Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Interview- Always Have and Always Will by Stella McLeod

What inspired you to become an author? 

Creative writing was something I loved at school. My brother was a couple of years ahead of me and a straight A student in Maths, Physics and Chemistry so you can imagine the horror of the science teachers when I stumbled along in his footsteps barely managing to get a pass. But I was good at English, entered competitions and started winning awards and that positive reinforcement encouraged me to swap from science to arts subjects. I went on to become dux of the school in my final year and winning a scholarship to University where I took a degree in Psychology. You could say I became a Clinical Psychologist due to my writing.

Do you have a specific writing style? 

I enjoy reading first person, present tense, so I tend to gravitate to that as a writer. Although it has the limitation of narrowing the point of view and excluding the rich details that other characters can provide, I find it is more engaging, more like a conversation between that one character and the reader. I also love dialogue as it is immediate, personal and can be the vehicle for emotions and humor without lengthy fillers and description.   In the Omega series that first person voice is always the heroines so it also means she has blind spots and is missing information that might save her life. I also like things to move along at a cracking pace, so although the setting may not change for a chapter or two my characters will be dealing with change and challenges at a pace that they can barely draw breath. I use short sentences and a clipped, somewhat staccato style to achieve this. Setting is also important to me so I choose exotic locations and settings and this allows me to change from dialogue and action to a more luxurious descriptive style.

Do you write in different styles? 

Yes I write in different styles, different genres and for different reasons. Over the years I’ve written medico-legal reports for the courts, professional journal articles and conference papers for Psychologists, scripts for pre-school TV shows, YA and teenage fiction books, children’s picture books, a series of technical cookbooks for The Culinary Library (I’ve written 4 of 20so far) and novel length romances. When I committed to writing full time I knew, both consciously and subconsciously, it was the Romance novels I wanted to focus on. I write both contemporary and paranormal romance but I have a delicious series in the pipeline after the three books in the Omega series. It will be called “The Bedlam Club” and I’m already excited by it’s characters and plot.  It will be my first foray into historical romance (1700’s). I’m working on changing my voice, style of writing to accurately capture both that period setting and dialogue.  At this stage it’s still first person but I may change that.

If yes which is your favorite genre to write? 

Romance writing is definitely my favorite genre. To me, it is the best at exploring the many facets of human relationship, but in the end it is the ONLY genre that absolutely delivers what I believe most of us are ultimately looking for throughout all stages of life from childhood to death, acceptance, love and a place of peace and acceptance where we feel good about ourselves and the world. (or as my heroine in Always Have and Always Will says, she just wants to feel beloved on the earth.)

How did you come up with the title for your latest book? 

I love the immediacy of images, probably because I’m a Psychologist and a great believer in subconscious intelligence. Unlike the conscious brain, which is language based, the subconscious or instinctual brain deals in images and feelings so I gravitate to images for inspiration the same way Buddhists gravitate to mandala. I have a LOT of wonderful image boards on Pinterest! One is a meme board (word sayings overlayed on an evocative image). I came across a meme of an old saying, Loved you yesterday. love you still, always have and always will. And that was it! I registered that same day and began writing the first Omega Series book.

Do you title the book first or wait until after it’s complete? 

Title. Definitely. First.  To me it’s like naming a child.  In the beginning there was the word......and for me that’s the title........I can’t start without it.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? 

I want readers to grasp what ever is meaningful for them and that will be different for each person. For me though there are several messages. The central theme is never-give-up but there are others, good-things-come-to-those-who-wait, bad-things-happen-to-good-people, the-body-has-it’s-own-intelligence, the-warriors-path-is-tough etc.

Is the book, characters, or any scenes based on a true life experience, someone you know, or events in your own life? 

No. Definitely not in the sense you mean. 

What books/authors have influenced your life? 

Too many to remember. From Mary Grant Bruce’s Billabong series and Mary Stewart’s historicals in my childhood, to Tolkein when I was a teenager. As an adult I’ve loved Katherine Mansfield, Colette, Chechov. Romance I just consume like a smorgasborg.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Katherine Mansfield 

What book are you reading now? 

Gabon by my friend Marius Gabriel. Did you know he used to write under the pseudonym Madeleine Ker, and has written over 30 romance novels in the past 30 years? He had to write as a woman to get published!

What books are in your to read pile? 

I read on my kindle so I’ve always got stacks of downloads waiting to be read.  J.D Robb, Devoted in Death, maybe or a Louis Lamour.

What is your current “work in progress” or upcoming projects? 

I’m working on book two in the Omega Series at the moment, Always, Only and Forever. It’s cracking along, then I’ll do book three, Love me, One last Time. I have a contemporary romance on the back burner that’s nearly finished but I think I’ll do my Bedlam Club series after the last Omega.

Can you share a little of your current work with us? 


Current work as in new release, Always have and Always Will: This a snippet from the first sex scene . It is confrontational in both action and language, is meant to be, because it's a major turning point and a key character reveal.

It’s my turn to groan and I let him know it’s pleasure merged with pain. I see his muscles bunch and strain as he attempts to rein in his ambition and backs off just a little but not enough. I move backwards but he follows with a ragged “no,” wanting only what he wants, his big hands under my hips holding me angled to him, making sure I stop so he can stay deep, inside. When he knows he has me secured he drops his head to my shoulder and begins to move with a rhythmic power, a carnal invasion that is the conquest I dread. I want to scream, “hey, remember me? I’m the woman you have your dick inside!” but that thought has slipped his mind and I know from experience that it isn’t coming back because he’s closed to me for now.

I turn my head into his shoulder, no pretense of happiness required, bite my lower lip to fight back the tears. I don’t want it to be like this, don’t know if I can do this again, but he’s too busy now. He won’t notice what I’m thinking or what I want. He won’t notice anything until he’s finished. 

It’s still lust for him then, this thing between us, not love.

Because he thinks love is a personal weakness. 

Because he thinks emotions must be controlled. 

Because it’s not his heart that’s breaking. 

“Go on then, break my heart Alexander Petrakis. Break it every day for the next two thousand years if you must. It isn’t going to change anything. It isn’t going to change how I feel. My heart was only ever made to love you, anyway. It’s only capable of loving you. It’s no good to anyone else.”

Current work as in Always, Only and Forever: Work in Progress: Book two of the Omega Series. Unlike book 1, in book two the hero loves the heroine but she doesn’t love him. This is just after a the first sex scene  where he’s re-entered her life (in an ancient egyptian temple) and forced himself upon her.

“Pledge to me again, marry me Issy. I will say any words you want, before my God’s, your God’s, any Gods you choose, but be mine again, ” he pleads.

 “Why?” I ask, “Immortality is just torture when you make the same mistake for centuries.”
“Because I love you,” he states simply, still pulsing inside me.

“You are my enemy,” I remind him,  “the men in my family will kill you, kill both of us if they know we are coupling, like this, again. You say you hate violence but you force me against my will,” I sigh and turn my head away, “you say you want peace but your love for me will start a war.” 

“It will be worth it,” he says. 

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

PLOT.  There are so many possibilities and choices it takes time to decide on the best sequencing of events. Everything has to flow, not just logically but emotionally. It has to make sense not just to the conscious mind but be fulfilling to the subconscious as well. 
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work? 
Again Katherine Mansfield is my favourite dead author (and Louis Lamour) .They both often wrote in first person, present tense, with clipped sentences, repetition and brutal honesty. And both torture their characters and make them suffer.

Do you have to travel much to do research for your books?

No. Only in my imagination. I’ve been around the world before, to all the places in my books, so I don’t need to do that anymore. I do travel to Bali each summer for a two week writing retreat with my dear friend and romance writer, Elsa Holland, and some other writing buddies.  I’m moving permanently from South Australia to the Gold Coast In Queensland in a couple of months to live near my two beautiful daughters so maybe my next book will be set there. 

Who designed the cover of your latest book? 

The wonderful Hang Le. She designs Kylie Scott’s, Elsa Holland’s and many other beautiful covers. Paranormal covers need to be dark and edgy with a sense of mystery. The digital image of Anastasia was created by a brilliantly talented New Zealand digital artist Deanne Whitmore who I’ve commissioned to images for my next two covers the series. 

Do you have any advice for other writers? 

Read. Write. Read. Write. Etc etc

Do you have a song or playlist (book soundtrack) that you think represents this book? 

Not yet. I’m working on that. Haven’t found one I like yet. I’ll let you know if I find one, happy to have suggestions. 

Always Have and Always Will
The Omega Series
Book 1
Stella McLeod

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Date of Publication: October 1, 2015

ISBN: 1500270598
ASIN: 978-1500270599

Number of pages:  264
Word Count: 70,000

Formats available:  pdf

Cover Artist: Hang Le

Book Description: 

Reincarnation is easy until you have to face being murdered a second time. A life destroyed 2000 years in the past, a buried Greek temple with the secret to Immortality, ancient families torn apart by betrayal and a modern reincarnated woman who holds the key.

Ana Black thinks a villa on a Greek Island will be the perfect summer holiday but her plans don’t include Alexander Petrakis. He’s an ancient warrior who thinks he’s Immortal, says he’s waited 2000 years for her to return and claims she’s his reincarnated lover, a woman he freely admits he failed to protect in her past life. Even if she believes him and gives him a second chance, what hope he won’t fail her again?

With a past she cannot escape and a future he cannot accept, all they have is the present. Will they find a way or are they both out of time?

Available at Amazon
Chapter 1. Island of Monemvasia, Greece. Present day.

“I would rather be tied to the soil as another man’s serf ...than be King of all these dead and destroyed.” ~ HOMER, The Odyssey

When the last shutters close nothing moves but the wind in the trees and the thin fabric of my dress as it drums and billows in the air.
I knew it was a mistake, like my hair. When I’d left it had been neatly arranged in a loose knot and now it’s unraveling out of control. Like my life.
The streets are quiet and everyone is inside but I try not to think about the shitty weather, try to pretend it’s not a bad omen. The oppressive summer heat has given way to warm autumn days that gave no hint of the winter to come, the blue skies were bluer, the air cleaner.
Until today. Today the grey started and rain threatened.
A short while ago I felt safe, now my imagination creates danger where there is none. But it doesn’t matter, just like the rain and mist in the darkening streets don’t matter and the shutters closed against the coming storm don’t matter. The local villagers snug and warm behind those shutters though, are smarter than me.
But I have no choice. I have to meet him or the Greek authorities are going to burn my passport, lock me up and throw away the key.
I rub my arms, not for warmth but to brush away the goose bumps that thinking of Alexander Petrakis brings. I should be scared and I am, I should abandon my crazy plan but I can’t, and if I try walking any faster in these high-heeled shoes skipping the country is going to be a lot harder with a broken leg.
So I keep my head down, watching for rising cobblestones that might trip me up and see a scruffy dog instead. He’s too happy to see me, too sad to be anything but a stray. If he were mine I’d have him inside on a night like this. So I stop for a few minutes to give him a scratch behind the ears and a few words of comfort.
“Gotta go now,” I say shooing him off gently, making promises I can’t keep, watching him amble away with his hunched shoulders and limp tail in search of comfort and shelter he will never find. I walk away fast, think of other things but my hearts racing and breaking for not turning around and not doing the right thing. I should take a lesson from him, do a runner and take him with me. But it’s too late for me for that.
I pass an ancient olive tree that flashes its leaves to me in the wind, flipping them silver to green then silver again, sending me a thousand SOS’s. I ignore their warning and instead look out to sea at the jutting island with its crumbling relic and ancient ruins that fills tourists with awe. I shudder. It makes my flesh crawl and affects my mood. Dark weather stirs dark thoughts, and dark thoughts are perfect for dark deeds.
Across the narrow straight of choppy sea I estimate distance, current, and opportunity. It’s far, but not too far to steer a boat against the tide. I calculate the risk of missing the dock against the likelihood of being smashed against the rocks; glad I didn’t make that mistake.
That mistake I avoided by going the long way around and walking across the long causeway, but I’ve made plenty of others.
He’s chosen the place. I would have preferred the plush Chrisovoulo or the Kastraki for our meeting rather than his stuffy restaurant but he’s insisted, owns it evidently. I guess it doesn’t really matter in the end because I doubt I’ll feel safe anywhere in Greece at the moment. At the moment I just feel betrayed.
I walk along the waterfront then turn into the small lane and make my way carefully up the steps to the Bellagio. I don’t want to open the door. That fact alone should chill me to the bone, instead
I’m on fire, feel slightly sick, getting a temperature maybe. I take a deep breath, push harder and step across the threshold into my future and a blast of hot air where my skin is cold, then hot, then cold again; tingling with dread or excitement, I’m not sure which. My senses are confused. My life is confused. Same old, same old, nothing new tonight then for Ana Black.

About the Author:

McLeod’s books deliver exotic and interesting locations with characters flawed in quirky everyday ways and as a Clinical Psychologist, she draws on psychological insights into human behaviour and motivation to bring her story and characters to life. Published for over twenty years in a variety of media including television, books, electronic and print media, with additional qualifications as a London trained chef, food writer and lecturer means her readers will always find psychological complexity, tension and food written into her books. Stella McLeod is a member of the Australian Romance Writers Association.