Saturday, May 19, 2012

SPOTLIGHT & Giveaway: Girl Behind the Scandalous Reputation by Michelle Conder

It is my pleasure today to welcome Harlequin Presents Debut Author Michelle Conder to HarlequinJunkie... Michelle is here bearing gifts and will be giving away 3 copies of her book. Yay!

Hi Sara, thank you for inviting me to blog at HarlequinJunkie. It’s great to be here to talk about my debut novel, Girl Behind the Scandalous Reputation.
Michelle Conder
I am a mother of three kids and live in Melbourne, Australia. When I’m not writing I am usually reading and when I’m not reading I can be found wandering around a messy house and wondering if it will ever be clean again! After that I love spending time with family and friends, eating and drinking fine wine, watching great movies, and attempting to make it to as many yoga classes a week as I can fit in. Currently, that would be one!

I have a couple of University degrees but never followed one true career path as the only thing I ever really wanted to do was be a writer; a dream I had shelved when I was 18 years old because I believed it could never come true. Thankfully, I was wrong!

US Cover
If I had to sum up my first novel I would say it is a story of misconceptions, misunderstandings, unrequited teenage love (on the part of the heroine) and finding your place in life.

It is predominantly the story of Lily Wild, an actress who has grown up in the shadow of two famous parents who died of a drug overdose when she was young.  When she finds herself in legal strife that could see her jailed her best friend’s brother, the serious and conservative Lord Tristan Garrett, comes to her rescue and years of simmering attraction between the two flairs to life.

Michelle I have a few Q's for you..

     Sara: What were the challenges you faced in bringing Girl Behind the Scandalous Reputation to life?

Michelle: The biggest challenge in bringing this book to life was actually writing it! When I conceived of the idea I had just learned that Harlequin accepted unsolicited manuscripts and I was at a crossroads in my life. So I wrote three chapters and emailed them off. Then I continued on with life and didn’t actually write the book. When a lovely editor wrote back and asked for the manuscript I had a major panic attack and resurrected the characters in my head and set to work!

Probably most of my challenges were technical in nature: how to structure scenes, how to layer in the emotional content, when to include the backstory, pacing… I could go on, but I won’t!

     Sara:  What are your current projects? Can you share a little of your current work with us? Is this book part of a series?

UK Cover
Michelle: My current work in progress is about an international racing car driver, Valentino di Rossi who is challenged into posing as the boyfriend of a woman he has only just met. Miller Jacobs, our heroine, needs a fake boyfriend to keep an egotistical client at bay on a business weekend and finds herself facing all sorts of life questions thanks to her sexy fake boyfriend whose view of life that is very different from her own.
This will be book three. Book two, titled His Last Chance at Redemption, is about a Russian oligarch, Leo Aleksandrov, who wants to stay firmly on the outskirts of his small son’s life and a feisty childcare worker, Lexi Somers, who is intent on reuniting them. It is due out in the UK in August this year. 

      Sara: Do you have a fun "call story" to share with us?

Michelle: My call story starts when I took the plunge to send three chapters into the Harlequin slush pile and ended 14 gruelling months later when I received a call from my editor during my mother’s birthday celebration at my house. It was such perfect timing as the wine was already flowing and all my favourite people were in the room and able to celebrate the momentous occasion with me. I can barely remember what my editor said beyond “we want to buy your book” but I’ll never forget those six, magical words and the rush of blood that came with them!

AUS Cover
From woe to go GBSR took 12 months to write, which included four sets of revision notes from my very patient editor who is just brilliant.

      Sara: If you won $20 million in the lottery, what would you do with the money?

Michelle: Great question and my instinct is to go all Miss World on you… but I do like to give money to charities so with that kind of money I would definitely set up an organisation to both invest and distribute money to causes close to my heart.
Then I would most likely buy a home in the south of France because I love it so much and other than that I don’t know! Oh, yes I do. I’d hire an Alice like the one in the Brady Bunch while the kids are still little. To never have to fold washing or think about what is for dinner for a couple of years would be pure bliss!

     Sara: If you were written about in the newspaper, on the front page, what would the headline say?

Michelle: Hmmm, I asked my husband to answer this for me and he said: ‘Wife Tortures Husband’. LOL. Probably true with the amount of times he has had to entertain the kids while I write! But other than that it would have to be ‘Dreams Can Come True!’

Michelle Thanks for blogging with us today!

Two lucky commenter will be chosen at random to win a copy of Girl Behind the Scandalous Reputation

Please enter your email in the Rafflecopter below and Post a comment telling us   "How do you like your heroine - shy, sexy, sassy....?"

Michelle will be giving away 1 additional copy of her book through her website (email Michelle - RE: HJ Giveaway)

Giveaway is open to all countries!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. My heroine should be all those things you listed. Above all, she should be self confident, although, moments of self doubt are allowed. Thanks!

  2. Hi Michelle and congrats on your first book! Am loving the revamped UK covers ;-) Am currently hooked on kick-ass heroines who are still vulnerable beneath all the toughness (difficult to write without turning into a cliche but some authors can do it extremely well!).

  3. Hello Michelle I think my heroine should be shy , sexy and sassy and to be their own person with self confidence to be whoever they want to be.

  4. Hi Shelley, Paula and Evleen! Loved your comments. I think you're right Shelley, in that a heroine can have moments of self-doubt (don't we all!) but it's important to understand your own self-worth and that comes from self-confidence. And I'm fond of Paula's kick-ass girls... and agree, they're tough to write. Evleen, my current heroine has followed the life path her mother wanted for her (poor background, didn't want her to make the same mistakes) and part of her life journey is to discover what SHE wants to do. A theme close to my own heart!
    My favourite heroinese also know how to love unconditionally (or at least learn this life lesson), are very loyal friends and have forgiving natures!

  5. I like my heroine to be intelligent & witty. She loves with all her heart.

  6. Great post, thank you for sharing, ladies! I'm not a big fan of kick-ass, spunky or fearless heroines. I prefer intelligent, shy or even quiet and sweet ones. I find them to be more believable & easier to relate to.

  7. Mmmm thats a toughie. I think its the journey of starting of one way then growing into another so a shy heroine that gains self-confidence so towards the end of the book becomes a little bit sassy :)

  8. I think heroines and heroes that are a mix of shy, sexy and sassy are the best. Shy in an unexpected way is sometimes the best. Looking forward to reading your book. LOVE the M&B cover. :D

  9. I like my heroines shy and sassy, depending on my mood!

  10. I usually prefer sassy heroines. I am shy so I like to read about sassy women.

    The book sounds lovely, Michelle.

    geishasmom73 AT yahoo DOT com

  11. Hi Marybelle, thanks for posting. Witty is great. I am a fan of a heroine who can hold her own with a good quip. And intelligence and the ability to love fully - absolutely!

  12. Hi Natalija - Believability is a big factor when it comes to heroines. That's why the best kick-ass ones for me come with other sides to their character and have a good reason as to why they are so tough. And there's nothing better than a quiet heroine who steps up when the going gets tough!

  13. Oh Sophie, I couldn't agree more. The transformation of a character is soooo satisfying!

  14. Thanks Sasha, I love the covers as well. The girl on the UK and Australian one really reminds me of Lily and the US one is great because it's from a scene in the book. And unexpected vulnerabilities are the best. When writing GBSR Lily has a vulnerability that blew me away when it came to light.

  15. Hey Rebe, I am such a mood reader and I have my favourite authors for each mood I'm in. Do you have the same thing going on?

  16. Hi Stacie D, I think what I love about the sassy heroine is that they say things I wouldn't dare to say outloud! At one point in the novel Lily gets so tired of Tristan's attitude towards her she just says what she thinks and I LOVED writing those scenes!

    Hope you the book!

  17. I like my heroines sassy, but shy as well. I prefer a balance - or a heroine who can be one way with her hero but might not be with others.

    And I love the covers, but compared to the UK and Australia covers, the US cover is lacking in my opinion. Interesting...

  18. Hi Bas1chs, hadn't thought of that but yes, I like the fact that both the hero and heroine bring things out in the other that no one else does.

    And i know what you mean with the covers. It's hard to beat the gorgeous UK and Australian cover!

  19. I often like a shy heroine with core reserves of strength but sassy makes for zippy dialogue. Thanks for the blog post Michelle and Sara.