Q&A with Australian romance author, Elizabeth Dunk

I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with Australian romance novelist, Elizabeth Dunk. Better known as speculative fiction author Nicole Murphy, her alter ego is breaking out into contemporary romance and her first novel Arranged to Love was released this month with Escape Publishing.

elizabeth dunk Welcome Elizabeth!

 How would you describe Arranged to Love in five words?

Love overcoming cultural boundaries.

I know, just four, but still it works.

 What inspired you to choose an Indian woman as a protagonist in this contemporary romance?

I was inspired by an Indian girl I worked with while I was a checkout chick a few years back. She’d come to Australia on an arranged marriage and was quite open about it. She explained how arranged marriage worked in modern India. It was a year or so after I left that job that her story collided with a long-dreamt of contemporary idea of reunited lovers who had to work together in a newspaper office and gave that idea the extra oomph it needed.

You’re best known for your writing in the speculative fiction genre with your Dream of Asarlai series, what has it been like writing and publishing contemporary romance?

Writing a contemporary romance was more difficult than I expected it to be, and I took it on because it was different to the Asarlai books and thus would be a challenge. What I was trying to write was a Mills and Boon and it turned out to be really hard and ultimately, I completely failed. There’s a different tone, an stronger intimacy in romance compared to the Asarlai books – which, while they have a romance, are much more reliant on excitement, adventure, monsters and explosions to keep the reader engaged. Not putting all that external stuff into the contemporary romance was really difficult and I didn’t succeed as well as I would have liked – some ended up sneaking in. Will try again.

Publishing it was also different because I could really consider the digital first or digitalonly route – romance readers have taken to electronic reading like no others. It opened up a whole range of options for me, so that made the process really exciting.

Escape Publishing has quickly attained a reputation for signing up stories that cover so manydifferent facets, settings and sub-genres of romance. Why did you choose tosubmit your novel to Escape Publishing?

I was at the Romance Writer’s of Australia conference where Escape was launched (although I was outside hanging with friends so I missed the actual announcement). There was another digital imprint launched at the same time and I actually submitted to both, only the other one didn’t go through properly and I decided not to bother re-submitting because Escape was the one I wanted. Firstly because it is in imprint of Harlequin and notonly did I like the idea of being signed by the biggest romance publisher in the world but because I liked the symmetry of that, this book being a failed attempt at a Mills and Boon. Secondly because Escape is run by Kate Cuthbert, someone I very much admire and someone whose taste I trusted and whose reach in the industry meant the imprint would have a great board to leap off.

I ws delighted when Arranged to Love was accepted and hope it’s just the first of many publications with Escape.

What’s your alter ego, Nicole Murphy up to?

She’s mostly working on short stories. Actually, what she’s really doing is co-chairing the upcoming Australian National Science Fiction Convention, but in her very precious spare time, she’s trying to write short stories. Between the convention and the contemporary romance, there’s not much time for anything else!

The big project at the moment is a new anthology I’m publishing. In Fabula-divino was a publishing/mentoring scheme I ran last year, where I took a short story from an up-and-coming writer, put it through the grill much like I did with editing my novels with a publisher, and then published them. I also was available to answer any and all questions about writing and the industry. I had to cut it short because of life, but still I have ten fabulous stories, and I convinced four friends to let me publish them as well. The whole thing is schedule tolaunch March 11 – we’re in the proofing stage at the moment, so we’re close!

What are you currently working on?

I’m between writing projects, having just submitted a new contemporary romance. I’ve got some short stories I want to work on and the first novel of a contemporary romance series that I’ve drafted and needs some work. And the second book in the series is bugging me to get written.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

I work as a professional conference organiser. I spend time with my husband. I read. I’ve started exercising, which I’m still shaking my head over. I watch my favourite tv shows (QI, Big Bang Theory, Castle, Insiders and Offsiders, Downton Abbey –I’m nothing if not eclectic) and try not to see what a disaster the housework is…

And just for fun, when writing do you prefer…

Coffee, tea or hot chocolate? Hot chocolate

Plotting, pantsing or both? Depends on the story. Plot the contemporaries, pants most of the speculative fiction.

Quiet solitude or background noise? Quiet solitude

A warm, sunny day or a rainy day? Rain. I love the rain.

Typing or pen and notepad? Typing when actually writing – pen and notepad for thinking and planning and working out problems.

Thank you so much for stopping by Elizabeth.

You can find out more about the Elizabeth at her blog, Twitter or Facebook.

Arranged to Love can be purchased from Escape Publishing and other leading ebook retailers


All her life, Madhuri Singh has been sure she’ll make an arranged marriage with an Indian man. But when the opportunity arrives at the same time that a past lover returns to her life, Maddie finds herself torn between her culture and her desire.

All his life, Jack Faulkner has been obsessed with being the one his father chooses to take over the reins of Faulkner Publications. When it seems it’s finally within his grasp, he finds himself face to face with the one woman who can make him forget everything.

What will win out—the dreams they’ve always held for their futures, or the passion that even after seven years apart cannot be contained. Will they remain blinded to the truth—that they will only be happy if they can be together?

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