Ally Blake Romance Author - Blog

Latest news from Australian romance author Ally Blake, writer of fun, fresh flirty romance novels.

Friday 6 January 2006

it's all in the details

I think setting is a major secondary character in any book. The bright lights and speedy pace of Sydney. The rolling waves and hippy inhabitants of Byron Bay. Or the harsh dry colours, stifling heat and dangers of the Outback. Set the same two people in any of these locations and the setting can't help but make an impact

Take my current book, A FATHER IN THE MAKING. I took a city boy, Ryan Gasper, and gave him a prime reason to move to the country where he meets a dyed in the wool country girl, Laura Somervale, who would never move to the city no matter the reason. This produced my first ever fish out of water Outback Romance.

growing your characters from their surroundings:

Laura is a product of her surroundings. Think beautiful, harsh, hot, rugged and utterly stunning scenery, rolling hills, eucalypts scattered along the hilltops, tasty tank water, barbed wire fences, wombat holes, unforgiving lantana and blackberries curling along creek beds, and wide blue skies over looking the lot. She wears dresses to ward off the heat. Her hair is long and wild and held back by nothing fancier than a piece of string. And she is seen in bare feet more often than not.

City boy Ryan in his neat suit stands out like a sore thumb which adds confilct without even trying. Even when he tries to fit in wearing jeans and an Akubra his clothes are so obviously new that he looks even more out of place

making your location work for you:

The photos here were all taken by me, on a 42 degree day that was so hot my skin felt like it was peeling from my arms the minute I stepped outside. But step outside I did. Because as a city girl myself, I know this one little part of the Outback intimately. Though Kardinayarr property on which my heroine lives and the nearbyt country town of Tandarah are make-believe, they are based on the beautiful part of the world in which my husband grew up.

Our heroine's worker's cottage is situated atop a hill I know well. I gave her similar views, the same gorgeous flowers around the verandah, grey kangaroos tripping across the driveway, the fallen tree with its family of rabbits, and a similar dam at the bottom of the hill

Kardinyarr is isolated. The townspeople have to rely on one another for so many things - in sickness, in celebration, in care of their children, in times of great hardship. Laura, as a member of the PTA, and of the CWA is deeply involved in her community. Whereas Ryan, who lives his life surrounded by thousands, is a loner. He goes where he is called, traveling the world lecturing. An island to himself he is thrown into this tight community and realises what he has been missing.

write what you know, or if you don't know - learn!:

As research, I spent some time at the Mernda country markets which have been running every Monday for over one hundreds years on the northern outskirts Melbourne. Once there one can spend hours trawling through the strangest collections of knickknacks ($1 videos, costume jewelry, mower parts, football socks etc.).

And I even attended a livestock auction which made its way into the book! On one of the hottest days of the summer, the scent of human sweat and hot beasts in the auction barn was not one I will soon forget.

A defining moment in the writing of the book came when I saw a little family of Angora goats for sale. One looked straight down the barrel of my camera and I just knew they had to appear in the book as well!

A FATHER IN THE MAKING, a Harlequin Romance, is out in April 2006 in North America
ISBN: 0263848744
Read it! Excerpt here...

Join Ryan a city savvy economist with the world at his feet as he lays down his hat at Kardinyarr, a sprawling country property, and navigates the complexities of an Outback life he never wanted. But navigate it he must if he is ever going to get the better of the utterly too lovely Laura, a woman who sings to magpies, and still uses and apron when she cooks, and captures more than his interest... Add to that her daughter Chloe who is seven going on seventeen, Jill the too cluey owner of the Upper Gum Tree Hotel, Chimp the dog, and Munchkin the goat, Ryan is not entirely sure if he is ever going to get to the bottom of his younger brother's mysterious life and death.