I’m so excited to Welcome Sarah Mayberry to HarlequinJunkie, Sarah, Thank you for taking the time to blog here today and also for the Fab Giveaway! (details below)
I bought “Her Best Worst Mistake” on an impulse as a Friday night read last weekend and boy was I ever Blown away....this book is sensational.
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Over to Sarah....
Remember when you were a kid and there was that boy in the playground who kept pulling on your pigtails or pinching you or kicking you, and your mum told you that he only did that because he wanted you to like him? My latest book, Her Best Worst Mistake, is sort-of based on this theory.
It’s what I call a hate/love relationship (as opposed to a love/hate relationship) because the hero and heroine, Martin and Violet, think they hate each other at the beginning of the book before they realise that they actually love each other. When the book begins, he thinks she’s a bit slutty and too loud and too out there, and she thinks he’s a lot stuffy and old before his time. They wouldn’t voluntarily spend five minutes together under ordinary circumstances - except Martin is engaged to Violet’s best friend, Elizabeth.
It’s not the best start to a romance, I know. Having the hero engaged to the heroine’s best friend at the beginning is bound to lead to some serious discomfort at some stage in the story. When I gave an early version of this book to a friend to read, she rang me after a few pages to tell me she was very worried for Elizabeth. “You’re not going to kill her off, are you?” she asked. No, I explained, that’s another book and another set of characters.
Violet doesn’t cheat on her friend with Martin, either - Elizabeth calls off the wedding and flies out to Australia, a story that is told in my Blaze book, Hot Island Nights. Meanwhile, Martin and Violet are back in London, and they can’t stop thinking about each other. Even though they really don’t like each other.
I’m sure you can guess where this is going! I have always had a soft spot for these kinds of romances. When I was younger, I satisfied my yen for this dynamic with TV shows like Moonlighting and Remington Steele, or movies like His Girl Friday. I loved watching these fated lovers flailing against their mutual attraction until they finally, finally admitted they were crazy about each other. I’m not sure what was so delicious about it - all that sound and fury signifying nothing? All that wonderful banter? - but whatever the reason, I was hooked.
I had a lot of fun writing this story, and I like to think it shows in the text. I hope readers enjoy reading Her Best Worst Mistake as I did writing it.
SarahI have a few Q’s for you…
Sara: Please tell us a few things about yourself? Where were you born and where do you call home?
Sarah M: I was born in Melbourne, Australia, and after many years of moving round, it is once again my home. I worked in magazine publishing and television before I was published, and I’ve been with the same partner (who recently became my husband) for nearly 20 years. I have an older sister and a younger brother, and a small black cavoodle (cavapoo in some parts of the world) who is just six months old. He is totally the boss of me, and he knows it.
Sara: What are your greatest creative influences?
Sarah M: In romance writing, I really admire the way Rachel Gibson builds great sexual tension in her books, and, of course, Susan Elizabeth Philips for almost everything. If I could pick one author I’d like to be able to emulate, it would have to be Lisa Kleypas when she’s writing contemporary romance. She’s a wonderful, sexy and heartfelt writer who always leaves me wanting more.
Sarah M: Martin St Claire drove Violet Sutcliffe nuts with his stuffy, old-before-his-time ways when he was engaged to her best friend - and the feeling is entirely mutual. Now the wedding is off, and he’s single, and Violet finds herself unable to stop thinking about him. Even though they’ve both done nothing but dislike and disapprove of each other for more than six years. It turns out, though, that beneath all that animosity there’s a fiery sexual chemistry that neither of them is strong enough to deny.
Sara: What were the challenges you faced in bringing this book to life?
Sarah M: Every book has its own challenges, but the big one for this book was that I was locked into a particular time frame because it was linked to my last Blaze novel, Hot Island Nights. I’d established in that book that there were six months between the time that Elizabeth, Martin’s ex-fiance and Violet’s best friend, left England for Australia and the epilogue at the end of the book. And in all that time, Violet didn’t tell her best friend that that she was sleeping with Elizabeth’s ex-fiance. At the end of Hot Island Nights, Violet and Martin turn up in Australia together - much to Elizabeth’s astonishment. Once I started writing Violet and Martin’s story, however, that six months seemed like a very long time not to come clean with your best friend. So I kept thinking about Violet and why she would hold back on something so important, and her reluctance to come clean actually became a fundamental part of her journey - the consequence, really, of the emotional hurts she’s suffered in the past.
Sara: What are your current projects? Can you share a little of your current work with us? Is this book part of a series?
Sarah M: I’m working on revisions for my November Super Romance, Suddenly You at the moment. It’s a sequel to All They Need, which was released in November of last year, and tells the story of the heroine from that book’s brother.
The next book to hit the shelves from me is actually in August, another Super Romance called Within Reach. This book tells the story of Michael and Angie and Billie. Billie was married to Michael and was Angie’s best friend. Then she died, suddenly and inexplicably, and Angie and Michael have to work together to pick up the pieces. Angie finds herself pitching in to help Michael raise his two children, and somewhere in the middle of all the normal every day stuff they start to realise that they like each other in a more-than-just-friends kind of way.
Lastly, I am currently all fired up about self publishing some more books so I am working on a concept that will allow me to come back to the same setting and community several times so readers can feel familiar with and part of the world. I’m hoping to set it down on the Mornington Peninsula, just outside of Melbourne, which is close to where I live. We have beaches, wineries and thoroughbred horses down this way - a great setting for romance, I think!
On a Lighter note:
Sara: Which of your characters would you most/least invite to dinner, and why?
Sarah M: I’d love to have a chat with Jamie, the heroine of my Blaze novel, Below The Belt She’s a female boxer, and I’d love to hear her stories first hand and cop some of her attitude. Out of my heroes, the list is pretty much endless - I think they’re all wonderful. And there isn’t a single one of my characters I wouldn’t sit down to a meal with - by the time I’ve travelled a whole book with them, they are old and true friends.
Sara: If you were stranded on an island…
Sarah M: I hope it would be like Gilligan’s Island, with cars made out of bamboo and lots of coconut cream pie.
Sara: If you have a time machine....
Sarah M: I’d love to go back to the Regency period in England to see if it is even close to the way it is in my imagination when I read historical romance.
Sara: If Hollywood made a movie about your life, who would you like to see play the lead role as you?
Sarah M: Wow, that’s a long bow to draw, but I’ll play. I’ve always felt an affinity for Janeane Garofolo, particularly as depicted in The Truth About Cats And Dogs. She’s short and a bit round in the face with dark hair, and she’s also a bit of a smart ass - that ticks a few boxes!
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