Spotlight on Alyssa!
Due to all the emails I’ve had since this blogspot began requesting that I answer some questions, I’m taking today’s guest author blogspot to do so!! I normally limit the number of questions I ask guest authors to five, but there have been more than five questions submitted to me to answer over all this time, so here goes…
From Kaye in the UK: “Alyssa, can you tell us about your latest release and then what’s next for you as an author?”
Hi Kaye, I’ve had a couple of releases since you posed this question to me, but just this week my Christmas romance was released by Escape Publishing (Harlequin Enterprises Australia). It’s my first Christmas romance and I loved writing it!
Kate Cuthbert, who was the Managing Editor of Escape Publishing, put out a request for a Christmas romance story and I accepted the challenge because I love this festive time of the year. However, I thought “What about those people who don’t have happy memories of Christmas and for whom Christmas is actually a painful reminder of something/someone they’ve lost or some tragedy that’s occurred?” Jack Mancini made himself known to me so strongly that he seemed like a real person rather than a character in a book. I felt so badly for what he’d been through that I knew I had to write his HEA and bring him around to enjoying the Christmas season. It took a very special lady, Grace, to do so.
But because I find Christmas ‘magical’, I wanted to play with this story and bring in a little quirkiness that isn’t present in any of the other romances I’ve written – the hint of magic at play without being blatantly obvious about it. I’ve had fabulous reviews so far and I really hope that you’ll pick up this story and love it! Here’s the blurb!
'This year, you'll have to help create your own Christmas magic.'
Billionaire Jack Mancini has pulled himself up out of the worst circumstances to become a self-made CEO. The one thing Jack can't face is Christmas. Carols, Christmas trees and cheer only remind him of his dark past. But when he's asked to stay in London for Christmas by the only person who understands his pain, Jack's fierce loyalty demands that he agree.
Ever since tragedy struck, Grace Robertson has done everything she can to give her younger brother the life he deserves, ignoring her own passions to focus on her housecleaning business. The two things Grace lets herself indulge in? Fantasising about her handsome employer Jack and playing his beautiful grand piano when she's finished cleaning his house. When Grace is caught playing the piano, the last thing she expects is for the man of her fantasies to offer her everything she's ever wanted.
But even as the line between fiction and reality blurs, it seems that the darkness that haunts Jack is inescapable. If only Jack would let in just a little bit of Christmas magic...
As for what is next… one of my regular readers, Lyn Williams, will be delighted to know that I’m working on my third medieval book which is way overdue.
I’ve been so busy with fulfilling writing contracts for Escape Publishing and with life in general that I haven’t had time to sit and write this one. The title is KNIGHT OF HER DESIRE and is the third story in the Conquering the Heart series. Lyn isn’t the only reader who’s written to me about completing this third book and one of my sisters are also very keen for this third book because they’ve loved the first two AND my niece is on the cover!!
My next contemporary romance will be SEDUCED BY THE BILLIONAIRE (The third book in the Billionaires & Babies Series) and it has been completed, is currently with an editor and is scheduled for release in April.
From Barbara V in Reno: Will you keep coming back here to the States to attend the Booklovers Conventions?
I plan to, Barbara! I really enjoy meeting the readers and other authors and find the whole vibe of the Booklovers Con pulsing with positive energy and fun. I’ve made so many friends by attending the RT Conventions and now the Booklovers Con that I always feel like I’m “coming home to my tribe” when I’m there. So, as long as I continue to be invited, hopefully nothing will prevent me from coming. See you in Nashville in March!!
From Anastasia in Moldova: “You’ve asked other authors whether they have a favourite book that they’ve written. I’m wondering whether you have a favourite?”
Ooh, Anastasia. Now that I’m having to answer that question I can see how difficult it is! Perhaps I could say that I’m now not overly fond of the first couple of books I had published because I believe I’ve developed a lot as a writer since then. I am not interested at all in picking them back up and re-reading them because I’m sure I’d want to re-write them!
Every book brings a new challenge and characters who have new problems to overcome. I think I started finding my stride with ROSES FOR SOPHIE and from that title on I’d be happy enough to re-read the stories.
From Karin in Sweden: “Do you have a favourite hero or heroine from one of your stories?”
I really like Logan from ROSES FOR SOPHIE and Devereaux from THE IRREDEEMABLE PRINCE as they definitely have a sense of the wicked and they make me smile with their sexy banter.
Having said that, both Rowan from KNIGHT OF HER HEART and his brother Richard, from KNIGHT OF HER DREAMS are the classical chivalrous knights in shining armor and I’d be happy to be spirited away by either of them (if I was single!!).
My favourite heroine is probably India from THE FORMIDABLE KING. I wrote that story intending that the woman, Matilda, who I’d mentioned in THE IRREDEEMABLE PRINCE would end up being the love of King Gabriel’s life but she simply wouldn’t appear on the page. Instead I had India in my ear the whole time telling me her story and refusing to go away even when I promised I’d write her story next. As it turned out, India was perfect for Gabriel and to this day I continue to shake my head over the way she forced her way into the story and claimed her king!!
From Louise in New Zealand: “Alyssa, I’ve read every one of your books and loved them. I’ve noticed that in your more recent stories there’s a thread woven in like a social statement that you’re making. Is that a conscious decision because I didn’t notice it in your earlier work. For example you mention child soldiers in THE FORMIDABLE KING and also deal with the subject of rape very sensitively, you touch on drugs in THE IRREDEEMABLE PRINCE and anti-discrimination in the work place in THE IRRESISTIBLE ROYAL.”
Hi Louise! I’m really flattered that you enjoy my books and that you’ve picked up on that. While these are romance stories meant to entertain and be a form of enjoyable escapism for the reader, I found I wanted to do more with my stories. I don’t consciously go out of my way to write a story highlighting particular issues, but in getting to know my characters, if I find they’ve suffered from something that’s probably out there in our society causing problems, then yes, I want to throw the spotlight onto that. So I’m not giving away a major spoiler mentioning that Grace in THE MAGIC OF CHRISTMAS is dyslexic. Most recently I’ve touched on the issue of ocean conservation, the way society and advertising places so much emphasis on physical appearance. I won’t say that every book I write from now on is going to have any underlying issues and romance will definitely remain at the centre of all my stories, but if I identify a problem that one of my character’s has faced, then I’ll certainly try to showcase it.
Lyn, you asked me this question a long time ago and she’s not the only one who has asked me this. (Melissa is Logan’s sister) When I wrote ROSES FOR SOPHIE, I planned to write a follow-on story for Melissa and had set her up with Logan and Sophie’s best man, Hunter, in mind. I had already written Jake and Amanda’s story in ECHOES OF THE HEART and had planned that Melissa’s story would complete a trilogy. Escape publishing ended up publishing my first three books together in a set called THE BILLIONAIRE MEETS HIS MATCH. It was a fait accompli before I knew anything about it. Had it been discussed, I would have asked them to delete the MISTAKEN IDENTITY title from the bundle as the characters from that story made no appearance in either ECHOES OF THE HEART or ROSES FOR SOPHIE. But, it was done and then I lost the momentum to write Melissa’s story. I did have her story all mapped out mentally so maybe one day…
Sabine from France writes: “Other authors are asked about their favourite covers. Do you have a cover that is your favourite?”
Not one favourite, no, Sabine. I did suggest the couple featured on ROSES FOR SOPHIE and was pleased when that was produced and I also found the couple on the cover of THE IRRESISTIBLE ROYAL for my cover. Mostly when I pour through stock images and submit certain images to the cover designer, they are not used, however I'm pleased to say that Escape Publishing are very good in forwarding the images to me prior to release and allowing me to work on some aspects to achieve a cover we're both happy with. I have to say that just this week, the wonderful Johanna Baker from Escape Publishing, sent me through a cover for my next release SEDUCED BY THE BILLIONAIRE, and I love the guy’s blue eyes on that cover. Stay tuned for a cover reveal soon for that story!
I mentioned that one of my nieces will be on the cover of my next medieval romance, so that will no doubt become my favourite cover! She and her friend were down to stay at Easter a couple of years ago for a last-minute visit. I managed to get the costumes and the photographer all organized at very short notice and my wonderful ‘models’ did a photo shoot our back paddock complete with our horses!!
From Catalina in Argentina: “Do you plan on writing any other romance genres and if so are you going to take on another pen name?”
Hi Catalina, the wonderful Celeste Bradley has encouraged me to think more women’s fiction but if I write this I’ll probably stick with one of my names. With my youngest daughter with one more year of schooling to go, I haven’t got my head around this yet ! The reason for the two names is that my medieval writing voice is quite different from my contemporary writing style.
From Rin in Japan: “I like your history romances and your modern day romances. Do you prefer writing history romances or modern day romances?”
Hi Rin, I really enjoy the research I do for the historical romance novels and the challenge of trying to weave the history into the novel so that it has an authentic feel but without being so steeped in detail it takes away from the plot. Another problem with all the research is not to spend too many hours on researching rather than writing!
The third medieval romance I’m working on will finish that series but I do so love the historical romance novels that I may do another series down the track.
As an author who is also traditionally published (by Escape Publishing), I also feel the need to keep up my contemporary titles—both for my publisher and my regular readers. Hopefully you’ll see more of both genres.
Hi Sam. It was a simple case of wanting to get another story out to readers. I knew that I wasn’t going to have a slot for the book to be published through Escape Publishing as quickly as I wanted to get another book out there, so I decided to self-publish it rather than submit it to Escape and wait for months for a publishing slot. Now I talk to my editor all the time about what’s next on the agenda and when I might have a slot set aside for a story. I’d like very much to have at least two books published in a year, but it may be possible to increase that to three books a year once my youngest goes off to university and I have some more time.
Thank you all for writing in with your questions. For those of you whose questions didn’t appear today on the blog, I have written back to you privately with my answers because I didn’t want to turn this into a thesis!! Keep writing your questions as I may do a blogspot once a year that features some of your questions.
I love receiving emails from readers and will happily answer any other questions if you leave a comment here on the blog or if you’d like to email me privately: firstname.lastname@example.org
My next guest author is Michelle Conder and she’ll be joining me on the 30th of November. Until then, Happy Reading!!