Today I have a Q&A with each of the launch authors for the brand new Harlequin venture, Escape Publishing.
Firstly, congratulations on your new release with Escape Publishing!
Tell us about your romance novel.
Rhian: Thank you. I’m excited to be part of the Escape Publishing launch and looking forward to a long association with them. Christmas Wishes is the first in a series of novellas set around holidays. It’s a friends to lovers story that was inspired by a ‘real life’ friend who challenged me to write him into a book. Of course I had to put him in a pair of tights just to annoy him. 🙂
Rebekah: Lora Blackgoat, smuggler and mercenary, has been lying low after a job gone bad made her a laughing stock in the industry. When a childhood friend turns to her for help, Lora leaps to restore her reputation and starts hunting a killer who is stalking the gas-lit streets. She never expects that her path will lead her to the Order of Guides, a sadistic militant religious organisation – or to Roman, a deadly and dangerously attractive half-angel warrior who also hunts the killer. When Lora discovers that the killer has broken fundamental laws of magic to enter the city, and also uncovers a conspiracy that leads back into her own dark past.
Lee: My story is about a twenty nine year old lawyer, on a fast track to a partnership with one of Sydney’s biggest law firms, who is blackmailed with naked photographs taken of her when she was a law student. Knowing he’s the best man for the job, Allegra recruits ex SAS Commander, Luke Neilson, to track down the blackmailer, unaware of the part he played in her brother’s death in Afghanistan.
Ainslie: Grease Monkey Jive is a full-length hyper-real contemporary romance. It’s about changing the game and fancy footwork. It’s about a girl who thinks romantic love is make-believe and a boy who’s a player. It’s sassy and sexy, it has sequins and surfers. What more could you want? Our hero and heroine would never normally be the same room together, let alone on a dance floor and in a competition that sees them both questioning what they want in life and love. It’s also an ensemble story with a big cast of characters from the heroes’ buddies to the heroine’s seamstress grandma.
It has its own soundtrack – and it’s funny!
Keziah: Chains of Revenge is a about an ex-slave who becomes a Warlord and returns to take revenge on the Princess who was once his owner.
Why did you choose to submit your story to Harlequin Escape?
Rhian: Kate Cuthbert. I’ve known Kate for years and I was lucky enough to sit next to her at an awards dinner where the conversation led to me ‘accidentally’ pitching my novella. She insisted she wanted to see it and I insisted I was joking. Needless to say she convinced me (twisted my arm) to submit Christmas Wishes and the rest is history. I now have the second novella, New Year’s Kisses, scheduled to release December 1st and all going to plan the third novella, Valentine’s Dates will be out early next year.
Rebekah: I heard of their two week response time and thought that sounded great, considering the wait times for other publishers can easily stretch out to six months (If not more!).
Lee: I pitched my manuscript to Escape Publishing immediately after hearing their announcement at the Romance Writers of Australia’s annual conference at the Gold Coast in August. To me, Harlequin are the ‘go to’ name in romance, the goliath of the industry, with lots of clout and decades of marketing experience behind them. Luckily, I had a fairly polished manuscript which I had held back, thinking I’d learn a few more tricks during the workshops before sending it off. Unprepared, I did my pitch on the fly, which was good because I didn’t have time to get nervous. Kate Cuthbert was immediately interested and asked me to send her the entire thing. One week later, she contacted me saying they’d love to publish it. I was absolutely thrilled.
Ainslie: Becoming an Escape Artist was a brilliant fit with how I see the future of reading and reading romance in particular. It’s about great content, at a good price, easily accessible and digestible and nothing can achieve that better than a publisher whose strategic intent is just that – the provision of great, fresh, breakout reads. And to top it off – from Australian authors.
I’m feeling very lucky Escape let me run away with them.
Keziah: Harlequin is the pre-eminent romance publisher in the world. I’ve always wanted to write for them but in the past what I write hasn’t been suitable for their various imprints. When I first heard of Escape and their keenness to publish works that were ‘out of the box’ from their other imprints but still concentrating on romance, I thought ‘that’s for me!’ Plus their online submission process is very easy.
Why do you love writing (contemp/ romantic suspense/ erotic/ urban fantasy)?
Rhian: I write cross genre. Christmas Wishes, New Year’s Kisses and Valentine’s Dates are all contemporary romance but my other 13 books fall under erotic contemporary romance and erotic paranormal romance. For me it’s always about the characters. I have very little control in the end. It’s their story after all, they should have it told their way. I just love writing stories and sharing them with readers. There’s nothing more rewarding than receiving an email from a reader saying how much they liked my work.
Rebekah: Being able to write about the slightly strange in the most normal of ways.
Lee: I love writing romantic suspense because that’s what I love to read. I love crime novels, and I love romance novels, so a hybrid like romantic suspense is perfect. I have a great time working out the “who dunnit” aspect of it, and I love putting my heroines in situations where they are in danger and seeing how they handle those situations.
Ainslie: Writing is as much an escape for me as reading is. For some obscure reason I like to create tricky situations for characters to wriggle out of. I like to cause them hell before I let them find happiness and what better genre to write than romance – because what’s life without some spark.
Keziah: I like writing erotica and erotic romance because that level of intimacy between two (or more) people is where the reader sees the most deeply felt emotion including vulnerability, fear, intense pleasure and pain and ultimately deep love.
What’s next for you?
Rhian: Next up is the final polish on Valentine’s Dates. I’m working on edits for an erotic contemporary menage story and then I’ll need to get the last of my erotic paranormal romance series finished. After that I’ll be working on next year’s Christmas novella for Escape Publishing.
Rebekah: I am currently working on the second book in my urban fantasy series and a paranormal romance novella.
Lee: I am presently writing a spin-off of “In Safe Hands”, once again set in Sydney, this time predominantly in the Blue Mountains, with the over-arcing story of the Sydney Bikie Wars in the background. I have three quarters of a ‘desire’ type romance completed, based on “The Ivy” in Sydney, and three quarters of another romantic suspense completed. This one is set on Italy’s Amalfi coast and in Sydney and deals with intellectual property theft. Hopefully, I will have at least two, maybe three, to submit to Escape next year.
Ainslie: I’ve just completed a story called Detained about a Sydney journalist and an Australian tycoon in Shanghai. It’s about painful secrets, hot desires and the threat of disgrace. It’s about truth and facing the consequences of the past.
I’m halfway through a new story called Floored about a limo driver and an undercover cop and the lies that bring them together, expose them and tear them apart. I’m not yet sure exactly how I’m going to give them their drive off into the sunset moment – but I’m working on it.
Keziah: I’m writing the sequel to Chains of Revenge and also working on a long romantic suspense. I also see witches and a coven in my future!
Thank you all for taking the time to answer my questions. All of your books look fantastic! I wish you all the best with your latest release from Escape Publishing 🙂