Describe yourself in one word:
What is your background with regard to writing?
I have no particular training. I was good at English at school, managed half an Arts degree with an English major and did a couple of creative writing courses. Learning craft is great but reading in the genre is the best training.
When did you first begin writing with a view of embarking on a career as a published author?
Tell us a little more about Red Dirt Duchess:
It’s a story about family, class and the possibility that we might not be who we think we are. I enjoyed taking a laid-back, straight-talking girl from the Australian outback and pitting her against the full weight of an English aristocratic family with all their expectations and prejudices. It’s also a story about how love can help overcome personal demons.
The central female character, Charlie Hughes, runs the local pub in her tiny hometown of Bindundilly and has no desire to ever leave until English playboy Jonathan Hartley-Huntley rolls into town and shatters her quiet and unassumingly life. Jonathan and Charlie couldn’t be more different as characters yet you’ve captured both their spirits and brought them to life seamlessly—as an author, how do you chart and plan the characters?
I generally start with an opening scene and the idea of what the story is about. Somehow the characters just turn up. For example, in Red Dirt Duchess Jon arrives in the outback in a tiny Cessna and Charlie is supposed to drive to the airstrip to pick him up. But she’s busy in her bar and forgets so he has to walk into town. He’s hot, tired and very, very annoyed. I always had the English travel writer and columnist AA Gill in my mind as inspiration for Jon because he’s kind of snarky, witty and definitely upper-class. I thought these two personalities would shoot sparks off each other. The challenge, when the story moved to London, was to not turn it into Crocodile Dundee Does London. I didn’t want to create a caricature Australian sheila for Charlie but she still needed to have Australian flavour.
Jonathan and Charlie embark on a trip to London together, a move that brings them together whilst also highlighting the enormity of their differences. Throw in a snotty mother-in-law, family secrets and traditions and this poor couple really have been put through their paces. Why must you be so testing on your characters, Louise? Why?! 🙂
I wanted to bring the full force of Jon’s disapproving aristocratic family with their generations of breeding into the equation and contrast it with Charlie’s unusual, bohemian upbringing. Who, in the end, had the better childhood? Did a fancy name and background mean anything when it came to happiness? Writing Diana, Jon’s mother, was a lot of fun. I just closed my eyes and thought of the nastiest things she could say but still stay behind that frosty veneer of breeding. Together with Jon’s secret from his childhood and Charlie’s own tragic experience with her mother, I thought enough was enough!
What one character trait of Charlie and Jonathan’s makes them most endearing to readers?
For Charlie it’s her down-to-earth approach. With Jon it’s his vulnerability. He carries a secret from his childhood and it has influenced his entire life.
One thing you’d like readers to know about the romance genre…
I’d love the term bodice-ripper to be struck from the dictionary. Yes, there is a certain, highly defined sub-genre of romance that is legitimately termed bodice-ripper but to apply it across all romance is wrong.
If you weren’t writing, what would you be doing?
I’d love to be making ceramics. It’s so tactile and when you get a piece right in both the form and glaze, it’s so satisfying. I also love to cook and I’d like to do a lot more of it but there are only so many hours in the day.
Biggest accomplishment to date:
Getting that first book contract (Her Italian Aristocrat). It was the fulfilment of a long-held dream. Not only could I write a book but someone wanted to publish it.
What’s next for you?
I’m working on a coastal romance the research for which necessitates many small breaks in lovely seaside communities. I not stupid 🙂
Confessions of an Author:
Favourite snack whilst writing?
Dutch peanut biscuits. They are whisper thin and very, very addictive.
Is there something we’d be shocked to know about you?
Yes, but you don’t expect me to tell you, do you? J
What do you find easiest to write? And, the hardest?
I love writing dialogue, capturing a character’s voice and using it to develop the character. Sex scenes are definitely the hardest. It’s more about emotion than logistics but you still have to put all the bits together.
Favourite travel experience?
Favourite fictional character:
Sugar Carey in ‘Ain’t She Sweet?’ by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. She has an amazing character arc, a smart mouth and a deep, heart-breaking wound. Perfection.
Number one thing to do on your bucket list:
See my book in airport bookshops preferably with the big illuminated banner out the front
Milk or dark chocolate? Dark. I love the Lindt one with a touch of sea salt. And salted caramel.
Red, white, bubbly? White
Salty or sweet? Salty. Olives and anchovies, bring it on!
Beach or mountains? Mountains
Give or receive? Give
About the Author:
Louise Reynolds is an author of contemporary romantic fiction. Born in Sydney, she spent her childhood frolicking on beaches before moving to Melbourne at age 10. After one look at Melbourne beaches she got a library card and started to read. It was a logical step to take her love of romance novels to the next stage and tell her own stories. After some success in writing competitions she’s thrilled that her warm, heartfelt romances have found an audience.
By day, she works in the commercial lighting industry, lighting anything from bridges to five star hotels. By night, she’s working her way through a United Nations of fictional heroes.
After a lifetime of kissing frogs one finally turned into a prince and she lives with her partner in Melbourne’s inner north. She loves live jazz, cooking complicated meals that totally destroy the kitchen, and dining out. She has embraced Melbourne by wearing far too much black.
Red Dirt Duchess
When English society playboy Jonathan Hartley-Huntley is sent to outback Australia after a disastrous affair with his editor, all he wants is to take a few pictures, do a quick interview and get back to his usual life of luxury as soon as possible. Until he meets his host, the irresistible Charlie Hughes, and suddenly the back of beyond is a lot more appealing.
Running the pub is a labour of love for Charlie and she has no desire to ever leave the tiny town of Bindundilly. That is, until Jon discovers an old painting that raises questions about both their lives. Charlie impulsively decides to follow him to London, and as the feelings between them begin to deepen, she starts to wonder if there’s more to life than the pub. But at Jon’s family home, the magnificent Hartley Hall, they become acutely aware of the differences between them, and it soon seems clear they have no future together – especially if Jon’s mother has her way.
Family and tradition threaten the course of true love in this warm and witty novel from the author of Outback Bride and Her Italian Aristocrat.