Posts Tagged ‘Australian Heat Week’
Favorite Aussie settings
While I was thinking about a topic for this post, I happened to be on a long weekend holiday with my son in Canberra. Of all our major Aussie cities, I have a particular love for our nation?s capital. It?s drivable (three hours away). It?s a good 10 degrees cooler than home ? always a bonus. And it?s elegant, picturesque and has less cars than any city I?ve ever seen. So what better subject to blog about than Australian setting?
When international readers think of Australia, the outback is probably one of the first things that comes to mind. But this wide, diverse country is so much more than that: from beach to bush, city to snow. Outback to island. And even those can vary ? urban Melbourne shopping versus Brisbane?s laid back coffee culture. Outback Northern Territory compared to Armidale, NSW. And the snow peaks of Jindabyne compared to Mt Hotham.
When I start on a new book, setting is one of the first ideas (besides character) that solidifies for my story. Yet paradoxically, scenery description is one of the last additions: my story is riddled with ?insert bit about scenery here? until the last few weeks of my deadline. Which doesn?t mean ?setting? isn?t something I don?t give deep thought to. Setting not only dictates where to put your characters, but it also defines who they are and how that will react. If they grew up in a small country town, did they love it… Or hate it? Were they born to wealthy city dwellers and live in a high rise? Impoverished trailer-park parents? An army or forces family? Did they have great childhood with good friends? Or did they want to escape the first chance they got?
When done right, setting should enliven and enrich your story, giving your reader an armchair experience they may not get from live cams or Google Earth. When I was a kid, I was part of a ?moving and vacationing family? – we lived in various places around Australia, in small country towns and big working cities . And when we finally settled in one town, we always vacationed interstate, giving us kids a broad exposure to other places and things. As you can imagine, I?ve seen some beautiful country, amazing beaches and unusual natives, so obviously, some of those have found their way into my books! Better yet, writing about places I?ve been, worked, seen or holidayed at means I don?t have to force the words. It also means I?m (hopefully) giving readers a true and accurate account of a place that?s meaningful to me. Here?s just a few of my favorite Aussie places that have seen their way into my books:
As an ex-Sydney worker for over 13 years, it seemed obvious to set my first book, Forgotten Marriage (Desire, September 2007), in places I know intimately: the historic The Rocks, Sydney CBD and Coogee Beach. With my second book, Boardrooms & A Billionaire Heir (Desire, May 2008), Sydney again became a major feature. And in The Magnate?s Baby Promise (Desire, July 2009), my hero?s apartment was smack-bang in Circular Quay, right next door to the Sydney Opera House. Not to ignore the other states, my current WIP (one of the ?Outback Billionaires and Babies? mini-series, June 2010) is partly set in Canberra.
In particular, Surfers Paradise (Queensland). Family vacations wouldn?t have been complete without an annual trip up to Surfers, Currumbin Bird Sanctuary www.cws.org.au and Seaworld. http://seaworld.myfun.com.au/ In one of my WIPs, I have my hero, Zac Prescott (Cal?s step brother from The Magnate?s Baby Promise), living and working in Surfers Paradise with my heroine, Emily. For another WIP, my heroine resides in the very aptly named Runaway Bay; in another, my hero plans to seduce the heroine at his private Whitsundays island. And in yet another story, my heroine lives in the Central NSW coastal town of The Entrance.
Canberra from Telstra Tower
If I jump in the car, I can be in the bush in around 20 minutes or less. However, my local bush is much different to, say, Victoria?s. Or on the drive down to Canberra ? or across to Dubbo, in Sydney?s far west. So having my heroine in The Magnate?s Baby Promise own a B&B in a small outback country town meant I had to go on a research trip. (note to self: next time, DO NOT DRIVE if accompanied by small impatient child. Take a plane).
Eventually, I?m hoping to use all those other great places I?ve seen around the world, but for now, Australia is still (and probably will always be!) a great source of genuine authentic flavor. Which brings me to my question to you all ? do you have a favorite setting you like to read about? And authors, I?m curious ? have you ever written about a setting you haven?t actually visited?
BIO: British-born, Aussie bred, Paula?s thrilled to be a first-time finalist in RWA?s www.romanceaustralia.com Romantic Book of the Year Award with Boardrooms & A Billionaire Heir. Her latest, The Magnate?s Baby Promise is out now. You can visit her at www.paularoe.com
How does being Australian influence my writing?
You know what? I have no idea. A question like that is like asking a person ?How does being Australian make you who you are?? Its deep, its complex, it?s going to give me a headache ? oh OKAY, maybe that?s the dubious combination of red wine and marshmallows I just consumed ? but you see I?m celebrating. I just finished an extremely feral manuscript; have tamed the beast. Raargh. Ahem. ?Scuse me.
This manuscript is called The Bunker. I?ve struggled with it. It?s a complex plot with very complex characters. I write Romantic Suspense you see, and the poor hero and heroine are trying to fall in lurve whilst defending the world against evil terrorists.
One of my major problems I came across was that I couldn?t get to know the heroine. In the first draft her actions were disjointed, she contradicted herself, she just wouldn?t gel.
The Bunker is set in England. I prefer to write Aussie based stories (why? Because I love this place and it?s a damn fine setting), but key to the manuscript is an old World War II Bunker that becomes the last line of defence against terrorists. The tale had to be set in the UK as Australia has nothing like that – the story just would not work in an Australian context ? and believe me I tried!
Thus the story has English characters (and I?ll point out here that I was born in England, moved here at the age of 11, and have a pommie dad and hubby), and this heroine is keeping me awake at night (which is a bitch of a thing to do to a person ? hell, I have preschoolers). But then, late one night, in a flash of inspiration, I realize that my problem is the heroine isn?t English. Nope. She?s an Aussie.
When I get back to the manuscript it is painfully obvious. She talks like an Aussie, her kick-ass attitude has Aussie all over it, she even walks like an Aussie (oh okaaay, she just walks, but it sounded good eh).
So, do you see?
My Australianness is intrinsically part of who I am, and so the heroines I write are going to reflect this. My writing is going to reflect this. Being Australian does not influence my writing, so much as permeate throughout it.
Good Lawd. I?m having flashbacks to High School English here! If you?d like to visit my blog http://www.caitlynnicholas.blogspot.com then you?ll currently find me musing about the fact my five year olds birthday Barbie looks like a streetwalker (with photo!).
I have two books out with Samhain Publishing. Secret Intentions, which came out in print on 7th July 2009: http://www.mybookstoreandmore.com/shop/product.da/secret-intentions
And Running Scared: http://www.mybookstoreandmore.com/shop/product.da/running-scared
Excerpts and so on are on my website http://www.caitlynnicholas.com (which is OUT OF DATE due to a fire at my webhosting place ? it?s been like that for a week and its driving me NUTS).
Have you ever wondered what it is that inspires so many Australian writers? What is it that gets us so worked up that we are compelled to write stories with hunky heroes and feisty heroines?
I guess a lot of it would definitely come down to our culture and lifestyle. We live in a country where the majority of the population’s past history began life as a Penal Colony. What better reason is there to want to escape to a world of fantasy and romance? And quite frankly, the weather certainly helps. I mean, all that sunshine means lots of SKIN.
However, in my opinion, there are 2 really great reasons why Aussie romance writers are inspired…
1. Hugh Jackman
and 2. Eric Bana
Need I say more?
So tell me…who inspires you?
That happens when a conservative girl attracts the attention of a Master trainer?
Available now from Total-e-bound
(insert this link: http://www.total-e-bound.com/Bondage-and-BDSM/The-Masters-Prize/p-70-431/)
Blog for Selena ? Australian Heat Week!
When Selena invited me to blog about Australia, she suggested I write about how Australia? inspires my writing. I thought about this for a while, and finally decided pretty much everything about Australia inspires me to write.
Let?s take Sydney for example. Wow. What a beautiful city. I live near the coast and every time I walk my dog along the seaside path, I find inspiration for another scene in a book. There?s one particular path on the cliffs above Coogee Beach that haunted me until I put it into a manuscript:
She had to keep walking, had to outpace her guilt. Outwalk her desire. Onward she plowed, almost heedless of the stark beauty of the ragged cliffs that plummeted to the ocean. One foot in front of the other. One breath of air at a time.
Perhaps it was intentional, or perhaps her subconscious directed her there. Whatever the case, Katie found herself heading towards her secret spot. Before her, a well-trodden path led to a panoramic view of the sea. She bypassed it, choosing instead to continue thirty meters on and then slip through a concealed track in the bushes. A minute later Katie stood at the edge of one of the cliffs, hidden from the busy trail, staring down at the waves crashing relentlessly against the rocks below.
On and on the waves moved. Forward and backward, hurtling with a furious strength towards the rock face, smashing over the base of the cliff and then ebbing back to sea. Over and over, never stopping.
Katie sat, wedged herself against a boulder and watched the waves from a safe distance.
Taken from Only Tyler (Circle of Friends, Book One).
Then there are the better known sites of Sydney:
A panoramic view through two enormous corner windows almost bowled Lexi over. It was uninterrupted across the city, over the bridge and onto the North Shore. From where she stood, she could see the ferries gliding past the Opera House and into Circular Quay.
Taken from Ask Adam.
How about traveling through Australia? The first holiday I took when I arrived here was to the beautiful Whitsunday Islands. The instant the plane landed, I knew there was a story waiting to develop:
?I have never seen anything this exquisite.?? Beth?s eyes were full of wonder as she took in the extraordinary beach.? This early in the morning, Whitehaven Beach was deserted.? None of the tourist boats had arrived yet.
Joe agreed.? Although he wasn?t thinking about the dazzling-white sand and crystal-clear water.? His sole focus was on the woman.? Up until last night he?d contemplated going slow, seducing her over time.? Now that he knew she was as hot for him as he was for her, he could not wait a single minute longer.
Temporary relief was all he?d found when he returned to his room the night before.? His hand could never be an adequate substitute for what he?d witnessed.? The only thing that could ease the constant pain in his groin now was Beth.
She knelt down and dug her hand in the sand, watching as the fine grains drizzled through her fingers.? Joe cursed silently.? The next time she dropped to her knees in front of him, it would not be for the purpose of tunneling into sand.
?It?s like powder,? she said in awe, oblivious to his torment.
From this angle he had an incredible view of her cleavage.? The black bikini top covered more than it revealed, but it made her full breasts appear more voluptuous.
Christ, he was horny.? If Beth lifted her head now, she?d come face-to-face with his raging erection.? He twisted his shorts slightly to the left.
?This has to be the most beautiful place on earth.?
Taken from Visiting Paradise in the Boys Down Under Anthology.
And then there?s the Aussie dialect. Lord, you have to love it. Do you have any idea how many times my editor has highlighted words and sentences in my edits and said, ?What on earth is that??
When my heroines? knees turn to jelly, I really mean they turn to jello, not to the fruit spread we put on toast in the morning.
And the doona on the bed? Bet you?re all wondering what the heck that is? It?s the duvet, or the quilt.
Ah, and then there?s my favorite term of all: Mate. I use at least a hundred times in every book. But darn, it is so descriptive, and so indicative of Australia.
And yes, when five Australian authors got together to write the Boys Down Under Anthology we had a good chuckle over the? words and expressions we chose to use. We even slipped a glossary in the back of the book so everyone would understand them. Turns out I was the only one of the five who?d used the word, ?Crikey.? But I had to use it. Steve Irwin had just died, and I felt I owed to him to immortalize him in a word. J
To end of this blog, I?m happy to show off my most recent book covers (for the Circle of Friends series.) I love them because they are a perfect blend of romance, sensuality, and Australia.
Selena, thank you once again for inviting to blog over at your place.
Hi, this is Mikala Ash writing from Port Stephens which is a lovely part of the world on the New South Wales coast, an hour north of Newcastle, and three hours north of Sydney, Australia.
It is winter down here right at the minute, so cold mornings and a bit of rain are the norm, though generally winter in my part of the world is mild and easily survivable compared to other places. I live a stone throw from the Pacific Ocean and so I enjoy the sun, surf and sand like the typical Aussie (when I say winter, I’m still having a morning dip? water temp is a few degrees above air temp, so it is the getting out of the surf that poses the challenge, not getting in!).
Trying to figure out how being an Aussie impacts on my writing is a difficult task. I could say the stereotypical Aussie traits of mateship, a fair go, a healthy skepticism and cynicism about politicians and just about anyone else in charge, a laconic sense of humor, etc etc all play a part. I grew up with those stereotypes so it would be strange if they didn’t leak into my characters as well. If you’ve watched Crocodile Dundee then you have a good template of the stereotype and Hugh Jackman is as good an ambassador as you’d find anywhere (I think my good friend Lexxie Couper has a crush on him, but don’t say you heard it from me).
The landscape has had quite an impact on me, though other places in the world have higher mountains, deeper canyons, greener forests etc, there is something unique about the Aussie environment. The striking thing about the landscape, from my early experiences driving around the continent, is that it is huge, empty, and quiet – very, very quiet. I’ve driven six hours along a highway without seeing a town, or even other vehicles, except the massive road trains which are simply humungous! Hurtling along at over a hundred and twenty klicks these behemoths will blow you off the road with the amount of air they displace.
Of a host of memories that come to mind as I write some include trying not to collect kangaroos nibbling the grass shoots on the roadside – they have a tendency to leap out in front of you for no reason at all and avoiding crocodiles in Kakadu – which is a challenge because they will hunt you down if you are not watchful!
Dangers aside, the outback is a truly magical place. The soil in places is a deep rich red and you can easily imagine yourself standing on Mars. I’ve read a map by starlight (no light pollution out there) and I imagine the first colonists on a new world experiencing the same hollow emptiness in the chest as they stand in the middle of the vast expanse of their new home with nothing but the star dusted heavens above.
I’ve managed to set a few Changeling Press stories in the Australian setting ? my political trilogy Lupus Populus and my post apocalyptic RainCatcher ? which helped because I felt I knew the environment my characters were inhabiting. The writing was easier, as opposed to figuring out what the landscape on one of Saturn’s moons would be like as I did in The Pleasure Dome of Titan.
Sydney has to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and for Whiskey Creek Press I set my vampire stories there and for Whispers Press I placed a werewolf there as well – what can I say? The nightlife in Sydney can be rather exotic.
I write erotica and I can’t say that being an Australian gives me any unique advantage in that regard except my male characters tend to be Hugh Jackman (sorry Lexxie), Pat Cash and Errol Flynn all rolled up in one! I think you can probably picture my ideal hero as Maxim, Holly Barberossa’s lover in my Spaceport stories for Changeling.
My soon to be released sci-fi BDSM novel (with the working title, ‘Operation Strappado’ – you know how difficult titles can be) with Pink Flamingo Press has, as one of its locations, a military camp somewhere in Australia.
Trying to tease out the influence that my culture has on my character and those of my creations is really, really hard. My sisters have traced our family history and we have a whole cohort of lusty convicts in our blood, First Fleet and all. These were men and women transported against their will from England to an alien land where they fought tooth and nail against a hostile environment to survive. I think this knowledge of my roots, above all else, bestows on me an affinity with my poor characters who, at the whim of their creator, are transported, convict like, to alien worlds where they face powerful foes and must conquer their greatest fears while surrendering to their deepest desires.
Cheers from down under
The Cannis Affair from Changeling Press
Operation Strappado (coming soon from Pink Flamingo Press)
The Adana Affair (coming soon from Changeling Press)
Australian Heat Week
We?ve had miserable rain and low temperature for a while now, but there?s one thing that continues to keep me warm. My writing! There?s nothing like a bit of spicy, erotic romance to warm you up on a cold winter?s day.
I love setting my stories in Australia, particularly in the outback. There?s something about that macho property owner and the heat of the outback that fires my blood. I grew up in the outback so this is something I know well. Life on the land, with all its trials and tribulations. Yes, it?s hard at time, particularly when there?s a drought, when the stock is dying through lack of water, or when the bushfires come through. Total devastation. But there?s also something special about living in this part of the world. I love the much more laid-back lifestyle. The surf, sun and sand, and the fact we can swim for a goodly portion of the year because the summer temperatures are so hot. There?s something about all that heat that lends itself to a good erotic romance.
In fact, my novella, Sink or Swim, published by Total-e-Bound Publishing in the UK, was set against the backdrop of Magnetic Island in the tropic north of Australia. The setting was as much a character as the surf lifesaver hero.
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And speaking of the outback lifestyle, I have a new release this month that?s set in the outback. Or rather, it?s the re-release of an old book. Outback Meltdown has been re-edited and given a sexy new cover, and is now out at Ellora?s Cave.
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A sexy cowboy and a lady cop with a handcuff fetish?
When Jason Lawrence purchases a potty-mouth parrot as a gag wedding gift for his best mate, the last thing he expects is to be arrested by sexy policewoman Merindah Byrnes in a case of mistaken identity. Nor does he count on being handcuffed and ravaged by the same policewoman, but how could he resist when she puts on a strip show just for him?
Throw in a parrot that gives great advice on sex and it?s not long before the tension between them explodes into meltdown heat.
Publisher?s Note: Previously published elsewhere, Outback Meltdown has been edited and revised for Ellora?s Cave. While Outback Meltdown is a stand-alone, we do recommend reading the books in order for greatest enjoyment.
Outback Meltdown is the sequel to Outback Sizzle which came out at Ellora?s Cave on 6th May.
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Wild Australian nights, a sexy woman and a cowboy too hot to handle?
After drooling over sizzling Aussie cowboy Chase O?Connor?s photo for the last four years, American Cassie Mitchell jumps at the chance to head to his outback property, even if it means plotting with his mother and masquerading as his paid companion. If that?s the only way she can satisfy the lust that eats at her soul, so be it. She will happily sacrifice herself to the cause.
When Chase finds out about the plot, he decides to play Cassie and his mother at their own game. That means following Cassie?s every move, even if they are hot, erotic encounters and steam-inducing massages. A guy just has to grin and bare it!
Publisher?s Note: Previously published elsewhere, Outback Sizzle has been edited and revised for Ellora?s Cave.
I grew up in the type of settings that are featured in both Outback Sizzle and Outback Meltdown. Sad to say I was too young at the time to catch the attentions of one of those hunky sun-bronzed heroes. I could go on and on about growing up out in the bush, but I guess I?d better finish or, being the wordy broad I am, I?ll end up writing a short story for you all and Selena will come along and kick me off. Lol
But before I go, I want to tell you about a little contest I?m a part of. Heck, forget little! It?s a big contest with some fantastic prizes. July 1st marked the release of a book called Heart & Craft, published by Allen & Unwin in Australia. The publisher has tagged it as the ultimate ‘how-to’ book on romance writing, written by ten Australian and New Zealand romance writers and edited by multi-published author, Valerie Parv. I was thrilled to pieces to be asked to write the chapter on Erotic Romance.
To celebrate the release of Heart & Craft, the authors involved in the book are running a Scavenger Hunt. And have we got some fantastic prizes. Check it out!
9 Carat Gold Genuine Natural Diamond & Sapphire Heart Pendant
Pearl, crystal and silver heart charm bracelet
Two silver heart charm bracelets
Gold heart drop necklace
3 pairs of heart-shaped cubic zirconia stud earrings
That?s eight prizes to give away. Check out my Contest page on my website to see how you can be in the running to win one of these fab prizes. http://www.alexisfleming.net
The Heart & Craft Scavenger Hunt begins 1st July and closes 30th July so you still have plenty of time to enter. The winners will be announced early August.
That?s me for the moment, but I?ll be popping in during Australian Heat Week to play, so come on out and leave a comment. Y?all take care now.