Welcome to Coffee Time Romance. My name is Venus, and I am thrilled to be speaking with you today. Thank you for taking the time to be interviewed as I'm sure your fans will enjoy learning a little bit more about you.
Thank you for having me, Venus!
From your Author's note it looks like you did some research into the original Pandora's legend. Does research play a big part in your writing?
I wouldn't say research plays a huge part in my writing, but it certainly plays a part. I do a bit of research as I go. I absolutely love history - I studied it at university - so I thoroughly enjoyed researching the myth of Pandora for my erotic romance, Pandora's Gift, and finding out there are so many different versions of her story. It was a matter of choosing the version that fit best with the intriguing creature who was already making herself known in my head!
In my first published story, Seducing Serena (Secrets Volume 28), I had to research boats and hot air balloons, so that was a bit of fun, too. My hero, Nick, owned and lived on a yacht, and he and Serena took a hot air balloon ride, something I've never done but that is definitely on my 'to do' list.
What is a typical writing day for you?
Hmm. I don't think there is a typical writing day, unfortunately. In my perfect world, I would probably drop the kids at school, come home for a leisurely breakfast, then write for 3 or 4 hours before taking a walk, picking up the kids and getting on with family life. Then another hour or two of writing in the evening.
The reality is, I'm a single working mum with two teenagers who train and compete at national level in their chosen sport (diving) which therefore requires a lot of time commitment from all of us. I have a day job in a hospital - I coordinate seminars for mental health professionals, and until recently I also ran an internet costume business. If I'm lucky I fit in about an hour of writing at night - usually about 11pm when the children are asleep and all the chores are done. It is really hard to make time to write, but when I don't write it just doesn't feel good, so I know I have to make the time, no matter what. Hence the late nights!
How do you balance your family life and your writing career?
With great difficulty! I think one of the problems writers face is that family and friends don't necessarily see your writing as a career. They see it more as a hobby with the possible bonus of getting published. And of course, hobbies should always be pushed to the bottom of the list, shouldn't they? NO!! It takes quite a bit of effort to remind (or convince) people that you can't meet them for lunch or pop out to see the latest movie, because you are writing. And yes, it is a job!
Are any other of your family members artistic?
Yes, my youngest daughter is a fantastic artist - she blows me away with her drawings, actually, and my eldest daughter is pretty darn good at stringing words together and creating great stories.
When you get the thought of a story, is it more like there is someone or something that pushes at you until you give in and sit down to write or is it just a random thought that you have from seeing something happen in everyday life?
It could be either, really. I get ideas from things I see or hear in real life, read in a magazine or newspaper, or just from a random thought that grows and develops without much effort of my part. The idea for Seducing Serena came when I heard an acquaintance say he'd met someone on the internet who had interviewed men for the position of lover. The idea of why someone would treat romance in such a business-like manner intrigued me, and Serena came to life in my head. It is usually the hero or heroine who make themselves known to me first, and the first scene which plays out in my head, and it is at that point that I sit down and start to write. I never plot any further ahead than that, as my characters are the ones who take me on the journey, not the other way around.
If you could describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
That's too hard. Oops, that's three words already! Ok, I'll try again. Proud, stubborn, determined. It's the last one that got me published, I think. I was absolutely determined not to stop writing until I got published. Only took me 20 years! Now that I have both Pandora's Gift and Seducing Serena out in the same 12 month period, it becomes about the next story. There are no guarantees, but I am still determined to get the next one finished and published. We'll see how I go with that!
What song would best describe you/your life?
I think different songs apply at different times. At present, I love Katie Melua's Call Off The Search album. Her music seems particularly appropriate to this moment in my life! My partner and I are about to set up house together - second time around for each of us, so it is very scary but exciting!
If you won a million dollars, what would you do with it?
I was just having that same discussion with a friend the other day! What we'd do if... Hmm. After scoffing down some champagne (Dom Perignon - never had it, love to try it!), I'd pay off my mortgage, set up a fund for my children, give some to my mum and sisters to make their lives a bit easier. Go on a holiday to North Queensland (Palm Cove or Port Douglas would be nice), buy a car (red, I think), and, on the more serious side, give some to the National Heart Foundation in honour of my dad, who died at 38 of heart disease.
When writing your description of your hero/ine what feature do you mainly start with? Eyes, age, hair color, etc?
Eyes and hair are probably the first things I think of in relation to their physical appearance. Eyes in particular are what I notice first about people, so it is very important to get that right in the sense of matching physical appearance to personality. And it is not necessarily just about color. Pandora, for example, is described by Flint as having big, strangely colored eyes that have no end to them, eyes that draw him in and strip him bare. So her eyes, without even mentioning color, become almost a metaphor for the effect their meeting will have on his life.
On average which of your characters get the best lines and why, hero, heroine, baddie, sidekick, etc.
I try and give my heroines the best lines, because in real life I always think of really good lines about an hour too late for the situation. It gives me a feeling of power to be able to have those clever words coming out of my heroine's mouth. I can pretend its me!
What in your opinion makes good chemistry between your leading characters?
You definitely need that instant spark of physical attraction, but you also need a lot more than that. You need two people who are going to give something to the other, something that perhaps is lacking within themselves, and that they could never get as completely from anyone else. Serena and Nick. Or Pandora and Flint. As a reader I think you need to know that there is something special about this hero and heroine that means they couldn't have the same relationship, or the same spiritual and emotional growth, with anyone other than the particular person they've been paired with. On my website I talk about the importance of an emotional connection beyond the pheromones, and I truly believe that all great romances have a balance of the physical and the emotional. One without the other, well it's just not romance, is it?
What is your writing process? Do you outline, fly by the seat of your pants or a combination of both?
Definitely seat of the pants. My characters take me on the journey. And sometimes, I find that even though I want my hero or heroine to do one thing, my fingers are typing something completely different. Its a constant tug of war between me and my characters. They always win, of course.
Do you use mood music, candles, no noise, when you write?
I much prefer no noise when I'm actually writing, but I love listening to music and having perfumed candles at other times. Because I have such a busy life, I love those rare writing moments when it is so peaceful I can hear the ticking of the clock, my cat purring, or the birds in the tree outside. And no children, traffic or TV in the background!
What do you feel is the most important aspect for all new authors to remember when writing or creating their own stories?
Absolutely and without a doubt, don't give up. The other piece of advice that I was given a few years ago was not to try and write too much at once. Do a little bit every day, even if it is only 15 or 20 minutes at a time, and eventually you will have a finished manuscript. That is how I wrote Seducing Serena, my first published story - while the children were watching TV after school each day, I would have 25 minutes to write before they clambered for attention again. It can be done! I did it twice, and I'm in the process of doing it a third time (in between packing to move house this time round!).
Any advice for aspiring authors?
Be true to yourself. By that, I mean - don't write a particular way because you think it might fit a particular publisher. Write your own story, in your own words, with your own voice, and then look for a publisher who might fit what you've written. Not the other way around.
Please introduce us to the main characters in "Pandora's Gift".
Flint McCallum is a man on the edge of darkness. He has returned from the Middle East to start a new life with his teenage son, but the memories of conflict are too strong and the rage in his heart threatens to destroy everything he touches. Even his relationship with his son. Thirty-one year old Pandora Paige is an artistic free spirit with a mystical gift. She offers a helping hand to troubled souls to guide them out of the dark and towards hope. These two are such polar opposites, but when they come together it creates a blaze of passion that, left to burn, could be dangerous for both. I love the juxtaposition of light and dark, and the blurring of those edges for these incredible characters in a world where we all know it is never as simple as black and white. There are always shades of grey.
Flint has a pretty dark streak -- are all your heroes on the less than bright side?
No doubt about it, I am definitely drawn to dark heroes. Two of my favorites at the moment are Jericho Barrons and V'lane in Karen Marie Moning's Fever series. Dark and incredibly hot! I think the idea of the hero's possible redemption through the love of the heroine manages to make its way into most of my writing. If the hero is good and kind and not in need of redemption, where's the spice in that? And the possibility of danger in love making - that knife edge balance where passion might...just might...turn to violence, always ups the ante when I'm reading. So when I wrote Pandora's Gift, with my dark and tortured Flint at the heart of the story, I knew that he would struggle with that dark side. And I love him for it! I also knew he needed someone strong enough to cope with that edge of darkness - physically, emotionally and spiritually. Pandora really fits the bill, don't you think?
What's new for you in the near future?
I'm moving house in two weeks, so we are very busy packing right now, but once we settle in there is a built-in study nook, with a little window that looks out over a peaceful view of trees. Perfect writing space. And I'll be able to get on and finish those works in progress. I have three new erotic romance novellas in various stages of completion, and I'm keen to try my hand at a longer piece of work after that. I can't imagine not writing. So that will always be in my future - near or far!
Where can fans find out more about you? Blog? Facebook? Website? Twitter etc?
Fans and anyone interested can find me:
Twitter | Facebook
And if that's not enough, I have an author page at my favorite (of course!) erotic romance publisher, Red Sage Publishing
Thank you so much for giving me your time and letting your fans at Coffee Time Romance get to know you.
Thank you, Venus, and thank you Coffee Time Romance. (I'm a huge fan of romance and coffee - what a perfect combination!)