Tag Archives: Australian author

Is it bad…

14 Feb

… that I’m a romance writer and I entirely forgot about Valentine’s Day?

Sorry! But I’ve been busy today preparing for the launch of my new book, A Case for Trust, which is out in just a few weeks.

Belated, I know, but please accept my best wishes for a beautiful day, and a fragrant French bouquet in a bucket.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Roses roses roses

Enemies to Lovers – Shakespeare edition

1 Feb

Benedick and Beatrice

I’m over at Escape Publishing’s Escapades blog today, talking about my all-time-favourite romance story line: enemies to lovers.

For me, there’s nothing more energizing than the vocal thrust-and-parry that’s so vital a part of the great enemies-to-lovers romances. Imagine Pride and Prejudice without Elizabeth’s drawing-room sparring with Mr Darcy. Imagine Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind without Scarlett’s fiddle-de-dee contempt for Rhett.

Enemies-to-lovers stories have long been favourites of mine because enemies have to work a lot harder for their Happily Ever After endings. They have to work hard on themselves to build the trust, respect and empathy so fundamental to love.

That’s why I read them; that’s why I write them. I’d love to hear your favourite examples, here or at the Escapades!


City of flowers

4 Oct

One of my favourite things in Paris? The flowers. Oh, the flowers…Paris florist 1Paris flowers

Paris hydrangeasParis dahlias

First light, last light

30 Sep

First flush

First light appeared around 7, when I’d already been awake four hours. Twilight crept in around 7, too.

There was a full day in between.

There was an impromptu visit to Chantilly and its magnificent chateau, built for Marshal and Constable of France Anne de Montmorency in the fifteenth century and lovingly preserved ever since by generations of French warrior princes.

There was almond essence wafting up from the patisserie below my writing window in the chill at 4am. It smelled warm, comforting, companionable. And yet, I’m normally repelled by almond essence.

There was the forgotten statue of Gaspard de Coligny, still imprisoned as ever the Huguenots were, behind a tall iron cage with crumbling foundations, surprising me just as it surprised me the first time I saw it.

There were the cheery green crosses announcing pharmacies, every 100 metres or so. Years ago, when my feet were blistered and bruised and bleeding from walking the cobbled streets, I was very glad Paris is apparently a city of hypochondriacs. Today it made me smile again.

There was the most delicious, subtle salmon mousse on crusty bread at lunch. I was proud to be able to string together the French for “I want to lick my plate.” it made the waitress laugh, anyway.

There was that oh-so-seductive French whisper just behind my left ear, on the coach all the way home from Chantilly. Not speaking to me, not understood by me, but still…

There was the most absurd traffic jam. Truly. I thought Mumbai had the stubbornest, stupidest drivers but it turns out that prize goes to Paris.

There was goats cheese and more baguette and fresh raspberries for supper. A little under five euros for this epicurean splurge.

2015-09-30 03.56.09Je suis très fatigué.

Tonight, it feels wonderful.

First there’s the getting there…

29 Sep

Je suis très fatigué.

My Paris neighbourhood

My Paris neighbourhood

The first (and last) time I travelled alone to Paris, I was more than a decade younger and a thousand years less tired. I’d plotted out my first days of pre-conference playtime in 15 minute intervals, determined to see every single thing in case I never returned.

As it transpired, I returned again and again over the following years. A Christmas lunch on a bateau on the Seine with my family; a romp down the Champs Elysees at midnight with some work friends, giggling like school girls; a glorious long springtime weekend with my son, just hanging out in the Jardin du Luxembourg.

But now I’m back here alone, having caught the same flight and arriving at the same ungodly hour as all those years ago. This time, though, I arrived footsore and heart-heavy, vulnerable and impatient. By the time I checked into my apartment (on the beautiful rue de Rivoli – thank you, AirBNB!), I’d been travelling more than 37 hours. In the same clothes. In the same shoes. In the same stressed-out headspace.

This time I didn’t throw my bags on the bed and rush back down onto the street to explore. This time, it was enough to sag into a chair in the streetside cafe below my apartment, order a vin rose and some lunch, and watch the traffic roar past; the impromptu friendships renewed in the middle of the intersection; the crow high on a balcony turning age-creamed walls into art deco cliche. It was enough, just to sit, just to be. Just to be in Paris.

And just like that, the magic was back. I need to rest now, but I can’t wait for tomorrow.

My Paris apartment/workshop

My Paris apartment/workshop

But I promised you pictures, so here are two. The one at the top is my neighbourhood for the next little while, taken from the salon where I’ll be working. And this one on the left is my little Paris apartment – light, bright, high enough for the street noise to be charming, and with a view to inspire all sorts of dreaming and wordsmithing.

Jusqu'à demain!

On coming home

23 Nov

imageNearly 17 years ago I discovered a little timber beach house with a magical sea view, a cooling evening breeze, a relentless ocean soundtrack and a private, sunny deck. It became my home and haven for the next three days, and my dream for the many years that followed.

Away from the beach house, my life was a tumult. I had a new baby, a newly-diagnosed dying mother and a freshly-sealed divorce. I was drowning in fear and grief and guilt – and maritally-transmitted debt. I felt overwhelmed, battered. I couldn’t see a way forward, let alone a way out.

My husband’s parents had taken my son away for a few days, and a long weekend stretched ahead emptily and aimlessly. I found myself driving north, saw a vacancy sign, enquired. Dragged my misery up the stairs of the beach house, collapsed onto the couch. I didn’t move from it for the first day, wallowing in self-pity and a pretty cheap bottle of semillon (even then, I wouldn’t touch chardonnay).

On the second day I climbed down the dunes and walked the length of the beach, and because of the crashing waves or the scuttling crabs or perhaps the ancient sands, I rediscovered my guts. Or at least, enough of my guts to not drink the rest of the cheap semillon that night.

On my last morning, I walked again down my beach and into the village at the end of it. In the struggling little art gallery, I found a painting that seemed to capture my entire stay – three days that had somehow heralded the Rest of My Life. Peregian secret
The painting lovingly laid out my sandy beach path, studded with sheoak cones, shawled in wallum, shaded in banksia, and disturbed only by a single pair of footprints. It was clearly meant for me, a souvenir, a memory, an evocation, an invitation.

I stared at the painting for an age, desperately tempted to take it home, a talisman against the mess I was returning to. But I was struggling, too, and I decided I couldn’t afford it. Instead, on my way back to the beach house, I collected a couple of cups full of the silky, clean, soft sand and took them home and poured them into my mother’s favourite crystal bowl.

The bowl and its sand travelled with me from house to house, country to country, life to life for about 17 years. Sometimes I would pause and trail my fingers through the sand, but for most of the time it sat, unregarded and untouched, on whatever counter I had next set it down.

Yesterday, the bowl with the sand was packed with my other worldly goods and stored for a few weeks until we can move properly into our new home… the little beach house with a magical ocean view, the mighty crash of waves, an immensity of stars overhead and a breeze like a benediction.

Today, I walked on my beach, my footsteps the only disturbance on the tide-tugged sand.image

I’ll do the same tomorrow.

Ghosts of the coast

20 Oct

Christmas, 1977. Coolum Beach.

Coolum Beach, c1980

Coolum Beach, c1980

I had earned a prized cassette player (remember those? You don’t?! A shame…). I used it to record songs from the built-in radio and then played them over and over, throughout that long summer holiday. The Bay City Rollers were in the top 40 that year, and so was Linda Ronstadt, singing out her soul about her own coastal retreat.

In the morning, we would scamper down the coal-hot sand to the sea’s edge, shriek at the chill of the water when it hit goose-pimpled thighs, get dumped by the surf often enough to start hacking our lungs up through our throats, then trudge back to the caravan, complaining all the while about sand itching places we couldn’t scratch in public.

In the afternoons we’d lie wherever we could find some shade, and chain-read Mills and Boons we’d bought by the dozen from the second-hand bookstore. Sometimes we’d be allowed to go alone to the cinema across the road, where we perched, squirming, on hessian slingback seats and rolled jaffas or minties along the old timber floorboards when the projector reel was being changed. That summer, a new space movie was playing, and amidst the groans of teenagers impatient with the stuttering, grainy, beach-cinema images I first saw Luke Skywalker survey the desert sands of Tatooine. 04-19-11-tatooine_full_600

At night we’d hang around the big circus tent that conjured itself for one week every summer at the edge of the caravan park. There were no prancing ponies or trumpeting elephants, though; only proselytising Christians who sang and clapped and didn’t seem to mind when we ate their chips and drank their cordial and played with their kids instead of listening to their sermons.

Coolum Beach is different now. The cinema with the hessian bag seats is long gone, and so’s the lady who ran the bookstore. And Linda Ronstadt’s retired her beautiful, smoky voice to her Blue Bayou, a sufferer of Parkinsons. The new freeway means I don’t even need to drive through Coolum Beach anymore to get to my own coastal hideaway.

But, you know, just for old times’ sake…coolum beach

Fancy a romantic coastal escape?

14 Oct

Is there anything more magical, more intriguing, more romantic and filled with possibility, than escaping to the coast?

The sea has been a constant in my life for long as I can remember. It frightens me, it sickens me, it awes me, it draws me, it inspires and renews and recreates me.

My astrological element is fire, if you believe in such things. But my soul craves the sea.

So many of my stories start and end near the coast. In Hearts on Hold, reclusive artist Cate Boyd flees Sydney’s Bondi Beach for the rocky, remote island cliffs of Mediterranean Gozo, after losing her husband to the treacherous depths of the Great Barrier Reef. My current works in progress, too, are driven by the moods and muses of the sea.

So when the chance came to leave my hometown for a little house on the beach a couple of hours north of the city, I grabbed it with grateful hands and a hopeful, yearning heart.

In just over a month I’ll be here:

Peregian secret

…and more than likely humming this.

I’m creating my own romantic coastal escape. I hope you won’t mind if I share this new adventure with you! I’d love to hear your favourite coast locations and experiences, so please drop me a line…

Sarah Belle is in the Calypso Bar!

6 Sep

Sarah Belle writes wonderful romantic comedies about women on fantastic journeys with a hint of magic! I’m delighted she’s brought some of that magic on her journey here to the Calypso Bar!

Why the Calypso Bar? Hearts on Hold is set on Gozo, said to be the true location of the mythical island of Ogygia where, in Homer’s Odyssey, Odysseus washed up on the shores and was saved by the goddess Calypso.

Our Hearts on Hold heroine, Cate Boyd, is struck by the tragedy of Calypso’s fate, doomed to give up the man she loves to the perils of the sea. If you want to find out why Calypso’s story means so much to Cate, you can find an excerpt here.

In honour of Hearts on Hold‘s stunning island setting, we’ve named our guest bar after Calypso, whose grotto home was renowned for its wonderful banquets and exotic elixirs!

So chill your cocktail shaker, pull up a stool and join me here in the Calypso Bar each week as I talk to some fascinating guests about writing, love, and their desert-island essentials (books, music, cocktails… and their favourite people, of course!).

Where is Gozo?

16 Aug

Xlendi sunsetThe question I’m asked most often about Hearts on Hold?  “Where’s Gozo?”

In the Mediterranean Sea, between the ancient civilisations of Sicily on the European continent and Libya in North Africa, lies the Maltese Archipelago. Its three islands – Malta, Gozo and Comino – comprise one of the world’s smallest states. For thousands of years its strategic importance – for trade, for culture, for war – has kept it in the covetous sights of empires and religions.

Gozo, second largest island in the Maltese achipelago after Malta, is said to be the true location of Ogygia, the home of seductress Calypso in Homer’s Odyssey.

Rich in history, rural in character, Gozo’s fortunes have forever been tied to those of its larger sister, Malta. It carries the world’s oldest free-standing structures, in legend the temples of giants. Invaded by the Ottomans in medieval times, repopulated by the Knights of Malta, occupied again by Napoleon’s French before being surrendered to the British, the people of Gozo have learned to adapt, to defend, to endure.

None of that matters to Cate Boyd. After searching for a place where nobody knows her name or asks why she’s alone, Cate has settled in the sleepy Gozo village of Xlendi (pronounced Shhlend-ee, with a sibilant, sensuous shhh at the front). Here she has privacy, anonymity, the serene life she craves, far from her former world.

Her peace is shattered when monolithic development company Vena announces its plans to level her village, and threatens to expose Cate if she stands in its way. Can the arrival of seductive, nosy professor Brandon Blackshaw really be coincidental when Vena is his research partner? Will he keep his promise to help, or will he betray her too?

As the pressure mounts, Cate must decide which is more important: her hard-won privacy, or the future of her beloved Xlendi.

Hearts on Hold is converting readers to the delights of Gozo, its warm, beautiful people and its stunning landscapes. If you can’t afford a holiday in this wonderful place, why not let your imagination and Hearts on Hold heroine Cate Boyd take you there!

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