Congratulations to Sarah Barrie who is a finalist in the 2017 RUBY Awards, nominated for Legacy of Hunters Ridge! Below, we chat with her about her nominated book, her male readers and her advice for aspiring authors.
Congratulations, you’re a finalist in the 2017 RUBY Awards! How did you react when you found out you were a finalist?
I was thrilled. Just reaching the finals is an enormous honour. There are so many incredible authors in this country who write romance, or books containing romantic elements.
Please tell us about the story you’ve been nominated for. Did you have a secret alternative title while you were writing it?
Legacy of Hunters Ridge is the story of Alissa Morgan, a strong young heroine battling PTSD who is forced to confront her worst fears in order to stop a sadistic serial killer. As far as titles go, I have enough trouble thinking one up without coming up with alternatives. I’m terrible at it. The team at Harlequin always end up brainstorming for me!
Do you write romance books in secret, or are you loud and proud?
My books are suspense with romantic elements, and no, I don’t write in secret, or my stories wouldn’t be on the shelves. There is no reason any serious writer should feel the need to be secretive about writing for such a popular genre, either as romance writers or writers of books containing romantic elements.
Headless washboard abs, a torrid embrace, the sprawling homestead, an elegantly dressed décolletage, or a vaguely kinky object against a dark background – what’s your favourite type of romance cover and why?
As a writer of romantic suspense set in the Australian landscape, I prefer moodier, more evocative covers. I would be looking for covers containing landscapes and a strong, independent protagonist. One which gives a sense of foreboding or an ominous atmosphere.
What is the secret life of a romance writer? What goes on between you and your keyboard (or quill) behind closed doors?
Hard work. My working hours are intensely variable, my writing space is loosely controlled chaos. The chances I have to write in peace are limited, which means a lot of sitting, thinking and typing as much as possible in short periods of time.
Do you remember the first romance you read, the one that inspired you to continue reading and writing in this genre?
I don’t. I’ve always enjoyed reading a wide variety of genres and have experimented with writing everything from romantic comedies to thrillers.
Do you hide any secrets in your plot line that only a few people will find?
Because I write suspense, I do tend to trickle hints throughout my stories to help readers work out the mystery as it progresses.
How you differentiate between romance fiction, erotica and porn. Are romance readers getting naughtier?
My writing doesn’t really position itself in those areas, and I’m not an expert on the definitions. However, I imagine it’s not dissimilar to differentiating between any of the other genres. There may or may not be some shared elements, but each have their own set of rules that distinguish them from one another. My readers expect the relationships in my novels to give insight into character and/or move the narrative forward, so I try and do that.
More women read romance than men, but some men do. What do you know of your male audience? And why do they read you?
Because they like my stories. I have a wonderful following of male readers who enjoy reading romantic suspense.
What advice would you give aspiring romance writers?
Read and write as often as you can. Join the Romance Writers of Australia and enter some of the competitions they run – you’ll get great feedback. Critique partners and/or a writing group will also go a long way to improving your writing while providing you with a support network of friends with similar interests.
Thank you, Sarah!
Legacy of Hunters Ridge
Successful horse trainer Alissa Morgan-Jones has the world at her feet, until a tragic fire destroys everything. Widowed, in debt and under suspicion for arson, Alissa's life is in tatters. Her mother-in-law's isolated farm gives her the opportunity to pull her life back together and get herself back on her feet.
Four years after fleeing the city and the scandal that ruined his career, disgraced lawyer Cameron Blakely has a successful new business and a new life. When his neighbour, Mavis Littleton is diagnosed with a terminal illness he volunteers to handle her affairs – and her farm until her daughter-in-law arrives to take over. When Alissa finally shows up, he's drawn to her immediately...