Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Author Spotlight - Christina Hollis

Today we're delighted to welcome lovely Mills & Boon author Christina Hollis to the Minxes blog. Christina has very generously offered to pick two winners from the commenters to receive copies of her latest release, so if you'd like to be in - please leave a comment in the comment box! As always, all commenting Minxes will not be eligible to enter - the pick will close on Friday at five o'clock, and winners will be announced on our Monday blog post. Now, without further ado, on to the minxy questions!

1. Where were you in your writing career 5 years ago?

I was half-way through a creative writing course run by the respected poet Paul Groves. After a spell of writing non-fiction articles for magazines and newspapers, I decided to change tack and really concentrate on my fiction work. Paul encouraged me to write from my heart, and it worked.

2. Where did you get the idea from for this particular book?

I've always loved the idea of doing up a rambling old country house. In The Italian's Blushing Gardener (which will be called The Master of Bella Terra in the US) my hero Stefano wants to live my dream, but heroine Kira got there first! She doesn't want her rich new neighbour intruding on her little patch of paradise.

3. Where do you hope to be in 5 years time?

My main goal is to be an established writer of Modern Romance/Classic Presents novels, but more importantly I'd love to be able to say I'm writing books that people love to read.

4. Which was the last book you read that you wish you'd written?

Any of the 'Falco' books by Lindsey Davis. Her research and eye for detail are perfect. The university module I studied on Ancient Rome a few years ago would have come to life if I'd had those books to leaven the study texts.

5. Was there any particular author or book that made you want to be a writer?

I've been writing for as long as I've been reading, so it's tricky to single out any one author although nature writing in all its forms was a real spur. T.H White and H.E. Bates were early favourites, along with Henry Williamson. I still get a lump in my throat when I think of the final scenes of Tarka the Otter!

6. Do you find writing love scenes giggle-worthy or cringe-worthy?

Neither - they are integral parts of my stories, so I enjoy crafting them as much as I enjoy working on all my other scenes.

7. What's the most romantic moment of your life so far?

My husband is so romantic, it's hard to choose! Each time he brings me breakfast in bed or surprises me by stopping off to buy a bunch of flowers on his way home from work, it's wonderful.

8. What do you wish you'd known about being an author before you were pubbed?

How much support the romance community gives to everyone - readers, writers (published and unpublished) are a mine of useful information and encouragement - all you have to do is ask, and everyone is so friendly! I'd got used to a solitary existence scribbling non-fiction day after day. Fiction is much more fun, both the work and the social side.

9. What's the best writing advice you've ever been given?

Everything is copy. Keep a diary, always carry a notebook with you and write every day. You never know when something will spark an idea, and it keeps your brain active. Oh, and of course the one phrase that should be engraved on every surface in a writer's home: Never give up. Never, Never, never!

10. Tell us about your latest release.

The Italian's Blushing Gardener is released in November in the UK and in January 2011 in the US as a Harlequin Presents Extra title, The Master of Bella Terra.

Stefano Albani is a notorious charmer, but he meets a stubborn opponent in Kira. She thinks he'll wreck the valley she loves by developing the villa he's just bought. It's only when Stefano realises how brilliant she is at her job that he begins to think there's something missing from his life. But before Kira can supply the missing piece of the jigsaw, he nearly loses her forever...

11. What’s next for you?

There's the January 2011 release of The Master of Bella Terra, of course, and then my next Modern Romance for Harlequin Mills and Boon, which will be released in the summer. At the moment its working title is Love and Loyalty, although that's certain to change between now and publication. A collection of my short stories is in production, although that project has had to take a bit of a back seat as last week I got a sudden inspiration for a new romance. At the moment this new project, Fire and Ice, is taking up most of my time.

Find our more about Christina at her website:

Tweet to Christina at her twitter: http://www.twitter/com/christinabooks
Or facebook to Christina at her facebook:

While The Italian's Blushing Gardener/The Master of Bella Terra will be available as both ebooks and regular books from:

Mills and Boon (uk) here

and (In the UK)

I've read The Italian's Blushing Gardener, and it's a fabulous read, full of seductive imagery and intense romance, just what we need to keep us going through the cold winter! Thank you so much for the interview, Christina!


Rachel Lyndhurst said...

I'm with Sally, you really can't beat a nice, hot Italian when it raining buckets outside!

I was wondering, Christina, was Stefano inspired by any one in particular? Or does he come entirely from your imagination? I bet he's tall, dark and devilishly handsome!



Christina Hollis said...

Hi Rachel - it's lovely to hear from you. Stefano developed from the basic template of my gorgeous OH, who's tall and handsome, but I changed his eye colour to blue and added dark curls, as I just can't resist them!

Joanne Coles said...

Oooh I agree! You can't beat an Italian hero. I also have a thing for Italian men with curls though I've no idea why ... oh yes I do, it's because they are so gorgeous!!

I've noticed a trend with these interviews, every romance author has a wonderfully romantic other half. Lucky ladies :-)

Maya Blake said...

It's so lovely to meet you, Christina and I love the idea of The Italian's Blushing Gardener! From the sounds of it, it's another great book to add to the Christmas pile :)

Kat said...

Thanks so much for joining the minxes for a day Christina, it's lovely to have you with us.

I adore the premise for your latest book - doing up a rambling house is def a dream for me too, so it sounds like a perfect slice of romantic escapism to me. One for my amazon Christmas wish list I think!!


Christina Hollis said...

Hi Joanne- have you seen Adriano Giannini? Don't know much about him, but he definitely has all the chat to go with those looks!
As for your comment about other halves, maybe having a lovely, understanding guy inspires authors to share the feeling, by writing romance!

Christina Hollis said...

Thanks, Maya! I really hope you enjoy Stefano and Kira's story, and have a wonderful winter.

Christina Hollis said...

Hi Joanne, I'm really enjoying my time with the Minxes. Yes, wouldn't it be lovely to rescue some big old house - imagine the huge Christmas parties, complete with roaring log fires. At least we can dream...

Romy Sommer said...

Ooh, I'm a sucker for old rambling houses. What period is Kira's? Or do I have to read the book to find out?

The first two romances I ever wrote (truly awful stories, sadly!) both had The House as a third character in the story.

Romy Sommer said...

PS: I love these new UK covers!

Christina Hollis said...

Hi Romy - Kira's cottage was originally a little olive press belonging to a big private estate. Stefano buys 'the big house', which is based on a Tuscan villa I stayed in a while ago. The oldest part was a couple of hundred years old, but the house had been added to and improved over the generations. That villa was well maintained, so there's quite a bit of fantasy dereliction about 'Bella Terra'!
I love the new art work too - all the covers are really special!

Caroline said...

Ohhh a hot Italian is just what I need on a cold November evening. Great blog post Christina. Caroline x

Anonymous said...

Hey Christina, I can't wait until I can get my hands on the Master of Bella Terra after Christmas ;-) Your short stories sound interesting too, are they romance as well or something else entirely? Ketinka xXx

Christina Hollis said...

Thanks, Caroline - Italian men always seem bronzed & sophisticated whatever the weather, don't they?

Christina Hollis said...

Hi Ketinka - my short stories are completely different from my romances. A little bit of science fiction, the occasional ghost story or the 'perfect' (?)crime makes a great change, although it's always lovely to come back to romance - all that lovely escapism, with a guaranteed happy ever after!

Maisey said...

Hi Christina!

I love the UK cover. It's so gorgeous! Love the colors and everything. I may have to order it from book depository so I can have THAT cover!! Although, Master of Bella Terra is a fabulous title...ah..decisions. Maybe I'll get one of each?

Thank you for your fabulous books, I always enjoy them!

Christina Hollis said...

Hi Maisey, it's great to hear from you, and thanks for your kind words. I particularly love the cheeky look on Kira's face on the UK cover - it just about sums her up!

Lacey Devlin said...

Thanks for the great writing advice Christina! I'm looking forward to reading The Master of Bella Terra.

Christina Hollis said...

Hi, Lacey, great to hear from you! How is your own writing getting on?

Stephanie Bisby said...

Thanks so much for the encouraging advice to writers, Christina, and The Italian's Blushing Gardener sounds like a fabulous book. It's lovely to find an exotic, opulent setting that isn't all diamonds and penthouse apartments - I'm a sucker for the rural idyll myself.

Christina Hollis said...

Thanks for that vote of confidence, Stephanie - writing is a great outlet, comfort and recreation, isn't it? It can be all things to all people.
My heart is in the countryside, but I love the occasional burst of city lights and excitement, too!

Nas said...

Thank you Christina for the great writing advise and tips! The Italian's Blushing Gardener sounds wonderful. Can't wait to get it in my hands! I've read excerpts and just know it'll be a great read.

Christina Hollis said...

Thanks, Nas - I really hope you enjoy Kira and Stefano's story!

Wendy S Marcus said...

Hi Christina!
Thanks for the tips. (I always keep a pad and pen with me.) Your book sounds great.

Christina Hollis said...

Hi Wendy - a notebook is a great low-tech way to work. No worries about signal strength, flat batteries, or Internet distractions!

mell61 said...

You say keep a note pad close by, I'm just wondering what was the most unusual situation / phrase that triggered a story for you?
I'm looking forward to reading Kira and Stefano's story/

Christina Hollis said...

Hi Sue - I interviewed a pedigree pig breeder for an article once. After raving about how intelligent and lovely his animals were, he said: 'Mind you, if I fell and broke my leg in amongst them and couldn't get out, they'd make short work of me once they got hungry...'
That horrified me so much I had to go away and write a short story about it to exorcise the thought. It worked - and the story won a prize, so that was even better.