Welcome to the Author Spotlight, Sarah, and congratulations on the recent release of ‘Miss Spelled ’! Can you give us the blurb, please?
Lou’s life is perfect. She loves her job, her renovated house, and most of all, her gorgeous fiancé, Aidan. But when her old flame and Aidan’s school yard nemesis turn out to be the same person, Hunter Wincott, Lou’s life is blown apart. She must divulge her secret past, or have Hunter give it away. Either way, she runs the real risk of losing Aidan.
In desperation, she turns to Google. A quick search turns up Majique, the Internet Witch, and a spell that will delete herself from Hunter’s memory. But something goes wrong in the casting process, and Lou deletes much more than just a memory. She deletes herself from her life completely.
Luckily, there’s a one-week window for Lou to get back to the life she loved. One week to win back Aidan, before he walks down the aisle with the wrong woman and ruins their shared dream of happiness. It would be easy, if only Aidan had any idea who Lou actually is.
What is ‘magical realism romance’?
I like the name Romagic Comedy. Not quite paranormal, not quite fantasy, this genre believes that magic is a part of the every day, and that there’s more to our lives than can be explained. It may involve time travel, casting a spell, imaginary friends, making a wish- it’s when extraordinary things happen to ordinary people in the world as we know it.
What is it about that particular genre attracts you as a writer?
The first book I read in the Romantic Comedy genre was Jenny Colgan’s ‘Do You Remember the First Time?’ It was about a woman who was dissatisfied with her perfectly organised life and woke to find herself a teenager again. Except she didn’t get to travel back to her own time as a teen (the 80’s) she had to survive being a teen in modern day. It was a great read and had me laughing out loud, while relating to many the issues she faced. I decided then that if I ever wrote a book (because everyone is going to write a book!), it was going to be in that genre.
How do you go about researching magical elements for your novels?
Google! So far I’ve researched time travel, imaginary friends and magic spells and it’s been great fun. I’ve learnt all kinds of stuff about moon phases, when to cast spells, when not to cast spells, theories of time travel, and the psychological / supernatural explanation for imaginary friends. It’s good to have an open mind. I am a believer in all sorts of things we can’t see or explain, so I find it quite fascinating and can bury myself in research for far too long.
What does your writing space look like?
I don’t have one at the moment. I use either the dining table, the outdoor dinner table, or my eldest son’s homework desk – depending on where I feel like sitting at the time. But no matter where I sit, my trusty Golden Retriever, Arrow is always sitting next to me. He’s my four legged muse.
What would we find on your bookshelf or e-reader?
An eclectic mix of authors – Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole series is a favourite, as is the Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson. I also love Shari Low, Georgina Penney, Lily Malone, Jenny Colgan, Maeve Binchy, and loads of craft books.
How do you manage your time between work, family and writing?
I am a great time manager. I divide things into what I can do with kids around, and what I can’t do with kids around. For instance, most of my writing time is sans kids. All housework is done when the kids are home. I work for my hubby one day a week and spend the rest of the time chasing after our four sons, cooking, cleaning, baking, etc – they do loads of sports so I am really more of a taxi driver nowadays!
Can you tell us about your current works in progress?
My current WIP, which is still nameless, is a contemporary story with romantic elements. It did start off as a story about an imaginary friend, however I decided to remove him and focus on a non-magical book for a change. I intend it to be the first one in a series of three or four books centred around the members of one family. The imaginary friend will appear in my next romagic comedy book instead.
What does the future hold for Sarah Belle?
The immediate future holds nearly two months of school holidays – so not much writing will get done there! My goal is to extend into the women’s fiction with romantic elements market, while still writing romagic comedy. Next year my youngest will start school, so I am returning to University to study English and Creative Writing, and am very excited about that new chapter in my life.
Could you give us a sneaky peek at one of your favourite parts of ‘Miss Spelled’, please?
Absolutely! In this scene Lou has stalked her ex boyfriend, Hunter Wincott to his hotel in the hope of him agreeing not to divulge their romantic past to her fiancé, Aiden. Hunter and Aiden are enemies from boarding school and so have a long history together. Lou is convinced that if Aiden is made aware of her past, he will cancel their engagement.
My nerves get the better of me and I turn to walk away. This was a stupid idea. Aiden needs to know the truth, no matter the cost. Honesty has to be the best way to go.
My mobile launches out of my sweaty hand and drops to the floor. None of my fingers seem to be working, my nerves are shot and eyes blurry with tears as I bend down to pick it up.
The voice is unmistakeable, although the north London accent has thickened since our last conversation eleven years ago.
“Lou, is that you?” he asks again.
I look at the expensive men’s shoes in front of me, all the way up the exquisite woollen suit, to the incredibly handsome face at the top. Those sapphire eyes, thick black glossy lashes and slightly olive complexion. He’s still a sexpot.
He crouches down on his haunches and places one strong, warm hand on my elbow. A shiver flashes through my body as though he is a live charge plugged into me. With the other hand he picks up the phone.
“Is this yours?” He smiles the same smile that seduced me all those years ago. The same smile that probably seduces countless other women as well. When you’re onto a good thing…
“Ah, um…yes. Thank you, Hunter,” I stammer. “What a coincidence!” My smile feels lopsided and a manufactured giggle catches in my throat.
He helps me back up to a standing position and leaves his hand on my elbow, his current still passing through my body. A huge void has developed between my brain and mouth. All I can do is stare and feel myself overheat, almost forgetting the reason for my journey here.
His eyes run all over my body as he puts the other hand on my arm and looks at me as though my body is a fine piece of artwork he is thinking of acquiring, just trying to figure out which room it would look best in.
“Lou,” he says in the deep voice that is an aphrodisiac in itself. “You look good enough to eat…slowly.”
Yep, he still has the touch. All the moisture in my mouth evaporates and reappears under my armpits.
Hunter takes a step closer and I feel my body being enveloped in his strong, thick arms, the kind of arms that appear on the cover of romance novels. As tall as Aiden, but broader and stronger in frame, like a rugby player. I can feel every contour of his athletic body beneath his shirt. Momentarily, it’s not possible to remember my own name. It’s as though it was yesterday we were together.
He takes a small step backwards, enough so that we are no longer embracing but still in each other’s personal space.
“I can’t tell you how often I’ve thought of you over the years. How are you?” he says.
I clear my throat and tell my heart to slow down, and my loins to stop quivering.
“I’m good, great in fact. Thanks. And you?”
“Life has treated me very well. What a coincidence to meet you here. Do you have time for a drink, dinner perhaps?”
I check my watch to make it look as though I have something planned. It’s past nine o’clock.
“A very late dinner?” Hunter asks and then gives me the smile that no sane woman can resist.
“Just you and me. I’ll organise it.” He waves over the concierge, who scurries towards us. “A table set up in my suite, fresh seafood for two. Make sure there’s an icy bottle of Krug Vintage waiting. An eighty-eight if you have it.”
“Yes sir, very good.”
Hunter turns back to me and smiles. Should I run out the foyer and flee for my life, or stay and run the risk of being charmed to death, especially in his room of all places. He was like a magician when it came to bedrooms. One wave of his warm hand and my panties used to disappear.
“What about the restaurant?” I say. “Can’t we eat there?”
“Are you afraid you won’t be able to resist me, Lou?” he smiles.
Sarah Belle started her professional life in the hospitality industry, working in some of the roughest hotels in Melbourne in the late Eighties, surrounded by drug dealers, prostitutes, pimps, and undercover police. Tiring of the inherent dangers of her working environment, Sarah completed a business degree and went on to work in the recruitment industry where she met and married the man of her dreams. They have four young sons and live on the beautiful Queensland coast, where Sarah’s days are spent being a frazzled mum, writer, Bikram Yoga devotee, a Naughty Ninja and the only woman in a house of five males.
On a separate note, this will be my last post as the Author Spotlighter. After nearly two years of writing the spotlight the time has come for me to focus on my University studies, family and writing. Many thanks to all the wonderful authors who have appeared on the Spotlight during my time here. I have made so many new friends within this community thanks to the volunteering opportunity the RWA provided. Wishing you all a peace filled Christmas and a New Year full of love, laughter and light. xxx