Café Cala welcomes Kendall Talbot

Hi Kendall, welcome to Café Cala.

Kendall Talbot public picture

Thank you for having me Maggie, it’s so exciting to be talking about my new release, Treasured Secrets.

It’s great to have you visit Café Cala. It was great to meet you on Lisa’s course. I’m really looking forward to reading Treasured Secrets. I’ve been making some blueberry muffins this morning. Would you like tea or coffee with yours?

I usually drink coffee in the morning and tea from lunchtime onwards. My favourite tea is lemon and ginger.

My favourite too! And like you, I prefer coffee mornings and tea in the afternoon.

1 Where did you get the idea for Treasured Secrets?

One of the inspirations for this story stemmed from my 20th anniversary holiday to Tuscany with my husband. We went to a little church in Florence that was very insignificant compared to the other beautiful churches around it. Inside, inlaid in the mosaic floor tiles, was an oval pattern. Our tour guide told us it was the trap door where they threw the bodies during the 13th century plague that killed 50 million people in Europe. My mind went crazy thinking about entire families being wiped out by that horrible disease. Then I began to wonder what happened to all the precious things those families left behind. On the plane flight home, I began plotting my Treasured Secrets action adventure romance.

2 What have you found most rewarding about your writing?

I’m completely blown away, amazed and thrilled when some I don’t know writes to me to say how much they loved my book. Every one of those snippets of gratification make this writing journey, which has been a huge learning curve for me, oh so rewarding.

3 How did you start writing?

I have a bucket list with 101 objectives on it. I wrote ‘write a book’ at number 69, I kid you not. My initial motivation was simple. I’m a bookkeeper by day, so numbers are my friend. English was not. I thought the best way to improve my spelling, grammar and vocabulary would be to write a story.

Every birthday and Christmas my husband shakes out my bucket list for inspiration. In 2008 he bought me the Year of the Novel Course at the Queensland Writers Centre. I never imagined how much that course would change my life. On the last Sunday of every month for nearly a year, my teacher, Dr Kim Wilkins, navigated me through the novel writing process. I started in February with a blank page, but by November I’d written 68,000 words and typed THE END. My debut novel Lost in Kakadu was born. It took another 6 years of editing and learning before I was prepared to pitch it. I still can’t believe that novel went on to win the Romantic Book of the Year in 2014.

What a wonderful result – congratulations!

4 What would you say has helped you most?

I’m constantly trying to improve myself with courses, and self-help books. I’ve also surrounded myself with people who help me: My critique partners, my manuscript assessor and my editor. I would never send a book to my publisher until it has been through all these steps.

5 What are you working on at the moment?

Well… I used to daydream about robbing a bank that I worked at in 1992. So guess what? I robbed that bank. In a book of course. Double Take my first crime novel, is a gritty Quinten Tarantino meets Nora Roberts story set in that bank I worked in. I also chose to set the story in 1992 too. It was a time before the internet, mobile phones and electric windows. It was also a time of Cheers, Cagney and Lacey, boom boxes and Carrington Blush champagne. It was so much fun writing in that era.

Also, book two in my Treasured series, Treasured Lies will be out in October 2015 and book three, Treasured Love, will be released April 2016.

6 What advice would you offer aspiring writers?

Turn off the television. If you need to watch television, watch a movie and analyse it until you work out what works and what doesn’t. Keep an eye out for the pivotal points and really study the dialogue as this will help you improve your voice. By the way, I do most of my movie watching in my home gym, that way I get to exercise and study at the same time.

7 Which authors do you enjoy reading?

Matthew Reilly for that adrenalin rush. Nora Roberts for the happy ever after, Kylie Scott for something naughty that’s in first person POV and Bronwyn Parry for her great Aussie adventures.

Tresured Secrets Book Cover

Treasured Secrets is as much a treasure hunt as it is a culinary adventure. Rosalina, my Italian heroine in Treasured Secrets is a talented chef, so food and flavours abound as much as the treasure hunt action. Every one of the meals she makes in my books I made for myself. In fact, recipes from “Treasured Secrets” debut in their own book “Rosalina’s Treasured Treats” readers can find this on my website and cook along as they read Treasured Secrets if they like.


So here’s a little snippet from Treasured Secrets.

Rosalina dusted her flour-caked hands onto her apron and then turned to check on the Murazzano cheese rolls already baking in the oven. The scents of aromatic spices, melting cheese and fresh-baked pastry wafted from the open door. She lifted the tray from the oven and placed it onto the cork placemat.

‘Smells magnifica.’ Alessandro ran his tongue over his lips and she had this sudden desire to kiss him. The urge came from nowhere. Maybe she’d had too much wine. Maybe she was falling for him, despite all her determination not to. Maybe, just maybe, she was finally over Archer.

She smiled as Alessandro practically drooled over her cooking. He’d always been a dependable part of her life, and that was something she needed right now. And he was the perfect willing guinea pig for her culinary experiments. He reached for a still steaming pastry and she snapped his hand away. ‘Wait,’ she said. ‘You want the whole experience don’t you?’

His eyes lit up. ‘Sì, mio dolce.’

Rosalina liked the way he called her ‘my sweet’, especially given her love of cooking all things sugary. He was patient with her and seemed to understand her need to take everything slow.

Rosalina sliced the now cooled poached pear and placed a sliver upon the savoury cheese pastry. ‘Open up.’

Alessandro obliged and she popped the nibble into his mouth. His eyes did that heavenly eye roll before he closed them and savoured the treat. A low moan of approval teased from his throat and she knew she had him. He was a delight to watch.

First he would taste the sweetness of the pear, delicately poached with cinnamon and Chinese five spice. Next would come the multifaceted Murazzano cheese, smooth and rich in flavour. Finally, the buttery pastry would round it off. She liked to think of it as a smorgasbord in a bite.

After he swallowed, he sighed his approval.

‘Now, keep your eyes closed.’

He simply nodded as a smile of pure bliss curled at his lips.

‘This second sample is the same cheese pastry, but this one I’ve topped with a touch of my homemade fig jam and a sprinkling of crispy prosciutto.’

A fresh moan tumbled from his lips and he hadn’t even tasted it yet. His eyelids fluttered as she placed the second sample into his mouth.

‘Take your time. I need to know which one is better.’

His eyes opened but it was as if he’d slipped into another world. He began to shake his head slowly.

‘You don’t like that one.’

He shook his head faster as he continued to chew. ‘You can’t make me choose one.’

Rosalina put her hands on her hips. ‘Come on, Alessandro, you know the game.’

‘But I can’t decide. They’re both delizioso.’ He kissed the tips of his fingers.

‘This is serious.’ She giggled. ‘There can only be one clear winner. So which is it, pear or prosciutto?’

‘Rosa, you torture me.’

She giggled. ‘I tantalise you.’

He flashed a devious smile and fluttered his long lashes. ‘Yes you do, il mio dolce.’











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OH, AND A BOOK TRAILER, if you’re interested:

Book Trailer:

Café Cala welcomes Fiona McIntosh

Hi Fiona, welcome to Café Cala,

fiona mcintoshIt’s great to have you visit Café Cala. I Iove your books and have just finished The Last Dance, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Love that period of history. Knowing your predilection for desserts, I’ve been making some of my favourite strawberry carob cheesecake this morning. Would you like tea or coffee with yours?

Coffee please.  I’m quite a snob about it too.  I need a three quarter filled skinny latte.

Done! Thanks to the coffee machine.

1 Where did you get the idea for The Last Dance?

Oh gosh, my most dreaded question.  I really don’t know with this one.  Normally with my period dramas I have a definite trigger of an idea but for The Last Dance I simply wanted to write a story that was set during the interwar years in an era of fashion I loved!  I sat down to write a tale about a governess in the thirties and it just morphed into this grand tale of illicit love, family feuding and secrets and then, I’m not quite sure how, it became a tense adventure about spies and the rise of Hitler.  But then as I write to no plan for any novel, I shouldn’t be surprised by the warp and weft of my storytelling – it’s always been unpredictable.

2 What have you found most rewarding about your writing?

Hmm.  I think most of all I love the independence of it.  I like not answering to anyone, I like the freedom to take my stories where I like with a publisher who gives me free rein and I very much enjoy being master of my own destiny.  I get a real joy out of the research for the historical tales – it requires an immense amount of informative reading from non-fiction as well as me putting my feet on the ground in every location.  How could I ever tire of that sort of enrichment?

3 How did you start writing?

I never saw myself as a novelist but I think I’ve been a storyteller since I was old enough to understand its power in childhood.

How?  I just sat down and began writing one day.  That simple.  I was a voracious reader and was on a diet of fantasy fiction back in early 90s and by the 1997 I’d got it into my head that I’d quite like to have a go at writing a story like the ones I was reading.  I could feel it in my water beginning to simmer.  By 1999 I’d convinced myself to have a go before I turned 40.  That felt like a terrifying milestone and I had to do something before I toppled into middle age.

4 What would you say has helped you most?

Self-belief.  It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t write a story that would be good enough to be picked up by a major publisher.  I’d never written anything creative before I attempted my first novel but I just don’t suffer the sort of doubt that so many aspiring writers do, which is why I suppose I now give over a lot of my time to motivating new writers via the commercial fiction masterclass.  And…it’s working!

 5 What are you working on at the moment?

I’ve got many projects on the go.  Right now I’m gearing up for the launch of The Last Dance.  I’m also putting the final touches to a book on writing commercial fiction that will be out mid year from Penguin.  I’m also finishing the final chapter of the Penguin Christmas 2015 novel that has no name yet but will do by the time I return from overseas mid April where I’m researching three more novels in the US and France.  It’s non-stop for me but always enjoyable.

6 What advice would you offer aspiring writers?

Exactly what I do in my masterclass.  I would remind aspiring writers that no one has asked them to write a novel so they need to temper how much importance they place upon it in their life.  It’s not important to anyone but them, so I’d recommend letting go of all angst, lose the ‘this defines me attitude’, don’t talk about it so much, just get on and write your story because no one else is looking over your shoulder or worrying about it.  Get on with it.  No excuses.

7 Which authors do you enjoy reading?

I’m eclectic.  I laugh out loud with Bill Bryson, I hide under the coverlets with John Connolly, I swallow hard at how good Ian McEwan is at throwing together a paragraph, I have recently read non stop some individual books from Liane Morarty, Donna Tartt, Stephen King, Sebastian Faulks and host of other commercial authors.  I will always love the writing of Guy Gavriel Kay, Robin Hobb and George R R Martin.  I read a huge amount of non-fiction by writers whose names may not be well known but they’re still brilliant.

The Last Dance

the last dance‘It all started with just one dance…’

Stella Myles is impoverished by a family crisis and forced to make ends meet by selling herself as a dance partner in a Piccadilly ballroom. Here she meets the enigmatic Montgomery, who orchestrates a job for her as governess with the wealthy Ainsworth family at Harp’s End, Sussex. But at Harp’s End, nothing is as straightforward as it first seems. Stella encounters a family with more secrets than most, and struggles to fit in above or below stairs – although nothing proves so challenging as restraining her emotions for the mysterious Douglas Ainsworth. When he announces that they are all to voyage aboard a cruise ship bound for Morocco, tensions reach impossible new heights. Stella is caught up in a family at war and in a world on the edge of another.  She finds herself with an incendiary document that’s been smuggled  out of Berlin, which she must get to London at all costs. From the rolling green hills of the Kentish Weald to the colourful alleys and bazaars of Morocco, this is a heart-stopping novel of romance, intrigue and danger – and a passion to risk dying for.

Where to buy:  Dymocks nationally, Big W nationally, Booktopia, Book Depository, all good indie bookstores and every good library will lend it!  It’s available across all digital platforms for your e-reader.

Where you can find Fiona: