Your series is called “Escape to New Zealand.” Why New Zealand?
I spent 15 wonderful months living and working in New Zealand, and fell in love with the country. The beauty and diversity of the landscape (not to mention the seascapes), the Maori culture and its integration into the country’s life, and, perhaps more than anything, the people: modest, good-humored, unfailingly polite and hospitable, and so very funny. I think everyone would like to escape to New Zealand—I know I did!
On the same note, why did you decide on rugby players as heroes?
In New Zealand, being an All Black (a member of the rugby team that represents the country in play against other nations) is the absolute pinnacle of achievement—what every boy longs to be. But what’s different is that the players are expected to be model citizens off the field as well. These young men face so much pressure and are under such a spotlight—it’s a completely different environment from the U.S. sports world. The combination of superb athletic achievement and celebrity with the expectation that you’re still a “regular Kiwi joker” or a “good bloke” makes for fascinating hero material.
How many books have you written and which is your favorite?
I’ve just finished my fourth book, Just for Fun. They are all my favorites while I’m writing them! Here’s how they fall out for me:
Most cathartic to write/favorite hero: Just This Once
Snarkiest banter/most interesting research (Maori hero): Just Good Friends
Funniest/easiest to write: Just for Now
Sexiest/most heart-tugging: Just for Fun
Do you see yourself in your heroines? Which of them is most like you?
There’s something of me in all my heroines. Most like me: absolutely Hannah, in Just This Once. People say “write what you know,” so I did! That book has a fair amount of autobiography in it. The funny thing is that some reviewers haven’t liked her as well as my other heroines (I try not to take it personally!). They’ve thought her emotional issues should be resolved once she meets our wonderful hero. If only life worked that way, huh?
Least like me: Kate, from Just Good Friends. I wish I were that confident and tough.
What surprises your friends about your books?
That they’re so steamy! J
When did you begin writing?
I’d been a marketing writer for 10 years, but I never had a thought of writing fiction.
I was on holiday in New Zealand with my husband almost exactly one year ago, and I had a story unfolding in my head as I so often do. For some reason, instead of telling myself to stop daydreaming, I let the story continue for days. I asked my husband, "Do you think I could write a book?" and being the great guy he is, he said, "Of course!" So I had him stop the car in Te Kuiti and bought a notebook, paper, and a pen. It was Oh So Scary to write the first sentence of “Just This Once.” But within two weeks, I was writing six hours a day on top of my regular job, and I knew this was all I wanted to do.
How long did it take to complete your first book?
Six weeks, while working at my “real job.” (I finished the book and quit the job.) I think up/write/edit a book in about three months, but that's because I've been a professional writer working to deadline for so long--writing my own stories is so much more fun, it's just a matter of keeping up on paper with what's in my head.
I notice that you’re self-published. Did you try the traditional publishing route first? Any advice for other writers considering self-publishing?
I queried agents for about 3 months with "Just This Once," and got requests for more of the book from a few agents and one publisher. One day in June, I heard back from a very prominent agent, who'd requested the full manuscript, that she really enjoyed the story, but that "New Zealand rugby" would be too tough of a hook. An hour earlier, I'd heard from my doctor, who said, "I'm referring you to the oncologist, because we can't tell what your tumor is." My first thought was, thank God my children are grown. And my second was, thank God I have had the chance to find out what I wanted to do in life, and to do it. The one thing I knew for sure was that I didn't want to die without publishing my books.
And the other thing I knew for sure was that "New Zealand rugby" was a GREAT hook! I finished writing "Just for Now" two days before going into the hospital and started editing again seven days after surgery. I decided that I still didn't want to die without publishing my books, so within a month, I’d published all three! And by the way: I’m not dying anytime soon, unless I get hit by a truck—lots more time, I hope, to write lots more books!
We’re living in a wonderful time when you can see for yourself if your book has “sales appeal” or not. Why not give it a try and see? The risk and cost are low--professional editing and cover design, an author website. The dream, of course, is to get that lucrative publishing contract—but whether or not that happens, doing it this way is working great for me so far, and I’m so very thankful to have the opportunity to share my work with so many people.
What have you learned from writing and publishing your books?
Life is all about taking risks. Anything that’s worth doing is going to be scary. The trick is to feel the fear and go ahead and do it anyway. Fall in love, write a book, pursue your dreams. That’s the underlying theme of my books, and my life.