Thursday, March 24, 2016 | By: The Write Way Cafe

An Interview with Joanie MacNeil

The Write Way Café welcomes author Joanie MacNeil, who was inspired by historical romances but found her niche in contemporary romance.

Thank you for having me on your blog.  It is a pleasure to be here.

When did you first have the thought you'd like to write a book? Was that first thought related to writing romance?
     I must have been about nine or ten when I first thought about writing an adventure story set in Africa, with my friend and me as the central characters. Nothing ever came of it.
     When I think back, the idea of wanting to write never really left me. I thought about writing again in my teens, and again later, when my children were small.
     Later, and new to reading romance, I was inspired by historical romances. I was hooked on these fantastic stories of adventure, escapism, gorgeous heroes, and of course, romance. I convinced myself that writing those stories wasn’t for me. Other people wrote books. Not me.  And where would I begin?
     A few years later, I enrolled in a freelance writing course at the local evening college; though I enjoyed the course, I realized freelance writing wasn’t my thing. One evening, our tutor spoke briefly about romance novels—the more she spoke about writing romance, the more interested I became. Why not have a go at writing romance? I was an avid romance reader after all. I had nothing to lose and a lot to learn. However, preferring to write shorter novels, I chose contemporary romance.
     That journey, from reading my first historical romance to writing my first contemporary romance novel took about five or six years. Another four or five years slipped by before the second novel I wrote was accepted for publication. My first book is hiding in my external hard drive, awaiting resuscitation. It is unlikely that will ever happen.

What was your path to getting this book written and published? What type of research did you do?
     At lunchtimes, I used to sit on a bench by the creek, which meandered through the university campus where I worked. There, beneath the shade of beautiful old trees, I’d escape with my lunch and notebook and a head full of ideas, to plan elements of my story. I remember trying to choose just the right names for my characters. They had to sound just right for the hero/heroine I had in mind. Eventually I tossed most of what I’d so thoughtfully outlined. In those days I was more a panster than a plotter – now I like to think I am a bit of both. I did keep the names though.
     I researched glaucoma and other eye diseases, and related issues, and phoned the Blind Society as it was called, with specific questions; I researched miscarriage and associated issues.
     I also knew of particular services around campus at the time, so incorporated similar elements in the story.
     This novel was one of my earlier works, number four or five, I think, and has been published previously. I have modified it a little, given it a new name of Sapphire Kisses, and it was released earlier this month by Canadian Publisher, Books We Love Ltd.

Where did the idea for your story come from?
     I wanted to write something different for me: a hero who wasn’t quite so perfect and had to accept and learn to deal with his imperfection, as he saw it.
     I settled on glaucoma, as that worked best for my hero and the story I had in mind. I also knew someone around that time who was losing his sight, though not from glaucoma. He mentioned a couple of his experiences which I added in for my hero.

Why did you pick the setting you did?
     The setting, on the Sapphire Coast, New South Wales, Australia, was in an area I’d visited many times and its isolation was perfect for the book.

Are your main characters completely imaginary or do they have some basis in real people? Do they reflect aspects of yourself?
     My characters aren’t based on anyone in particular, though my heroine probably reflects some of my conventional thoughts at the time.

Tell us about your writing space and how or why it works for you.
     I am lucky to have my own space, a room set aside for my writing den. If necessary, I can close myself away, or play music while I write. I now have a large screen computer, with reference and other books, at my fingertips.
     Lately, the little birds outside my window have been very entertaining, twittering away, or arguing amongst themselves. They flutter amongst the shrubs and pot plants, splashing and drinking the water, and generally enjoying the sunshine.

What are some of your favorite books and why?
     Early contemporary favorites were several of Sandra Marton’s series. Her novels are fast-paced and filled with tension and her larger than life characters always appealed. I tended to prefer stories set in the US for the most part.
     My favorite author is Barbara Erksine. The first novel of hers I read was Lady of Hay. I was hooked. It is the medieval and/or historical settings which intrigue me and how well she weaves past and present into a fascinating and thrilling story. Her excellently crafted stories have been favorites of mine for a very long time.

What are you working on now?
     I am excited to be working on something new—the first story in a series or sequence of novels, connected by either a common theme, characters or settings. Each will have its own title and will be a stand-alone read. I am still planning the details and am looking forward to the project. At this point, I anticipate there to be at least three stories.
     As well, I am revising two of my earlier published works. One of these is my first published novel, which was the second book I wrote.

Would you like to try your hand at writing a different genre?  Which one and why?
     Earlier in my career I toyed with the idea of writing a time travel, and though I’ve made a small start, I haven’t worked on it for ages. I suspect it’s my interest in medieval settings that appeals to me. I visited ancient ruins in Scotland and the Hebrides years ago and found them fascinating. My character/s would have to go back in time.

If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be?
     Photographer/photo journalist, travelling to some amazing places.

     Alexandra Jordan doesn’t anticipate the challenge ahead of her when she agrees to spend the summer as a research assistant for acclaimed author, David Meredith, who is gradually losing his sight.

     David feels threatened by her presence in his home, his sanctuary, the only place he can be independent. He is determined to prove he doesn’t need help and wants Alex out of his life. She is equally determined to do the job she’s been paid to do. Once he accepts Alex isn’t like other women, her beguiling ways soon intrigue him…until he discovers her secret.


About Joanie:
    Australian romance author, Joanie MacNeil, writes short contemporary romances: a blend of sweet, sexy, heart-warming stories about new love and second chances. Some of her tales may make you smile.
     Home, family and friends are important to Joanie, and she has blended these elements into some of her stories.
     She is a member of the ACT Writers Centre, Australian Romance Readers Association; Canberra Romance Writers, and Romance Writers of Australia. Joanie looks forward to attending their annual conference, and has done so every year since 1999.
     Travelling with her own romantic hero is one of her favourite things. When she’s not on the move visiting exotic and interesting locations, or family interstate, she enjoys creating her own romantic stories, reading romance, going to the movies, having coffee with friends, participating in aqua aerobics, catching up with her daughters, and her lively little grandsons and their parents.

Website     Facebook     Twitter: @JoanieMacneil


HiDee said...

Love your cover! Thanks for being with us today, Joanie!

Joanie MacNeil said...

Thank you HiDee, a pleasure to be here. Glad that you like the cover.:)


Janet Walters said...

Interesting interview about your journey. May it continue

Sydell Voeller said...

Nice to get to know you better, Joanie!

Victoria Chatham said...

Interesting post Joanie. I love to hear how other authors get started.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your comments, Janet, Sydell and Victoria. It is always interesting to hear about other authors' writing journeys. I have resumed my journey and am feeling very pleased about that. :) I hope it continues too Janet. Cheers Joanie