Hi Bronwyn, welcome to Café Cala,
It’s great to have you visit Café Cala. I’ve Ioved all of your books and am looking forward to reading Storm Clouds. It’s sitting by my bed right now. I’ve been making an apple cake this morning from the recipe given to me by an old friend. It’s a favourite of mine. Knowing your baking skills I’m hoping you’ll enjoy it. Would you like tea or coffee with yours?
Oh, I love apple cake! I have an old recipe for one that I haven’t made for years – maybe I’ll have to dig it out because – yum! – apple cake is one of my favourites. I’m definitely a tea girl; I think a nice chai to go with the cinnamon in the apple cake.
1 Where did you get the idea for Storm Clouds?
Simon and Erin were secondary characters in an earlier book, Dead Heat. There was an attraction hinted at but something was holding them both back. When it came time to write Storm Clouds, I had to decide what issues were keeping them apart. I also needed a crime that would challenge them both personally. Cults intrigue me and I wanted to explore a little that grey area of faith and dedication that attracts otherwise sane, sensible people to follow dubious leaders. A particular documentary I saw about a cult made me wonder both about the motivations of the leader, and also what happened to those who gave up everything – jobs, families, homes – to follow him. Secrets, lies, manipulation and coercion – in Storm Clouds Erin and Simon both have to confront their pasts, while racing to prevent a tragedy.
2 What have you found most rewarding about your writing?
It’s wonderful hearing from readers who have connected with the characters I’ve created and want to know more about them. I find it almost magical that characters born in my imagination can resonate with other people. On a more prosaic note, I also love being able to work from home in comfortable clothes in the peace and quiet of our bush setting – there’s nothing quite like writing in the still of the night, looking out onto the moonlit landscape, and watching a possum stroll across the grass.
3 How did you start writing?
I played with writing for years, and always had the intention of writing a book, but a few scribbled scenes here and there, written purely for fun, don’t make a publishable book! Not long before I turned 40, I came to a point in my career when I realised that I didn’t want to be working 9-5 (or more like 8-7) in a job that stifled my creativity for the next 25 years, and that if I was ever going to write a book, I had to actually sit down and write it.
4 What would you say has helped you most?
Winning the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart award for best romantic suspense manuscript in 2007 was a highlight and certainly gave my writing career a boost, but the support and inspiration of the romance writing community has been invaluable since I first ventured to a conference in 2003.
5 What are you working on at the moment?
Two projects – my new book, which doesn’t have a title yet. For those who’ve been reading my books, this next one is Steve Fraser’s story. He’s been in all the Dungirri books, and is a key character in Storm Clouds, but in the new book I’ll put him thoroughly through the wringer! I’m also trying to finish a novella I worked on over Christmas – it’s an historical romance, set in the UK, so it’s something of a departure from my usual outback books, and a good chance for me to write something a little different.
6 What advice would you offer aspiring writers?
Write. Play with ideas, start stories, try to write in different styles, explore different approaches – this experimenting will help you to find you voice and the type of stories you want to tell. It will also stretch you technically and help you to understand the craft and your particular strengths.
7 Which authors do you enjoy reading?
I haven’t been reading enough lately, and there are so many fantastic books and authors on my long TBR list! Historical romance has always been my go-to when I want to curl up and relax with a good book. In the last few months I’ve read Joanna Bourne’s latest, as well as books by Anna Campbell and Courtney Milan. Romantic suspense is of course my other love. I recently enjoyed Rachel Amphlett’s Before Nightfall, and I’m hanging out for Helene Young’s next book!
Thanks for inviting me to visit Café Cala, Maggie. It’s always lovely to chat in a café with friends.
Lovely to have you visit, Bronwyn.
Storm Clouds is published by Hachette Australia and is officially out in print and all eformats on January 13th, although some Big W stores already have stock on the shelves.
There’ll be two launches – one in Armidale at Reader’s Companion bookshop on Saturday 10th January at 12.30pm, and one in Canberra, at the new Harry Hartog bookshop in Westfield Woden Plaza, on Tuesday 13th January at 6pm. All are welcome!
About Storm Clouds:
He can make you believe in the ultimate lie…
National Parks ranger Erin Taylor loves her job, is falling for her colleague, Simon, and is finally leaving her past behind . . .
Until a woman is murdered. But the victim is not just any woman – she’s Simon’s wife, Hayley. The wife he’s never mentioned. The wife he’s not seen in fourteen years. On the edge of the national park the alternative lifestyle community of ‘Simple Bliss’ denies knowledge of Hayley, but Simon and Erin suspect otherwise. Erin will have to draw on all her old skills – deception, lying, cheating – to gain the trust of its members and discover their secrets.
As Simon uncovers shocking details about the reclusive group, Erin is drawn further into their midst and finds a web of lies, decades old – and comes face-to-face with the charismatic, manipulative, dangerous leader who will let nothing and no-one stand in his way. On the wrong side of a river in flood that has become a lethal torrent, Erin and Simon must race to expose the truth and prevent a tragedy . .
Bronwyn’s website: http://bronwynparry.com
In this excerpt from Chapter 1, Simon Kennedy has just driven back into town after two months away on an unexpected army reserve call-up, and Erin Taylor, seeing his vehicle, has stopped in front of his house:
[Simon] stood at the back of his LandCruiser in the driveway, a kit bag resting on the tray. Old Snowy McDermott, his neighbour, leaned on the fence post between them, settling in for a good long yarn. Snowy could talk the hind leg off a horse and usually missed most social cues, but Simon saw Erin and excused himself to Snowy as she got out of the ute.
As they walked the fifteen paces towards each other, the light cheeky comments she might normally have made turned to dust on her tongue. For months they’d worked side by side in the relaxed way of equals, trusting and relying on each other in their physically demanding duties for both their National Parks jobs and volunteer SES service.
He wasn’t in uniform now. Not the army uniform she’d never seen him wear. Not the National Parks uniform, nor the SES uniform they both wore often enough outside work. Just faded jeans and a white t-shirt that stretched over his fine physique and highlighted the deep hazel of his eyes. Eyes that reflected the warmth of his easy grin and gave little hint that he’d been anywhere but a relaxed holiday away.
The early autumn sun had started to set, casting a golden outline around him, almost as if nature wanted to make a gilded statue of the soldier hero. Whereas she . . . she was no hero.
They stopped half a metre from each other, within touching distance, but neither of them made a move to touch. He was out of her reach in too many other ways. Maybe the caution that had stopped her making a fool of herself in the months before he’d left had been good sense, rather than cowardice.
She resisted wiping suddenly sweaty hands on her uniform trousers and summoned up a grin, aware of Snowy watering his garden close by. Keep it simple, keep it light. Just the warm, familiar teasing she’d missed in his absence.
‘If I’d known you were coming back today, I would have volunteered you for the regional planning meeting in Moree tomorrow.’
His eyes sparkled. ‘Phew. I’ve had a lucky escape then. Who drew the short straw?’
‘Well, since Jo’s on light duties and not allowed to drive, I got the long straw, the middle straw and the short straw.’
‘Jo’s back at work?’
‘Yes, working half-days. But it’s not quite three months since her craniotomy so she’s not allowed to drive yet.’
‘So you’ve been doing all three of our jobs, all this time.’
‘Yeah. You owe me. Although I suppose if you’ve been off saving the world, that might cancel the debt, soldier.’
His cheerful, relaxed expression slipped and the light in his eyes dimmed for a moment before he gestured with a jerk of his thumb towards the house. ‘Come on in and tell me the news while I dump my gear, and then I’ll shout you dinner at the pub.’
Back at his LandCruiser, he grabbed his kit bag with one hand and then slid a metal case out. His rifle. Invaluable in feral animal campaigns. She’d usually managed to put out of her mind that in the army, his targets didn’t have four legs. His past army service had been abstract in her head, something she rarely considered in detail, because on the few occasions he’d spoken of his experiences he’d sounded carefree, as if his deployments, even in Iraq and Afghanistan, were barely more adventurous than an outback camping trip. But then he’d gone again, between one shift and the next, with scarcely a word of explanation to her. Nods and murmurs from senior National Parks staff who’d known him longer suggested there was more to his role than he’d ever let on, leaving her with the distinct impression that he’d been – was still – a commando with significant experience in covert operations.
No wonder he was such a valuable member of the volunteer SES squad and a capable National Parks ranger, especially in dealing with the law-enforcement aspect of their roles. Maybe the signs had always been there, and she just hadn’t recognised them.
But the fact that he was still in the army – that changed things, changed how she felt, although she’d spent the past few weeks trying fruitlessly to put a finger on how and why. Not that there was any point in trying to understand it, since she mattered so little to him that he’d not contacted her once since his abrupt departure. They were friendly colleagues in a small community, nothing more. So she’d keep things at that level.
She grinned with a good imitation of her usual cheekiness. ‘Well, since you apparently couldn’t remember my email address all this time, I’ll let you shout me dinner.’