Author Spotlight: Sara Donovan


Describe yourself in one word:

What is your background with regard to writing?
I wanted to be a writer since I was a teenager, but my fear of failure stopped me writing a book for decades. Not that I escaped writing completely. In my day job. I write (and perform – if you can call it that) training programs in communication and influence in all kinds of industries. It’s a job that requires a lot of spoken storytelling, which I love.

When did you first begin writing with a view of embarking on a career as a published author?
Not until I was fifty. It suddenly became incredibly important regardless of the outcome and despite how busy my life was.

Tell us a little more about Love by Numbers:
Love by Numbers is a story about a career girl who decides she is borderline obsessive about a co-worker and uses her knowledge of neuroscience and psychology to “transfer” her infatuation to her available best guy friend.

Love by Numbers follows central character, April who embarks on a journey of ‘rewiring her brain’ using a 7-step formula to break her man-drought! How did you come up with this concept?
My fascination with the neuroscience of the “brain in love” and my desire to write a book about a borderline obsessive heroine collided in my head one day. I grabbed an A3 page, wrote Love, Lust and Neuroscience in the middle of the page and started mind-mapping my book.

Of the seven steps that April follows, which was your favourite to write about?
Step six (fulfilling each other’s primal fantasies without judgment and within reason) was the most fun to write about, and probably the hardest.

Is love as easy as rewiring your thoughts?
I’m not a psychologist, but from what I’ve read, if someone turns you off, love definitely isn’t as easy as rewiring your thoughts. But if you’re neutral about someone to begin with, putting yourself in environments known to trigger love and lust brain chemicals could lead to romantic feelings. It’s something I think the producers of the TV show ‘The Bachelor’ believe. So many of the ‘contestants’ have romantic feelings for the guy very quickly, way before they know him. In my opinion, it has a lot do with the environment – the competition, the glamour, the locations etc all produce a potent mix of two of the seven steps: adrenaline and emotion.

Can you share with us the Love by Numbers 7-step formula for falling in love?
How to Fall in Love with (Almost) Anyone in Seven Easy Steps

Choose an available friend who doesn’t turn you off, and rewire your brains for a hot and heavy romance.

1. Get emotional together while watching a sad movie.

2. Share an adrenaline rush by jumping out of a plane.

3. Show how competent you are at something, but don’t make a big deal of it.

4. Have him bring home food from the hunt — a good restaurant will do.

5. Eye gaze in bed without talking until it doesn’t feel weird.

6. Role-play each other’s primal fantasies within reason and without judgement.

7. Sleep together like stacked spoons.

Repeat the above until love and lust kick in. Then when they do, send your attraction into overdrive by not seeing each other. That’s when things really get cooking.

If you weren’t writing, what would you be doing?
Drinking a good red while I having an in-depth philosophical conversation with people I love.

One thing you’d like readers to know about the romance genre…
Reading (let alone writing) romance can be a brilliant way to keep yourself feeling in love with life.

Biggest accomplishment to date:
From a writing perspective, it’s having my debut novel, Love By Numbers, digitally published by HarperCollins.

What’s next for you?
I’m plotting another quirky story with a pretty flawed heroine right now.


Confessions of an Author:

Favourite snack whilst writing?
70% Lindt dark chocolate.

Is there something we’d be shocked to know about you?
I trained to be a weightlifter in the 48kg class many years ago because surprisingly, there were only 2 other women competing to represent Australia in this class.

What do you find easiest to write? And, the hardest?
I find corporate scenes the easiest to write and sex by far the hardest thing to write.

Favourite travel experience?
I have a favourite secret camping spot in a national park in northern NSW that is heaven on earth – in good weather.

Favourite fictional character:
Jane Eyre.

Number one thing to do on your bucket list:
Share a meal with my family at Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck restaurant in England.

Milk or dark chocolate? Dark.

Red, white, bubbly? Red.

Salty or sweet? Salty.

Beach or mountains? Mountains.

Give or receive? Receive.


About the Author:
My dream job when I was fifteen was scriptwriting for TV or film, only I was a writing wimp. A few bad marks for English essays and I pursued a career in science instead of creative writing.

It took a few decades of writing non-fiction in my day job while living an accidental romantic comedy life before I was willing to manage the uncertainty and give my creative writing dream a go – and I’m so glad I did! Writing Love By Numbers, (a romantic comedy about love, lust and neuroscience), was one of the most fun things I’ve done.

It’s being digitally published by HarperCollins digital brand, HarperImpulse on July 1st, 2014

In my day job, I run a small and busy Learning and Development Consultancy in Sydney, Australia, where I write and teach neuroscience and communication programs to very smart and talented clients.

My greatest blessing is my wonderfully supportive and inspiring family – my personal superhero husband, my two amazing children, three wonderful step children and my love-addicted dog.


Find Sara online:



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