Author Spotlight: Georgina Penney…

Welcome to the Author Spotlight, Georgina, and congratulations on the release of ‘Irrepressible You’.

Thank you so much. It’s an absolute honour!

You write warm and funny romance novels, can you please tell us a bit about them?

My favourite books ever are ones that make me smile, cry, and that leave me a little hot and bothered so that’s what I set out to achieve in my writing.

My books are set all over the place but Irrepressible You is based in Fremantle, Western Australia with a bit of London thrown in. It features a lady barber with a penchant for nineteen fifties fashion and a terribly naughty and very sexy British satirist who’s out for someone to write about in his newspaper column.

I loved putting a Brit with an Aussie in this story. I think the Australian vernacular and temperament adds an extra special element to romance. We’re a pretty blunt people and it leaves a lot of room for juicy conflict!

Irrepressible You Cover

You have travelled extensively and lived in some very exotic locations, how has this inspired you as a writer?

Tremendously. Our first big move overseas was to an isolated expatriate compound in Ras Tanura, Saudi Arabia and my husband and I were among a few Australians living there. It didn’t take long to work out how different we were culturally to the Americans living in the compound at the time, not to mention the Saudis outside. The culture shock was huge!  (We shall never speak again of that time I took home-made pumpkin pie to a coffee morning in January and had all the Texan ladies telling me with sympathetic expressions that it wasn’t thanksgiving.) The entire experience left me feeling a little homesick and wanting to write about Australia.

In general though, being an expat made me hyper aware of just how similar we all are at heart, no matter colour race or creed. I think that’s why I gravitated towards romance. Love and laughter are universal, no matter where you go. The most popular books in Saudi Arabia were romances that featured the full old-school bodice-ripper covers and when I moved to my now-home Brunei, I found the same was true here. It was wonderful inspiration.

Your past life (prior to writing) is fascinating, can you give us a brief run down of what you’ve studied and worked as, please?

I’ve done a little of everything! My parents moved around a whole lot when I was a kid so I started working odd jobs on farms at an early age; feeding poddy calves, helping with worming, lambing, milking… all that kind of stuff before heading off to the big smoke to study fine art.

In addition to that, I’ve been a weigh bridge clerk, waitress (only job I was ever fired from… I am totally not cut out for the service industry), a receptionist, an administrator, a graphic designer, a web designer, the registrar of a naturopathy college. After that I decided university would be a little better and studied Communication and Cultural Studies and then headed off to UWA to do a PHD in Peak Oil, which I escaped by moving to Saudi Arabia with my husband in 2007. Oh, in there was also study and work in psychotherapy and hypnotherapy that started in my early twenties. I know I’ve probably missed something out here but that’s the bulk of it!

In all that time you must have met some very interesting people – do they ever make an appearance in your novels?

People watching is my favourite hobby. All of my characters have features or personality traits I’ve “stolen” from someone I know. My book, Irrepressible You, features a heroine, Amy, whose bubbly personality and steel backbone were inspired by one of my dearest friends and my hero Ben… well, he’s an amalgamation of a couple of charming gentlemen I’ve met over the years.

Wherever I go, I try to keep a notebook with me to write down things I overhear or see so I’ll remember them later. As it is, I’ve got about five full notebooks and counting! My most recent note is about the Bruneian gentleman who cuts our lawn wearing, for some undefinable reason, a bright orange wig. It would be a sin not to put him in a book at some stage.

You are currently living on the edge of the Bornean jungle – how’s the internet connectivity there?

“Dire!” We were under half a foot of water from torrential rain all January and landslides took out a bunch of wires and cables near the capital city, Bandar Seri Begawan. It’s left me with the kind of internet speed that old-school dial-up would sneer at. Mice on tiny treadmills could run the internet faster.

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You’ve described yourself as ‘incredibly pedantic’, does that mean you are a plotter or a panster?

I’m a total pantser but a total nit-picker when it comes to editing. I usually like to write my first draft then sit it for a couple of months before editing, repeating that process at least four or five times before I’m even vaguely happy with things. There’s a lot of swearing involved and a considerable amount of alternating wine and caffeine!

Can you please tell us about your path to publication? Is there anything you wish you’d known sooner?

When I moved to Brunei nearly 5 years ago, I was in the position of choosing expat wife coffee mornings or trying to write a book and I chose the book.

I did a bit of research and came up with a three-year plan. I’d write three first-draft manuscripts the first year, edit them the next and then see about publication after that. That’s pretty much all I did. Oh, I’m an inveterate procrastinator so I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t join any writing groups or go on Facebook or Twitter until I had all three done.

I then did a little more research, found out I had to get pro-edited if I wanted a shot at things, did that and then started submitting to American agents. Eighty rejection letters later, I had a very lovely agent tell me that my writing wasn’t so much the problem. The problem was that I’d written chick lit set in Australia, which was already a tough sell (at the time) as all people wanted during that period were sexy toothy vampires with mighty attributes or cowboys (with mighty attributes). With that news, I decided to try submitting to Australian publishers and was lucky enough to get offers from both Destiny and Escape, resulting in a three book deal with Destiny.

If I could do it over again, I think I would have started from the beginning with Australian publishers. Everyone is so professional and friendly!

Your blog is called ‘Steamy Puddings’. How did you come up with that name?

It was borne out of my love of all things dodgy in old school romance, including the covers where the heroines looked like they were being given the old Heimlich by Fabio, their “steamy puddings” were bursting out of their bodices for the masses to see.

And finally, could you please give us a sneaky peek excerpt from ‘Irrepressible You’?

“What do you think her deal is?” Alex Crane asked over the heavy roar of rain hitting the canvas awning covering the Norfolk Pub’s convict-built limestone beer garden.

Ben Martindale idly played with the packet of Gitanes he’d just placed on the ale-polished table in front of him while covertly studying the lady in question, who appeared to be the end product of an improbable romantic liaison between a Kewpie Doll and a fifties Barbie.

Her artfully curled platinum hair was pulled into a high ponytail that framed apple-cheeked features, and her rather delectable little body was decked out in a cinched waist red and white polka dot dress, red cardigan and black patent leather heels. In the dimly lit surrounds, she stood out like a rare bird of paradise lost in a penguin exhibit.

If Ben and Alex were prudent men, they’d take all that red as one of nature’s warning signals, but Ben had always been fascinated by things that didn’t quite fit—in fact, he’d made it his business—and Alex… well, Alex was full to the brim of that unique blind optimism possessed by a certain brand of Yank who travels abroad. As far as Ben knew, there was no known cure.

“Twenty dollars says she’s in the theatre,” Ben replied in clipped British tones, allowing himself a smirk at Alex’s instant censoring frown.

“I don’t know man, the fifties look is in. A lot of girls dress like that.”

“I must have been experiencing momentary blindness.” He poured himself a glass of a passable Cabernet Sauvignon, absorbing its earthy aroma, and leaned a little further back in his chair, projecting the boneless placidity of a big cat at rest. “She’s certainly not taking advantage of the attention she’s getting.”

“The sailors?” Alex looked around the outdoor bar, which was currently infested with an entire battleship’s worth of American sailors on shore leave, some in uniform, some in civvies, all on the prowl. Or as on the prowl as they could be clustered around a bevy of upright outdoor heaters spaced at random. Over the past hour or so, Ben and Alex had watched as they’d approached the lady in packs of twos or threes. Without fail, they’d all been given a double dimpled smile designed to charm and sent on their merry way.

“Hmm mm.” Ben took another sip of wine.

“She’s free to take advantage of me.”

“Just remember, Australian women are a tougher breed than the sensitive plants you’re used to. You’re getting yourself to the hospital if she beats you to a pulp. I prefer my car seats free of blood spatter.” His harsh, bare-knuckle-boxer’s features momentarily took on the menacing aspect the British tabloids had frequently remarked upon of late.

Alex chuckled, his booming, liquid-gold voice almost, but not quite, drowning out the rain. “Why would she do that? I love Aussie women. They love me too.”

“I know. Too much. Have I told you how little sleep I managed last night thanks to your stellar full volume performance with… Susan?”

“Sarah.”

Ben waved a hand dismissively. “Forgive me. Sarah. When I said mi casa es tu casa, I didn’t mean you and whatever banshee you pick up after your show. And I certainly didn’t request the encore performance, either.”

Alex shrugged unapologetically. “Is it my fault you brought a place with amazing acoustics?” He narrowed his eyes at the cigarette Ben had just tapped out of the packet and lit on autopilot. “Put that out or you’re a dead man. They screw with my vocal chords.”

“I know,” Ben said with a wicked grin, but stubbed his cigarette out on the bottom of his brown Italian loafer without taking a puff. He’d quit seven months ago and only carried the French cigarettes around out of habit. They were long past stale. He’d throw them out one of these days. Not yet, but one of these days.

“You coming tomorrow?” Alex asked, casually belying the fact he was referring to a sell-out performance of Pagliacci. Opera Australia had paid an obscene amount to lure him across the Pacific to play the lead, Canio, and they were getting their money’s worth if last night’s packed house was any indication. Alex possessed the heady combination of pretty-boy Filipino-American features, a golden voice and the grace of Astaire. In everything but hair color, he was the opposite of Ben, who couldn’t sing for shit, had the features of a hardened criminal and used his tongue to wield words like weapons, usually for comic effect but sometimes for the hell of it.

“Of course. How else will I be able to tell you what you did wrong?” Ben’s smirk transformed to a scowl as Alex leveled a punch at his shoulder. “Bastard. That’s my writing arm you know.”

“You don’t need it.”

“I bloody well do.”

“Just phone your column in.”

“How about you phone your performance in tomorrow? Oh just wait, you always do,” Ben shot back, only to see his friend hadn’t caught the dig. Instead Alex’s attention had been snared by the little blonde again.

Ben sighed. “Can you be a little more obvious? You’re looking at her like she’s a postman’s leg and you’re an amorous Labrador. Down, Fido.”

Alex ignored him, his expression turning thoughtful. “You know… I’m gonna go for it.”

“At your own risk. What do you think you’re going to achieve? Well, other than being thoroughly humiliated when she sends you packing?” He returned his gaze to the lady in question, who was currently peering at a small handheld mirror and wielding a tube of lipstick with the precision of a Dutch Master. He had to admit he was just as intrigued as his friend. His fingers twitched in the way they always did when he sensed a good story about to unfold. “And please make this amusing. I do have a word count to fill for next week.”

Alex ignored him, his broad brow puckered in a pensive frown. He was obviously working out what he was going to say to impress the lady, which was both ridiculous and rather endearing. Given Alex’s appearance, success and celebrity, he should have all the confidence in the world; still, he remained stubbornly oblivious to his own appeal. Ben, on the other hand, knew he was a charming bastard when he wanted to be and rarely questioned his attractiveness to the opposite sex.

“Watch and learn.” Alex pushed back his chair, then sauntered with painstakingly deliberate nonchalance over to the woman’s table.

Thank you for taking part in our Author Spotlight!

It was my absolute pleasure!

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14 Comments

  1. Hi Georgina! Congratulations on the release of “Irrepressible You”. I love the sound of your heroine and can’t wait to read her story.

    Reply
  2. Thanks so much Louise:) I appreciate the encouragement. This whole launch thing is all a little scary!

    Reply
  3. Hi Georgina, Congratulations on your 3 book deal with Destiny. Love your three-year plan and congrats for sticking to it. I had a delicious Spaghetti Bolognese along with a nice red in the Norfolk Pub beer garden in August when I was over for the conference. Great atmosphere! Can’t wait to read IRREPRESSIBLE YOU! Best wishes:)

    Reply
    • Alison, I’m so jealous:) I super miss living in Perth. Thanks so much for the lovely compliments. Jennifer, Thanks so much! I’m really looking forward to getting down to Australia for the conference and meeting everyone again.

      Reply
  4. Congrats on the release of Irrepressible You! Sounds brilliant! Fantastic that you have a 3-book deal with Destiny. They are such a wonderful group to work with. I hope we catch up again soon in person.

    Reply
  5. I love the excerpt and great to learn more about you Miss Georgina.

    Reply
  6. Cath Evans

     /  February 11, 2014

    Hello Georgina,
    Oh, you write like me – dirty draft, much hiding it away, then much cursing and swearing during editing. Thank goodness someone else is that crazy too 🙂

    Good luck with your story. And don’t stress, people will love it!

    Cath xox

    Reply
  7. Rhyll Biest

     /  February 11, 2014

    NOW I know where those Steamy Puddings come from. I thought it was a food thing!

    Reply
  8. Venetia Green

     /  February 11, 2014

    Awesome excerpt, Georgina! Loved it.

    Reply
  9. Great interview! Can’t wait to read Irrepressible You. 🙂

    Reply
  10. Thanks so much guys:)

    Reply
  11. I can’t wait to read this book, and I adore the cover! Congratulations Georgina.

    Reply
  12. Congratulations Georgina! I can’t wait to read ‘Irrepressible You’!

    Reply

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