About Me

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Brisbane, Australia
I'm an Australian author of Contemporary Romance, Romantic Action/Adventure, and Historical fiction. I live in Brisbane, Australia. Visit my website at www.noelleclark.net

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Fine china, and a good cup of tea. An afternoon with Susanne Bellamy

Clear mountain air, tea, and an unsurpassed view - the writing world of Susanne Bellamy

There are only twenty-four hours in a day, but for fellow Queensland author, Susanne Bellamy, it
seems as though she’s managed to find a few extra.

In the last six months, Susanne has had several books released. Beautiful books of love, friendship, suspense, mystery, and exotic locations.

I caught up with Susanne to ask her how she does it. Did I mention that Susanne has a fondness for cups of tea from a fine china setting?





Q. I’m in awe of how much you can fit into your day, Susanne. Do you have a set routine, or just a well organised to-do list?
I work best under pressure! Deadlines are like the proverbial carrot for me. Both One Night in Tuscany and Sunny with a Chance of Romance (one of my favourite titles) were written under pressure after I was invited late last year to contribute two stories, the first to a Christmas anthology and the second to a holiday anthology. Both are set in places I have visited and know - Tuscany, and Caloundra in Queensland. I wrote each story in a fortnight with a serious word count that had to be achieved every day.

Caloundra, Queensland



Those stories aside, the more time I have, the more I pfaff. I tend to do housework and admin type things first up but when it gets to mid-afternoon, if I haven’t got my word count for the day, I’m ‘head down and fingers flying’ because I suddenly realise my husband will be home in a few hours and what have I got to show for it? That’s good motivation! 




Q. Do you like to work in total silence, or with some music or family noises in the background?
I need peace and quiet. When family is around, I prefer to shut down my laptop or do easier things like a blog post or questions for guests on All the World’s a Page.  

However, on odd occasions I will play music to get into the mood of a scene. While writing my first novel, White Ginger, I listened to Etta James’s At Last , and Il Divo’s The Man You Love  on play loop. Music evokes emotion and, for me, these two songs were everything I wanted to capture in those two scenes. 



Q. How much do you think your writing environment affects your productivity? Perhaps you could share a few snaps of where you like to write.
Some days I just need a good kick up the you-know-what! That said, if I’m not finding my Muse, I move between spaces. I now have five different spaces in which I can write. 

Susanne's writing companion, Anna. 
The best one, especially on a cool winter morning when the sun is out, is my big enclosed verandah. I look out over the valley to the far range of hills and get inspired. I have been known to curl up under my doona with my laptop when it’s really cold though! (Don’t mention the PJ’s! ;) )


Another favourite spot is my mother’s recliner, which I inherited. It’s comfy and I feel her presence when I sit in her seat. 




Q. Is there one single thing that triggers the inspiration for your stories, or is it more connecting a lot of ideas to form a concept that you think would make a great story?
There are moments when an idea strikes like a bolt from the blue and the story is born almost complete in overview. Engaging the Enemy was like that; I saw an abandoned red-brick building as I rode a Melbourne tram and bam! The first meeting was suddenly there in my mind as the protagonists fought over that building. Similarly, the Amalfi Coast road inspired One Night in Sorrento and I ‘saw’ the meeting of the protagonists as I watched passing traffic. An accident on that road with its 1600 bends and slow points was too good to resist. ‘Sunny’ began its evolution as I watched kite surfers off Bulcock Beach in Caloundra and one particular kite surfer and his black kite were riveting!

However, One Night in Tuscany was more a process of linking disparate ideas. My publisher wanted a Christmas story, I chose to set it in Tuscany, and I wanted a Christmas Day wedding (one year later) in a nod to my parents, who were married on a snowy Christmas Day in London. The story came out of connecting those elements.

Winning the Heiress’ Heart is book 3 in a series (The Emerald Quest), which can also be read as stand-alone books. I was invited to write the third book, an historical romantic suspense, which had to be set post WW2 in Hawaii. I had to weave in elements from the earlier two books as well as set up certain characters and events for the final book. I loved this challenge! Hawaii 1960 was a brand new state and perfect for Eva’s new life with her nephew, Seb. I channelled so many elements into this; South Pacific, the musical, James Michener’s Tales from the South Pacific, Elvis and Blue Hawaii, and several of my mother’s memories of wartime London which became part of Eva’s childhood.

Q. Your catalogue of books is now quite extensive, both in numbers, and in styles. What is your preference: a short, romantic story set in a gorgeous location; or a longer, more in-depth suspense novel such as Winning the Heiress’ Heart?
While I loved writing each of the short stories and novellas—they give me a quick ‘completion’ which is good for the soul—my preference is for full-length novels. I love getting into character and conflicts in more detail. Although if you ask me this question when I’m mid-point in writing a longer book, I suspect my answer would be the opposite!

Q. Do any of the characters in your books share any traits that you see in yourself?
Not consciously, although I prefer to make my protagonists innately decent people. On a subconscious level, family is a core value for most of my main characters. It has taken me time and several books to realise that this is one of the top priorities for me; I couldn’t relate to a character who didn’t have this same core value. I gave my very first heroine (White Ginger) my own phobia; writing what you know when you begin is helpful to understanding the emotional needs and making them believable. Now, in later stories, I much more confident about researching and applying different character traits.

Q. You’re relatively new at being a published author. Have you any tips for aspiring writers?
Good beta readers and critique partners! As writers, we are too close to our creation to be objective and we need outside eyes cast over our work; we also need to put aside our initial reactions to constructive criticism, think about those comments and use them appropriately. A negative comment can be a great learning tool!  

Q. And finally, what can your fans expect from you next?
My next release on 20 September will be Second Chance Love, which is one of A Bindarra Creek Romance series. Set in the fictional rural NSW town of Bindarra Creek, it is the story of Claire and Angus. Once teenage lovers, they meet after fifteen years apart.
When Claire Swenson inherits her great-aunt’s home and returns to Bindarra Creek as town librarian, Angus McGregor is the first person she meets. The second is his eleven-year old son.Just because Angus wants a second chance doesn't mean that Claire will put aside her determination not to commit to a relationship.No matter how sexy he is, or how well they work together as they fight for the community and to save Angus’ property.Can he convince Claire that love is sweeter the second time around?

One Night in Tuscany
(This was originally published in the 2014 anthology as A Tuscan Christmas)

When Verity Peters’ boss, Marco Philippi, asks her to translate an urgent document before she heads off to the staff Christmas party, the last thing she expects...or wants...is to be trapped in the elevator with this distant man.

But is Marco really the cold man she thought he was? Can one night in Tuscany lead to a lifetime?





Sunny with a Chance of Romance
Charli Jones needs a man. Not just any man but a surfer dude willing to help her win the challenge set by her media boss. Damian Bartholomew, former neighbour and her best friend’s older brother, fits the bill. In more ways than one.
But Damian has a secret. Will Charli risk everything to win the challenge or will she follow her heart? 







Winning the Heiress' Heart
Eva Abbott sells her inheritance in England, Bellerose Manor, to provide for the care of her nephew. She buys a pineapple plantation in Hawaii but discovers her neighbour, Luc Martineau, will do anything to take it from her. When Eva discovers a diary which may solve their financial problems, villains follow her to Hawaii and attempt to force her to reveal the whereabouts of the heirloom emerald necklace. Is Luc an ally or an enemy? Is he after Eva or her land?



Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Honor's Promise - Liam's Journey :::: now up for pre-order

Yes that's right folks. You can pre-order your copy of Honor's Promise - Liam's Journey now. It's
Book 2 of the Robinhill Farm Series, a deliciously warm, funny, and poignant series set in rural Ireland.

Click here to pre-order, and have the book delivered to your device on June 30th.

Blurb


Loyalty and love define Liam. But will obligations to family and farm get in the way of him finding true happiness?

Loyalty is high on Liam Cullen’s agenda, but lately he’s been feeling restless. He wants to run away from the endless routines of life on the family farm. He contemplates busting free of the sometimes suffocating confines of the close-knit family. He’d like to see the world. Maybe meet a few girls.

Riddled with guilt that he could even consider such a thing, the final blow comes when Liam’s abilities as a first rate farmer are questioned. He sees red and his quick temper is sorely stretched. He struggles inner demons and attempts to fight the inevitable – until he meets the girl with the blue-green eyes and the copper-colored hair.


Without knowing it, Aislin O’Neill sweeps Liam off his feet, and transports him to a place he’s only ever dreamed of. It’s soon apparent that Aislin has her own inner battles. Will she break her self-imposed vow to never get involved with anyone again?


Excerpt

“Liam. It’s time for the tea and the chats.”
That was how his mam always prefaced a ‘talk’. It had always been like that, ever since he was little.
He sat opposite her as she poured a cup of tea in the kitchen at An Mullach and pushed a plate of freshly baked scones and butter closer to him.
“Tell me how you are, lad.”
He sipped the tea. It was the best tea in the world, as usual. “I’m grand, Mam. You know that.”
“I don’t want to pry, son, but I don’t want you getting hurt either. I’m wondering if our Ash is planning on staying, you know, forever.”
Liam ran a hand through his hair. “Mam, if I knew the answer to that, I’d have taken out a full page ad in the Tipp Times by now.”
“But she loves you?”
He felt his face turn pink. “Yes, Mam. She does love me. It’s just that…she’s been through a lot, you know that, and let’s face it, our family is a force to be reckoned with. She’s an only child, her parents didn’t give a hoot about her, she’s grown up being independent and resourceful and, well, she’s not ready to relinquish all that just yet.”
“Now, Liam, that’s crap and you know it. Yes, I know Ash has got her plans. But they’re all coming to fruition here at our farm. What happens when she’s achieved all her goals? What then? Will she make a new set of plans and move on? Or will she be content to enjoy life here with us?”
Liam lifted his head and held his mother’s gaze. “Mam, I’m prepared to wait. But there’s something else you should know.” He paused, then continued. “I’m also prepared to follow Ash to the ends of the earth to be with her.”
His mam’s gaze never wavered. “That’s what I would expect from a man with your conviction, Liam.” Her eyes shone, and she looked away. “Lord knows, I’d hate you to leave, but…”
He reached across the table and covered her hand with his. “Mam, I…”
She lifted her gaze to his, her eyes now welling. “My Stan left his family in Durrow to come and work on An Mullach, to be with me. We couldn’t live apart, you see. He moved into a one-room shack at the back of the dairy, and we made love there every chance we got. We couldn’t breathe when we were apart. Our lives only really mattered when we were together. But because my mam was so ill, well, I had to look after Da and the boys. That’s why I didn’t get much schooling. Because I had to cook and clean for seven brothers. So I couldn’t leave.” A tear spilled over and ran down her cheek, landing with a soft plop on the seersucker checkered tablecloth. “So Stan followed me here. And we were madly in love for over thirty years, until the good Lord took him from me.”
Liam felt the sting of salty tears in the back of his eyes. He remembered how affectionate his mam and da had been, doing big passionate kisses in the kitchen as Cherry and the boys were trying to eat dinner, and them groaning and saying how bad it was that their parents nearly made them feel sick. He remembered them dancing together at all the family gatherings, only having eyes for each other, and how every Sunday morning Da would go out into the fields early and pick a bunch of wild flowers and put them in a little vase on the breakfast table right in front of where his mam sat.
He cleared his throat. “I’ll be a good husband, Mam, just like Da was. And one day, I hope to be a good father too. But nothing would make me happier than to raise my family here at An Mullach, and I say prayers every night that the good Lord will make that possible. But either way, Ash will be my wife. I know it.”


Available now. www.noelleclark.net

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Exhilarating Research: The Rock of Cashel

The Rock of Cashel in County Tipperary.


I loved visiting this ancient mount in the gorgeous village of Cashel. In my book, Honor's Debt, my
hero and heroine - Bryan and Honor - take a walk around the rock. Here's a small extract:

They walked along Moor Lane in silence. When they reached the intersection with Rock Lane she saw the imposing edifice of the Rock of Cashel, surrounded by high rock walls, ahead of her, high on a hill, and stopped to take in the view.

“Oh, it’s fabulous!” She let go of his hand and reached into her bag for her phone and took some photos.

“The round tower is ninety feet tall. All constructed without mortar. The craftsmen of the time fitted the stones perfectly together.”

“What was the tower for? It looks like a grain silo.”

“Wait till you get to the top of the hill and you’ll see. From up there, you get a 360 panoramic view of all of Tipperary. Back in 1101, they built this tower because of the invading Vikings.”

“Gosh 1101. For an Aussie, that seems incredibly old.”

“The rock was originally built on, way back in the fourth century, but there’s nothing left of that. Everything you see now was built around the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Apart from the round tower, and Cormac’s Chapel, which you can’t see from here—they’re older.”

They continued along the narrow lane, passing quaint little houses with slate tiled roofs splotched here and there with bright green moss. The early morning air was still brisk, making the steep walk up to the Rock exhilarating. The chill made her cheeks sting and the light breeze blew her hair gently.

She sighed, sensing that Bryan was going to be all right now. Yes, he seemed content to put their…awkward…moment from last night behind him.

They reached the entry to the Brian Boru Heritage Center and went inside, spending an hour or two exploring the fascinating history of the man who ruled Ireland as the High King of Munster from this very spot for twenty-four years, when he was crowned here in 990. ...

When they emerged into the grounds within the walls, the sun was shining brightly, making the already bright green grass dazzle, residual drops of dew causing it to sparkle. They wandered slowly through the ancient, grey headstones and Irish high crosses, unable to read the long ago worn-off epitaphs of those whose remains lay buried there.


Bryan proved to be a knowledgeable guide, his interesting commentary better than any guide book.

“What was it you called it last night? Something about Saint Patrick?”

“Yes, Carraig Phádraig. It’s said that this was the place that—way back in 450—Saint Patrick himself converted one of the pagan Kings of Munster. Apparently it was a big deal at the time.”

They explored Cormac’s Chapel and the grounds at length. The most stunning thing for Honor, was the magnificent view from the wall. As far as the eye could see, green fields, dotted here and there with houses, ruins of old churches, stone walls, and small villages, spread out before her like a painting. It was a surreal place, full of history and beauty.

Honor's Debt   :::   Book 1 of the Robinhill Farm Series   


Buy Honor's Debt here:

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA
Amazon AUS
Barnes and Noble
Kobo
Secret Cravings Publishing