Posted in Kees2Review, Meet an Author

Interview with Cathryn Hein


Here is a post from Mission Romance that goes back to 2012 when rural romance was hitting the shelves and gaining popularity. 

Heart of the Valley coverHi Juanita, and thanks for hosting me again on Mission: Romance. It’s a delight to be here.

I’ve just returned home after spending a week away on a library tour of my old stomping ground, the south east of South Australia. This is the area where I was born, brought up and love, and as I travelled around the district noting all the familiar sights and all the changes that have occurred in the twenty-five years since I lived there, I felt the tug in my heart of home. And I have to admit it surprised me. I didn’t expect to feel it, yet there it was, that pull of longing that seems to come from somewhere deep inside.

These feelings made me wonder if I’ve been fibbing in the other blog posts and interviews I’ve done to promote my latest release, Heart of the Valley. At its core, Heart of the Valley is a story about the meaning of home – is it a place or is it where your heart lies – and I’ve made a big deal about how my sense of home has changed over the years, thanks to the frequency that my partner and I move around. Home, for me, isn’t a place but wherever Jim is. Yet how to explain those pangs?

Then this morning I had to sort through a heap of photos and the pangs returned. Except this time I wasn’t looking at Blue Lake in summerpictures of south-east SA. These were photos of the Hunter Valley – images of vineyards, restaurants, amazing blue skies, verdant pastures, wildlife, hills, golf courses. Memories. And they tugged, just as hard and just as strong as those I felt in South Australia, and that left me doubting myself. Perhaps it was true. Perhaps my heart did lie in these places, split between SA and NSW.

Testing the theory, I scanned some photos of our time in France and there it was again. That feeling of longing, of special times, of home.

What does this all mean? Well, I think it shows that the places where we’ve felt love gain extra significance in our memories. They stay embedded in our hearts, an integral part of us, associated forever with that most remarkable of emotions. So I stand by my statement that home is where my heart lies, but the places where I’ve lived and loved, like the Hunter Valley, will always remain special because of what I’ve experienced there. It’s also why I write about them, with intensity and passion. These places are as important to me as they are to my characters and if I can make readers feel that connection too,  as I hope I’ve done in Heart of the Valley, then I’ve done my job well.

Posted in Kees2Review

Looking Back on Mission Romance


In the early days of my writing and blogging efforts, I had a review site called Mission Romance. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some of the posts that appeared on that now defunct website. These posts look back on what soon became a passion for me. And what better way to start a journey into the past than with Historical author, Erin Grace:

51eV6i6qeZL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_Grace by name, Grace by nature. My guest in the armchair today is the delightful Erin Grace. 

As a collector and reproducer of antique lace, Erin feels every snippet of the precious fabric holds a unique story. So too, do the hand-sewn historical costumes Erin loves to wear at every opportunity without the excuse of an occasion. 

To escape the world of sales and marketing, she spins tales of disaster starring plucky heroines, dastardly deeds and hotly heroic heroes. Here’s Erin to tell you more: 

I live in the Blue Mountains (West of Sydney), NSW. My favourite place to write is wherever I can find the time to do it. Mostly I’m on the run with the family, so I take a notebook in my handbag and jot things down while I’m waiting at Scouts, Army Cadets, etc. 

My journey is a short one compared to most. I did have a dream one night, and the story wouldn’t leave me alone until I wrote it all down. It took me six weeks, in between working full-time and family. At first I was ‘horrified’ I was writing a romance as I’d never even read one before, so much so that I took to ‘burying’ the manuscript in encrypted files so no one could stumble upon them. Then late one night I was madly typing and my husband kept noticing me switching screens every time he came into the room. He thought I was having an online affair…so I had to confess what I was doing. 

I guess like many authors, my dream is to write fulltime…and actually earn a living. But, I am having fun in the meantime and feel a real sense of achievement in having had five books published, and have just signed a six book contract with a new publisher. 

What inspires you to write and when did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Sometimes it can be something I overhear or see, a song lyric or an idea that comes from something I’m already working on. I think after I wrote my first book, there was no turning back. 

Which comes to you first? The character or the story/idea?

Most often, I would have to say the idea comes to me. It is usually in the form of a ‘scene’ which could be in the middle of what becomes the book. I often write from the middle outwards. Once I have the idea, I write down a rough synopsis, usually in point form, while I have it in my head. 

Did you choose your genre or did your genre choose you?

As I mentioned in my ‘journey’, the genre definitely chose me. Throughout high school I was an avid Stephen King fan. I had never got around to reading romance books like my friends were doing at the time.

I enjoy writing in the genre as it gives me the opportunity to explore complex emotions when dealing with various situations and characters, both male and female. And I also enjoy delving into the historical side of things. What my characters ate, the clothing they wore, healthcare at the time, etc. 

What is your favorite scene in your book?

Favourite scene? That’s always a tough question. There are some I like for different reasons…it makes you laugh or cry, or sometimes it could be a heated argument. 

But, with my heroine in my latest book CHRISTMAS EVE AT ETFORD PARK, Lily is a reluctant cook who holds no pretense about her culinary skills… 

Lily reached out and steadied herself against the back of the kitchen chair then slowly sat down. Remnants of the evening’s baking lay strewn across the old wooden table. Of all her efforts in cooking, she considered her apple pie the most decent so far. Well, at least it was edible.

And, in the coming weeks her futile skills would be pushed to their limits. Around the kitchen sat linen covered bowls filled with brandy soaked dried fruits waiting to be transformed into highly questionable Christmas cakes and puddings. Countless mince pies, gingerbread and other ‘treats’ would be turned out and no doubt devoured by her aunts various ladies groups and parishioners.

At first she thought her aunt would make her stop cooking altogether for it was truly terrible. But, after catering to the good people of Speckles Wood for nearly a year now, she’d come to the conclusion that when it came to free food, people were rarely choosy.  

Tell me a little about your favourite character in your book.

Oh no…you’re making me choose between my ‘children’! But, I do like my heroine, Lily Bowden. She has a lot of pressure upon her, coming from various people in her life and for different reasons. I feel I can relate to her at times when she just wants to split herself into enough pieces to be everywhere and everything to all these people. 

What was the hardest part to write in your book?

The ‘saggy middle’ is always the hardest, because that’s when you have to ensure you keep the conflict moving the story forward. Nothing worse than having your characters ‘feeling’ bored or running out of things to say. 

Who is your favorite author or genre?

Gee, you’re good with the tough questions.

Historical is my first love, and Julie Garwood is my favourite author in that genre. But it’s a pretty tight squeeze on my top shelf with authors like Georgette Heyer, Amanda Quick, Anne Gracie, Lisa Kleypas and Anna Campbell. 

I do admit for having a weak spot for time-travel too, especially those set in ancient Scotland. One of our own RWA authors, Gail Symmonds, writes fabulous time travel romances. 

What book do you consider your favourite read of all time?

Ransom – Julie Garwood. I have read it at least eight times. 

If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Georgette Heyer. I think she would be fascinating to talk to. I love her wit and way with words. 

CHRISTMAS EVE AT ETFORD PARK 

1849, England

Nearly a year since her father died during the London Cholera epidemic, Lily Bowden finds herself in a tiny village in Kent, trapped in a life of unpaid servitude. Along with her mother and younger sister, she relies upon the fragile goodwill of her minister uncle and his overbearing wife.

After suffering injuries during a battle in India, Gabriel Holsworthy returns to England, only to find himself languishing in a military hospital in Chelsea. As a second son, he’d gained little favour with a demanding father and is unhappily reluctant to go when he is summoned home to Etford Park. Gabriel must accept his brother’s tragic death…but it’s the ghosts of his own past that haunt him.

With Christmas approaching, Lily finds it impossible to be joyful, especially as her poor sister slips into a deep melancholy over their late father.  Lily no longer believes in the goodness of others, the Christmas Spirit …or the chance of finding love.

For Gabriel, he is adamant never to risk his heart again. When he meets Lily, he is stunned by the spark of passion ignited within, but determined to extinguish it before it grows. No unruly slip of a girl will turn his head…or touch his soul. He will be as bitter as his father…as cold as the first Christmas snow.

In the season of healing and forgiveness, will Christmas bring sorrow for Lily and Gabriel, or will Christmas bring them love, the greatest gift of all?