Monday, 22 September 2014

An interview with Ellie Darkins

Today I am pleased to welcome Ellie Darkins to The Love of a Good Book!

Author bio
Ellie Darkins spent her formative years as a committed bookworm devouring romance novels. After completing her English degree (which had Mills & Boon on the syllabus!) she decided to make a living from her love of books. As a writer and freelance editor her work now entails dreaming up romantic proposals, hot dates with alpha males and trips to the past with dashing heroes. When she’s not working she can usually be found manning the desk or sampling the coffee at her local library, or out for a run – listening to an audiobook, of course.

In less than 10 words, how would you describe Frozen Heart, Melting KissA romance where food, love and family are inextricably entwined.

Your main character is Maya Hartney, how would you describe her? I adore Maya. She's passionate, full of energy and ideas, always wanting to make people happy. But her enthusiasm and passion hides a vulnerable side that runs very deep. 

Maya is a caterer, what dish would she recommend to make someone fall in love/lust? I don't think that Maya could pick just one dish, because she would really get to know someone to find out what makes them tick. For her food is so personal, it would be different every time.

Of course a great caterer like Maya would throw a dinner party, who would you 5 dream guests be? Only five?! Okay, Anne Boleyn, because she's a fascinating character who wielded an enormous amount of power at a time it was almost impossible for a woman to do so. She's also been so romanticised and villified I'm dying to know who the real Anne was. Marian Keyes, because I think she's one of the funniest people alive. I'd hope that if I asked her really very nicely she'd explain her theory of feathery strokers to me. Can I have fictional people? I'd love to invite Doctor Who, and would demand to know how he can be in love with River and flirt with Clara at the same time? Margaret Thatcher, another divisive woman with unprecedented power in this country. And lastly I think I'd go for ... Jon Snow, because I just finished a Game of Thrones marathon and am very much in love! (and so I could quiz him and try and work out who his parents are).
They say the journey to being published is one of the hardest an author can take, please can you describe the journey that you went on?I've been really lucky with my writing to have had fantastic support and feedback ever since I started sharing my stories. I started writing seriously after taking part in National Novel Writing Month, and as soon as I felt I had a story that I thought readers might enjoy I entered it into Harlequin/Mills & Boon's writing contest, SYTYCW. After they read my manuscript the editors sent me some really useful feedback, and that book published as Hiding from Hollywood with Crimson Romance in January this year. The next time I entered a Mills & Boon contest, it led to a two-book contract! The editors saw promise in my story and worked with me for six months to really get the best out of my writing, my characters and my story. I couldn't be happier to be working with them!

When you aren't writing, how do you spend your days? In my day job I'm a freelance book editor, so I mainly spend it reading. I also volunteer in my local library, so basically I'm surrounded by books as often as possible. When the eyes get tired I head out for a run, though I usually listen to an audiobook at the same time.

Writers put so much time and energy into their characters and I have been told in the past that a writer carries their characters around with them.
So my question is if you could go out for a day with any one of your characters: who would it be, what would you do and why did you pick this particular character?
Oh, it would be Maya, no question. I absolutely love her -- she's such a mixture of passion and vulnerability. The more time I spent writing her the more layers and facets to her character I discovered. She spends so much time making other people happy, I'd want to make sure we did something she enjoyed: a food festival perhaps, like the one she visits with Will. 
If you could choose one book that you think everyone should read, what would it be and why?I have so many that I like to recommend to people it's hard to choose just one. But the most thought-provoking book I've read recently isApple Tree Yard, by Louise Doughty. It's an absolute masterclass in authorial control, and unlike anything I've ever read before. I still find myself thinking about the characters months after I finished it.
What can we expect next, any future books in the pipeline?My next book for Mills & Boon is almost finished! It's Rachel's story (a minor character in Frozen Heart, Melting Kiss) and features a beach, a one-night stand and a very big surprise for my hero and heroine!

Shy and vulnerable Maya Hartney has one great passion—cooking. She’s turned her greatest pleasure into a thriving business, and nothing fulfills her more than delighting her clients. Until she’s hired by taciturn workaholic Will Thomas to cater a charity dinner.…
Only, where Will’s concerned, Maya can do no right! The solution? Sign him up for one of her cookery courses and force the man to fall for her food. A week, one-on-one, cooking and tasting, proves to be a lot more intense and emotional than either of them are expecting! And it comes with a delicious new taste sensation…a kiss…

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