Author Spotlight: Justine Lewis
Describe yourself in one word: Versatile.
What is your background with regard to writing?
As an eager reader from a young age, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t make up my own stories. I completed a few creative writing courses when I was younger but life had a habit of getting in the way while I waited for time to finish ‘that’ book. I work as a lawyer so I spend most of my time writing one thing or another but writing and reading romance is generally much more uplifting than writing legal advice.
When did you first begin writing with a view of embarking on a career as a published author?
When I was on maternity leave with my youngest about four years ago I started writing again as a sanity preserving outlet; looking after a sleepless baby gives you lots of thinking time. After dabbling away directionless on a few manuscripts I decided to get serious about it and joined Romance Writers of Australia, whose resources are terrific. Then I plucked up the courage to apply for a critique partner. I struck gold with my first (and several more after her). Having to show my work to someone else really made me lift my writing to a higher standard and having someone read it gave me the motivation to actually finish a book.
Tell us a little more about The Secret Prince:
The Secret Prince is a contemporary Cinderella/mistaken identity story set in the age of social media. It is about a runaway European prince and a journalist who must chose between her job or keeping a secret for the man she loves.
Prince Alexander was a hero in his army until the tragic death of his older brother forces him to take on safer duties as the heir to his throne. Having difficulty coming to terms with his new role, Alex has ditched his bodyguards and is having an extended break in Australia. Due to bad experiences in the past, he hates the press. He is also hiding a secret about his brother’s death that he believes will ruin his family’s reputation.
After several false starts in her career, Maddie Lawson is determined to make it as a journalist. She is not yet thirty and is insecure about the fact that this is the fourth career she has tried. She wants to be assigned the serious news but to her frustration her boss has told her to investigate reports a European prince is living undercover in Sydney.
Prince Alexander Davros is quite the elusive character—a prince with a secret so great it threatens his position as heir to the throne… Tell me, how do you find the inspiration for a character like Alex and what challenges arise whilst writing such a character?
This story began with the ever-inspiring Colin Firth. Specifically, his role as King George VI in The King’s Speech. Firth plays a prince forced into a role he doesn’t want when his older brother, Edward VIII, abdicates to marry Wallis Simpson. History is full of second (or third) sons who end up inheriting the crown and I wondered what would happen if the second son actually didn’t want the throne. Alex was challenging to write as I had to show that he was conflicted, without making him seem spoilt or ungrateful. He’s dealing with a lot of things – loss and betrayal – as well as having to come to terms with the fact that his life is irrevocably changed.
Similarly, we see Maddie as a career-minded assertive character. What inspired her character and what challenges did you have in presenting her on paper?
The paradox of successful modern princesses is that they need to be smart and dedicated to the job yet I think most women would think very hard about taking on such a role. When Prince William announced his engagement he said that he waited so long to ask Kate because he needed to be sure that she was sure about joining the Royal Family. Princess Charlene of Monaco reportedly had serious reservations about marrying a prince, to the point of running away just before her wedding. Just like Alex wasn’t planning on being king, being a princess and a future queen is not part of Maddie’s grand plan. The challenge in writing Maddie was also helping her to overcome this conflict in a way that was realistic and didn’t involve her surrendering her own identity.
What one character trait will most endear both Maddie and Alex to your readers?
Alex is extremely loyal and Maddie is smart and uncompromising.
What do you want readers to know about the romance genre?
The statistics vary, but it is pretty clear that romance is one of the most popular genres in the world, if not the most popular. It is also such a broad genre – contemporary, historical, paranormal, suspenseful, inspirational, erotic, comedic – with infinite sub-categories of all of the above. Reading and writing about love, relationships, conflict, emotions and how people get along is really rewarding.
If you weren’t writing, what would you be doing?
What’s next for you?
I’m working on a few more projects including a prequel to The Secret Prince, which is about Alex’s younger sister, Sophie.
What book is currently on your nightstand?
I’m reading Sasha Cottman, An Unsuitable Match on the Kindle and Anne of the Island on audio book (audio books are my insomnia cure, though since the object is to fall asleep while listening it is better if you listen to something you already know or the book can get very confusing if you fall in and out of sleep!)
What advice would you give your 16-year-old self?
Worry less about what other people think. Choose the other boy.
It’s almost Christmas (yes, already!), tell us: what are you hoping to find under the tree this year?
Most of all. I would like a safe and happy Christmas and New Year for everyone (but failing that, there’s a beautiful necklace in Mimco, hint hint).
Favourite Christmas recipe?
My uncle’s mango and avocado salad. It goes with everything likely to be on the table at our Christmas lunch; cold prawns, ham, chicken. The original quantities are unknown but it is basically diced mango and avocado, finely chopped red onion, fresh coriander (and mint if you like), a splash of mirin and lime juice to taste.
Favourite Christmas tradition?
Helping the kids put out biscuits and scotch for Santa and carrots for the reindeer. It reminds me of Christmas when I was a kid.
Share with us your biggest New Years Resolution for 2015:
To worry less.
Favourite travel experience?
A few years ago my (future) husband and I travelled to England and visited the villages that his mother and grandparents grew up in. One day I hope to be able to take our kids there too.
Number one thing to do on your bucket list:
I’d love to travel around the entire Mediterranean coast.
Milk, dark or white chocolate? Dark.
Red, white, bubbly? All three!
About the Author:
Justine grew up in Canberra, Australia and after travelling overseas and living in Europe for a time, she settled back in Canberra with her husband and young family. She has spent her professional life writing legal advice – which some may say is similar to creative writing – but the lack of sexy heroes and happy endings led her to try writing romance. She has placed in the finals of Romance Writers of Australia writing contests, winning the Emerald Short Award in 2014. She loves Earl Grey tea, talking about which of Jane Austen’s novels is her favourite, and searching for the perfect frock. She will read anything, but loves romance most of all.
The Secret Prince
Prince Alexander Davros is on the run. From the press, from his bodyguards, and from a secret that threatens his position as heir to his country’s throne …
Journalist Maddie Lawson is determined to prove herself capable of covering hard news. She’s fuming when her boss tells her to investigate reports of a European prince holidaying undercover in Sydney. As far as Maddie is concerned, Alexander Davros is a freeloading playboy.
When their accidental meeting results in a media frenzy, Alex is convinced Maddie’s just been using him for a story. And Maddie can’t believe the cute surfer she kissed was actually royalty. With her professional reputation in tatters, Maddie has no choice but to accept the royal family’s offer to travel to Europe to write a profile on the Prince.
While furious that his father has arranged for Maddie to visit, Alex is forced to keep her close or risk having her uncover his secret. And as they spend more time together, the attraction between them grows. But if Maddie discovers the truth, she’ll have to choose between the career she’s worked so hard for and the man she’s just getting to know …