Monday, November 23, 2009
Welcome to Nolwynn Ardennes' guest blog
Welcome Ms. Nolwynn Ardennes to Love Romances and More, thank you for joining us.
Hi everyone! It’s a total pleasure to be here today, and I wanted to say thanks to the amazing people at Love Romances and More for this wonderful opportunity of appearing at this blog.
Did you always want to become a writer?
A part of me always dreamt of writing ‘one day’. It was like an unattainable goal you set for yourself, as in, if I could, this is what I’d do. You know, something like, if I won the lottery I’d retire to a seaside villa or something like that. J It was never anything really concrete for me, as in, I will write and make a career out of it. I prepped and equipped myself for a corporate career in communications management, veering much more towards economics than linguistics though I devoured books at every opportunity I got. So in a way, yes, the dream was there – I just didn’t know when, or how, it would happen.
What is the most, and the least interesting fact about writing?
The most interesting? It is creating a story. Like you get a snippet of an idea, and then another, and then two and two makes four and so on, until you’ve ended up with a plot and with those absolutely unique people whose journey you’re gonna charter for the length of this book.
The least interesting? I’m not sure there is one – I love every aspect of writing. But I guess it could be that writing becomes your ‘job’, you know, like it’s just something you do. It’s easy to lose the drive and passion then when you let the hum-drum pace of everything else around you get to you. Oh yeah – we writers spend most of our time boxed up with a computer. Tell me that is interesting, lol!
How do you plan to celebrate your first release?
Good question! I’ll probably be such a basket of nerves that I wouldn’t feel much of anything that day! Seriously though, I think I will be getting online and letting all my contacts and loops know that the book is out, and exchange some nice chats with friends.
How did you celebrate your first release? What was it like to see your book in a bookstore? Do you have a special ritual for celebrating a book release?
I have had books released under a different pen name, and it was definitely a rush, almost like a ‘good’ panic attack, when I first saw the book on the shelves of the bookstore. I don’t have a special ritual for celebrating though, not specifically. I may just sit down and count my blessings – that feels like celebration for me because I truly feel I have been blessed by life.
How did your family react to fact that you write romance novels? Have your family read your book?
They have been very supportive and completely backed me in my every writing endeavour. I call my husband and son my troopers, because they’re really amazing blokes who will roll with the flow of my erratic writing bursts without complaining and who just allow me to be me. I think that’s the greatest gift they could’ve given me.
As to reading the book, no, they haven’t read it. Hubby’s heard all about it from me when I was writing (he’s the poor always-there victim on whom the brainstorming-aloud gets dumped) and as such, probably knows the story as well as I do. Kiddo is a little too young to be able to read a full novel!
Most authors are also avid readers. Is this the case with you? If so, who are some of your favorites? Have any influenced your writing?
I literally devour books! I have no other way of stating it, lol! Some of my favourite writers are Judith McNaught, Sidney Sheldon, Jill Mansell, Marian Keyes, Sophie Kinsella and Philippa Gregory. I love the way they all craft a full, round story but each one does it with her/his own particular brand of writing with a specific writing voice that shines throughout.
I will admit I’ve been influenced by Sophie Kinsella to try and find my own particular voice and for seamless flow of writing. Jill Mansell and Sidney Sheldon have inspired me to have lots of unexpected twists and turns in the story, to keep the reader guessing all through the book. Judith McNaught has shown me that flow is something totally achievable and approachable, and that you have to use your cast of characters to your advantage throughout.
But the writer who has most influenced my writing is my mentor, Tethys J. Killian. She’s taught me all about crafting, writing, and presenting a well-rounded story but all while remaining true to one’s self and one’s writing voice. I may owe her just about everything where my writing is concerned.
Do you feel each of your characters live with you as you write? Do their lives sometimes take over a part of your life? Can you name an example? Do you have living role models for your characters?
They definitely are with me when I’m writing. Sometimes I feel there’s this whole invisible-to-others posse that follows me everywhere! My characters live and breathe next to me – I cannot write them if that’s not the case. I almost have a symbiotic relationship with them, that’s how much we are connected and they form a part of me.
They can and often do take over but I allow it to happen only when I am writing. Once I’m done with the first draft, that’s it – they go on the sidelines. When I was writing Storms in a Shot Glass, Michael’s character was constantly there, constantly probing and asking questions as to where this whole story might be leading him. The problem was, I had no answer for him yet, because he turned out differently from the man I had pictured in my initial outline. Another one whose quest for information overtook was Amelia from Walking on the Edge. She is afflicted with amnesia, and suspects the man she is supposed to be married to is in fact manipulating her. She wants her memory back, and when she starts on the path to try and unearth some memories, that quest took over, as in, it was a race against the clock to try to uncover everything about her. This part took over my life because I was also pretty much going about blindly in this story, uncovering things as she did and this made for a bumpy ride as everything new brought on a whole set of questions and possibilities.
I don’t usually use living role models per se, but most often than not, the characters are templated off a living person, be it an actor, model, sportsperson whose image I find fits that of the character.
Where do you get the inspirations for your books?
From my life. The inspiration for Storms in a Shot Glass came during a rant with a very good friend when we were trading stories about what mischief our kids could get up to. She said, ‘kids can brew a tempest in a teacup’. When you have kids, you know that they need much less room than that to create chaos, so my reply to her was, ‘kids can brew a storm in a shot glass.’ That was how this idea came about – it made me need to drop a kid into the H/h’s lives, and from this it became, what if it were an unborn child?
The starting point for Walking on the Edge came to me after one day I had taken a cold medicine that made me really sleepy, and I consequently had this dream that was fuzzy when I woke up but I remember feeling that sense of déjà-vu from it. It made me wonder what a woman would feel like if she had these sorts of dreams but at the same time, didn’t have a frame of reference to place them in. That’s how amnesic Amelia came into being, and from the dreams she has, the ball starts to roll as to what her past may have been.
Do you find it difficult at times to write love scenes?
Not really. It’s keeping it fresh that is hard, and it’s also about keeping it in character with the people in the story. I think that if the characterisation is right, then the love scene should flow rather easily along or as easily/as hard as any other aspect of the story.
Do you have a problem with deadlines and have you ever suffered a writers block?
I actually love having deadlines. Totally unhealthy rush for me to know I need to complete a project by such and such date. I will generally assign myself deadlines for finishing works because I work through bursts of writing, I cannot sit down and write systematically such and such amount each and every day. I never have a fixed schedule so writing is erratic too. As such, deadlines give me perspective and focus.
I haven’t had writer’s block in the sense that I simply cannot write on or words don’t come. I have met with instances where a story seemed to be going in a direction that is unsatisfactory to me, and that’s where I will have to re-evaluate everything about the story, plot, characterisation so far to see why it isn’t ‘gelling’ as nicely as it should.
Do you prefer stand-alone books or series (As a reader or a writer)?
I have to say I prefer stand-alones. I want a book to end when it gets to the end. I do enjoy series, but these are mostly the ones that have different protagonists in each book so each story has a certain closure to it. I don’t appreciate the series that have one single story broken in say, 5 or 7 books and you have to read each and every one and in succession to ‘get’ the story. Sequels and so on work for me, because these imply a closure to each book even if the same characters are moving forward in the other book.
If you could change places with one character from your book, who would it be and why?
Hmmm... I like my life as it is - it’s as hectic and as mad as any book can get, lol! But being Jane from Storms in a Shot Glass would be nice, for a day. Jane is in cosmopolitan London and she has member cards to almost all the high-end stores on Bond Street and the likes of Harvey Nichols and Harrods. That would be nice for the shopaholic in me! And also how she finds love in a modern version of Prince Charming, aka the most eligible bachelor of England after the royal princes as the tabloids put it – that would be an adventure!
What is your favorite book from the books that you have written so far? Who are your favorite hero and heroine, and why?
That’s like asking me to choose between my kids, lol! When I wrote Storms in a Shot Glass, I really thought no other book I’d write would compare to it. Jane and Michael are an unlikely pair and it was really wonderful to see these two people who swore off love fall for each other when and how they least expect or want to. They were people who had everything they could ever want, except love, the real kind of love.
But then I started Walking on the Edge, and the books completely won me over as I moved along. Amelia and Gerard are another couple that should never have met and certainly never have fallen in love. Theirs is a dangerous world fraught with intrigue and secrets. When love comes, it’s almost like a redemption for both, but who has time for redemption when death may be waiting for you at your next step? Both Amelia and Gerard are scarred and battered by life, people who you just wish would find something good for once in their lives, and for me it was all about making them find this something good together.
Would you like to give another genre a try?
I would like to write something with a different set of rules than contemporary, that allows me a more fantasist touch. Sci-fi would be a good gamble. J
Which book was the hardest to write and which the easiest?
The hardest – Storms in a Shot Glass. I needed to find the right footing for when Jane and Michael’s story would start, and that wasn’t easy to come to. It took me 3 rewrites of the first chapter to find the appropriate starting point for this story. It also has pronounced elements of comedy in it, and writing funny is a lot more complicated than what most would imagine. The books also had to be realistic and believable, which gave a rather cramped framework. One doesn’t imagine writing contemporary could be so guided by rules.
The easiest – while it wasn’t exactly ‘easy’, Walking on the Edge kinda wrote itself as I went along with Amelia on her quest for her identity. It was one block adds to the tower and so on. The inherent logic behind it all helped it fall into place rather easily.
If you could choose one of your books for a movie, which one would it be and who would you as the cast?
Lol, again, that’s tough to choose! Walking on the Edge does have the kind of rapid, thriller-movie pace that would translate well to the screen. I actually worked with the image of German actor Thomas Kretschmann to portray Gerard, so he would be the perfect fit. In Amelia’s role, I could see Charlize Theron.
But Storms in a Shot Glass has a quick, comedy feel to it and that too could translate well in movie form. Michael when I wrote him was actor George Eads, and Jane would click well on an actress like Bridget Moynahan.
If you could travel through time to visit a special time period or famous person, what or who would it be and why?
I would like to experience the life in the court of a British queen. Could be Cartimandua or Boudica of the Iron Age, or Elizabeth 1 or Victoria. Or even court life in Versailles in the time of Louis XIV. I am fascinated by court life and drama and the whole splendour of this setting. Court was always teeming with energy and intrigue and fashion and balls. The life appears idyllic but what was it like behind the scene, behind the screens that were up everywhere in a royal’s court?
Do you listen to music while you are writing and if so what music is it?
I usually prefer silence when I work. If I listened to music, my brain would pick up on the lyrics and this would stump the flow of the words in my head. Silence or at least background noise allows me to concentrate and get ‘in the zone’.
I do work with music in the sense that I have a music theme for each book. This gives me the emotional drive for the plot and the characters’ journeys. For Storms in a Shot Glass, I had Bleeding Love by Leona Lewis, and Walking on the Edge had the eponymous title by Scorpions as its driver.
Big congrats to your latest release, can you please tell us something about the book?
Of course! Storms in a Shot Glass is a contemporary romance set in the glitzy and hectic world of the London rich and famous.
Here’s the blurb for it:
A little bump is about to cause a lot of ripples...
Personal Assistant Jane Smithers needs a baby as much as she needs the immature boss, bitchy mother and lunatic Russian models who cohabit peacelessly around her. What she also doesn’t need is a man who pops out of nowhere and wants to take over her unexpected pregnancy.
Cold logic and hard facts regent the world of millionaire corporate lawyer Michael Rinaldi. Until he meets Jane, and the insignificant-looking woman plunges him head first into the churning waters of tempestuous emotion and hot-blooded impulse.
Unlikely feelings crop up at the same time relentless gossip escalates. Both realize their respective world has irredeemably changed. The question is - will they be able to live with this reality?
Jane looked up from the papers strewn in front of her when she heard the ‘ding’ of the lift. Who could it be? Umberto had no meetings scheduled before two o’clock. She glanced at her watch and saw it was nearly noon. At the same time, the growl of her stomach reminded her it was lunchtime. She had yet to eat anything since the smoothie she’d had for breakfast.
The metal doors slid open and a man stepped into the room as soon as the opening was wide enough for him to pass through. Her pen slipped from her grasp as she contemplated him.
He was dressed in an expertly tailored dark grey suit, the slacks hinting at long legs while the coat hugged his massive chest. He had broad shoulders and was tall, around six-three she’d bet.
Her gaze travelled to his face and she sucked in a breath. He was very handsome, his skin a light golden tone and hair dark as the mahogany wood in the room. His wide jaw was clamped shut, reducing his mouth to a thin slash.
He was also very angry; she could almost sense the heated vibes radiating off him, and this impression was confirmed when she saw his eyes. Deep set and dark, the fire in them was emphasized by the way his thick eyebrows met due to his frown.
He wasn’t someone to cross; this she knew as her mouth opened and she exhaled a small puff of air.
In a few strides, he crossed the room and came to stand before her desk. Jane had to crane her neck to gaze at his face. The walls seemed to close in on her as she took in the powerful shape of him, reducing her world to an airtight bubble where only she and this man existed.
“May I help you?” she croaked, running the tip of her tongue over her dry lips.
He watched her for long seconds. His eyes darted to the nameplate on her desk before he trained the full force of his midnight gaze on her face again.
“You sure will, Jane.”
His voice was low and the husky sound strummed in her whole body.
Jane snapped out of the fog. “I beg your pardon?”
He clamped his mouth, a nerve twitching in his cheek and offsetting his square jaw even more.
“You and I will have a little talk. Later, though,” he added as he turned towards the door to her boss’s office.
She should have saved her breath, for he was already stepping into the office. Jane shot out of her chair and made it to the threshold just as the sickening grind of a punch resounded.
“You stay away from her,” she heard the stranger say.
Oh no. What she’d dreaded had happened. Umberto had gotten embroiled with the wrong woman and now the jealous husband or boyfriend was here to bust his arse. Reluctant competence flowed through her when she realized she would have to bail her boss out of this predicament.
“What’s going on here?” she asked as she purposefully strode into the room.
“Stay out of this,” the stranger said.
Jane stopped in her tracks, startled by the sight before her. Umberto stood, his palm cradling his nose and mouth. He’d probably received a fist in his face. She shook her head before glancing at the other man in front of him. Both of them turned towards her at the same time.
The staggering realization hit her at that moment. The two males were of the same height, with the same build. Even their faces looked alike, from the wide jaw to the dark, deep-set eyes.
It was like seeing a before and after picture, with some twenty years between the images.
Jane’s mouth dropped open. “Michael.” The name rolled off her tongue and escaped her lips, a soft moan losing itself in the thick silence surrounding them.
This was the first time she was seeing Umberto’s son face-to-face. What woman in London hadn’t heard of him? The very eligible, very handsome, very rich and very powerful corporate lawyer. He had seemed to be the embodiment of a ruthless legal shark on the pictures and pages of the British tabloids, but the reality was even more breathtaking.
She had also heard about him through his father, so much that she seemed to know the man already. Many a time, Umberto let slip some information about his estranged son. The yearning and the pain in his tone when he said Michael’s name hurt her heart every time.
Michael watched her now with eyebrows drawn together. Her gaze left his breathtaking features for Umberto’s. The older man cursed and removed his hand from his face. Blood covered his mouth and palm, and more of the thick, ruby liquid seeped from his nose when he released the pressure on his wound.
Jane knew she wouldn’t be able to stand the sight of blood again after the episode at the doctor’s practice earlier. At the gory sight, everything inside her plummeted, leaving her head light and spinning. Her stomach churned and a wave of cold washed over her. Belatedly, she realized her legs were crumbling under her, but she was powerless to do anything to break her fall.
A pair of strong arms grabbed her, clenching her upper body while she was pulled reflexively to the solid, warm expanse of a broad chest. Her head landed in the crook of an elbow and she felt the steady beat of a heart against her shoulder.
Jane let go of her hold on the soft fabric of his jacket when he deposited her on a plush settee in the office. With her lids tightly shut, she concentrated on letting the spinning feeling ebb away. When the world finally stabilized, she opened her eyes. Her gaze landed on the concerned expression of the man who knelt by her side.
Worry transformed Michael’s face. She couldn’t explain how exactly, but right then he was a million of miles from the angry man who had walked into her office a few minutes ago. There was almost something soft on his chiseled features now.
“Jane? You okay?” His voice was low and concerned.
She blinked and nodded.
“What was that about? Are you sick?”
Again, in his midst, the world seemed to reduce itself to the two of them. Jane blamed the weird feeling on her erratic hormones, and this made her remember her condition. “It’s nothing. I’m not sick. I’m pregnant.”
He blinked, as if coming out of a spell too, before nodding. “We need to talk, you and I. Not here, though.”
**End of excerpt**
The trailer for the book can also be viewed at the following link
Are you working on anything right now, and can you tell us a teaser about these projects?
I am currently in edits for Walking on the Edge. Here’s some more about it:
Link to the book trailer on YouTube
The next step might be the last...
A woman without a past
Left amnesic after an accident, Amelia Jamison’s instincts slowly rise from the depths of oblivion to question her life as the wife of a cold, manipulating and distant man. Wisps of a dream show her another man she may have known intimately, but is he a memory, or a figment of her imagination?
A man with too much information
After many aliases, today Gerard Besson is simply a police commissaire in Marseille. When a mysterious woman starts to follow him, he is suspicious. But things aren't what they seem, and as he reluctantly gets closer to her, dredges of his painful, buried past spring to light and make him question her identity.
Each seems to have led two different lives
But neither is prepared for what awaits them when they cross the fine line between knowing your true self and that of your alter ego.
Danger is the name of the game, and as it catches up with them in the French Provence, both know they better be ready for the inevitable fall.
I also have a sci-fi story in the works, but it is still in very early conception stages.
Thanks again for allowing me to be here today to share some information about my works with you! I love to meet and hear from people, so feel free to get in touch with me in the following ways:
Facebook: Groups – Aasiyah Qamar & Nolwynn Ardennes