Welcome to BRB, everyone! Jacqueline George is the author of some pretty hot romance—memorable; sink your teeth in romance—also a very dear friend. And, when I say hot, I mean hot. Jacqueline George and I have worked together in the past at RLJ and now with Yellow Silk Dreams, and she’s a regular on my blog. Thank you for joining me, Jacqueline, it's been a while. I'm familiar with you and your work, but our readers perhaps aren't, tell us about yourself.
About me? Well, that won’t take long - there’s not much to know, and nothing remarkable. I do live in an interesting place, Cooktown, near the northeastern tip of Australia, on the shores of the Coral Sea. We can see the Great Barrier Reef; it is only twenty minutes away by boat. We have coconuts in the garden, because Cooktown is definitely tropical. We built a tropical house on stilts, with walls that roll up because who needs walls? It is a great place to be a writer, because we are short of distractions. I am always ready to stop work for a coffee, so please drop by….
Why did you become an author?
It just happened. I have always found writing easy (although good writing is another matter). I started by re-telling Treasure Island, because that book left a deep impression on me as a kid. Then, I moved on and found I really, really enjoy writing happy, sexy, romantic stories. Fortunately, people like reading them, so everyone is happy!
How did the idea for Falling into Queensland come about?
Falling into Queensland.
After I had lived here for a while, and before I lost the memory of first impressions, I sat down to write a story that would give readers a real impression of what far north Queensland is like. True, it is an adventure story and we really don’t have adventures every day. Nor do I live under threat of death from a wild bikie gang, but the setting is definitely real, and I think you will be surprised how we live. Of course, my friends all look for themselves, or for favourite places, in the book, but they won’t find any. It’s not set in Cooktown. Well, not exactly.
What is your latest project? Can you give us a brief synopsis?
Right now, the hottest thing in my corner of the literary world is Yellow Silk Dreams. This is an author’s cooperative where we release cheap and cheerful erotic romance from established writers. It is not a publishing house, because all of the profits from a book go to its writer. It does mean that we can help each other with promotion and selling. Being part of a team is a great feeling. It started off slowly but we are now selling quite well. Things will get even better this year. We have some great books on offer and you can find more about them here. YSD
If you could indulge, which one of your characters would you have an affair? And, why the attraction?
I had a bug niggling at the back of my mind about nuns and “a fate worse than death”. Sure, I can understand giving up a normal life for religion, but in extremis you are meant to choose death before unwanted sex? That’s nuts, and it started me on The Prince and the Nun, a book set on the edges of a convent, where a nun is persuaded to run a bordello in wartime. Sister Therese is not just any nun. She is a highly moral person who puts her duty to help people above everything else. Compromising her vows was bad enough, but then she found herself falling in love with the charismatic Prince Franz Mefist. As I wrote, she climbed out of the page as a very attractive, loving personality. Do I have to have an affair with her? Couldn’t I just invite her over for a week’s holiday?
Do you read erotica? If so, what is your favourite novel to date?
I read fairly widely, and of course I include erotica. Unfortunately, lot of modern erotic writing is strictly throwaway stuff. If I look at books that have stayed on my shelves, I would recommend the late Victorian classic Beatrice, and the four books for the Plaisir d’Amour series. And my books, of course. They are written to last as well.
Where do you see yourself a decade from now?
You know, we have a really interesting pioneer cemetery here in town - but I don’t plan on booking a spot just yet. One of the great things about the ebook revolution is that the books never go out of print. Meaning that the more you write, the longer your list grows. When people come across you for the first time, they have lots of your other books to explore. I want to keep building that list full of really good stories.
If you could give an up-and-coming author one piece of advice, what would it be?
It’s a sad fact that that in the modern book trade, you are on your own. So gird up your loins and write. Write and write, and listen to people you respect when they criticise your work. Once you are confident that you can write better than the average Jane, you don’t have to listen to put-downs from lazy publishers and agents. You will be a writer, and they should show you some respect. They won’t, of course, but that’s their loss. Just keep striving for quality in your work, and your efforts will pay off in the long run.
Falling into Queensland
'A Tropical Adventure'
When Shirley's uncle leaves her a house in his will, she flies in from London. Port Bruce is a remote town in Far North Queensland, and everything is strange to a city girl from England. She is welcomed by the locals and quickly feels at home.
Not everyone is friendly, of course, and Shirley gets into trouble with the leader of a local bikie gang. It will take luck and lots of help from her new friends to keep her safe.
(Shirley sees her new house for the first time)
The path came to an abrupt end at the edge of the mangroves. The way ahead lay over a duckboard walkway of grey weathered planks. She was soon more than a metre above the dark grey mud and all around her the mangroves stood on their upside down roots. The swamp surface was alive with activity. Little crabs scuttled from burrow to burrow or stood guard in their entrances. They had one small claw and one coloured brilliant red that had grown out of all proportion until it was nearly as big as their body. They stared at her and beckoned threateningly with this grotesque claw.
The insect noise was even louder here and the mosquitoes whined around her head. She hurried on over the rickety planks.
The duckboard way was not straight and she had lost sight of dry land by the time she reached Uncle John’s house. It stood on stilts in an area cleared of mangroves with the river glinting beyond. It was a cabin of unpainted clapboard, two small windows with a front door between them. The roof, dull zinc with some rust streaks, was low and reached out to give a narrow veranda that ran the length of the house. She fumbled in her pocket to find the key the lawyer in Cairns had given her and searched for the keyhole.
There was no keyhole in the door. Just grey, weathered timber with short rust streaks running down from each nail. She was stupefied; how could there be no keyhole?
The handle turned and the door was pulled open. An old man stood there. He was short, with thinned white hair neatly swept back. He wore a long-sleeved white shirt and shorts. His thin shins were wrapped in long white socks and he was wearing white shoes. He was the strangest person Shirley had seen so far.
He looked her up and down for a long minute and smiled. “You must be Shirley!”
“How – yes. Shirley,” she said foolishly.
He held out a wrinkled hand. “Welcome to Johnno’s. I’m Walter. Come in.”
She allowed herself to be led inside. There was just one sparse room, and that had only three walls. On her left there was a kitchen area with a small table. Along the wall stood a sink counter and shelves, curtained off in red chintz. A single gas cooking ring stood beside the sink. A bachelor kitchen, for someone who took no joy in cooking.
To her right was an incongruous double bed draped with a mosquito net. It had painted bedside cabinets on either side. Her musing disappeared when she saw the missing wall in front of her. The fourth side of the cabin just was not present. Unable to resist, she stepped through onto the wide veranda and stood transfixed by the river beyond.
It was wonderful. Wide and dark, with the sun flaring off its ripples. And empty. A wall of palms was growing out of the water on the other side and in the distance behind them, blue-green mountains baked under fluffy clouds.