AUSSIE MONTH with Justine Lewis
Describe yourself in one word:
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. 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 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.
What inspired this novel?
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.
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.
What are you reading right now?
At the moment I’m getting into the Christmas spirit with two Christmas novellas; I just finished A Kirribilli Christmas by Louise Reynolds and have just started Secret Santo by Carla Caruso. But by the time you read this I hope to be well into by holiday reading. I’m looking forward to reading Jennifer Rae’s latest release, Who’s Calling the Shots?
Number one thing to do on your bucket list?
One day I’d love to travel around the entire Mediterranean coast.
Best thing about being an Aussie?
Living in a free and prosperous democracy. And the dry and irreverent humour of Australian men.
What 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. I also love that women are always the central characters in romances.
What have you got in store for your readers in 2015?
I’m working on a few things, including a ‘prequel’ to The Secret Prince.
What were your big achievements of 2014?
Having my first novel published!
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…