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: http://www.christinahollis.com
Tweet to Christina at her twitter: http://www.twitter/com/christinabooks
Or facebook to Christina at her facebook: http://bit.ly/9rv4df
While The Italian's Blushing Gardener/The Master of Bella Terra will be available as both ebooks and regular books from: