by Anna Campbell
It is with great pleasure that I introduce one of the nicest people in Romancelandia, fellow Aussie Nicola Marsh. Award-winning Nicola writes for Harlequin and has sold more than a million copies of her books! Very impressive in anyone's language. You can find out more about Nicola and her books at her website.
Nicola, a very warm welcome to the Romance Bandits. Your latest release in America is a Harlequin Presents called THE BOSS’S BEDROOM AGENDA. Can you tell us a little bit about this story and the inspiration behind it?
Firstly, it’s fabulous to be a Bandita for a day! Thanks for having me. I’m really excited about my current release because it’s my first Harlequin Presents and a favorite book of mine. The story, set in my fabulous home city Melbourne, features a bubbly metal sculptor and a sexy archaeologist, two opposites who are thrown together for a few months. The story was inspired by a trip to Melbourne Museum with my kids, who love the place. While walking down those quiet, pristine corridors, I wondered what it would be like for a naturally exuberant person to work there…and shoe-a-holic Beth Walker was born! She struts into Melbourne Museum like she owns the place and stand-in CEO Aidan Voss soon realises he has his hands full with his latest employee.
You’re a writer who always leaves me breathless with admiration. I don’t know how you do everything you do. You write a handful of books a year (so far you have four scheduled for 2009) and you have a young family. Can you give us some insight into your working day? Have you got any hints on time management you’d like to share with us?
Blushing furiously here! My working day starts during toddler’s nap time, when I clear my inbox, post my blog and take care of other promotional stuff. My actual writing time starts at 8.30pm when both kiddies are in bed. I write for 2 hours solid to crank that word count up and luckily I’m quick so I write 4 books a year. With time management, don’t let the Internet distract you. While MySpace, Facebook, etc…can be fun (and addictive!) use them as a reward for after you’ve met your allocated word count/page count for the day. I use both for promotional purposes but tend to pop on once a week, for the simple reason they can be time wasters.The other hint is use any ‘spare’ time to write. If you need to pick up kids, invest in a portable word processor and use every spare second to up the word count.
Great advice! You’ve just had your 19th book scheduled. Congratulations! But let’s go back to the beginning. Here in the lair, we love call stories. Can you share yours with us?
Thanks. I can hardly believe I’ve sold 19 books, I still pinch myself occasionally! ‘The Call’ was fabulous, exhilarating and totally mind-blowing. I’d submitted a full of my ‘speed dating story’ to the Harlequin Mills and Boon UK office after they read the partial and enjoyed it. Four months later, I was home on a Saturday night, five months pregnant, after cancelling a dinner date because the hostess was ill. The phone rang and it was Kim Young, saying she loved my manuscript, a slot had opened up and if I could get a few tweaks done by the Tuesday, it had a good chance of publication. I jotted down her suggestions on a tiny piece of paper, hung up and squealed! I was working full time as a physiotherapist at the time, so I worked that Saturday night and most of Sunday, emailed the manuscript off…and waited… A week went by and I was cooking dinner on a Monday night when the phone rang around 6.30pm. Hubby answered, gave me a thumbs up so I knew it was Kim, so I took the phone with shaking hands and listened to her say they loved my book and would like to buy it! I think I repeated ‘great’ about a hundred times, to every single question she asked me! I haven’t stopped grinning since.
What a great story! You write across several different lines at Harlequin. Can you give us your take on the difference between the banners your books appear under? Are the differences drawn starkly in your mind or do you see your stories more in a continuum? What do you think makes each line distinct and appealing to readers?
I write for Harlequin Romance and Harlequin Modern Heat/Presents. The Romance series is packed with emotion, with stories that really tug on the heartstrings, whereas Modern Heat is more fun and flirty. For me, the differences aren’t too stark as I find my ‘fun, flirty’ voice (according to my lovely ed!) carries over to both series. With Modern Heat/Presents, the settings are glamorous and cosmopolitan, with strong Alpha heroes and heroines who know what they want and aren’t afraid to go out and grab it with both hands! With Romance, the heroes are alpha with a softer edge, the heroines strong and the settings global. I adore writing for both series! In Romance, I was lucky enough to be approached to write for their newly launching mini series ‘Escape Around the World’, so set my book in Melbourne and India, where my characters take a luxurious train journey through Rajasthan and visit exotic cities like Agra (home of the Taj Mahal), Jaipur and Udaipur, as well as Goa and Delhi. A TRIP WITH THE TYCOON (September 09) captures the emotional heart of Romance while giving readers an armchair ride through an exotic setting, the best of both worlds!
You have another Harlequin Presents coming out in September this year in America. Can you tell us about TWO WEEKS IN THE MAGNATE’S BED?
I’d love to, as this book is linked to my current release, THE BOSS'S BEDROOM AGENDA. In TBBA, Beth’s geeky cousin Lana features in several scenes and she absolutely had her own tale to tell! When passed over for a promotion at Sydney Museum, where she works as head curator, Lana realises she needs a new image, so takes a cruise she’s won. However, she doesn’t bank on sexy sailor Zac helping her on her mission to loosen up! Set in the South Pacific, this is a classic Cinderella tale with loads of fun.
What’s next for you?
My next release is THE BILLIONAIRE’S BABY (Romance, May 09). Set in the trendy Docklands of Melbourne, it features Camryn, a hip city girl running her own café and running from her past, a past which catches up with her when builder Blane Andrews struts back into her life with one goal: to reunite with the love of his life. I cried for the first time while writing this book and my editor cried twice, so I think it’s my most emotional? As for what I’m currently writing, I’m about to start revisions on my next Romance, ‘The Dating Dilemma’ (working title.) It’s my ‘foodie’ book, where the heroine cooks to vent frustration/relax/hide from the world. Probably not ideal to be working on this while I’m trying to wean myself off chocolate and lose some weight!
As you can see, I love setting the bulk of my books in my fabulous home city, Melbourne. From the restaurant culture to the cafés, the gardens to the beaches, Melbourne has something for everyone, a truly cosmopolitan city. What’s your favourite city? And why do you think it would qualify as the perfect setting for a book? I’m giving away a signed copy of my current release, THE BOSS’S BEDROOM AGENDA, to one lucky commenter. Happy reading!