Thursday 27 February 2014

Twenty Questions with... Portia Macintosh

You'll soon understand why I couldn't wait to get Portia into my Twenty Questions hotseat. I mean...LOOK...her day-to-day life is about as far removed from mine as it could be: hob-nobbing with rockstars, touring, a job in the music industry...and then there's the behind-the-scenes books!

So, without further ado, please welcome Portia MacIntosh onto my blog, author of Between a Rockstar and a Hard Place released last week by Carina UK, Harlequin...

ACT ONE – all about you…

When she was fifteen-years-old, Portia MacIntosh fell in with a bad crowd… rockstars. 

After disappearing on tour and living the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle for a few years, Portia landed a job in the music industry – but only so that she didn’t have to join the real world just yet.

Now in her twenties, Portia is ready to spill the beans on the things she has witnessed over the years. Well, kind of. If her famous friends knew that she was borrowing their lives to inspire her fiction, they would stop inviting her on tour and banish her from the inner circle. Then she really would have to rejoin the real world, and she’s still not ready.

Portia only started writing novels to share her secrets, but then she realised she actually quite liked writing – maybe even more than she likes living on a bus with a bunch of smelly boys – and has since tried her hand at writing about other things.

1) Have you always been a writer or is it something you fell into?

I am an accidental author. I started writing novels as a way to tell my tour stories anonymously – after over ten years touring with bands, I have quite a few - and using them to inspire fictional tales seemed like the best way.

2) Do you have a particular writing style or ritual?

My books have been written under very unorthodox and often chaotic conditions. Because I didn’t set out to be an author, I wrote my books whenever I had time. So I was still doing the day job, still gigging and touring. I didn’t always have a laptop on me, so I would write entire chapters in the notes of my phone or on pieces of paper. I’ve written in some weird and wonderful places. One thing I can safely say – I haven’t ever written at a desk.

3) Is there a book or an author that has influenced you in your writing?

Not really. I’ve read a lot of chick lit over the years, so when it came to writing books that’s the genre I wanted to write for. I love it.

4) Is there one piece of writing (or life?) advice that has stuck with you, or that you would like to share?

You know what, I was given a lot of advice when I first started writing. I submitted my first book to a few agents and while several liked it, they all told me the same thing: publishers do not like books about the music industry, and that I should write about something else. I read so much online about how no one gets publishing deals anymore, no one makes any money writing and that you’ve got to write at least x number of books before you’ll one good enough to get published. If I had taken too much notice of all of the above, I would have given up long before Carina offered me my deal. I’m not saying that it was bad advice, but even the best advice isn’t right for everyone.

5) Can you tell us three things about yourself that we probably don’t already know?

My favourite book is The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.

My voice features on a UK Top 10 single.

My scariest tour moment was when I woke up on the bus in the early hours of the morning to find a stranger standing over me, watching me sleep, because someone had left the door open.

6) What five luxury items or gadgets would you hate to be without?

Oh, it's hard to pick just five things. I can't live without my family of Apple products, my iPhone, iPad and my MacBook - they make my world go round. I couldn't live without make-up and, more importantly, the world wouldn't want me to. I have lots of shoes that I couldn't live without. They're collectors editions that I won't wear outside my bedroom.

ACT TWO – all about your new release…

Behind the music…
Being best friends with a mega-star has its perks and Nicole Wilde, music journalist, laps them up. But when said friend, Dylan King, gorgeous lead singer of The Burnouts, has zero sense of self-preservation – once a drop of alcohol hits his blood stream ‒ and an inability to keep ‘little Dylan’ in his pants, it also comes with responsibilities. Now, Nicole has to track down Dylan in time to play a charity gig tomorrow. Half a dozen groupies, a haunted hotel, a tattoo parlour, a reality show runner-up and a crazy bed-hopping, sleepless night later – will she find him before the tour bus leaves town? And when she does, is it time to head home? Or to jump on the tour bus and go along for the ride!

7) Congratulations on your recent release of Between a Rockstar and a Hard Place what was your inspiration for writing Nicole’s story?

I wrote Between a Rockstar and a Hard Place and How Not to be Starstruck (out 31st March) as a way to tell my tour stories anonymously. Nicole is a music journalist and, like me, she has grown up around bands. I used my real life experience to inspire her fictional ones.

8) Did the story flow from your finger tips or did some scenes take a bit of cajoling?

It flowed, and as it did it was like free therapy for me. It was a way to let it all out. The good memories, the bad, they all got thrown in and mixed up and they came out as something far more pleasant. It was my first real attempt at writing fiction and, thankfully, things went smoothly.

9) I see Between a Rockstar and a Hard Place is your debut, how long did it take for the initial spark of the story to make it onto the page and then onto the publisher’s desk?

Well I actually wrote How Not to be Starstruck first, and Between a Rockstar and a Hard Place as a prequel. It was only a couple of years ago that I decided to write books, and have written three and a half in that time. I didn’t set out to be an author, so I didn’t have a writing routine or anything, it would be a case of getting words down if I was bored on the road or wide awake in the middle of the night.

10) Do you have a favourite paragraph or sentence from your story that you would like to tantalise us with?
Grabbing my own phone from my handbag, I call Dylan’s number and after several rings a girl answers.
‘Dylan King from The Burnout’s phone,’ she chirps with a giggle. I hate her already.
‘Hello, can I speak to Dylan, please?’
‘Who are you?’ she asks rather rudely.
‘I’m Nicole. Who are you?’
‘Nicole who?’
‘Nicole Wilde.’
The girl pauses for a moment before she replies, adopting a more serious tone to her voice.
‘Do you work for him?’
I tell her yes. She’s probably more likely to help me if she thinks I’m someone official.
‘Oh, OK.’ Her voice relaxes again. ‘Well, we just had sex and he told me I’d get a signed CD. Is it your job to bring me it?’
Oh dear. I wish I could say that this was the first time something like this had happened, but I’d be lying. Every now and then Dylan meets a girl with real integrity, a girl who won’t sleep with him just because he is Dylan King from The Burnouts – lucky for Dylan, these girls can usually be talked around with a signed album.
11) Over to you, what can you tell us about Between a Rockstar and a Hard Place to make us rush out and buy it?

It will whet your appetite ahead of How Not to be Starstruck. My books are a unique insight into the music world. I’m not a kiss-and-tell girl that no one trusts and I don’t work for the band – I’m there as a friend, and that grants you a level of access that most have no idea about.

12) What can we expect from you next? Is there something you are working on right now?

How Not to be Starstruck is out 31st March, I have another book out in the summer (that isn’t about the music industry) called Like Father Like Son, and a couple of others yet to be announced.

QUICK FIRE ROUND – it’s pop quiz time…

13) Plotter or pantser?

A little bit of both.

14) Digital books or print books?

I love digital books because I can carry so many around with me at once. You can’t beat real books though.

15) Tea or coffee?

I love both… but… coffee.

16) Extrovert or introvert?


17) Facebook or Twitter?


18) Christmas or birthday?


19) Morning person or night owl?

I am actually nocturnal. Touring broke me.

20) Sweet or savoury?


And that’s a wrap!

Thank you so much for taking part, Portia, I wish you every success with your new release.

To discover even more about Portia Macintosh, and to keep up with her latest projects and shenanigans, you can visit her at:

Tumblr     Twitter     Facebook

Buy it now…

Add to Goodreads
ISBN: 9781472090973
Released: 20 February 2014

Amazon UK / US
Nook UK / US (B&N)

Monday 24 February 2014

Blog hop... 'My Writing Process'

Thank you to Zara Stoneley for nominating me to take part in the 'My Writing Process' blog tour. I now have the task of following up Zara's fabulous post from last Monday, which you can find here.

Okay, so this is where I'm supposed to tell you about my writing process...

1) What am I working on?

Right now I am working on book two in my YA/NA series, A Girl Called Malice, and it picks up the story of mean girl Alice from Popping the Cherry. There are also two more books contracted for the series so far, which means I'll be tied up with this fabulous set of characters for the rest of the year.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

To be completely honest, I have no idea.

My YA/NA series is a crossover of chick-lit and romance, with the boundaries so blurred it's not easy to label, with stories which appeal to adults and young adults alike. Or at least that's the plan. Many readers have commented that my writing is fun, fresh and witty, as well as very British so hopefully that will help me stand out from the huge international young adult/new adult crowd. I try to create believable characters dealing with every day life and try to keep the experiences realistic.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I write what I enjoy reading and I refuse to be pigeon-holed, for example, the first three stories I ever wrote as an adult all got published and all three were in different genres with vastly different word counts.

My aim is to entertain and hopefully tug on a readers heart-strings as well as make the reader sigh and smile and maybe even laugh out loud. In the case of Popping the Cherry, I also wanted to send a message out about peer pressure and that it's okay to wait.

4) How does my writing process work?

Often I'll have characters in my head, especially the cast of Popping the Cherry which was initially a standalone until several of the characters demanded their story be told. Before I can get started on the actual manuscript though, I need a title and cannot usually progress without it. After that, I open up Scrivener and start brainstorming,loosely pulling an outline together using the 'W-plot' which I have talked about before. Since my series has already been contracted, I then have to draft a fairly detailed synopsis and send it over to my editor. Once I've got the green light on my story proposal, I can get to work.

I like to visit stock image websites and select images that reflect the character or a concept so that I have a visual aid in addition to the outline. Some of these images actually make it all the way through to the book trailer or promo slides. I also find music helps with the process and have Spotify lists for each story, as well as an 'anthem' which makes it onto the book trailer.

As for the drafting a manuscript part, I have a fabulous team of BETA readers that are involved right from the start. It means I always have somebody to run a scenario past, or in the case of A Girl Called Malice, to ensure there is continuity of character and establishing empathy with the main character. Frustratingly, I cannot just write: I have to edit as I go along otherwise I get hung-up on something that I know is wrong and start wading through treacle until I finally go back and make the changes. On the upside, I generally have a very clean first draft which doesn't take much to revise and polish ready for submission.

In a nutshell, that's me and my process so I shall now pass the baton on to three more writers. Make you follow the links and tune in next week to check out their writing processes:

Katlyn Duncan was born and raised in a small town in western Massachusetts. Her overactive imagination involved invisible friends, wanting to be a Disney Princess and making up her own stories. Her bibliophile mom always encouraged her love of reading and that stayed with her since. Even though she works full time in the medical field Katlyn has always made time for books, whether she is reading or writing them.

Katlyn now lives in southern Connecticut with her husband and adorable Wheaten Terrier and she is thrilled to finally share her stories with the world.

Originally from California, Kierney Scott moved to Scotland to enrol in the Ph D programme in Educational Research at the University of Edinburgh.

Four days after she arrived, she met her husband, who persuaded her it would be more fun to get married than write a thesis. After the birth of her daughter she decided it was time to go back to school, but soon discovered all she wanted to write was romance novels. She admitted her literary proclivities to her husband, who promptly bought her a laptop and told her to start writing her book. 

When she is not writing, you will probably find her at a spinning class or baking (read eating) cupcakes.  Her butter cream icing is legendary, if only in her mind. If you want her recipe, or just want to chat, you can contact her at or follow her on twitter @Kierney_S

A.L. Michael is a novelist and creative therapeutic workshop facilitator. She has a BA in Creative Writing with English Literature, an MA in Creative Entrepreneurship, and is studying for an MSc in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes. Her first novel, a coming of age story called Wine Dark, Sea Blue, was published by Stairwell Books in May 2013. Her next two novels will be published by Carina UK, starting with snarky comedy The Last Word in April 2014. 

Thursday 20 February 2014

Twenty Questions with... Ruchi Vasudeva

Stopping by my blog for a round of Twenty Questions today is Ruchi Vasudeva, author of You Can't Fight A Hollywood Attraction, recently released by Harlequin.

I have known Ruchi for almost as long as I have been writing, having met in the virtual sense in a writers' support group on Facebook, so I am delighted to see that her journey to publication is going from strength to strength.

ACT ONE – all about you…

Ruchi Vasudeva is a doctor by profession, a teacher by vocation and, in her own words, an author by destiny. The writing bug has long resided in her and a contest held by Harlequin for Indian authors gave her a golden opportunity to have her dream realized. She debuted in August '13 with her book Bollywood Fiancé For A Day. Her new release You Can't Fight A Royal Attraction is her second book, both being published by Harlequin. She also won a contest for getting a short story published with Harper Collins which will be published soon. She writes romantic fiction with conflicted characters who come into their own in their quest of reaching out for love. She loves to write about spirited heroines getting hurtled out of their daily life as soon as they cross paths with their rather challenging heroes.

She lives with her husband and two kids. When not bent double over the laptop, she might be found with her nose in books or munching nachos at the movies or glued to the telecast of Team India or Chennai Super Kings in action! She likes to take long walks which help in brewing story ideas. 

1) Have you always been a writer or is it something you fell into?

I used to love writing even during school years. While in college I was almost conflicted whether to give up a medical career for a literary one. Medical won that round and naturally writing took a backseat. I did steal a bit of time now and then to pen down story ideas but that was about it till, with the kids growing up and some time on my hands, the writing germ began to grow again. The Harlequin Passions contest for Indian author came along and the rest is history :)

2) Do you have a particular writing style or ritual?

Have to confess my writing has no order let alone any style. I pen down the dialogues between the characters to get a feel of where the story is likely to go and then write it in short form before filling it up during the rewrite. I can write anywhere if the story is going well. The kitchen, backseat of the car, a quiet room, a crowded bus, practically anywhere!

3) Is there a book or an author that has influenced you in your writing?

I used to be a proliferative Harlequin reader, still read them, so I think the natural bend to write happy-ever-afters comes from that. Authors who have left an impression are many, the foremost being Jane Austen, Penny Jordan, Georgette Heyer and Sidney Sheldon.

4) Is there one piece of writing (or life?) advice that has stuck with you, or that you would like to share?

I read somewhere that Penny Jordan's editor gave her this advice : always ask 'what if' and 'why not?' I think of these words a lot. Makes me think of new avenues when a story gets stuck. 

5) Can you tell us three things about yourself that we probably don’t already know?

Hmm, I'm an incessant worrier, I worry about everything! I get part of the exercise I need while waiting for lentils to boil ;) I love junk I can't look kids in the eye ever again! 

6) What five luxury items or gadgets would you hate to be without?

My smartphone, my BlackBerry, laptop, food processor and washing machine! 

ACT TWO – all about your new release…

Playing with fire. Who says it isn't fun?
The last thing Rihaan needs in his life is to play host to a woman who drives him crazy! Saira is gorgeous, yes, but she’s also wildly infuriating. Yet every time she comes within an inch of him he finds his normally iron-clad control slipping further and further away…
Wanting to protect herself from more heartbreak, Saira knows she should keep her distance from Rihaan —but there’s something about him she just can’t seem to resist… Little does she know that Rihaan is hiding a secret! When it comes to light will it tear them apart —or raise their passion to new, more majestic heights?

7) Congratulations on your recent release of You Can't Fight A Royal Attraction; what was your inspiration for writing Rihaan and Saira's story?

The inspiration came while I was writing my first book for Harlequin, Bollywood Fiancé For A Day. Saira was the heroine's stepsister in that book. I couldn't help thinking of her point of view and gradually she became a character who had to have her story told. She was such a fiery and fearless character, a woman who had her share of mistakes and growing out of them, it was  fascinating to go along with her on her journey. 

8) Did the story flow from your finger tips or did some scenes take a bit of cajoling?

The beginning took a few rewrites but after that the book really took off. I was on a deadline which might have accounted for the jetspeed writing! :)

9) How long did it take for the initial spark of the story to make it onto the page and then onto the publisher’s desk?

The story idea came in December but I wasn't really paying much attention to it then. When my editor and I were discussing ideas for my second book then the story began to form. The first three chapters took about two weeks.  I think I wrote the rest of the first rough draft in less than a month. Then after polishing and revising for 15-20 days, it became presentable enough to be submitted. So around two months in total.  

10) Do you have a favourite paragraph or sentence from your story that you would like to tantalise us with?

Here it is. It happens when Rihaan grows distant to her and she is incensed about it.
‘Even you don’t find it easy to ignore it, do you?’ she asked bluntly, facing him in a moment of defiance, then she went forward. ‘Show me how one reasons with this.’ She flung her arms around his neck and brought his head down till she was kissing him.
Anger. Desire. Frustration. Everything mingled in the kiss. The need to make him understand. The need to vent her anger because he didn’t understand. And then there was another need. The need to just experience…
11) Over to you, what can you tell us about You Can't Fight A Royal Attraction to make us rush out and buy it?

If you like fiery heroines who stand by their believes and grow stronger from their mistakes; if you like enigmatic, hard-to-read heroes protective towards those they love, you'll enjoy every second of reading You Can't Fight A Royal Attraction

12) What can we expect from you next? Is there something you are working on right now? 

I have one story out in an anthology being published in May by Harper Collins India. I'm working on a couple of other projects which are in the first draft stage. 

QUICK FIRE ROUND – it’s pop quiz time…

13) Plotter or pantser?

Plotter till the charting of characters and situation; pantser for rest of the book.

14) Digital books or print books?

Both but slightly inclined towards print.

15) Tea or coffee?

Both again! but tea is more my cuppa tea ;)

16) Extrovert or introvert?

Introvert. But like the company of family and friends. 

17) Facebook or Twitter?

Twitter. It's quick and makes you value your words. That's not to say I don't dally on facebook all too often :)

18) Christmas or birthday?


19) Morning person or night owl?

Night owl reformed into morning person :)

20) Sweet or savoury?

Sweet. Love chocolate desserts!

And that’s a wrap!

Thank you so much for taking part, Ruchi, I wish you every success with your new release.

Thanks, Aurelia, your questions were so fun, though the choices were tough to pick I can tell you! Enjoyed being here a lot.

To discover even more about Ruchi Vasudeva, and to keep up with her latest projects, you can visit her at:

Facebook     Twitter     Blog     Website

Buy it now...

Add to Goodreads
ISBN: 9789351062622
Released: 3 December 2013

Harlequin India
Amazon UK / US / Germany / India


What was it about that cool hauteur that made her want to play with fire?

‘Of course you’re no danger to me in a...’ deliberately she let her gaze run over him ‘...a sexual way, are you?’

He didn’t miss it, and nor did he miss the insolence she project- ed. She could see his mouth tighten in controlled annoyance. For a wild minute she wished he’d let loose, and the unreasoning thought made her heartbeat pick up.

‘Are you trying to challenge me?’

Her heart jumped up at the deep voice laced with mockery. Coward, she derided herself. Surely she wasn’t frightened of him?

‘No challenge for you, surely? You can hardly stand the sight of me,’ she reminded him.

‘Am I supposed to jump on you in fervent denial of that statement, swearing that I can’t keep my hands off you?’ A dark eyebrow rose. ‘Sorry, but your little game won’t wash, Sehgal.’

Irritatingly, he’d addressed her by her surname again. ‘Oh, how astute you are, Khehra!’ She widened her eyes. ‘You catch on so fast I guess I’ll have to watch myself more around you.’ She formed a pout, aware of his gaze moving to her mouth, feeling an unreasonable thrill as it did. She must be mad. Or starved of fun. But somehow she couldn’t not try to get a reaction out of that stone monument.

His eyes narrowed. ‘Whatever you’re trying to do, I’m not looking for trouble—and I’d advise you not to go poking around for it either.’

‘So disappointing!’ She shook her head sorrowfully. ‘Here I was, getting thrilled to bits that we’re going to have this week-end. Just us. Lonesome. Twosome.'

Thursday 13 February 2014

Twenty questions with... Chanel Cleeton

I am delighted to welcome Chanel Cleeton onto my blog today.

Chanel has jetted in for a round of Twenty Questions to celebrate her debut release,  I See London released earlier this month by Harlequin HQN.

ACT ONE – all about you...

Chanel Cleeton writes New Adult contemporary romances. Her New Adult debut, I SEE LONDON, will be released by Harlequin (HQN) on February 3, 2014, followed by a sequel, LONDON FALLING, on July 7, 2014. An avid reader and hopeless romantic, Chanel is happiest curled up with a book. She has a weakness for handbags, puppy cuddles, and her fighter pilot husband. Chanel loves to travel and is currently living an adventure in South Korea.

1) Have you always been a writer or is it something you fell into?

It’s sort of something I fell into. I’ve ALWAYS been a reader. Books have played a huge role in my life. From there I progressed to writing. Once I caught the writing bug I was a goner :)

2) Do you have a particular writing style or ritual?

I don’t! I wish I did. My schedule is a bit chaotic right now so there’s really no method to the madness. The only thing that is normally a given is that I always write short and then add more when I’m editing.

3) Is there a book or an author that has influenced you in your writing?

Everyone :) I’ve been reading romance novels since I was ten years old so the romance genre has been a huge inspiration for me. Authors like Nora Roberts, Judith McNaught, and Brenda Joyce changed my life.

4) Is there one piece of writing (or life?) advice that has stuck with you, or that you would like to share?

Write daily. Nora Roberts gives that advice and it really helps to make writing a habit.

5) Can you tell us three things about yourself that we probably don’t already know?

I can’t whistle, my first language was Spanish, and peas are my least favorite vegetable.

6) What five luxury items or gadgets would you hate to be without?

Ooh this makes me realize how bad my technology addiction is…my iPhone, laptop, Kindle…actually I think that’s it. Three’s not so bad :)

ACT TWO – all about your new release...

Maggie Carpenter is ready for a change— and to leave her ordinary life in South Carolina behind. But when she accepts a scholarship to the International School in London, a university attended by the privileged offspring of diplomats and world leaders, Maggie might get more than she bargained for.
When Maggie meets Hugh, a twentysomething British guy, she finds herself living the life she always wanted. Suddenly she’s riding around the city in a Ferrari, wearing borrowed designer clothes and going to the hottest clubs. The only problem? Another guy, the one she can’t seem to keep her hands off of. 
Half French, half Lebanese, and ridiculously wealthy, Samir Khouri has made it clear he doesn’t do relationships. He’s the opposite of everything Maggie thought she wanted…and he’s everything she can’t resist. Torn between her dream guy and the boy haunting her dreams, Maggie has to fight for her own happy ending. In a city like London, you never know where you stand, and everything can change in the blink of an eye.

7) Congratulations on your recent release of I See London, what was your inspiration for writing Maggie’s story?

When I was seventeen I moved to London to attend an international university. It was an incredible, life-changing experience. I wanted to write a story about a girl who had a similar adventure in her life.

8) Did the story flow from your finger tips or did some scenes take a bit of cajoling?

In the beginning the book was a bit challenging because it was my first attempt at writing New Adult. But once I settled in and caught my stride it began to flow really well. I just needed my characters to tell me their story :)

9) I realise I See London is your debut, how long did it take for the initial spark of the story to make it onto the page and then onto the publisher’s desk?

I started writing the story in October of 2012, we went on submission in May 2013, and had an offer in June. I wrote the book through one of the CRAZIEST times in my life- I was working, finishing my final year in law school, and preparing to move to South Korea. I literally got my agent’s notes on the manuscript as we were boarding our flight to Seoul. It was hectic and exciting :)

10) Do you have a favourite paragraph or sentence from your story that you would like to tantalise us with?

“There was something magical about London nights, something in the air that whispered possibilities—and adventure on the horizon. It was in the air tonight.”

11) Over to you, what can you tell us about I See London, to make us rush out and buy it?

I See London is set at an international university in London. The characters are from all over the world and bring unique life experiences with them. It definitely provides for a different take on the traditional university experience. Plus, there’s the added bonus of trips to Paris and Venice and a very swoon worthy half French, half Lebanese hero :) It’s a romance but it’s also very much a story about following your dreams.

12) What can we expect from you next? Is there something you are working on right now?

The sequel to I See London, titled London Falling, will release from Harlequin HQN on July 7th. I just turned it in to my editor last month. I have two NA projects in the works right now but they’re still “in development.” :)

QUICK FIRE ROUND – it’s pop quiz time...

13) Plotter or pantser?


14) Digital books or print books?


15) Tea or coffee?


16) Extrovert or introvert?


17) Facebook or Twitter?


18) Christmas or birthday?


19) Morning person or night owl?

Night owl

20) Sweet or savoury?


And that’s a wrap!

Thank you so much for taking part, Chanel, I wish you every success with your new release.

To discover even more about Chanel Cleeton, and to keep up with her latest projects and shenanigans, you can visit her at:

Twitter     Facebook     Website

Buy it now...

Add to Goodreads
ISBN: 9781459255470
Released: 3rd February 2014

Barnes & Noble

(not currently available in the UK)

Thursday 6 February 2014

Twenty Questions with... Katie Oliver

I am delighted to welcome Katie Oliver onto my blog today, author of Prada and Prejudice, released last month by Carina UK which was then closely followed by Love and Liability just this week. So buckle up and get ready for a round of Twenty Questions and an excerpt that will leave you wanting more...

ACT ONE – all about you…

I decided to pursue writing more seriously once my two boys left home. So I set out to write (and finish) a book, get an agent, and get my book published. Of course, that was easier said than done... Yet here I am, three years later, with a book published by Carina UK/Harlequin, and two more on the way!

1) Have you always been a writer or is it something you fell into?

Fell into – like poop? Well, I’ve wanted to write since I was about eight years old, when I stapled some paper together into a book, wrote out a story, and drew the illustrations. I think I charged my father a dime to read it. Poor man.

2) Do you have a particular writing style or ritual?

I hope my style is light and fun, with plenty of romance; as far as rituals, I don’t have any. Except that I do need quiet to write, and I like to have a mood board of character pictures and locations in front of me. And also a bowl of M&Ms, with all of the green ones removed. Kidding.

3) Is there a book or an author that has influenced you in your writing?

Oh, yes - so many! Wendy Holden is a particular favorite. I love her breezy style and the way she interweaves various storylines into a compelling read. And I love her clever titles. Katie Fforde is another favorite, and Chris Manby. And I never tire of Jeeves and Wooster (or anything by P.G. Wodehouse). Come to that, a lot of British writers have influenced me.

4) Is there one piece of writing (or life?) advice that has stuck with you, or that you would like to share?

Just write. You’ll always have excuses – I don’t have time, my hand hurts, I’m not inspired – just sit down and do it. Your first effort/draft may not be very good. But it’s a start, and it can be rewritten. It WILL be rewritten. And secondly, write the kind of book you’d like to read. Don’t worry about what the hottest genre is – write what YOU like, and your passion will fuel your work.

5) Can you tell us three things about yourself that we probably don’t already know?

I sing harmony really well.

I play keyboards...really badly.

I get some of my best ideas in the shower.

6) What five luxury items or gadgets would you hate to be without?

1. My iPad. How did I ever manage without it?

2. My iPhone. See above.

3. My laptop. I can write on anything – a notepad, the back of a bank statement – but without a computer, I couldn’t email, or blog, or chat on social media to nice people like you, Aurelia!

4. My Keurig coffee maker. It brews a single, perfect cup every time. And I can have my Veranda Blend while Mr Oliver has his Italian Roast (yuck).

5. My iPod. (My God, I have a lot of Apple stuff, don’t I?) I love to listen to music while I’m on the treadmill, and the iPod makes it easy. And almost fun. Almost.

ACT TWO – all about your new release…

He’s a man in possession of a large fortune…but is he in want of a wife?!
It is a truth universally acknowledged that Natalie Dashwood loves to shop. After all, as the heiress to the renowned London department store Dashwood & Jones she’s been wearing designer shoes since she could walk! But a socialite’s life isn’t as perfect as you might imagine… Natalie’s spending is spiraling slightly out of control, her rock star boyfriend is engaged to someone else, and it seems the family business is in financial crisis.
New high-flying business exec Rhys Gordon has been brought in to save the company from ruin, but what are his motives? And infuriatingly even a shoe-shopping spree can’t take her mind off his distracting and oh-so-charming smile… 
Couture and confetti mix with scandal and intrigue in this wonderful tale of retail, romance and redemption.

7) Congratulations on your recent release of Prada and Prejudice, what was your inspiration for writing Natalie Dashwood’s story?

Thank you! Nat’s a character who’s been in my head for years. I originally envisioned her as a flapper, or a sixties model...tall, slim, well-intentioned, but lovably clueless. I imagined what would happen if a girl like that had to work with a man like Rhys Gordon – a man who’s driven, determined, acutely conscious of the bottom line (and of Natalie’s bottom line). I suspected there’d be plenty of fireworks – and not just the between-the-sheets kind, either.

8) Did the story flow from your fingertips or did some scenes take a bit of cajoling?

The scenes with Natalie and Rhys nearly wrote themselves, as they say. When you get those two together, stuff...happens. Other things, like getting a grip on Ian’s slippery character, proved more difficult. And I discarded reams of stuff when I revised. Some of the Hannah and Duncan scenes didn’t make it.

9) I see Prada and Prejudice is your debut, how long did it take for the initial spark of the story to make it onto the page and then onto the publisher’s desk?

I began writing the outline back in January of 2010, on a legal pad in my office. I was between contracts and had very little to do, so decided to start writing the book I’d always talked about. The economy was in a downswing, and Gordon Ramsay was very popular. Somehow those two ideas came together in my head, and what I ended up with was P&P. Funnily enough, I pitched my second book, “Love and Liability,” to my agent and she offered me representation based on that. It wasn’t until later that I showed her the first book, and she loved it.

It ended up crossing Helen William’s desk at Carina UK a year or so ago, and she liked it enough to offer a three-book contract.

10) Do you have a favourite paragraph or sentence from your story that you would like to tantalise us with?
As she approached the closed conference room door and eased it open, Natalie was desperate for an aspirin. Her head was pounding. But she hadn’t anything but a petrified cough drop.
“Sorry I’m late,” she apologised as the door swung open. “I didn’t hear the alarm—”
When she caught sight of the man standing at the head of the conference table, Natalie’s voice trailed away. Her eyes widened in mingled dismay and horror.
Oh, blimey, no. It couldn’t be.
He had darkish blond hair and blue eyes. He wore a Thomas Pink shirt, obviously a different one today, because this one was striped, without a wine stain. And he most definitely didn’t reek of second-hand Pinot Noir or dog wee.
Natalie cringed inwardly. To think that only last night she’d twined her arms around his neck, pressed herself shamelessly against him, and begged him to have sex with her.
“Natalie,” Sir Richard said, “allow me to introduce our new Operations Manager, Rhys Gordon.”
Mortification swept over her as their eyes met. Rhys Gordon rescued companies from the brink of financial ruin and turned them back into the black. He was famously good at what he did. Photos and articles about him appeared regularly in the business pages of newspapers and magazines, and occasionally in the tabloids as well.
Natalie bit back a groan. She’d thrown herself at Mr. Gordon, grandfather’s newly hired Operations Manager, like a cheap slapper.
Just let me die now…
11) Over to you, what can you tell us about Prada and Prejudice, to make us rush out and buy it?

It’s funny and sexy and features a heroine – Natalie Dashwood – who uses a Louboutin shoe to outwit the villain. You’ve got to love that.

It has lots of intertwining stories – Natalie and her uneasy relationship with Ian Clarkson, her best friend’s husband; Rhys Gordon and his brother Jamie (a very hot chef); Alastair James and his wife Cherie, whose marriage is in trouble; and of course Dominic Heath, the petulant rock star who discards Natalie and then tries repeatedly to win her back... to disastrous (and comical) results.

12) What can we expect from you next? Is there something you are working on right now?

Yes. I’ve another book featuring some of the same characters, and some new ones as well. And I’ve begun two books, one set in New York, the other in Baltimore, Maryland. Both have headstrong American heroines and mega-hot European heroes and promise to be lots of fun.

QUICK FIRE ROUND – it’s pop quiz time…

13) Plotter or pantser?

Both. I have to have at least a loose outline before I write, but I don’t always hold to it – I let the characters take me where they will, as long as things end up where and how I want them to end.

14) Digital books or print books?

Both, again. God, I’m wishy-washy, aren’t I? But I really think they both have a place. Ebooks travel well, they’re reasonably priced, and you can search on words and look up word meanings. But books – well, I’ll always love a real book, too. I can’t imagine a shelf without lots of books on it.

15) Tea or coffee?


16) Extrovert or introvert?

Introvert – although I’m not as much of a introvert as I used to be.

17) Facebook or Twitter?

Twitter is my happy place. I’ve met friends from all over the globe.

18) Christmas or birthday?

Christmas. It’s such a universal time of joy and peace and people smiling.

19) Morning person or night owl?

Definitely a morning person. I rarely stay up past 10:00 PM anymore, you know.

20) Sweet or savoury?

Ooh, sweet. Give me chocs or give me death.

And that’s a wrap!

Thank you so much for taking part, Katie, I wish you every success with your new release.

To discover even more about Katie Oliver, and to keep up with her latest projects and shenanigans, you can visit her at:

Facebook     Amazon     Amazon UK     Goodreads
Twitter     Blog     Website     Pinterest

Buy it now…

Add to Goodreads
ISBN: 9781472074232
Released: 2nd January 2014

Amazon UK / US
Nook UK / US (B&N)

Add to Goodreads
ISBN: 9781472083968
Released: 3rd February 2014

Amazon UK / US
Nook UK
Google Books

Excerpt from Prada and Prejudice…

She probably shouldn’t have had that third glass of Pinot.

Of course, Natalie reminded herself as she made her way unsteadily through the crowd, she hadn’t actually drunk the wine; she’d hurled most of it at Dominic.

Too bad she’d missed.

Natalie paused in the drawing room doorway. Her gaze swept past the clusters of elegantly-dressed people clutching glasses of champagne, intent on finding the door. The exit had to be around here somewhere.

As she lifted her tissue – already soggy – and blew her nose, Natalie scowled.

Bloody Dominic.

This disaster of an evening was entirely his fault. After all, they’d come to Alastair’s party together. She’d even bought a new dress for the occasion. But she never imagined Dominic would dump her halfway through the party to announce his engagement…to his ex-wife.

Natalie sniffed. She honestly didn’t give a fig if Dom and Keeley got back together again; they deserved each other. No, it was the public humiliation factor that upset her.

She’d seen the furtive glances of surprise and pity cast her way when Dominic announced the engagement, not to mention Keeley’s smug little smile as she lifted her hand to show off the ginormous diamond ring glinting on her finger.

Those glances of pity had stung. She didn’t want to be the girl everyone felt sorry for, the girl everyone whispered about.

Not ever again.

As everyone lifted their glasses to toast Dominic and Keeley’s happiness, Natalie’s humiliation curdled into fury. She hadn’t meant to fling her glass of Pinot Noir at that well-dressed bloke in the bespoke suit; she’d been aiming for Dom. But two glasses of wine drunk in quick succession had left her light-headed, furious…and her aim a bit off.

Where in hell was the door?

Ah, there it was. Lovely door, marvelous door! She’d leave here and…Natalie frowned. Well, with no money for a minicab, and no ride home forthcoming from Dominic, she’d figure that out when she left.

Her hand closed over the doorknob, and she flung it open. Rows of coats hanging on wooden hangers met her gaze. Oops…not the front door, then, but the coat closet. She could’ve sworn...

“Excuse me,” a male voice behind her asked in mild concern, “are you all right?”

She whirled around – which, truthfully, didn’t help her spinning head – and snapped, “Of course I am. I’m fine.” She glared at him, and her heart sank. Those penetrating blue eyes…that expensive bespoke suit...

Crikey. It was the bloke she’d just doused with Pinot Noir.

“Your attempt to exit via the coat closet – not to mention the state of my shirt and tie—” he glanced down at the wine staining his front “—tells me that you’re far from all right.”

“I told you, I’m sorry about your shirt,” she said stiffly. “I’ll pay for the dry-cleaning bill.”

“That’s not necessary. Have you a ride home?”

“No,” Natalie said. She narrowed her eyes as she glimpsed Dominic, holding court in the drawing room with his arm draped around his new fiancée’s shoulders. “Not any more.”

He plucked the empty wine glass from her hand and put it on a passing tray. “Look, I have to leave. I find I need a change of clothes,” he added dryly. “I’ll give you a lift home if you like.”

For the first time, she studied him. He had dark blondish hair and blue eyes, coupled with a rugged build and a lived-in sort of face. Not classically handsome, perhaps, but compelling, in a Daniel Craig-ish sort of way.

Perhaps that’s why he seemed vaguely familiar.

“I’d be happy to take you home, Natalie.”

Ian Clarkson stood before her. Although married to her best friend Alexa, and darkly handsome, Ian always made her feel a tad uncomfortable. He’d made it clear he was interested in her, the cheating sod. He was definitely a wolf in posh clothing.

“I’m taking her home.” Daniel Craig left no room for argument.

“But Natalie doesn’t know you,” Ian challenged him, “does she?”

Before hostilities could escalate further, Alastair James made his way towards them. “Natalie, darling, there you are! You’re not leaving, I hope?”

“I’m afraid so.” She kissed his cheek. “Grandfather wants me at the board meeting tomorrow morning, God knows why. Congratulations, by the way! How has Cherie put up with you for so long?”

He laughed. “I’ve no idea.” Still handsome despite the grey that peppered his dark hair, Alastair put his arm around Nat’s shoulders. “I’m glad you made it to our anniversary celebration. Ah, Mr. Gordon,” he added, and thrust out his free hand. “I see you’ve met my goddaughter.”

“Wait – you two know each other?” Natalie said in surprise.

“Only by reputation,” Alastair said, and raised his brow. “And quite a formidable reputation it is, too.”

“Oh. Well, he’s offered to take me home.” Natalie regarded Alastair quizzically. “Should I accept?”

His eyes met Gordon’s. “I’m sure I can trust you to see Sir Richard’s granddaughter safely home, Mr. Gordon?”

“Of course,” he replied, and extended his hand to Alastair. “I’m a man of my word, if nothing else. Unlike some.”

The smile he directed at Alastair, Natalie noticed, was chilly. Odd, that…but no one else seemed to pay any mind.

“Congratulations, by the way,” Gordon added. “I apologise, but the state of my clothing prevents me from staying.”

Alastair frowned. “Yes, Natalie, what happened? I’d no idea you and Dominic had parted ways.”

“It was decision.” She refused to cry over spilt wine; Dominic so wasn’t worth it. “I planned to break up with him after the party, but he dumped me first. I’ve apologised to Mr. Gordon for ruining his suit.”

“No harm done. Are you ready?” Gordon asked her.

She nodded. “Yes, let me just get my coat.”

He put a hand on her back and guided her out through the crush of people. As he stopped to collect their coats, Natalie glimpsed Dominic halfway across the reception room, and he glanced over at them with narrowed eyes. She resisted the urge to flip him the bird.

After all, one of them needed to be an adult. It might as well be her.

Outside, Mr. Gordon gave the valet his keys and helped Natalie on with her coat. “How are you feeling?”

“A bit dizzy,” she admitted.

Five minutes later, the valet roared up on a gleaming Triumph Thunderbird motorcycle and brought it to a stop before them. Natalie’s eyes widened. “Is that yours? You can’t expect me to ride on the back of this!” She looked down at her short coat, shorter dress, and six-inch heels.

“I’m afraid you’ve no choice, if you want a ride home.” He produced two helmets from the saddlebag and handed her one.

Natalie eyed the gleaming silver-and-black motorbike doubtfully. “I’m really not dressed for it—”

He gave her legs and her strappy shoes a critical once-over. “If you weren’t wearing those bloody stripper heels—”

“They’re not stripper heels!” she protested. “They’re Louboutins, and very expensive.”

“Well, you and your very expensive shoes will have to sit sideways. Put on the helmet. And button up, it’s cold.” He swung one leg over the motorcycle and waited.

“Bloody hell but you’re bossy.” Natalie did up her buttons and sat sideways behind him, shivering in the unseasonably cold night air, and wrapped her arms around his waist. “I won’t fall off, will I?” she called out anxiously over the growl of the engine.

“Not if you hold tight. Where do you live?”

“Ladbroke Grove.” She gave him the address and rested her helmeted cheek against his back in mingled trepidation and anticipation. Her head spun, but in a good way. Sod Dominic, and Keeley, and her ginormous engagement ring, she decided. She was ready to have some fun.

He revved the engine, and with a satisfying, throaty roar, they were off. Natalie tightened her hold on him as they turned off Holland Park Avenue onto the A40. It was already unseasonably cold, but with the wind in her face, it felt about three degrees.

As they roared through Notting Hill, Natalie nestled closer, glad of his warm, broad back. He smelt of soap and leather, and also, rather strongly, of Pinot. Strange, she thought as he skillfully wove in and out of the evening traffic and onto her street, since Dominic had dumped her, she ought to feel gutted. But she was having too much fun to care.

The Triumph growled to a stop in front of her building. Natalie slid from the seat, stood up unsteadily, and removed her helmet. “My hair must look a sight.”

He took her helmet and removed his as well, then hung them both on the handlebars. “A bit. But it suits you.”

“Thanks.” She looked up at him with wide grey eyes and murmured, “You know, actually, you’re quite sexy.”

“And you’re quite drunk.” He held out his hand. “Come on, let’s get you inside. It’s cold out here.”

“No, wait.” Natalie pressed herself against him and slid her arms up around his neck. She giggled as she stumbled and his arms came around to steady her. “I’ve never said this to anyone before,” she breathed as her eyes locked with his, “but I really, really want to have sex with you.”

He removed her arms gently but firmly from around his neck. “No, you don’t. You don’t even know me.”

“That’s the whole point, isn’t it? To...” she hiccupped “...get to know you.”

“Miss Dashwood—”

“Why don’t you want to have sex, then?” she demanded.

“Because you’re drunk,” he said again, his words patient but firm. “And because you’re mad at that boyfriend of yours—”

“—ex-boyfriend,” she interrupted.

“—and I won’t be your revenge sex.”

Natalie sniffed. “He’s been engaged to Keeley for two weeks! I still can’t believe it.” A tear trickled down her cheek. “It’s not that I care, mind you. It’s just that I – I couldn’t bear the way everyone at the party was looking at me, as if they felt sorry for me.”

“I think it was curiosity, that’s all,” he said. “They wondered how you’d react.” He lifted his brow upwards. “Is Pinot Noir your usual weapon of choice?”

“No. Prosecco.” She giggled and wound her arms round his neck again. He smelled of some deliciously expensive aftershave and, very faintly, of Pinot. “Come upstairs,” she murmured. “I haven’t a flat mate. And I don’t—” she hiccupped again “—I don’t want to be alone tonight.”

He swore under his breath. Her fingers were caressing his hair, and it was getting harder, in more ways than one, to refuse.

“You’re a lovely girl, Miss Dashwood, and your offer’s very tempting; but I have to decline.”

“Decline? But…why?” she asked, bewildered. “Don’t you want to have sex with me? Doesn’t anyone want to have sex with me?” she wailed.

He met Natalie’s wide grey eyes. “Believe me, I’d like nothing better,” he murmured. “But,” he added firmly as he untangled her arms once again from his neck, “that’s the last thing you need tonight. Trust me.”

“Never trust a man who says ‘trust me’,” she mumbled. “Grandfather taught me that.”

“Your grandfather’s a very wise man. Come on, inside with you. Let’s go.”

“Won’t you at least kiss me goodnight?” she asked forlornly, her words softly slurred.

“No.” He put his hands on her arms. “You need a good night’s sleep. You’ll thank me in the morning. Now come along, put your arm around my waist, there’s a good girl.”

And with that, he helped her up the stairs to her flat – really, Natalie thought, the bloody stairs had a mind of their own tonight – unlocked her door, bade her a polite good night, and turned to leave.

Suddenly her sister’s dog shot out the door, a tiny white ball of lightning intent on escape, and made for the stairway.

“Nigella!” she cried, and lurched after her. “My sister Caro’s dog,” she explained breathlessly. “I’m dog-sitting.”

“Got her,” Gordon said, and bent down to grab the teacup-sized ball of fluff as she darted past. She sank her tiny teeth into the fleshy bit between his thumb and forefinger. “Shit!” He dropped her, and she promptly took a wee on his shoe.

Nat gasped, horrified, and picked her up. “Nigella!”

“Have you a towel?” he asked evenly as he eyed his dripping shoe.

“Of course.” She led him inside the flat and returned a moment later with a rumpled, coffee-stained tea towel.

He wiped his shoe and returned the towel. “Thanks. Now I really must go, before you – or your sister’s dog – destroy another article of my clothing.”

“I’m terribly sorry,” she said again, her eyes luminous and wide as she met his gaze, “I really am—”

“Forget it.” He turned away, his expression unreadable. “It’s been...memorable, Miss Dashwood. Goodnight.”

Dazed, Natalie blinked at the empty doorway. Crikey, but she felt awful. First his shirt, then his shoe...yet he’d been quite decent about it all. She brightened. She’d ask grandfather to send a cheque to cover the damages. Except...she didn’t know Mr. Gordon’s proper name, much less his address.

“Wait!” she cried again, and dashed into the hall to run after him. She paused unsteadily at the top of the stairs. “Mr. Gordon – wait! I don’t even know your first name!”

But the roar of his motorbike engine, fading rapidly away into the night, told her that he was already gone.

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