Saturday, February 06, 2010

Weekend Wildcard: Go Green with Harlequin Romance Authors

Harlequin Romance is going green this month with the UK release of two specially-paired Aussie stories with wounded heroes, artistic heroines and landscaping themes.

Nikki Logan launches her Harlequin Romance career with her 4.5 star debut, 'Lights, Camera...Kiss The Boss'. Nikki calls herself a nature-based writer: she believes that the passion and risk of falling in love are perfectly mirrored by the danger and richness of wild places.

'Australian Boss: Diamond Ring' brings award winning author Jennie Adams into her sixth year as a Harlequin Romance author. Jennie's books often explore themes of family and overcoming the odds. In this case, with an out-of-the-ordinary landscape designer hero and the graphic artist he employs to help lift his business to a new level.

Thanks so much for having us, PHS.

We've been looking forward to this weekend for ages.

*Waving to all the Pink Heart readers*

It's a WildCard Weekend so we're going to zoom through a couple of things that we (as writers) enjoy bringing readers. And we want to hear what you love best about your favourite romance stories! Keep up, we're going to be flying between topics! Coffee topped up...? Okay let's go.

Nikki: Something that means a lot to me as a writer is incorporating a third character in every book - mother nature. One of the things I loved and really connected with about your book, Jennie, is that several of your most pivotal scenes take place on the ridge of a mountain in the Australian bush. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?

Jennie: I must admit I'm probably a little self-indulgent when it comes to choosing scene settings within my stories. I love Australia as a country, partly because it's so diverse when it comes to climate and scenery. The scenes in Australian Boss: Diamond Ring that are set in the New South Wales Blue Mountains were fun to write for me because I lived in that area for a while and absolutely loved it. I don't think you can be there, really, without feeling that you've been brought back to nature. I think that kind of setting works well when characters are exploring the issues that are deep at the heart of who they are, and what they need in life. I'm not sure if I'd say setting is a third character for me, but it certainly has its impact on the style and tone of each story.
Readers - What settings do you love to read? Do you most love to be swept away to an exotic locale? Or read a story that could happen around the corner from your home? If you could read a book set absolutely anywhere, where would that place be?

Nikki: When I was dreaming up Ava Lang for ‘Lights, Camera…’ she was always going to be earthy but I wasn't expecting her to turn out arty, like your Fiona. Ava's a country girl with a really pure heart and an absolute passion for nature. It was tricky finding a way to make that work in Australia's most crowded city but once I hit on the idea of a landscape designer renovating barren rooftops into gardens I was off. The nature-loving heroine is a bit of a common thread in my books. What are your 'signature' heroines, Jennie?

Jennie: First up I have to say that I think a heroine renovating barren rooftop gardens in the heart of a city, but a country girl herself, sounds like a lot of fun to write - and read! I love reading stories where the characters are thrown into an environment that is out of their usual element. My heroines are often quirky or a bit different, but I have a sneaking suspicion (and my reader mail suggests) that there are a lot of women readers out there who can very much relate. I think a heroine who can think outside the box a little and has a big heart often works well with a hero with a past. He can be as prickly as he wants to be, but she's still going to break through his reserves . I do enjoy pitting a damaged hero against a quirky, bouncy, look-life-in-the-eye-and-be- happy-regardless kind of heroine. I like watching the sparks fly!
Nikki: Ah, love a damaged hero *sigh*
Readers - Do you believe a man can be healed by the love of a woman?

Jennie: Nikki, what motivated you to write your damaged hero, Dan? People often ask me if I style my heroes on my experiences or those of people dear to me. How was Dan's character born and what are the keys to his nature and situation?

Nikki: Dan was always going to be a surfer turned suit. I wanted a hero who chose the wrong path and has lost sight of the way out. It takes Ava ages to dig beneath the protective layers to get to why. In fact, Dan and your Brent both keep a lot of secrets from their past (and from their heroines!) but Dan's is more of the bitter-n-twisted variety that fuels his furious drive for public success. Brent has this lovely support team of brothers supporting him through a really private, really challenging pain...

Jennie: I loved writing Brent and his two brothers. The condition that Brent wrestles with is one that I'd wanted to write about for a while, and his history and upbringing were things that had personal significance to me. Digging down to find all the layers of Brent was a bit of a personal journey for me as well, but worth it.

Nikki: While 'tortured hero' is more common, I have no objections to a tortured heroine either. As long as both characters can express it in a way that still makes them nice people. We all have shadows in our past that drive how we are in the present. In fact, part of Ava's attraction to nature and all things wild is because she's lost a bit of confidence in human-kind since Dan broke her heart when she was a young woman.

Jennie: Reunion stories bring the hope that things that have happened in the past can heal and two people can find their way forward, stronger than before. Did you plan a reunion story from the start?
Nikki: No, I didn't set out for that to happen but Ava forced the story that way. About a third of the way in I suddenly realised 'Oh, they knew each other before!' And once I made that mental shift the rest of the story wrote itself.
Jennie: Some of the best stories come about when the characters start dictating. I'd like to say we just sit back and act as the conduit for the words to appear on the screen, but it's usually a bit harder work than that :-)
Nikki: Couldn’t agree more. Another similarity our stories have are some really gorgeous minor characters. Readers who’ve read pre-release copies of 'Lights Camera' have loved Cadence, the surly goth character--again a character that I wasn't planning to write until she burst into Ava's office in all her PVC-wearing glory. One day I'd love to give Cadence her own story. But Brent's brothers, Alex and Linc are both as gorgeous as he is and they're just so loving to each other. Is there a story for each of them in the future?

Jennie: (Rubs hands together). Secondary characters can really lift a book. One of my fun moments as a Mum of teenagers was dropping off a teen friend at his house in the middle of the night. His driveway was long and winding, it was after midnight, the dead of winter. He was tall and slender with straight, jet black hair and dressed in black from head to foot. As he strode up the driveway, the sides of his trench coat flapped about his calves and his hair drifted in the faint misty breeze. My writer's mind went straight to 'The Count of Monte Christo' and of course I shared this insight with my teen son, who was rather unimpressed with my imagination. Still, there is something spectacular about someone who has the courage to dress to their own 'tune'. I like Cadence already! And yes, there will be stories for Brent's two brothers. Actually, I'm working on one of them right now.

Readers - What do you most like (or dislike) about linked books, such as stories about brothers?

Well... we could do this all day :) Thanks so much to everyone who came along to celebrate the release with us. We'd love to hear your comments about wounded heroes, natural settings, signature heroines, minor characters you'd love to see in their own books or anything else we've chatted about today.

PHS - thanks again for letting us scootch up on your comfy couch for WildCard Weekend!

And thanks to all our Pink Heart Readers for dropping by.

Lights Camera.. Kiss The Boss by Nikki Logan is the Pink Heart Society's book of the month for discussion on 23 February. Please come and join in the fun! If you are in the UK, it is 2 in 1 so you can read both stories.


  1. Ooh great interview/chat and so many great reader questions. As I'm lucky enough to have read 'Lights, CAmera, Kiss The Boss' just wanted to say a huge - well done you to Nikki! It's such an original idea!

    You're questions got me thinking - and I surprised myself by realising that I'd actually prefer a book that took place in a setting I could relate too. I love small town settings and it just happens that I live in one :)

    Am a huge lover of linked books here too!! Especially ones about gorgeous brothers!! Can't wait for more from you both!

  2. I'm looking forward even more to reading these two books now. I've bought the two-in-one, so need to find time (haha) to read them before the end of the month.

  3. Lovely chat!

    Like, Rachael, I've read Nikki's book (yay ebooks) and I loved it. Great characters and an original setup. Now I'll have to read Jennie's too.

    I love natural settings and glamourous settings, vineyards, tropical islands... okay I think I like well written settings in general.

    I also like linked books. It's nice to be able to get to know characters over a couple of books.

    Thanks Jennie and Nikki and congratulations on your releases.

  4. Rachel - Relateability is an important point. It's never going to be possible to write a book that everyone can relate to, is it. So it's just super important that you write one that *you* can relate to and then do your best to make it evocative and interesting. I live in a city but not a major one and so I tend to steer away from super-urban books. Wow. You've got me wondering whether I'm accidentally missing some great stories!

    I'm so pleased you enjoyed LCKTB so much and thanks for being one of my first readers! yay!

  5. Alison - Thank you for the purchase, I hope you really enjoy some DownUnder time with us this month :)

    And LOL re: the lack of time... whoever said that space was the final frontier never tried to read a book to deadline.

  6. Double Yay to e-books. Kind to the planet and the pocket and useful to the reader with delayed gratification issues. LOL.

    I agree re: linked books. I've never written one but am thinking about proposing something connected for a future series. Just need to find a compelling something... hmmmm...

  7. Hi Rachel,
    I love reading linked stories, too. One of my favourite series a few years ago was written by Carolyn Zane. Brubaker brothers - nothing to complain about in a bunch of gorgeous Texan brothers! You've made me think, too. I grew up on a farm then lived in a small town but I'm in a small city now. I wonder if that's had anything to do with wanting to set so many of my stories in major cities in Australia?

    Happy reading, Alison. I hope you find the time. Life makes us too busy sometimes!

    Sue BT, I get jealous of some of my scene settings and want to move there, lol, particularly if they are in some quiet, gorgeous corner of Australia. Next best thing is to be swept there with a good book. Works for me with different eras, too. I love a great historical.

    **Waves to Nikki. Fancy meeting you here, lol.

  8. As another very lucky reader who has already had the pleasure to read LCKTHB I can say its an amazing read and I loved it. Of course part of it was the Australian setting (Nikki's talent was a major factor too)and that's another reason I enjoy Jennie's as well. I also find myself enjoying stories based in England, partly as I've been lucky to be there and partly because its always fascintated me. I also enjoy office romances so Jennie's books tick more than one box for me, looking forward to reading this one Jennie.
    Tracey T

  9. First of all congratulations on your releases ladies. I've had the absolute pleasure of reading Nikki's LCKTB. Fantastic read and I love how you have woven nature into the setting in a relatable way for us city dwellers ;))

    Jennie, your book setting sounds wonderful and I will have to place that on my books to read list.

    As for location, to me it doesn't matter, it just has to suit the story. I do think it does become another character.

    Jennie, looking forward to reading your quirky heroines who turn the heroes to mush. And I think that answers the question, yes indeed a man can be healed or put on the path to healing by the love a woman.

    I do indeed like linked books as I get to learn about all the fascinating secondary characters and they get their own HEA.

    Fascinating chat / discussion ladies. Thanks so much!

  10. Tracey, glad you enjoyed it! For UK readers it's a double workplace-romance whammy with our two-in-one but you can get Jennie's from March 1 in Australia.

    (and waving right back Jennie)

  11. Great blog! I love linked books. I like it if the hero in book one has a flawed brother that you know must have his own story! The only niggle is that you have to wait for thier story! Caroline x

  12. Eleni - Thanks for swinging by. So what's a good number for a continuity? Three? Five? Or is that too much of a good thing?

    And yes, I'd like to think both hero and heroine can heal each other or, as you say at least trigger healing.


  13. Caroline - aha! So the secret is in making the brother damaged enough to warrant his own book and compelling enough to sustain interest over the gap between publications.

    Hmmmm..... (that sound you hear is my brain ticking over)


  14. Great post! I love reading novels with different settings. Reading novels that take place in different settings is my way of getting to travel right now. I love being able to visual the settings through each wonderful author out there.
    I love reading linked books too. I think if a sibling is mention and seems to have their own story waiting to be told that it should be. I have read quite a few linked stories and have enjoyed every one of them. I also believe that a woman's love if strong enough can heal a man.

  15. Becky - such a good point! Vicarious travel. It can fill the need in times where actual travel isn't possible. How good would it be for someone to put together a 'booktour' of the world. First you read say ten great books and then you go to all the places that inspired them.

    I'll put up my hand to carry bags on that tour.

  16. Hey Jannie and Nikki

    Hope I'm not to late...

    Firstly - your Romance 2 in 1 is next on my TBR pile ( trying to read them as they came in postal order from my fabulous win from LoveCats Downunder - thank you both!) And after reading that interview - I am now chomping at the bit to get both books read...

    I love connected books, I hate letting characters go - so when they are connected like brother books, if the originals make an appearance as a couple - and have moved on in life - like are celebrating an anniversary/birth of a child or something - to me it makes it even better.

    And of course - there is that whole fall in love with one yummy brother .... and then fall for another yummy brother too!

    Thanks for sharing your stories with us. CAn't wait to read them.

    Bye 4 now

  17. Hi Nikki and Jennie
    Great to read your weekend chat! Can't wait to pick you both up from the shelves DownUnder next month!

    I love linked books as long as they're not done with huge information dumps to try to cram in the previous stories. I prefer the books to stand alone and for the link to be an added treat. It's wonderful to re-visit a town and find out a little bit about where a couple of favourite characters have ended up in their lives.

    Anyway, great to 'see' you both!


  18. Tina, you make an excellent point. Where but in romance is it acceptable to fall for *all* the brothers in a family. LOL.

    Interesting that you are pro merging past and present stories and Sharon (*waving*) prefers cleaner distinctions and stand-alone stories. The trick is in doing it seamlessly and naturally, I guess, so it's not too contrived.

    Me... I feel momentary pangs of guilt as my affection shifts from Hero one to hero two...but since hero one now has the woman of his dreams I figure he'll be just fine without my affection :)

    Thanks for swinging by ladies.

  19. Thanks Tracey T. I'm glad you enjoy my office romances. The working relationship is one I enjoy exploring in a lot of my stories. I think as readers it's a nice getaway for us, too, to imagine we can be lifted out of our (sometimes less than exciting) workaday lives by a fabulous sexy hero we meet while we're on the job.

    Eleni, I love setting up secondary characters and then going on to write their stories later. It builds a sense of family and continuity that I enjoy.

    Caroline, I love flawed brothers. They just all beg for the love of a good woman, don't they? I like writing a different book or two between my linked stories. Somehow that gives more time for the next lot of characters to really develop their problems in my mind before I start work on their story.

    Vicarious travel has a special appeal in the form of a novel, I think, Becky. I love being swept away, all from the comfort of my own home.

    Tina C, happy to know I'm not alone in enjoying falling in love with all those hunky linked heroes.

    Sharon raised the point of information dumps. I've caught myself out a couple of times at draft stage, doing this - most notably when I've researched something and got all excited about the information and want to share it, lol.

    Apologies for chiming in late. I've been out this morning putting time in on one of my other passions, Aboriginal art.


    Jennie (sorry, account playing up so had to sign in this way)

  20. Nikki - remember I read fantasy series, so is there ever too much of a good thing? ;))

  21. Hi to you both. A great blog! Can't believe it is so many years since your first book came out, Jennie! I do enjoy them and so proud of you for all your hard work to bring us such great reads.
    Absolutely love both covers. Unfortunately have to wait to read them until my next trip to shop in Launceston nearly an hour away. Grrr! And that has to wait until my own deadline is met and this manuscript is at the publisher.

  22. Great to see you, Mary. We saved you some cheese dip!

    If you're buying DownUnder you'll get the new Aussie-look Sweet covers which are still pretty spekky - hope you like as much as the US cover.

    Enjoy both titles :)

  23. Thanks for dropping by, Mary. Big hugs to you on your deadline.

    I wouldn't complain too much at some Tasmanian cooler weather right now, I must admit. Who said it could be so hot here?

    Thanks for the chat everyone.