I am delighted to be welcoming to the blog tonight a shortlistee in the Jackie Collins Award for Romantic Thrillers category in this year’s RONA Awards, with her novel, A Villa in Portofino. I am looking forward to a drink and a chat with author… Evonne Wareham.
Thank you for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?
I no longer drink alcohol, but I am a push-over for any kind of exotic mocktail, the more colourful the better.
Sounds good, I could do with an alcohol-free evening after all the recent celebrating! If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?
It would have to be a glamorous bar in an upscale hotel in an exciting/romantic city – London, Paris, Rome, New York … I have a thing about staying in hotels.
I’m with you there! One of my favourites is the Carousel Bar at the Monteleone in New Orleans. If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?
This was difficult. I’ve gone for two literary giants to talk shop with.
Agatha Christie – probably the world’s most famous crime writer. She was also apparently something of an expert on poisons, which might make for the kind of interesting conversation that would make other occupants of the bar nervous, if they were eavesdropping. My other giant is William Shakespeare – my favourite playwright. He would be good for backstage gossip, Elizabethan life and maybe we would find out a bit more about the famous dark lady.
So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?
At the moment I’m working on what I hope will be the fourth in my ‘Riviera’ Series of romantic suspense – fingers crossed my publisher will like it. I like to shake things up AKA making life difficult for myself, so I am pushing the envelope a bit as it begins on the English Riviera – Torquay to be exact. It ends in Monaco/Monte Carlo so we do have some glamour on the Cote d’Azur. The heroine is a detective, the hero a snooty Egyptologist. There is a cursed necklace, eccentric collectors, murder and a lot of stealing and subterfuge. Masie sees herself as the odd one out in her family, so she also has a few issues with that too. I have no idea where any of that came from, except that I knew I wanted the English Riviera setting for part of the book. My aim at the moment is to get it finished so it will hopefully be out this year and that it will please my readers, which is why I write.
What has been your proudest moment since you started writing/blogging and what has been your biggest challenge?
Start with the challenge – getting published in the first place. It took a very long time – decades in fact – part of which was because I didn’t have a clear idea of the genre I wanted to write. Then I discovered American romantic suspense and everything clicked. I’ve been very lucky with high points that have made me proud – I was a finalist twice in a big American reality writing contest and then I won the RNA Joan Hessayon award for my debut novel. To be a finalist this year in the romantic thriller category of the RNA awards with my third ‘Riviera’ book was another dream come true. I really have been very fortunate.
What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, it’s just us talking after all!
All the expected things, of course. Best seller lists, films, but really to be able to keep on writing. I have so many ideas in my head and I am a very slow writer. I hope to still be doing it when I am a very very old lady. I also have a not-so-secret ambition to write a proper Gothic novel. It would be a complete contrast to the sunshine and glamour that are the hallmark of my current books. I’m thinking of a remote Victorian mansion somewhere in the heart of my native Wales, or maybe on the coast, with all the creepy bells and whistles. It would have to have one of those traditional covers with the heroine descending a staircase in a frilly nightdress, holding a candle.
I would definitely read that! What are have planned that you are really excited about?
I have four more ‘Rivera’ books, including the WIP, which I want to complete. That would make seven in all. I’m also planning a holiday on the Riviera. It has been postponed twice. Research, of course.
I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?
How long do you have?
I used to be a great traveler but personal circumstances clipped my wings for a while and when I was ready to go again – well, we all know about that! Top of the list are the French and Italian Rivieras – because they really are my favourite holiday destinations. I have the glimmer of an idea for a new series of books set in cities, so a return to Paris, London, Florence, New York. I’m thinking of a treasure hunt theme, with slightly off beat locations – churches, bookshops, cemeteries, museums – libraries like the British Library and the New York Public Library guarded by its magnificent lions. Then there’s the Italian Lakes …
Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself.
I’m one of those eccentric people who don’t own a television.
That’s probably quite wise if you want to get lots of writing done. Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?
I love the American romantic suspense writers and a favourite is Jane Ann Krentz. She writes under a selection of names and many of her books are linked series across genres – historical, contemporary and futuristic. Strong heroes, independent heroines, love, danger and often a heavy sprinkling of the paranormal. I’ve just read the latest in her Harmony series – Guild Boss, written under the name Jayne Castle. It is one of the ones set in the future on a distant planet that humans have colonised before being cut off and unable to return to Earth. The ‘Harmony’ books have the irresistible dust bunnies – they look like balls of fluff and are very keen on pizza and shiny objects. Very cute, but they are hunters, especially when the humans they have bonded with are threatened. ‘By the time you see the teeth, it’s too late.’
Welcome to Illusion Town . . .
Living in this new, alien world doesn’t stop the settlers from trying to re-create what they’ve left behind. They still love weddings but it’s the after-party that turns disastrous for Lucy Bell. Kidnapped on her way out, she manages to escape – only to find herself lost in the mysterious, underground maze beneath town. She’s been surviving on determination, and cold pizza, when help finally shows up.
Gabriel Jones is the Guild Hunter sent to rescue her, but escaping the underground ruins is only the beginning of her troubles as whispers start circulating that Lucy made the whole thing up. Soon her life unravels until she has nothing left but her pride. The last thing she expects is for Gabriel to come back to town for her.
The Lucy that Gabriel finds is not the same woman he rescued – this Lucy is sharp, angry and more than a little cynical. But a killer is still hunting her, and Gabriel is the one person who believes Lucy’s tale – after all, he was there. He’s determined to help clear her reputation, no matter what it takes. And as the new Guild Boss, his word is law, even in the lawlessness of Illusion Town.
So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?
Moderation and hydration. But one of the up-sides of going alcohol free is absence of hangovers.
After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?
If we are in a city then to see the sights, museums, galleries, parks and buildings – in London or Paris to walk by the river. Maybe some shopping – and to sample some delicious food.
Evonne, thank you so much for chatting with me, I have had the most fabulous evening.
Evonne’s RONA-shortlisted novel, A Villa in Portofino, is out now in all formats, and you can buy a copy here.
From chambermaid to “got it made” …
When hotel cleaning temp and poetry academic Megan Morrison finds out she’s inherited an Italian villa and small fortune from her estranged great-great aunt Olwen, she doesn’t quite know how to react. That is, until she travels to Portofino to see Il Giardino delle Rose for herself. Then she knows exactly what she has to do: live there!
Enchanted by the beauty of the house and gardens, fascinated by the history, and more than a little intrigued by handsome hired landscape gardener Gideon West, Megan can immediately see the villa’s potential as a dream home.
But having long-lost relatives sometimes means long-lost secrets – and it seems that Olwen had plenty of those. Could these secrets and a jealous obsession be powerful enough to drive Megan out of the house that she’s already fallen in love with?
Evonne Wareham is an award winning Welsh author of romantic suspense – more crime and dead bodies than your average romance. She likes to set her book in her native Wales, or for a touch of glamorous escapism, in favourite holiday destinations in Europe. She is a Doctor of Philosophy and an historian, and a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association , Crime Cymru and the Crime Writers’ Association.
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