Being such an avid reader seemed naturally to morph into wanting to do what these wonderful writers did. My mother very proudly kept my grade two composition book in which I penned a heartfelt wish to become the new Enid Blyton (my obsession at that stage Ė my reading life has been marked by particular crazes. We wonít talk about the Dorothy Dunnett period). At least you can say I had a sense of vocation very early.
When I was eight, that same mother was so desperate to shut me up Ė in between reading, I used to talk a LOT Ė that she gave me a Mills & Boon romance. That was back in the days when you were lucky to get a kiss at the end. Rather tame by todayís standards. But I was immediately hooked. The emotion and the fact that a woman is so central to the story made these books precious to me. And I still feel that way about a good romance. Donít get me started on why I think romance is empowering for women, contrary to all the intellectual claptrap you hear about romance novels propping up the patriarchal conspiracy.
I started my first novel when I was in grade three Ė at least I took the promises I made myself in grade two seriously! An exciting saga about horsenapping that I never actually finished. I fiddled with various stories until I left high school, when I managed to finish a historical in the style of Kathleen Woodiwiss. Pretty dire and well deserving its place under the bed. Which is where everything else I wrote ended up over the coming years. Started to get crowded down there!
In between, I did an English literature degree at Queensland University. What bliss! Someone actually wanting me to read all day! I spent three years working in a bank before living in the UK for two years. That was a wonderful time when I got to see so many places in Europe and Britain that Iíd read about with all that dedicated library mooching. Iíve been back a couple of times since and the magic has never waned.
I came back to Australia determined to act on my writing ambitions so thatís when my gypsy years started. So many jobs, so little money. Retail. Hospitality. Marketing. An art gallery. Technical writing for training companies. Eventually, I settled in to a twelve year stint in Sydney (thanks to a totally fluked win on a quiz show which funded the move). There I worked at a charity which subtitled TV programs for the deaf and hearing impaired.
During all this time I wrote. As many beginner romance writers do, I decided category would be an easy way into the industry. Even though my heart has always been with long juicy historicals. I finished seven short contemporary stories, all of which were rejected very nicely by Harlequin. By this stage, under the bed was more crowded than the center of Hong Kong at Chinese New Year. Then I worked on a pile of totally unmarketable historicals, some of which I finished, most of which I didnít. More boxes for the dust bunnies to eat in the bedroom. Youíll notice housework never featured in my mixed-up career choices.
What made the biggest difference to me was joining Romance Writers of Australia. Suddenly I had like-minded people around me (up until now, Iíd basically been working alone) who could offer advice and encouragement. I had a writing group, Turramurra Romance Writers, to work with at regular monthly meetings. I had competitions I could enter that gave me an indication whether I had anything to offer or whether I was just kidding myself. I had a conference to go to every year where I could talk myself silly.
Then one day, I got this idea for a dark sexy Regency historical about a duke who wants to marry his mistress, London's most notorious courtesan. And 'No Ordinary Duchess', which Avon released in April 2007 as Claiming The Courtesan, was born. Claiming The Courtesan went on to final in the Romance Writers of America RITA Award for best Regency Romance and the Romance Writers of Australia Romantic Book of the Year Award. Among numerous awards, CTC was both best debut and book of year of 2007 in Michelle Buonfiglio's Romance: B(u)y the Book, best long historical in the Booksellers Best Awards and best first historical in the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Awards. I was also delighted to be voted best new author in the All About Romance reader poll of 2007.
My second book for Avon, Untouched, was published in December 2007. It also won numerous awards and finaled in both the RITA Awards and the Australian Romantic Book of the Year Awards.
In January 2009, Tempt The Devil was released to amazing reviews, including a Top Pick from Romantic Times magazine. Tempt The Devil finaled in the most popular historical category of the Australian Romance Reader Association Awards and won the Golden Quill Award as Best Regency Romance of 2009.
Captive of Sin, my November 2009 release, also received wonderful reviews, including another Top Pick from Romantic Times. It was selected as one of the 100 best books of 2009 by prestigious industry journal Publishers Weekly, one of only five mass market paperbacks to make the list. So far, Captive of Sin has finaled in 12 contests and has won the Golden Quill as Best Historical Romance of 2009. It was voted most popular historical romance of 2009 in the Australian Romance Reader Awards. Iím delighted to say I was voted Favorite Australian Romance author of 2009 in the same awards.
In June 2010, my fifth book, My Reckless Surrender, was released to more great reviews including another RT Top Pick. The Australian Romance Readers Association voted this book their favorite historical romance of 2010 and again, I was voted Favorite Australian Romance Author. In July, 2010, my extended short story 'Upon a Midnight Clear' appeared in The Mammoth Book of Regency Romance.
Midnight's Wild Passion came out to rave reviews and another RT Top Pick in May 2011. It has since been voted most popular historical romance of 2011 by the Australian Romance Readers Association. At the same awards night, I was delighted to be voted, for the third time in a row, favorite Australian romance writer of 2011.
My books are available in Turkey, Japan, Australia, Germany, France, North America, Spain, Russia, Italy, Indonesia, Thailand, the United Kingdom, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Greece and Poland.
I was born in Brisbane, Australia, and grew up on an avocado farm with views of Moreton Bay and Stradbroke Island. As a result, my ideal setting ever since has involved lots of water Ė even if itís just a large bathtub with me lolling around in it.
The other element in my ideal setting is lots and lots of books. I was the sort of kid who spent her childhood with her nose buried between the pages of a book. To me, the worlds I read about were at least as real and ten times as exciting as anything that happened to me in Redland Bay. I still think one of lifeís finest pleasures is picking up a great book and just losing myself in it for however long it takes to finish it.