Duo Magazine

What does ‘success’ mean to you?

You know, this keeps changing. Before I was published, having a book accepted was my burning obsession, but then that wasn’t enough. I wanted to hear glowing comments from readers, to win awards and make bestseller lists. Now, with those achievements behind me, I’m looking more at the big picture of my life and I know that friendship and family are more important than any career. However, I’m not feeling jaded about my writing. I still wait with baited breath when I send in a manuscript and I still get excited when the author copies of my books arrive in the post. I try to make each book better than the last and always, always, I hope to touch readers’ hearts. That’s the success I secretly crave.

What do you get sentimental about or what always makes you teary?

Maybe it’s because I’m a former teacher and a mum, but I always get choked up when I see children trying really, really hard at something, especially when they’re en masse –in choirs, ballet class, on the soccer field … that intense concentration and innate desire to please adults and to ‘get it right’ touches me every time.

Where do you get inspiration for your Mills & Boons romances?

Well… when you’re accepted as a Mills and Boon author the editors implant special sensors in your brain… No seriously, I think I do keep my antennae on full alert for anything remotely suitable for a romance story. I get my ideas from everywhere… images I see in real life, pictures, music, lines from songs, newspaper stories. I was sitting at the end of the Magnetic Island jetty once, and I saw this gorgeous, tall, dark and handsome man coming off the ferry, carrying a baby doll… A baby doll! Why? I wanted to know and my imagination kicked in and supplied possible answers. That’s how an idea might be born, but the image might sit on the back burner for months, even years, before it grows into a fully realized story.

What’s the most romantic thing that’s happened to you in real life?

My husband is wonderfully romantic. Every day in little ways he shows me how much he loves me. And not just with kisses and cuddles – he cooks dinner and helps with housework and reads my manuscripts, even brainstorms story ideas when I’m stuck. He’s my perfect partner. We’ve had our share of ups and downs and worries, but our life still feels like an adventure and I find that very romantic.

If you had to pick one life event that’s changed you the most, what would it be and how has it changed you?

I think I’d have to say that the phone call from the Mills and Boon editor in London was the most exciting moment of my life. It was Friday the thirteenth, and I was preparing the evening meal and the whole family was dancing around me while I tried to take in the news. I couldn’t stop smiling for a week. I’d worked so hard, had suffered rejections and I wanted to become an author so – so much. It changed how I felt about myself, because I’ve never been brimming with confidence, but I knew how many thousands of manuscripts were submitted for publication every year and mine was one of the very few selected. And they wanted more! I honestly felt as if I’d found what I was meant to do with my life.

What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken lately?

Leaving the security of my full time teaching job felt risky. There are lots of uncertainties in a writing career and I felt as if I’d pushed off from the shore without a mooring rope. But I also knew that if I wanted to succeed as a writer, I had to throw all my energy into it. Luckily, my husband fully supported my decision. His faith in my abilities helped to calm the doubt devils and now I love my life as a full time author.

What’s the strangest dream you’ve had in a while?

For some reason I still have the occasional dream that I’ve had another baby, which is completely weird considering that I’m a grandmother past my conceive-by date and I have four grown up children. But I’ve heard that dreams about pregnancy are closely tied to creativity and I’m always giving birth to new characters and stories, so perhaps it’s not so surprising.

What’s your most embarrassing moment?

In high school, I sent a boy a handmade Valentine's Day card. I was embarrassed from the moment I dropped it in the post, but even more so when he never showed the slightest flicker of recognition, never let on that he received it. I suffered excruciating embarrassment, have never sent or received a Valentine's Day card since. (Woops -- that's a lie. I received a lovely card this week from my editors!!)

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?

 When I was seven years old I received the book “Seven Little Australians” for Christmas. I was immediately swept away, totally enchanted by those characters, enraptured by spirited, naughty Judy and completely, utterly devastated when she died. That book taught me, at a very early age, the power of story to transport a reader into another reality. Stories can teach and inform as well as entertain. Through stories we can experience a wide range of emotions vicariously, safely. Stories have been an important part of my life ever since.

What’s the best thing about being a woman?

 Is there any one best thing? I really love everything girly… clothes, make up, perfume, crying over soppy movies, flowers, gossip, babies … I adore pink! I grew up in a family of girls and so did my mother, so my exposure to boys and men in my childhood was quite limited, I guess. But I remember at any early age being very glad to be a girl and I’ve never changed that opinion. Actually, I think the thing I love best is that I can really appreciate how DIFFERENT guys are! I am fascinated by the physical, mental and emotional disparity between the sexes and I get to write about this wonderful difference every day.
















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