She started towards the entrance, her turned back hiding the smile at the change her mention of children would make to these would be philanderers. Pity. Sharing a glass of wine would have been neighbourly and fun. She’d done it many times when she was still part of a couple. A couple rotting at the core but still…it hadn’t all been bad. Until the rot spread to the surface.
Annie never thought to use underwear to meet a man, but the trick works on her downstairs neighbour, Hugh. Though he’s a handsome English doctor, Annie wants nothing more than friendship. Luckily, neither does Hugh.
But their friendship is shaken and their resolve tested when Annie’s flatmate, sexy and voracious Leonie, meets Hugh. Annie has no claim on Hugh’s nights, but can she bear to lose him to Leonie? And when Annie’s husband suddenly reappears, will Hugh fight for the family he didn’t know he needed?
Elisabeth is giving away a hardcover of her 2011 Ruby finalist, Instant Family. You can enter by leaving a comment below. This competition is open worldwide and will be drawn on Tuesday August 13, 2013.