Saturday, March 3, 2012

Welcome, Paula, to "Romance...and a little bit of Texas." You've come a long way to visit! I know you live in the UK, but where?.. in general terms, of course. What does the area look like?

Thanks so much for having me as your guest, Celia! I live in the suburbs of the city of Manchester in North West England. Manchester is probably best known these days for its two football teams, but it’s a fascinating city in many other historically ways, too. We have the remains of a Roman fort here, and a few remnants of the medieval market town. During the 18th century Industrial Revolution, Manchester became the centre of the cotton industry, with hundreds of cotton mills (spinning and weaving). The first modern canal was built here in 1761 and the first passenger railway ran from Manchester to Liverpool.
Can you tell from this how much I love the history of my adopted city? I could also tell you so much more about North West England, which is where I’ve always lived, but my favourite part is the Lake District, a National Park about 50 miles from Manchester, which is a beautiful area of lakes (as its name suggests) and mountains, and holds a lot of wonderful memories for me of my many visits there. It’s where I’ve set two of my novels (so far).
For us in the United States, read "soccer" when Paula speaks of "football!" Okay, back to the questions.
The cover for Fragrance of Violets is stunning. How long have you been writing? I know you're a retired teacher--like so many of us--but when did you first begin to write?

Since I learned to write, I think. I’ve made up stories in my head for as long as I can remember and started writing them when I was about 7 or 8. My first stories were school stories (so maybe I was destined to become a teacher?). I progressed to romances when I was in my teens. They were very ‘cheesy’ but were read avidly by my friends! I had my first romance novel published when I was in my 20’s, and although I had a break from writing novels for nearly 30 years, I’ve now come back to writing romance again.
What stereotype would you describe yourself? Methodical or haphazard? Impulsive or deep thinker? Happy-go-lucky or hesitant? Plotter or Panster? 

Oh, I used to be so methodical and organized when I was teaching, but that went slightly out of the window once I retired! Now I try to be methodical but it doesn’t always work out that way! Impulsive – yes, sometimes, but I’ll weigh up pros and cons before making any big decisions. I can be hesitant about some things, but happy-go-lucky with others. And I’m definitely a pantser! I start a new story with what I like to call a ‘vague idea’ but then the characters take over. Sometimes I try to haul them back, but more often they know better than I do. So I let them run with their story! So-what stereotype? A bit of a mixture, I think!
It's a good answer--I like it. Maybe we're all a mixture of stereotypes. So, why do you write--for money or the love of it?

I never made any decision to ‘become’ a writer and never thought I’d make any money from it. Writing is as natural to me as breathing, so any money is a bonus. The money I got from my early romance novels (with Mills and Boon/Harlequin) was, of course, very welcome at a time when I was bringing up two daughters on my own. But, when I came back to writing fiction, I started with fan-fiction which had no monetary reward. Basically, I want to writes stories that I enjoy writing and other people enjoy reading. That’s enough reward for me.

What kind of movies do you enjoy? Do you ever cry in movies?
My taste in movies is somewhat eclectic; I enjoy a whole gamut of different genres. I’ve always liked musicals (both on stage and screen) – and can’t wait for the movie of Les Miserables to come out later this year, with the wonderful Hugh Jackman. I like movies based on real events, too, unless the ‘history’ has been distorted out of all recognition. Minor inaccuracies I can cope with but a blatant disregard for truth has my hackles well and truly raised. However, movies like ‘The King’s Speech’ and ‘Apollo 13’ are among my top 10 favourites. I enjoy Rom-Coms too, with Bridget Jones being one of my favourites, together with ‘The American President’. I don’t like paranormal or fantasy, and definitely don’t ever watch horror. Crying in movies – it’s usually a happy ending that makes me cry, such as when Emile returns at the end of South Pacific. I always cry too when Jim Lovell’s voice is finally heard over the radio after Apollo 13 gets back to earth!  

No wonder you're such a good author--you're a bundle of emotion! What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?
Write. Don’t put it off until you can ‘find time’, otherwise you’ll never find the time. Learn by reading other books in the genre which appeals to you, not by studying all the ‘How to Write’ advice. There’s so much of the latter on the internet, it’s impossible to take it all in, and if you’re struggling to follow all the so-called ‘rules’ you’ll never get further than the first chapter.

The advice to "just write" is the best kind. How else can a new author learn?
Describe your novels in one sentence without mentioning names or titles.

Whoa! Good question! One sentence—okay: My novels are usually about two characters who have some issue(s), either internal or external (or both) to resolve, but who struggle to overcome these and, in the process, learn more about themselves and each other.

Excellent answer--I don't know how you could do it any better. Your newest release, Fragrance of Violets sounds like a wonderful love story. Will you give us a short synopsis of the story?

The title comes from a quote by Mark Twain: “Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that had crushed it”, and it’s a story of two people who need to forgive each other and also deal with other issues in their lives.
~*~*~*~Abbey Seton distrusts men, especially Jack Tremayne who destroyed their friendship when they were teenagers. Ten years later, they meet again. Can they put the past behind them?

Abbey has to forgive not only Jack, but also her father who deserted his family when she was young. Jack holds himself responsible for his fiancĂ©e’s death. He’s also hiding another secret which threatens the fragile resumption of his relationship with Abbey.
Will Abbey ever forgive him when she finds out the truth?  

Now the best part--an excerpt:
Abbey swung her car into the car park and pulled up beside the shop. After she’d unlocked the side door and switched on the light, she returned to the car and opened the boot.
She’d just lifted out the first box when a voice startled her.
“Want some help with that?”
She spun round in the direction of the voice. It was dark but she didn’t need to see him. Her mouth went dry and her hands tightened on the box.
“No, thanks, I can manage.”
Jack Tremayne stepped into the dim light cast by one of the car park lamps. As her eyes adjusted, Abbey caught her breath. His dark sweatshirt stretched across wide shoulders and broad chest, and mid-blue jeans encased his slim hips and long legs. No longer a teenage boy, but a man whose compelling figure exuded confident masculinity. Something deep inside her turned a double somersault.
“What the hell are you doing here?” Resentment at her involuntary reaction to him lent an extra sharp tone to her voice.
“Welcome to Rusthwaite,” he said with amused irony.
“You aren’t welcome here. Not by me, not by anyone.”
He shrugged. “Maybe not, but I’m back, and I intend to stay.”
Shock ran through her like a cold shower. “You’re staying?”
“Why not? It’s my home.”
“The home you betrayed,” she said bitterly.
“That was eight years ago. People forget.”
As he took a few steps towards her car, the light spilling from the shop doorway illuminated his face. His blond hair seemed to have darkened to the colour of light sand and was brushed back instead of the tousled look she remembered. But several stray strands escaped over his broad forehead, and her glance took in his handsome features – the blue eyes, the high cheekbones, the well-defined jaw, the perfectly shaped mouth and the cleft above his chin.
A quiver rippled through her but she ignored it. “No, Jack. This village hasn’t forgotten. People here won’t ever forgive you.”
“What about you?” His eyes challenged her, forced her to remember the night everything had gone wrong between them.
She returned his look with a defiant glare and tried to distance herself from the unwanted sensations inside her that threatened to destroy her composure. “I don’t think you and I have anything further to say to each other. So if you’ll excuse me, I need to unload this shop stock.”
“Are you sure I can’t help?”
“Absolutely sure.”
“Okay,” he said briefly as she turned away and took the box into the shop.
When she returned to the car, he’d gone. She stared through the darkness towards the main road, but he’d obviously walked quickly. There was no-one there.
She made herself concentrate on carrying the boxes into the storeroom and stacking them tidily, ready to be unpacked the next morning. But as she put down the last box, she realised she was shaking.
Meeting Jack Tremayne again had catapulted all her feelings.
Where can we find this book?
In e-book and paperback format from Whiskey Creek Press and also from  or  It’s also on Bookstrand and should also appear on Fictionwise soon.

Where can we find you?
My personal blog is and the group blog to which I contribute weekly is
In celebration of Whiskey Creek Press's Ninth Birthday Party this month, some of the novels were selected to go up for 99cents--Paula's first novel, His Leading Lady, was chosen as one of the nine. "Nine for 99 cents." Try it!    DIRECT LINK FOR HIS LEADING LADY, 99CENTS FOR WCP BIRTHDAY PARTY.
SHORT BLURB FOR His Leading Lady--99cents.
Jess Harper decides to pose as her twin sister who has disappeared. Attraction sparks between her and theatre director Kyle Drummond, but is he treating her as a substitute for Lora - in real life as well as in the show?

~*~*~Paula--Thank you so much for being my guest today. Congratulations on your second novel with Whiskey Creek Press, and many best wishes for its success!



  1. Retirement does seem to make a difference. My days go so much faster than they ever did. I just don't know how that happens!

    Your books look really good, Paula!

    Morgan Mandel

  2. Great advice to new writers. Following all the rules can make a writer crazy!

  3. Great blog, Paula and Celia. Good questions, good answers. Paula, I loved the Lake District, too, the short time I was there. And I flew in and out of Manchester a dozen times in two years. Wonder if our paths may have crossed? Fragrance of Violets was a book filled with heart-tugging family relationships as well as a sweet love lost and found again story. I wish you success with it.

  4. Hi Paula. Yet another coincidence! I lived in Manchester for many years, in the Cheetham Hill area, and did my first degree at Manchester Uni. My eldest son still lives there and my youngest, although living here in Spain, still supports Man City.

  5. Thank you so much for having me as your guest today, Celia - it's lovely to be 'visiting' you in Texas!

  6. Hi Morgan - I love retirement, and don't know now how I found the time to go out to work!

    Susan - I think the trick is to know the rules, so that you know which you can break!

    Thanks, Linda - I do wish I had known you when you were living over here, my dear friend!

    Jenny, our mutual 'coincidences' are building up, aren't they? ;-)

  7. Excellent questions with really perfect responses. Paula gives lots of good advice to the budding writer.
    Lots of luck with your latest, the cover is wonderful as I am sure the content is.

  8. Great advice, Paula for aspiring writers.

  9. Great advice and good job describing your books in one sentence. I've got to work on that!

  10. You have some very nice covers, Paula! And its such a great hook to start a book with two people who have a broken past. The conflicts build upon the plot and characters that way. Best wishes!

  11. Thanks, Margaret, I love the cover too.

    Thanks, Roxe Anne.

    Jen, I really had to think hard to describe my books in one sentence!

  12. Thanks, Maggie, I love my two main characters in 'Fragrance of Violets' because they both made mistakes and then learnt from them.

  13. It's funny about stereotypes, because I think most of us break them! Best of luck with your new release, Paula.

  14. The bestbooks, like yours, Paula, address real life issues. Characters in need of healing and forgiveness before they can go on is a universal theme.

  15. Hi Jannine, I think most of us are a mixture when it comes to stereotypes - and hopefully our characters are too!

  16. Thanks, Ana - as you say, forgiveness is a universal theme and comes in all shapes and forms.

  17. Hello Paula...I'm zipping in and out here, but wanted to say hello! Beautiful picture of the Lake District. I can for sure see why you love it!

  18. Hi Debra - thanks for zipping in! The photo shows my favourite part of the Lake District, around the village of Hawkshead and the large lake called Windermere.

  19. Good luck with the book, Paula. I'll be back in the NW myself in the next couple of weeks x

  20. A lovely interview, Paula and Celia, with lots of great advice. Your warmth for your characters comes across in your writing, Paula.

  21. Thanks, Suzie. Keep in touch when you get back here and maybe we can meet up!

  22. Thanks, Rosemary. I fall in love with all my heroes and love my heroines too!

  23. Paula and Celia, what a delightful interview! Paula, it was wonderful getting to know more about you. Your Manchester reminds me of mine in New Hampshire with a triple AAA hockey team for the LA Kings, and Crystal Lake on the outskirts of the city.

    I love Mark Twain's quote and your cover for "Fragrence of Violets" is stunning. May you have many sales!