Stories inspired by real life events have that ring of truth, and Lee Christine’s “In Safe Arms” couldn’t be more timely given the current state of bikie laws in Queensland. Welcome, Lee, and thanks for treading the boards with us today!
1. Are you inspired most by places, people or experiences and how do these work their way into your writing?
I must say all three! “In Safe Arms” my romantic suspense to be released January 1, 2014 was inspired by the current bikie turf war in Sydney, or a sub-culture of people, if you like. There was a massive amount of research involved as I knew nothing about the internal workings of a bikie gang. Because the novel begins with the murder of a chapter leader, it made sense to make it a spin-off of “In Safe Hands”, which centres around a fictional law firm in Sydney.
2. Please share one of your favourite moments of inspiration with us.
For ‘In Safe Hands’ the inspiration came from seeing the fallout from the ‘Lara Bingle naked in the shower’ story, which ultimately led to the implosion of her engagement to Michael Clark. An AFL player published that photograph on the internet, and the repercussions went all the way to the top of Cricket Australia. Pressure was brought to bear on Michael Clarke to resign, or he wouldn’t be made Australian Captain. That led me to thinking about similar incidents, such as the one involving Stephanie Rice. Of course, I didn’t write about a cricketer and a swimsuit model, I made my heroine a lawyer. The hero is a former SAS Commander, and it’s a legal partnership and her life on the line. But in that instance, it was definitely people that inspired me, and it was natural to set it in Sydney, a city I know well.
3. How did you come up with the idea of “In Safe Arms”?
In ‘In Safe Hands’ Luke Neilson is a security and ballistics expert who becomes Allegra Greenwood’s bodyguard, as well as the man charged with finding out who is blackmailing her with the career-destroying naked photographs. He’s former SAS, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, a man who inspires confidence. She really is ‘In Safe Hands’.
It seems natural to name book 2 in the series ‘In Safe Arms’.
4. How do you come up with your characters’ names?
I try for something different with my heroine, and keep my hero’s names short and strong.
In ‘In Safe Arms’ my heroine is Josie, short for Josephine. I’d just been to France and seen all things Napoleon, so ‘Josie’ was ‘born’ over there. I also wanted to incorporate the line ‘not tonight Josephine’ somewhere in the book.
In ‘In Safe Hands’ the heroine is Allegra. I play the alto saxophone and love music with a passion. ‘Allegra’ is an Italian name that means ‘jaunty’. The musical term ‘allegro’ means ‘quickly with a happy air’.
Luke and Nate are my heroes in these two novels. Luke is just ‘Luke’, but Nate is short for Ignatius, rather than the popular American name Nathanial.
I do think long and hard about my names.
5. If you could pick a soundtrack to match your main character’s life, what would it be?
Bonnie Tyler’s ‘Holding Out for a Hero’.
6. What is your favourite holiday?
I love skiing in the U.S. and Canada, but as my knees are starting to feel the wear and tear, I’d say Hawaii or the east coast of America.
[I hear you—Hawaii, here I come!]
7. Do you read reviews of your books? What do you do when you read a not-so-nice one?
I do read reviews. I’ve been lucky so far. I haven’t received any bad ones. I have got a couple of 2 star ratings on Goodreads though.
8. How many times were you turned down before you finally got published?
9. What reason(s) did the publishers give for their rejection of your manuscript?
Inconsistent pacing, but they were great and gave me an incredible amount of feedback which I always keep in mind. One of the publishers even sent me a slide show to help with the pacing, which was gold. Every time I construct a story now I recite that advice like a mantra.
10. Who is your literary hero?
11. Who do you most admire and why? OR If you could meet anyone, alive or dead, and spend an hour with them, who and why?
Sting, because of his incredible song writing ability. I would love to chat, but I’d rather he sing and play for me.
[May I sit in the shadows and listen too, please?]
12. What is your favourite book of all time that you can reread a hundred times, and it still feels like the first time?
Beach Music by Pat Conroy
13. What do you need to set the mood for you to write?
I need to have some kind of order in the house. I can’t write if I’m surrounded by mess and chaos. It distracts me.
14. If there is one genre that you have not written in yet, but would love to try writing a book in that specific genre, what would it be?
Straight crime or a thriller.
15. How many blurbs did you have to write before the final one?
Probably about ten.
16. If you could bring one of your characters to life, who would it be? And why?
Luke Neilson, because he was the first hero I wrote who I totally fell in love with. And he’s hot hot hot in a former military kind of way.
17. What are you working on now?
A romantic suspense set in Italy, mostly on the Amalfi Coast. It involves the theft of super yacht designs. I’ve wanted to write a book about intellectual property theft for a while now.
18. Would you like to share an excerpt from your writing or a photo or music link that inspires you?
This is an excerpt from ‘In Safe Arms’ out 1st January, 2014, Escape Publishing.
The room was concrete, the walls hidden by hexagonal shaped terracotta wine racks, stacked together in a honeycomb format. The furnishings were sparse, one plastic armchair, a mat, and a small, metal stepladder, the roof so high that even a man of Nate’s height couldn’t reach the highest racks.
He shone the torch around the man-made dug out. ‘I never saw the point of hooking up the electricity.’
Josie shivered. ‘Maybe you should, it’s cold in here.’
For the barest second his eyes swept over her. ‘Perfect temperature for a wine cellar. Don’t worry, we won’t be staying long.’
He swiped a few cobwebs away, and they spent the next ten minutes rotating wine bottles by the light of the torch.
‘I’ll have to spend some time in here when all this is over,’ he said, sliding a bottle from one of the racks and reading the label. ‘Many of these are perfectly aged.’
Josie studied his face in the low light, the arched brows, the deep set eyes, the sexy crevice in the middle of his geometrically perfect chin. Despite her declaration to the contrary, Nate Hunter was a definite nine on anyone’s scale.
He turned and caught her watching him, held out the bottle of wine. ‘This one’s perfect for a twenty-first celebration.’
Touched by his thoughtfulness, and a little embarrassed she’d been caught checking him out, she took the bottle and brushed the dust from the label. ‘Penfolds Grange 1994. It looks rare, expensive.’
When she looked up, his eyes glittered in the dark. ‘It’s perfect.’
Wow! Love it, Lee! And it’s funny how many things are alluding to the Amalfi Coast lately. I do love the sound of that idea.
Thanks so much for sharing your writing and the things that inspire you with us. It’s been wonderful having you as my guest.