Beating the Billionaires

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When I wrote Hot Property over two years ago, I decided to create a new kind of hero- the antithesis to what was trending at the time- the lonely billionaire. I know this is-or was- the man every romance reader dreamed of: rich, handsome with a lonely heart, looking for true love. Sorry but…yawn.

I wanted to present a challenge to the reader, a hero who didn’t have the means to offer the heroine a life of glamour and leisure, who couldn’t take her to the hot spots of the world, fly her to Paris for lunch, or give her diamonds and pearls. My hero would be, okay, sexy, but a man who worked hard to keep bread on the table and the wolf from the door. Someone who had other values and ideals, preferring the great outdoors to fast cars, yachts and fine dining.

So I conjured up Paudie, a Kerry sheep farmer, good looking, poor but honest, hot tempered, strong, stubborn and very, very Irish. He loves animals, the great outdoors, Irish music and a well-pulled pint. He has bright blue eyes and a smile to melt a thousand hearts. I fell in love with him myself as I wrote the story, and now tens of thousands of readers have done the same.

I didn’t really expect it or plan it. I thought I was taking a huge risk. But I never write to a formula or try to find the zeitgeist of the moment- which is impossible.

Hot Property is now available for free in all e-book stores worldwide. It has seen over 20000 downloads on Amazon to date, and received rave reviews. Many readers have sent me messages swooning over Paudie. Must be that Irish charm- or perhaps that readers now want the simple life in a beautiful landscape, rather than champagne and caviar.

Is this a new trend? In that case, I’m proud to have been one of the first to kick it off.

US-UK, What a Difference!

US-UK the contrast   I have noticed through the years of publishing my e-books worldwide, that there is a great difference in the settings- or should I say countries- to which US and UK readers want to escape. As I have had quite a globe-trotting life, I set my novels in the countries where I have lived- and they are quite a few. The places in which I have lived and loved the most are France and Ireland. (Also my home country- Sweden, of course, which was featured in Swedish for Beginners).

I have often been told that my sense of place is one of the best features of my books, and that the readers feel they are ‘there’ as they read. I think this is because I think very visually and feel myself I’m right in the middle of the setting I describe as I write. I ‘see’ the beautiful vistas of France and Ireland, I feel the heat, and smell the herbs and garlic of a French coq au vin, or an Irish stew with fresh soda bread. I swim in the warm waters of the Mediterranean, or walk up the grassy hills of Ireland with the wind in my hair. My greatest wish was to take my readers along with me on these trips, and if I have achieved that, I’m very happy.

My e-books sell mainly in America and Britain. But these readers have very different tastes. American readers love to ‘travel’ to Ireland, especially the wild west coast, as described in my Kerry Romance Series, the first of which,Hot Property, is free right now. UK readers, on the other hand, love going to France in their imagination, which is why my brand new Riviera romance, Selling Dreams, along with my comedy/satire, Villa Caramel, have seen amazing sales in the UK all winter.

I have my own theory about this. I think Americans love Ireland, and thus like reading about it. Many American have roots in Ireland and there is a great infinity between the two countries. People in Britain, on the other hand, have a great love of France and all things French. It’s more exotic and the weather is better, not to mention the food and wine. I can’t argue with that.

This chilly winter, I have myself, escaped to the French Riviera, and continue to do so while I write the second book in what is to become The Riviera Series.

After that, I might return to Ireland… Who knows? In any case, I’m not complaining. Vive la difference!

Brendan Behan and I

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The publication of Full Irish  my co-written Irish-American detective story has raised a few questions in my my mind, the main one being: how Irish am I really? Of course, my name suggests an Irish colleen with roots in County Cork, but that’s borrowed plumage from my marriage to an Irishman from said county. In fact, my Co-writer, Pete Morin is more Irish than I am, as his mother’s family name is Donnelly, originally from County Sligo. I have to confess to having been born in Sweden and there is no shame in that. Except when you market a book set partly in Ireland. But, although my first twenty years were spent in the country of my birth, the rest of my adult life were, apart from some years in foreign countries, spent in Ireland.

I feel more at home here than in Sweden and, indeed, I am told I speak English with an Irish accent. Not only that, my connection with this country goes back to my early childhood, when my father came here on holiday as a young man and fell in love with this beautiful country and its people. It’s partly his ‘fault’ that I met and married my Irish husband of many years. My dad used to invite Irish friends to stay in our summer house in the islands and I have been familiar with Irish voices from the tender age of five or so.

As my late father travelled around Ireland and mainly County Kerry, he befriended many an Irishman in the many pubs he visited (purely for local colour). One of these gentlemen was Brendan Behan. They met in a pub in Dunquin on the Dingle peninsula and started to talk, swap stories and (probably) risqué jokes as well. I do believe there was also some singing. (Brendan was a wonderful singer). As they parted, my father gave Brendan his card (as yo do) and said something along the lines of: “if you’re ever in Stockholm, give me a call”, not thinking for a moment this would actually happen. But it did.

A few weeks after his return home, there was a phone call from the local police station in Stockholm to the house in the islands. Did my father know an Irishman named Brendan Behan? And if so, could he come and pick him up? Now, I know that at this time. Brendan was not drinking, so he was probably just being Irish and argumentative. He was also in the company of his wife Beatrice, a pretty, soft-spoken woman. They were both immediately invited to stay with us.

This was in 1958 and, although I was just a little girl at the time, I have vivid memories of those weeks when Brendan Behan came to stay. I suppose it was because he was such a big, warm, noisy man with a great sense of humour and a loud, contagious laugh. I remember how he got up at 4 am every morning to work on the final proofs his book, The Borstal Boy, the first edition of which is still sitting in the bookcase in the summer house. He got the cover image during his stay, and proudly showed it to us. When he had finished the morning’s work, he cooked us all a Full Irish breakfast and that was my first introduction to this typically Irish feast. I have enjoyed many of those since then, but the ones cooked by Brendan Behan were the best.

There are many tales of Brendan Behan, and most of them are of him being drunk and disorderly. That is not my image of Brendan. I simply remember him as a larger-than-life man, who was so kind to us children. A man who stood on the pier on a dark, moonlit night in August and sang an Irish ballad, his beautiful voice ringing across the black waters of the bay. A man who went to a Jussi Björling charity  concert in the church on the island (Jussi had a summer house close to ours) and listened, tears rolling down his cheeks. I also remember him singing the ‘Ridi Pagliaccio‘ aria on his knees in front of my grandmother, making her both laugh and cry. Despite the fact that I, like my younger siblings, didn’t speak much English, Brendan managed to communicate with us using a smattering of Swedish he had picked up, and the few English words and phrases we knew.

My dad later told us the story of their subsequent visit to a fancy restaurant in Stockholm. The Maitre d’ took one look at Brendan and hesitated about whether he should be let in to such a select establishment, saying “that man likes to drink”. When my dad translated this to Brendan, he replied: “tell him that’s the understatement of the century”.

Brendan and my dad are both gone. I like to imagine them together in Heaven, sitting on a cloud, having a pint and singing Irish songs.

A Full Irish that Won’t Make You Fat

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Is there anything nicer than tucking into a traditional Irish breakfast? A naughty treat that’s good for the soul, but perhaps not so good for your figure…

But there is another kind of Full Irish that won’t impact on your waistline – a sizzling political thriller, set in Boston and Ireland, that will have you at the edge of your seat until you have turned the very last  page. It might even make you laugh as you read the tongue-in-cheek prose and the mad dialogue.

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As a former fitness teacher and health freak, I urge you to turn away from the sausages and bacon, and resist the smell of that sinful plate of temptation. Have a cup of tea and a slice of Irish soda bread instead, and open your Kindle to enjoy this fun read. If you pre-order now, you’ll get it at the rock-bottom price of 99 cents!

ORDER IT HERE AND GET IT IN YOUR KINDLE ON THE 1ST OF DECEMBER

Full Irish Cover MEDIUM WEB

FULL IRISH- A Political Suspense Like No Other

Full Irish Cover MEDIUM WEB

 

I was going to be lazy- as it’s Saturday night- and just reblog Pete’s’ post  But then I thought I should really give my own take on our collaboration of this quirky, fun political suspense, full of twists and turns and dark humour.  I owe it to Pete, as he put such hard work and effort into it. We both did. I’m very driven as a writer but, to my surprise, so is he, which I didn’t expect at the start. The fact that we’re both impatient and a little pedantic caused a tiny bit of friction at the beginning of our collaboration, as the frustration of trying to match our styles and ideas grew. It was little bit like the push-me-pull-you animal in Doctor Dolittle, pulling in different directions. But with time, we adapted and found a good way to write together. I think, as the project took shape, we parked our egos at the door, so to speak, and started to care about the story and how to make it the best we could. Any collaboration has its teething problems, of course, but it didn’t take us long to find a smooth path and then we were rolling and enjoying the journey.

I have known Pete a number of years, ever since the good-ol’ Authonomy days and we have been great Internet friends since then. I have enjoyed his honesty and wry humour on many occasions. But one especially comes to mind. I few years ago, I was invited to take part in a chat show on national radio here in Ireland. Eamon Delaney and I were going to talk about our different experiences of life in the Irish diplomatic service. This was toward the end of the Celtic Tiger era and RTE still had money to spend on tiny ‘celebs’ such as me. I was put up at a swanky hotel in Dublin at their expense the night before the show. Finding myself all alone in this hotel room, I thought I’d message a friend to show off. Nobody was available, expect Pete who, to my e-mail of ‘woohoo, guess where I am, etc’ just replied: ‘stay away from the minibar’. Which made me laugh and also put me firmly in my place.

We started exchanging ideas at the beginning of May, outlining plot and characters, and got stuck into the real work about a week later. Since then, we have worked at a steady pace all through the summer months and into autumn, and here we are-with  a finished, polished, edited novel ready to go in just under six months.

What is it about? The story in a nutshell:

A Dublin reporter is on a mission to find the murderer of an honest politician and close friend. A Boston lawyer is hired to dig up dirt on a conniving Irish competitor.

When the two collide at a famous County Kerry castle and discover their mutual interests, the ensuing game plan is more Pink Panther than Hercule Poirot.

Full Irish marks the return of Paul Forté and his wife, Shannon, and the introduction of Finola McGee. In a sometimes madcap, sometimes dark adventure, Shannon lands a blow against lecherous politicians, McGee shows off her pole dancing prowess, an Anglo-Irish butler turns double-agent, and the zygomatic bone takes disproportionate abuse. But can the trio unravel the web of conspiracy stretching from the back corridors of Leinster House to the polished inner sanctum of the Massachusetts Senate?

Against the backdrop of the windswept west coast of Ireland and the watering holes of Dublin and Boston, Full Irish exposes a rivalry that goes to the very heart of politics.

 

We loved writing it. We hope readers will love it even more.

FULL IRISH will be published at the end of November.

 

http://petemorin.wordpress.com/2014/11/01/a-full-irish-holiday/

 

Why Readers Need to Do More than Read

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As I work hard to finish Selling Dreams, my fourteenth novel, which will be published in December, my thoughts go to my readers, especially those who have been so supportive and encouraging. It’s mainly because of them that I have upped my writing speed and work harder than ever to produce a book every five to six months. It’s their enthusiasm in many e-mails and Facebook messages that spurred me to produce yet another title, this time with a different setting. It’s not because of them that I write. But they are the reason I try harder.

I write because I love writing, the thought process and the magic of creating new characters, setting the story in places I have been and loved. This new one, which I plan to follow up with two more books, turning it into a new series, is set in the south of France, where I have spent so many holidays and shorter breaks. It’s magic at any time of the year and I want  to take my readers there on an imaginary journey. As I write, I’m there myself and the story is beginning to shape up in surprising ways. Strange that you start off with one story in your head, but always end up with quite a different one as the characters take on their own lives and do things you hadn’t planned at all. That’s the magic of writing.

When you’ve finished the book and get out of the writing trance, you begin to look at the next step: publishing and marketing. Of course I write mainly for the love of it but what is a story without readers? Hard working writers do actually want some kind of rewards for their hard work. And hard work it is. I spend an average of four hours a day just writing. Marketing and publicity take another hour or so on top of that. Revising, rewriting, editing, formatting, cover design comes next once you’ve finished a book. AND… the (insert bad word) blurb! That’s nearly harder than writing the whole book. You try to put the gist of a 300+ page book into a few sentences that will sell it to new readers. An impossible task  that makes you want to scream. Then you’re off again on a new book, which has to be ready five months later because readers want the next one very soon.

But enough about the hardworking writer. I’m now turning to readers. Yes, my readers have been amazingly supportive and kind. Yes, they have posted wonderful reviews and often talk to me on Facebook and Twitter and Google+ and all those other venues on the Internet. I love that. It’s one of the best things about self-publishing, apart from being my own boss and making all the decisions myself. But here is my message:

TO MY READERS

If you want your favourite author to keep writing, you have to help them sell their books.

How can you help them? By spreading the word. By creating that powerful ‘word of mouth’ that authors need for books to sell. It is that magic ‘thing’ that keeps books selling and keep writers writing. No writer writes ONLY for themselves, even if the love of writing helps create great books. I hope I never lose that love, but writing will turn into a very lonely occupation with no readers.

How can you, the reader keep me writing? By telling your friends, neighbours, cousins, aunts and uncles about my books. By chatting about them on Facebook, your local café, in the supermarket, the hairdresser’s, the dentists, well perhaps not there, but you get my drift. Without your help, the writer might not feel motivated to try so hard anymore. And if that happens, you’ll have fewer and fewer books to read.

I’m a reader too. I try to shout about my favourite authors, because I want them to keep writing.

Thank you for reading this. Now get out there and shout while I finish this book. If you want another one, you know what to do…

Sex and the heroine

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I have had a long discussion with fellow writers about the heroine in my current work in progress: Hot Pursuit, #3 in my Hot series, after  #1 Hot Property and #2 Hot Gossip .

This was my question:

Lately, my heroines have become more sassy and independent, not denying their need for sex, even if it’s not about everlasting love and marriage.

The traditional heroine in romantic fiction is gentle and sweet and often comes across as a victim until the hero rescues her. She doesn’t initiate sex and is always a little coy when a man makes a move and the resulting lovemaking is often something she is pulled into against her moral principles. Some of my earlier heroines have been a little like this.

But when I started writing the Hot series, I thought I’d portray a more modern woman, who enjoys sex and is not afraid to show it. She can also have a fling with someone she fancies with no strings, until she finally finds ‘the one’.

In my current WIP, the heroine has a purely physical relationship with a man who’s drop-dead gorgeous, younger than her but not her match intellectually. Of course, later on she will meet someone with whom she finds that true love but her path is littered with temptations and complications. The heroine has a a sexual relationship with a man who doesn’t want more than that. So by mutual agreement, they see each other, have fun and their dates always end up in bed.

But  at the same time, she has a deep friendship with another man, who doesn’t ask for sex but leans on her for comfort and companionship. This man is troubled and damaged. She shares things with him she could never share with her lover. That relationship is platonic but very deep and loving in another way.

So, the question is: will this new kind of heroine, much closer to what many young women are like today, be sympathetic to the reader? Will it be acceptable that the heroine has needs and isn’t afraid to show it and that she jumps into bed just for fun from time to time? She’s a Sex and the City kind of girl. More Marilyn Monroe than Audrey Hepburn. More stilettos than sensible shoes…

This allows me to write some hot sex scenes… ;)

My question is: will this woman be sympathetic and more realistic? Or will readers hate her and label her as a slut?

Of course,  there are books in the romance genre from sweet romance (with no sex)  to erotic romance where they may be having sex even before the first date and everywhere in between. There will be readers who will see her as more realistic and sympathetic, others who won’t.  Tastes differ. Opinions vary. It’s still an interesting question to me.

I’ve had conflicting reactions to this query.  I’d love to hear more on this subject.

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