Monday, December 04, 2006

Sunday Spotlight on Ally Blake

This week we shine the spotlight on Romance and Modern Extra author Ally Blake!


Having once been a professional cheerleader, Ally Blake’s motto is ‘Smile and the world smiles with you’. One way to make Ally smile is by sending her on holidays, especially to locations which inspire her writing. New York and Italy are by far her favourite destinations. Other things that make her smile are the gracious city of Melbourne, the gritty Collingwood football team, and her gorgeous husband Mark.

Reading romance novels was a smile-worthy pursuit from long back, so with such valuable preparation already behind her, she wrote and sold her first book. Her career as a writer also gives her a perfectly reasonable excuse to indulge in her stationery addiction. That alone is enough to keep her grinning every day!


Where do you get the inspiration for your books?

Anywhere and everywhere. My current release was inspired by a trip to Italy ;). How can one not enjoy a holiday even more whilst in the process of making it a tax deduction! I even wrote an article about the process which is on my website.

What makes you mad?

A fair bit. I have a really short fuse. I’m sure that would surprise a few of my friends who see me as more of a Zen master, not letting things get to me. But being that I am a redhead, the temper is right there boiling below the surface ;), hence the years and years of practice of not letting it get that far!

Meanness makes me mad, and passive aggressive behaviour, as do slow drivers who use the fast lane, people who don’t show other people respect, lying politicians as well as the people who fall for their lies, and being disrupted when it’s the last five minutes of a TV show ;). Plenty!

What’s the most romantic thing that has ever happened to you?

Mmm, my life is full of romance. But not of the grand gesture kind. More of the every day acts of love kind. My hubby cooks dinner every night. He makes sure my car is always full of petrol. He kisses me every morning before work, every evening when he gets home, every night just before we go to sleep, and a million times in between. And he lets me watch Australian Idol every Sunday and Monday night with barely any whinging even though he can't stand the show. Therefore I would have to say the most romantic thing that has ever happened to me is my husband.

What in a hero makes you drool?

I love a hero with a sense of humour. A sexy smile that can make a pair of female knees melt at twenty paces. Tall dark and handsome suits me just fine. Kindness. Focus. Passion. In fact Carrie’s Mr Big was pretty close. Gorgeous, stubborn, funny, old-fashioned, sexy, laid-back, looked great in a suit, and just a little bit goofy. Perfect!

If you weren’t a writer what would you be?

Ummmm, any one of a thousand things. I always had a dream of doing a different job every year. Taxi driver, hairdresser, rocket scientist, teacher, war correspondent.

I would love to be a character on the West Wing, does that count?

What do you do to relax and wind down?

Lie on the couch and watch TV with my feet in hubby's lap. Read while lying angled across my bed. Walk the dog. Take a hot bubble bath. Nothing like a holiday either. Watch more TV.

How do you get out of a writing rut?

I tend to write at least two books at once. That way if I’m feeling stale and out of sorts with one, I can move straight over onto the other and be a whole different person for a while. That way, when I come back to book number one I am invigorated and fresh.

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?

New York would be my number one choice. I love the city. To bits. The thousand worlds on one small island. I love the noise, the energy, the theatre, the hotdogs, the park, the upper east side, and the accent. Yum! My husband has promised to come back in his next life as a New York firefighter, so long as I come back Norwegian.

But I'd also like to have a place on Lake Como in Northern Italy. A hole in the wall in which to write. It is so elegant, and peaceful and picture postcard beautiful.

I took these two pictures. Aren't they lovely? Makes me wanna go on a holiday!!!!!!!!!!!!

Who would you most like to give a hug to for a fabulous book you’ve read?

John Christopher for writing the “Sword of the Spirits” trilogy. He writes Young Adult books and this trilogy was my favourite as a kid. I remember lying on a cot in a cottage at the coast the summer I was thirteen, crying, sobbing my eyes out as I read the final pages of these books. Fantabulous stuff. Truly.

I have a weathered broken, tattered copy still with the binding coming apart, the pages falling out. And as a present to myself when I sold my latest book I ordered a brand new copy of the trilogy. Box set. It will be treasured I tell you!

A few years back I wrote to John, my one and only fan letter to a writer ever, and he wrote back. I have that original letter framed on my desk, and we’ve kept up a correspondence ever since. But since he lives in the UK and I live in Australia there have as yet been no hugs!

What music do you listen to when writing?

We have a hard drive on which we have put every CD we own. I usually play it on random. Everything from Robbie Williams, to Miss Saigon, to Sting, to Crowded House to Black Eyed Peas, to Hooberstank to Sinatra.

Tell us a secret nobody knows about you

Ummm, I bite my nails. I try very hard not to. I have discovered those three part emery boards, you know where you can buff, polish and shine? And they have saved me. Without jagged edges there’s nothing for me to chew on ;). And nail polish. Even clear nail polish means I won’t go there. I feel like I am a recovering nail biter, meaning there is always the very real chance I’ll fall back down the well.

What was your most embarrassing moment?

Year 10. I was in looove with Leon Cousins, a senior. My science teacher, Dr King, a cheeky exchange teacher from England, found out about it. On his last day teaching us, he sent my best friend Rowena outside with a note. I barely noticed her gone as Leon was sitting on the lawn above our classroom and I was googing and sighin in his general direction every chance I had.

Five minutes later, Leon himself came knocking at the classroom door. His words? "Which one's Ally?" Dr King and Rowena had conspired to out my secret love.

The following ten minutes were a bit of a blur. Leon, gorgeous, dark-haired, green-eyed, beautiful Leon, sitting next to me having a very sweet conversation while the whole class looked on. I tell ya, I felt like I was in a John Hughes movie! When he finally left my so-called friends wrote his name on the back of the chair in pen for posterity's sake.

But now I have a book brewing in which I might actually use that little piece of history between the hero and heroine, so none of that horribly embarrasing moment was wasted!

What have you had to celebrate in the last year?

Selling my tenth book (and eleventh and twelfth). Selling to Modern Extra, a sexy line for which I never thought I, a very very sweet girl, would ever be able to write. Designing websites for the lovely Liz Fielding and Lucy Gordon as well as others.

My footy team getting into the finals and appearing twice on the Collingwood website. Adding chooks to our backyard menagerie. Getting broadband! And a new big screen TV.

And the launch of the Pink Heart Society!

What’s beside your computer when you’re writing?

All this! Coffee, M&Ms, scrap paper, 2B pencils, a glass of water, knick-knacks such as a cyrstal ink well, a tiny Eiffel Tower, a marble elephant, a dried red rose, a plastic gold tiara, rose quartz to rub for luck and inspiration. I have a dozen books, a chocolate calendar which holds my entire life within its pages, and rundowns on the Pink Heart Society schedule. On the wall I have Jack Vettriano pictures, two stills from The Little Mermaid, and a corkboard with piccies and inspirational notes such as my very fave: “The most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all, is the one you have with yourself. And if you find someone to love the you you love, well that’s just fabulous!” which is the very last line from Sex and the City.

If you could kiss anyone in the world who would it be?

Chris Noth (Mr Big ) - no surprise there. Raoul Bova, the goooorgeous hero on which I based my Italian hero Luca from my current release A MOTHER FOR HIS DAUGHTER. Jeremy Northam is dreamy and was a previous Male on Monday of mine. And Robbie Williams who is now in Australia!!! I'm going to the final concert of his world tour on the 18th with three friends. And we've all warned our husbands that if we get on stage there will be snogging going on!!!

What are you working on now?

My second Modern Extra, and it is due in mere days. The idea came from a beautiful brochure from a local gelato shop. THE SWEETEST THING stars Morgan - the PA to a Parisienne fashion mag doyenne who has an addiction to good coffee and free designer stuff, and Saxon - a seriously sexy entrepreneur who loves his mother and extinct British rock bands. As well as a midnight blue 1968 MK II Jag named Bessie, a gelataria called Bacio Bacio, a green Balenciaga dress, a chalet in the snow, and the best of Melbourne in winter and Paris in summer...

Ally's latest Silhouette Romance, A MOTHER FOR HIS DAUGHTER is her first book set outside of Australia. It was the winner of the Cataromance Best Tender Romance for the first half of 2005. Think Rome, Tuscany and a gorgeous Italian hero that Romantic Times says "could tempt almost any woman".

For excerpts and the behind the scenes inspiration for this book, check out her website!


  1. So I've been lurking here for months now, this is the first time I'm posting...I just HAD to! I havent read any of your books unfortunately, India doesn't get new launches till months or till I find them purely serendipitously...I've been looking for ages for yours! But back to why I had to post - my fave man, Mr. Big, my signature - the last line from SATC...and my curious affinity for chooks. Thanks for making me smile, for now I'll settle for reading your blog and hope to get my hands on your books soon!

  2. Ally, it sounds like you've had a great year! Thanks for all your hard work on the Pink Heart Society. It's been such a fun place to come visit.

    Enjoy Robbie (as if that needed saying)! And if you get a place on Lake Como, can I come visit? It's soooo beautiful!


  3. Enjoy Robbie, with or without the snogging!

  4. I want to go to Italy! For now I'll have to settle for reading about it :D

  5. Robbie is THE MAN!
    I am so green you're going to the concert!!!!
    Will have to live vicariously through you :)

  6. Hey t.m!!! I'm assuming you are very beautiful and talented and fabulous considering your excellent taste ;).

    Anne, you must come visit my little hole in the wall in Lake Como. Mind the windy roads on the way in, the drivers are crazy, but once you get there...boy will it be heaven!

    Nic and Nicolette, shall certainly enjoy Robbie. Am practicing my girly screaming as we speak ;).