Ally Blake Romance Author - Blog

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

Tuesday 7 March 2006

book two: marriage material

1. WORKING TITLE - "Grounds for Marriage"

I started this book wanting to have a divorce lawyer heroine and a hero amidst a divorce. Not your easiest set up to create sympathtic characters, I hear you say. Second book syndrome is hard enough without putting such shackles on oneself but I can’t seem to help myself! I'm a girl who likes a challenge.

My working title, "Grounds for Marriage", came from the situation. Rather than Romy and Sebastian's relationship being grounds for divorce, it became grounds for marriage. Clever, I thought… But my editors thought that the sub-theme of divorce was not one that needed to be heralded in the title of a romance, which isn't so very silly. Cleverer, right?

Marriage material was a term that one of Romy's friends used to describe our handsome hero, so Marriage Material it became.

2. CAST – Alec Baldwin & Nicole Kidman

Sebastian Fox was a high flyer, an ex-golf pro with time and money and a big hole in his heart that he thought only a family could fill. So I needed someone confident and deep to cast in the role.

I love this picture of Alec Baldwin. I’m a big fan of his and wish he worked more. Love “Hunt For Red October” and only wish he had stayed on as Jack Ryan in the Tom Clancy franchise he was just so perfect for that role. His interviews on Letterman are always so funny and intelligent. And that voice, low, gravelly and with a lush accent to die for.

There is a feeling of winter in this piture, of cashmere and expensive slacks, of log fires and Armani coats. I love the choppy haitcut and the blonde streaks, I love the dark faraway eyes. To me this guy spelled confidence and composure enough to frazzle even the most together heroine.

Now at the time of writing this book, I was not a fan of Nicole Kidman. I've come to appreciate her a little more in recent times, but I find Tom Cruise not a little creepy and her association with him left me a little cold. But my choice of Nicole Kidman as my inspiration only goes to show that in "casting" a book, for me it is never about the celebrity, but about the picture itself.

Romy Brideport is a lawyer so she needed to be neat and smart. But she is a lawyer from a firm with a difference. It's a law firm of ergonomic chairs and avant garde architecture, a firm with a creche for its employees and clients both, and couselling classes to help those who've lost a spouse to find a new one! And our divorce lawyer heroine is a woman who believes in true love and that marriage can last a lifetime. So not only did she have to look like a lawyer, but I needed her to be soft around the edges.

This picture of Nicole Kidman is cheeky and elegant all at once. With her sexy make-up, and her long hair down, she is feminine but also a little intimidating. Romy was like that - blustery but with a soft heart. In trawling the web for other pictures I found images of Nicole looking bedraggled (which led me to a sweaty post-Pilates scene with the hero), looking sweet (which gave me an outfit and an outlook for a golf contest they compete in against one another), and looking the height of elegance in her chartreuese Oscar dress which I think the most beautiful outfit ever put together for the red carpet. Check out my Oscar blog for a look see.

To the left is the North America cover. When I first saw it I didn't like it at all. She is meant to be tall and lean and she doesn't look it. He has bad teeth and seems to be leering down her top. Am I the only one who sees this? Anyway, after my gorgeous first cover that looked so like my hero and heroine it was scary, this one was a disappointment.

But looking at it now, all the markers are there. She has long red hair, and is wearing an appropriate suit. He's smart casual with dark hair. It is set in a bar in which they do meet at one point. So it does sum up the book. But I guess the relative cuteness and sassiness of the characters just comes down to taste!

3. MUSIC - "Moulin Rouge” soundtrack

Obvious right? With a Nicole Kidmanesque woman in the lead role. But it's also a soundtrack I can listen to over and over for the rest of time. "Come What May" is gorgeous. And Ewan McGregor's voice is so emotional and raw. Love it! Go to Amazon and scroll down the page for a listen...

4. FAIRY DUST - Blue lace agate

For this book I had one other little bit of physical inspiration. When I first gave my new editor my partial he suggested that the setting was a bit "dry". Being as it was in a law firm for the most part, I knew what she meant. And this is when I came up with the idea of it being a law firlm with a difference - beyond modern, interactive, consumer friendly and not a little avant garde.

To help my heroine find her way in such a place she became superstitious. She kept statues of elephants with trunks raised all over her office, knocked on wood whenever anything untoward was said, and always, always carried a smooth blue lace agate stone with her everywhere. Blue lace agate is meant to help you cope, lighten problems, and make it easier to let go. It was her calming stone. I had one of my own which I kept by my laptop as I wrote and I even gave it a little good luck rub before writing every day.

Available still from

Watch out later this month for news of Book Three: Marriage Make-over