An Interview with Cindy Kirk

My guest this month is prolific American author Cindy Kirk. Cindy is a writer who loves romance and has written many special editions for Harlequin.

When did you first discover the joys of story-telling or writing your own stories down?

I’ve loved books and stories for as long as I could remember.  If I didn’t like a book’s ending, I’d make up my own.  The same held for movies or televisions shows.  For a long, long time I thought that everyone made up different endings.  I wrote my first “book” when I was thirteen.  It was a romance, of course, with a happy ending!  I let one of my teachers read it and I could tell she didn’t think it was very good.  It was a devastating blow to my young writer’s soul.

Which novels inspired you, or you would rate as your all time favourites?

LaVryle Spencer’s Bitter Sweet and Separate Beds; Susan Elizabeth Phillips’s Dream a Little Dream and Nobody’s Baby But Mine; Lisa Kleypas’s Travis Series, Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton Series.

Could you share your journey to becoming a published author with us?

I wrote five books, it was the fifth that sold, 3 years after I started writing in pursuit of publication.  The book that sold won a contest.  The first prize was a critique of the entire manuscript by Harlequin editor, Patience Bloom.  She not only read it, she bought it.  And 15 years later, she’s still my editor!

What advice would you give to a new writer who has not made it into print yet?

To continue to hone your craft.  When I started writing, I began attending regional conferences for writers. Every year I attend the Romance Writers of America‘s National Conference and soak in all the wonderful information on how to write a better book.

Why romance?

I love a happy ending!  Not only in books but in movies.  I want to cheer for the hero or heroine, see them become stronger, learn life lessons, then be rewarded.

How did the ‘Jaunty Quills‘ develop?

I was writing also for Avon (Harper Collins) when a group of Avon authors decided to get together and start a blog.  At the time I was the only contemporary author.  The group has morphed over time to include authors from all different romance genres and publishers.  It’s been fun every step of the way.

What is the essence of a Cindy Kirk novel?

It’s a fun, enjoyable read with a dash of humor.

What is next for Cindy?

More books in my Jackson Hole series for Harlequin.  A return to Harper Collins with a novella that will release in December 2014.  And, who knows? That’s the beauty of writing.

More from Cindy

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Sharing Places – Part 3

Whilst researching social history for my stories I visit some fascinating places. Here are some of the places that have triggered plots, created characters or inspired a mood or a desire to return to the keyboard and write.

3. Ormesby Hall, North Yorkshire, England.

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This interesting Georgian mansion belonged to the Pennyman family for nearly four centuries and is now open to the public. It is nestled in its own grounds hidden away from the busy modern environment surrounding it.

I was delighted to be shown around the servant’s passageways when I visited. They thread through the house so that the daily running of the hall did not get in the way of the family who lived there.

The Victorian launderette is not as grand as the larger hall of Beningborough near York that gave rise to Chloe’s Friend, but the estate is a joy to walk around. You can visit the local church further up the lane and the stables which are used to this day by The Cleveland Mounted Police.

Also, there is a permanent exhibition for the model railway enthusiast and fine cakes in the tea room.

Sharing Places – Part 2

Whilst researching social history for my stories I visit some fascinating places. Here are some of the places that have triggered plots, created characters or inspired a mood or a desire to return to the keyboard and write.

2. Saltburn Gill, North Yorkshire, England.

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A ten mile, fine sandy bay sweeps between Huntcliffe and the mouth of the River Tees on the once remote northeast coast of England. The town of Saltburn nestles in the shadow of the headland and has a fascinating historical connection with smuggling in the region.

I borrowed the location for some of my nineteenth century titles. Saltburn became ’Ebton’ and the headland ‘Stangcliffe’. The location of the actual Ship Inn was used as the heart of the old fishing village. The Saltburn Gill, which runs through an ancient natural oak and ash woodland behind Cat Nab, has a rich undergrowth of Holly and Hazel and a myriad of flowers and wild birds that vary throughout the seasons making it a vibrant and beautiful place to visit at any time of the year.

It was a route used in times past by smugglers and my version of it appears in such stories as Phoebe’s Challenge and many other titles of my back list, many are yet to be converted to their eBook format.

 

Sharing Places – Part 1

Whilst researching social history for my stories I visit some fascinating places. Here are some of the places that have triggered plots, created characters or inspired a mood or a desire to return to the keyboard and write.

 1. Nunnington Hall, North Yorkshire, England.

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Twenty one miles north of the beautiful city of York is the historic estate of Nunnington Hall. Its history stretches back from Tudor times through the family’s sympathies with the Jacobite’s cause to modern day.

Built on the banks of the river Rye, it is a beautiful location to explore where peacocks roam free. I loved exploring the period rooms and also the old servant’s rooms and attic where the hall houses a fine miniature collection. The views are magnificent. It feels as if the hustle of modern day life has been left behind as you explore this beautifully preserved walk through history.

An Interview with Janet Gover

Janet Gover

My guest author this month is an experienced novelist, TV journalist, and short story writer, as well as an award-winning Australian author, Janet Gover. She has graciously taken time out of her busy, globe-trotting schedule to answer some of my questions and share her vast experience with us.
 
Welcome, Janet!

How did your childhood fuel your love of books, travel and adventure?

Hi Val – thanks for having me here on your blog.

I grew up in a tiny bush town in Queensland. There were only 18 buildings in Bowenville back then – I know this because I counted them. There was no-one else my age in the town, and my school was many miles away. I took a bus there each day – which meant I didn’t get to hang out with the other kids after school. Our nearest ‘big’ town was Toowoomba. It had movies and shops and things – but it was quite a drive to get there and we didn’t go often. I guess would have been lonely without my ponies and my books.

My Dad was a great reader and he taught me to love books as he did. It was such a great escape. I rode to the stars with Ray Bradbury, solved mysteries with Sherlock Holmes and fell in love with many a knight in shining armour.

Books were full of people and places that were such a long way from my tiny bush town. They fired my imagination. And the really great thing is – I have managed to visit some of those places I read about – although I have yet to go into space…

On January 10 2011 floods hit Brisbane and Toowoomba. Has Toowoomba changed greatly from the place you grew up in as a result of the devastation caused?

I was in Miami, Florida, working, when those floods hit. I woke up in the morning and turned on the TV news – and was shocked by the pictures I saw. It was so hard to understand how Toowoomba, a town on the top of a mountain could have a flood. I lived and worked in Brisbane as a young journalist, and that day in Miami I saw pictures of one of my favourite restaurants being washed away.

Floods are not uncommon in Australia – and people fight back. If you went there now, you wouldn’t know what had happened.

One of the things I am very proud of is my involvement with a book called 100 Stories For Queensland. I donated a short story to this project – as did many other writers. All the proceeds from sale of the book went to help flood victims. I was pleased to be able to help, even in such a small way.

You have written stories from an early age, but when did you make that initial breakthrough into print as a fiction writer?

I was a journalist for many years – working mostly in TV. I thought it would be easy to switch from writing fact to writing fiction – but I was very wrong. It was really hard.

I tried my hand at a novel when I was still working as a journalist – and it was really bad. Seriously bad! Some years later, I moved from being a journalist to a more managerial role – where I wasn’t writing daily news stories any more. Something inside me needs to write – and that’s when I seriously started to write fiction.  It took a while to change my style. My first efforts were rejected.

A holiday in Wales changed everything for me. I was very inspired by the places we visited – the fabulous scenery, the people and their history… the dragons.  I wrote a short story called The Last Dragon. It was my first published fiction (and I still love it).

I wrote short stories for a year or two – and each taught me something else about the art of writing. And every one that was published gave me a bit more confidence. My first novel, The Farmer Needs A Wife was published in 2009, and owes a lot to those short stories.

Janet, you travel widely with your work. Do you develop plots/characters for your novels as you journey, being inspired by new experiences?

I love people watching. Everywhere I go, I look and listen and learn. People are endlessly fascinating.

One thing I have learned in my travels is that whatever the cultural differences, deep down people all over the world want the same thing – they want to find someone to share their lives with. They want a home and a family. They want to give their children a good start in life. That’s why I write the sort of books I do.

I feel most comfortable writing about places I have been – I do like to properly capture the essence of a place. As I travel more, some of that is sneaking into my work. A boat cruise around the tip of Norway in mid-winter helped me to write Bring Me Sunshine. A trip to Iraq was the key to writing a troubled ex-serviceman as a hero. Living in New York has given me a heroine – we won’t meet her for two more books, but she is waiting there for me.

What places, of the many you have visited really stand out as memorable and why?

Wow – that’s a hard one. Very place has its own magic. Even though I write contemporary novels, I am a big history buff. I have visited the ruins of Carthage, of old Constantinople and Pompeii. I walked the Great Wall of China – I had a terrible cold at the time and pretty much collapsed at the end of the day, but loved it all the same. I love the ancient feel of places like this – and wonder a lot about the people who lived there.

The other thing I love is wild places – the central Australian desert, the Everglades. A frozen lake in Norway. The Rocky Mountains. Nature is beautiful and powerful…

And, I have to say – my favourite city in the world is London. I just love walking across Waterloo Bridge as the sun sets over the Thames. Beautiful!

What top tip would you give to new writers?

Be passionate about what you write. If you don’t love your story and your characters … no-one else is going to.

And respect your reader – never give them anything but the very best book you can write.

Flight to Coorah Creek, the first in a series based in the Australian outback is out in paperback this month. Could you tell us about this exiting new series?

Flight To Coorah Creek

I am loving writing about Coorah Creek. It’s a fictional town – in the far west of Queensland. Very close to the desert. In this series, I am trying to capture the feel of the small outback towns I have known all my life. These towns are a long way from the sort of amenities we are all used to. There are no shopping centres, or cinemas. Not much in the way of hospitals or schools either. Often, they hover on the brink of collapse. Coorah Creek is a mining town – if the mine was to close, the town would die.

People who live in these towns become very close to each other. They form very tight knit communities. The books are all romances – with new hero and heroine in each one. But the town and the people of the town appear in each book. It’s a chance to see the life the characters live when they move off the centre stage.

I hope to the readers, each new book will feel a little like coming home to a place you know well and to people you love.

By contrast Bring Me Sunshine was set in a much cooler environment. This was quite a change. Where did the inspiration for this story come from?

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Bring Me Sunshine is set in as wild a place as I could image – Antarctica. Well, on a cruise to Antarctica. The book was inspired by my sister-in-law – who went there with her mother… who at the time was well into her sixties. What a journey for a woman of her age!

I couldn’t afford to go there myself, but my sister-in-law helped with the research. I did take a cruise to the Arctic by way of research – which was a lot of fun.

I didn’t realise until after I had finished it – but this is the first (and so far only) book I have written that doesn’t have horses in it. There are, however, several million penguins – and who doesn’t like penguins?

It’s also the first (and so far only) book I have written with a wedding in it – which is a bit strange for a romance writer.

What is next for Janet?

I am almost finished writing the second Coorah Creek book – it has a lot of horses in it. And a fabulous hero who was inspired by a trip to Iraq.

There is a third Coorah Creek novel in the back of my head – a New York girl is just desperate to go and visit the town. But she’ll have to wait until I finish book two.

I am also planning another lighter novel – set on an archaeological dig…

And then there is this tropical island – where three sisters organise dream weddings…

And the story about the circus… (which will probably have horses in it too).

I’m not sure what order I’ll be writing these books in – one this is certain though – I am not about to run out of ideas…

More from Janet