I originally wrote this piece for Book Muster Down Under. It's a great blog, so head over for great romance content.
A Sense of Place: I love writing romance. One of the things I love most about writing it is finding the perfect setting, and I’m not only talking about pretty or interesting backdrops but locations that shine a little light on the characters, help their stories unfold.
Many of my romances feature an heiress or a billionaire, and with that kind of amazing wealth, you need to sketch a gloriously glitzy setting, one that is luxurious, glamorous, international. But sometimes a certain spot, a view, a walk by a river under a sheet of blue sky or a piece of beautiful architecture seen against a setting sun, will be the very thing that inspires the idea for a story.
My first novel, The Convenient Bride, was inspired by a trip to Venice where I was entranced and moved almost to tears to see so many gorgeous but decaying historic buildings crumbling into the canals. If I were as rich as the characters in my stories, I would have purchased one on the spot and have it restored to its former glory. Long after leaving Venice, its tragic beauty continued to haunt my dreams and so I set The Convenient Bride there, with one of those Venetian gothic buildings playing a special part in the plot.
Being under the hot and harsh spotlights on a reality TV show was the experience that sparked the idea for Seducing the Secret Heiress. I took part in the Australian version of Dragon’s Den and the call for ‘action’ alone was enough to raise your heart rate. Add judges, camera close-ups and a demanding Director, for an experience that was unbearably intense, yet exhilarating. I thought this pressure-cooker environment would make good fodder for a sexy romance. Not to mention that much can happen in a dressing room and those dressing rooms have mirrors, which adds a whole new dimension to a scene.
Parts of Seducing the Secret Heiress take the reader to London. I lived in that amazing city for seven years. The seasons, the parks, the history, the pubs, the incredible mix of people who live there, left an indelible impression. Actually, London pops up a few times in my novels and one day I’d love to live there again. Who knows?
The Love Deception was inspired by my days working in the top end of town in Melbourne – think high-rise corporate offices with stunning views across the city, suits with high heels and stockings, business-class travel, luxury hotels. My heroine didn’t have a chance spending all those long stressful hours locked away in legal meetings with her hot boss in his private office.
A few scenes in The Love Deception are based on the terrifying experience of living through the remnants of a hurricane in North Carolina. A scary night! I’ll never forget the noise. My hero and heroine are in Barbados when they find themselves in the eye of the storm, literally and figuratively. They are only on the island for a very short time before nature unleashes itself and the hurricane hits. Of course I had them return to the island later in the book so they could enjoy everything this tropical paradise had to offer when a category five storm wasn’t causing mayhem. (It’s nice as an author to give your characters a reward when they have worked so hard to deserve happiness).
The core idea for the The Billionaire’s Pursuit of Love popped into my head after attending a seminar dedicated to saving the world’s Orangutans. The wildlife workers lived in very basic conditions, working in the mud, rain and heat to ‘mother’ the vulnerable baby Orangutans until they could look after themselves – a little like nurturing human babies. When I read an article about a man worth millions who’d designed one of the world’s most successful computer games, I wondered what it would be like if these two people from incredibly different worlds were brought together through a twist of fate that just wouldn’t let them go.
My latest release, Tempted by the Billionaire Tycoon, was inspired by a trip to a health retreat, an experience that gave me my heroine’s profession. Another trip to France and the UK inspired the lavish, deeply romantic locations in Tempted. Each time I visit Paris I fall under its spell – again. Seeing Versailles for the first time left me in awe of the beauty and romance of France, its history and great art. My heroine, Poppy, feels this too when she visits France for the first time. My billionaire hero of course has seen it all before, but it feels that little bit different now he is with Poppy!
At the moment I’m busy conjuring up my new billionaire novel. The hero and heroine are having a tortured time in a gorgeous old stately home in the UK, complete with a beautiful secret garden. That locked walled garden plays an integral role in the twists and turns in the story.
I hope they both find the key!