Time for the second part of our Down Under week! This time, LA Dale is here for a visit to talk about writing reality romance novels and share a bit of her flair for Australian tourism. She's also giving away one copy of her latest novel, "The Taming of the Bastard," (either paperback or e-book) to a lucky reader anywhere in the world!(By the way, when she calls a man a bastard, it is a term of endearment, not an insult like it is here.) We're stoked to have her at CLC today!
More about LA: She was living in Perth, but recently moved to the country, where she can now see kangaroos in her front yard. She's a wife and mother, as well as a chocoholic and rugby union fanatic who likes to barrack her favorite team on TV. She's also a teacher, but she'll tell us more about that in her interview. Currently, she's working on a more serious romance called "Aidan and Eloise," which is based on the Dire Straits song "Romeo and Juliet." In LA's dictionary, Hugh Jackman's picture is listed under "Hot."
It's been a busy week with our lovely ladies from the land of Oz and we're knackered! So enjoy what Ms. Dale has to say and then check out her blog or visit her on Facebook and Twitter. You can also find her on Goodreads, but you have to answer a question to connect with her there.
MP: What is your usual writing routine?
LD: For the last six months I’ve been long service leave from my paid job and had intentions of writing/ finishing Aidan & Eloise. That didn’t happen and I released The Taming of the Bastard instead, so I guess you could say my writing routine is varied but I usually write at weekends and in the evenings as I have a day job.
When I sit down to write, I try to get all distractions out of the way first - I check my email, FB and Twitter etc, then I write. If I’m in the zone I can write all day, stopping for food or coffee but if things aren’t going as well I tend to write in blocks of about forty minutes, then have a break.
At the beginning of a story, I look for pictures to give me ideas of how characters might look. I have an outline but I rarely stick to it. The usual way is that I have a beginning and an end but I never know how the characters are going to get there.
MP: What do you if you get writer's block?
LD: I had a bad case of block doing the demolition party scene in The Taming of the Bastard. It took me a good few months to get it to a place where I was happy and about five rewrites. Sometimes the words just don’t flow. When this happens I often go back to the beginning of the story and do a read through/edit hoping that by the time I’ve got back to that point ideas will come. Sometimes if I have something down, I write past it and go back later to refine. If it’s really bad I put the whole project away and work on something else.
MP: What inspired you to write your novels?
LD: I love reading love stories! Not necessarily cheesy romance- though I do go in for the odd historical heaving bosom variety every now and again - but stories where boy meets girl and they have a happy ending. I also love chick lit and read tonnes of that. I get really inspired by the stories of my favourite authors like Lisa Jewell.
I first started writing when we moved from home in Tasmania to the other side of Australia. I’d done a bit of writing at University, but it was only for fun. Then I was left with two small kids, a husband who was working away from home and no friends or family. I was very lonely and began to write as a way to pass the time at night. The first book I wrote - Heart of Glass - came about because I was thinking about a boy I knew when I was fifteen or sixteen. He was sort of my first love and so I based the character of Ben loosely on him at the beginning of the book. I often wondered what happened to him over the years, so I made up a story.
My other two books are also very loosely based on men I knew too - though the events were definitely fictional. I’ve never done the things the girls in my books get up to.
I love music and get very inspired by lyrics. I often hear them and think ‘that would make a great story’ and the other night I had a great dream, which I wrote down with the intention of making a novella from it.
MP: If you were not a writer, what job would you like to have?
LD: Well, I actually do have a day job as an Early Childhood Teacher. I used to teach Year One but now I teach children who struggle with reading. It’s lovely when they finally ‘get it’ and we can share a love of reading together. If I wasn’t a teacher or a writer though, my ‘dream’ had always been to be a singer in a band or an archeologist (weird combination). I sang when I was at Uni and loved it - now my son is a professional musician. And I love old stuff and history.
MA: If you could choose a book of yours to be made into a movie, which would you pick and who would be cast as the leads?
LD: Funnily, I’ve had this discussion with a few readers and friends lately. It would definitely be Heart of Glass as it already has a soundtrack! I think the story would translate well to screen too as it happens over a period of years and has lots of ups and downs. Abbie Cornish (Sucker Punch) and Sam Worthington (Avatar) would play Bella and Ben as they are both Australian. I saw them in an Australian movie called Jindabyne a few years ago and they were brilliant together. She would have Bella’s vulnerability down easily and Sam does the swagger thing well.
MA: Where is the farthest you've ever traveled from home?
LD: I went on a Mediterranean Cruise with my husband in March. We went to Italy, Spain, Portugal and Morocco. We stayed in Rome for a few days at the end and it was so lovely. I wanted to write a story about the Trevi Fountain as that was the view from the balcony of our hotel. I thought it would make a sweet romance setting.
MA: You write "reality romance". Tell us more about this genre.
LD: I don’t tend to fit into a romance/women’s fiction/ chicklit mold exactly, so I invented my own. I write from reality - stories I’ve heard, things I’ve seen, my own life experiences are all incorporated into my books. Lots of characters are based on people I knew or know though they take on their own life when they get into my story. I also like to write in first person, giving the lead character a more personal feel. Some people don’t like that you can hear every thought that goes on in Bella’s head or that Flora is nice on the outside but thinks sarcastic things on the inside or that the girls in The Taming of the Bastard put up with stuff from the men because they love them but that’s life, isn’t it? Women don’t just walk out on men. They don’t always say what they think. They are selfish at times and can use other people when they feel hurt. I write about that because its life. I don’t gloss over stuff and my readers seem to appreciate it. (The picture is a spot in King's Park that was featured in "The Taming..." You can see the city of Perth from here.)
MA: Since you're a chocoholic, what is your favorite kind of chocolate?
LD: Oh God. Any, except dark chocolate. I absolutely adore Cadbury Peppermint Chocolate - could live on it, in fact - and Red Tulip Easter Eggs. Easter is a very bad time of year for me! I also favour any food with chocolate in it especially chocolate cakes and caramel slice. Yum. It’s a family joke that when we go out for dinner I order from the dessert trolley instead of the menu.
MA: What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently (or that you have done)?
LD: Embarrassing things happen to me all the time, so it’s lucky I can laugh at myself. A while back I was wandering through a department store and banged head first into a large square column, the type that holds up the floors. It was covered in mirrors and because I was daydreaming, I thought I’d crashed into another person so I apologised to the pole. When I turned around the shop assistants at the counter were laughing their heads off.
Last week I was doing a relief teaching day at a new school and I tucked my skirt into my undies when I went to the loo. The teaching assistant had to tell me after I walked past a whole group of parents with my knickers showing.
MP: What are some of the places that you always take visitors to when they come to visit you in Perth?
LD:Well, as of last month I no longer live in Perth. I have moved to a farm in the country. My husband and I built a solar passive house and are going green! But I’m still a city girl wearing my designer gumboots with the West Highland Terriers on them (my dog is a Westie) so when we have visitors we tend to do a range of things. I love taking them to Fremantle (pictured here), south of the river, to have lunch and go to the market. Its artsy and eclectic and they have great jewellery and food. We also take our friends to the Swan Valley. There are wineries there and a chocolate factory - two of my favourite things. My nephew loves to go to Perth Zoo when he visits too. I like it because it has Indonesian Sun Bears and Tasmanian Fairy Penguins (my real home) and turtles (my favourite animal). There’s also heaps of Australian native animals. And no visit to Western Australia would be complete with out going to see a rugby match if it’s the season! We are long suffering supporters and always have spare members seats for our friends. It makes for a fun night out.
At our new home we have a cidery that’s won tonnes of awards. The happy hour on Friday evening with live music is fast becoming a favourite to take friends to when they come to stay.
Special thanks to LA for our fun little chat and for providing the book for the giveaway.
How to win "The Taming of the Bastard":
Please comment below with your e-mail address.
(Please note: Entries without an e-mail address will NOT be counted. You can use AT and DOT to avoid spam. Or provide a link to your facebook page or blog if you can receive messages there.)
Bonus entries (can be listed all in one post):
1. Please tell us: What is your favorite thing about or from Australia?
2. LA's huge grin in her picture is because Jon Bon Jovi was right in front of her at the time.
Please tell us: What is the closest you've ever gotten to a celebrity?
3. Follow this blog and post a comment saying you are a follower (if you already follow, that's fine too).
4. Post this contest on Facebook or Twitter or in your blog, and leave a comment saying where you've posted it.
5. Join Chick Lit Central on Facebook. Edit settings if you don't want to receive a lot of messages at your e-mail account. (If you're already a member, let us know that too.)
6. Add a friend to our Facebook group. (Tell us who you added.)Be sure to remind them about editing their settings.
Giveaway ends June 6th at midnight EST.
More by LA Dale: