Welcome author Vonnie Hughes today to the Reading Nook blog.
Can you tell us a little about yourself: Our family are New Zealanders who emigrated to Australia in the early noughties. I began writing when I was about seven. Won a writing contest and carried on from there. Wrote lots of poetry and some short stories for newspapers and magazines then about 20 years ago began to write a Regency as an escape from the work/family merry-go-round. Since then I’ve written about seven or eight Regencies and a couple of romantic suspenses, all of which have been published.
What started your interest in writing? Georgette Heyer, a ‘who’ rather than a ‘what’. She has been the inspiration for many a writer. But I have to say that starting to write at a very young age, I’ve found I just can’t let it go, even when the well has run dry.
What is your book about? Because I have several out there and because I don’t have a recent release, I’ll discuss Innocent Hostage, a romantic suspense published by The Wild Rose Press. It’s set in New Zealand and is about a member of one of their Armed Offenders’ Squads i.e. SWAT teams. It is available in both paperback and e-book form as well as soon going to be an audiobook. Both the hero and heroine have backgrounds full of angst, and when Breck’s son becomes a hostage, suppressed emotions bubble to the surface. Sometimes it’s not a stranger who causes you trouble but those nearest to you.
What are you currently working on? I’m in a real writer’s slump at the moment but I am part way through another NZ-set romantic suspense temporarily titled The Negotiator. It refers to the Armed Offenders Squads but in this book the hero is a negotiator for those teams. He burns out without realising it, and walks away into a whole new career, or so he assumes, but…his skills as an investigative negotiator are needed and he’s back in the game. I’ve also nearly finished a romantic suspense for The Wild Rose Press (at least, I hope they’ll look at it) for their Lobster Cove series. I also need to self-publish a Regency trilogy that was previously published by Musa Publishing which has now closed.
What genres do you write in? Regency/historical and contemporary romantic suspense. All my writing contains a mystery because this is what I like to read.
If you could sit down with any author dead or alive, who would it be? Jayne Ann Krentz who also writes as Amanda Quick and Jayne Castle because she writes in the genres I read and write and yet her books are always fresh and intriguing. I met her when she came out to Australia last year but in a roomful of people, none of the nitty-gritty questions got asked and answered. That’s what I want to talk to her about.
If you write a series, do you reread your previous books before you begin the new one? Heavens, yes! Some of my Regencies are linked and have the same characters in them, not necessarily a series as such. But Dangerous Homecoming and Mr. Monfort’s Marriage and heavily linked, as are the stories in my A Tale of Two Sisters trilogy. Even Lethal Refuge and Innocent Hostage are linked so you have to read what you wrote before to get the feel as well as the right facts.
When writing, how do you keep track of timelines, ideas, inspiration and such? Good question. I fail miserably at this for someone who is usually organised. For one book I have cards with a few plot references and a lot of characteristics of the players. But usually I draw up a quick outline on the computer after a lot of daydreaming about the character’s emotions and what the plot might entail. But it’s not good enough. I must do more…
Have there been any characters that started off as supporting characters and then developed into a more prominent character? Yes, as discussed above, the negotiator who appeared in Innocent Hostage is about to get his own book soon (if I ever get it finished. Lack of planning. Sigh). And the hero’s best friend in The Second Son became the hero in Dangerous Homecoming (renamed from ‘Coming Home’). In each case the characters were strong enough to deserve their own stories.
How much of your own personality bleeds into your characters? Oh! Erk… I don’t see it, but friends who have read my books often say they see bits of me in them.
The Wild Rose Press
Two years ago Breck Marchant handed his son, Kit, over to his ex-wife Tania, even though it tore him apart. She knows all about kids. Thanks to his own upbringing, he hasn't a clue. But when the boy is held hostage, Breck steps up to the plate. Somehow he'll make this father thing work and hold down a dangerous job at the same time even though Ingrid Rowland, Kit's preschool teacher, is not impressed with his parenting skills.
Yeah, for a short time he’d had it all, and then it had been taken away. Okay. He probably didn’t deserve it anyway. That’s what his parents would say. They’d made him work for every little privilege, and if he didn’t get the privileges, well then…he hadn’t deserved them. And if that hadn’t worked, they used the cupboard. His stomach squeezed just thinking about that damned cupboard.
Author bio and Links
Our family were all born in New Zealand and now live in Australia.
Nobody in my family was a circus acrobat nor were they dull ciphers – just “normal” – whatever that is. I wasn’t necessarily encouraged to read avidly and write hundreds of stories. Did that all on my own. I was lucky enough to win several competitions. In fact I won a pony once but my parents encouraged me to take the substitute prize. After all, there’s not a lot of room in utopian suburbia for a pony. After attending teachers’ training college (where they encouraged my writing) then teaching for a year, I decided that unlike the rest of my family I was not cut out for the teaching sturm und drang. So I worked in legal offices, first as a secretary then later as a legal executive. During this time I managed to accrue a startling number of useless qualifications such as a radio announcer’s certificate, a diploma in journalism/creative writing, the major part of a Diploma in Business, and even part of a Bachelor of Arts degree and an Interior Decorating diploma.
Then…light bulb! At the age of 51 I finally discovered what I REALLY wanted to do (late bloomer) and entered the recruitment industry. My timing has always been out of kilter.
If you go to the Hamilton Gardens in New Zealand and wander through the Japanese Garden there, you will see a bronze plaque with a haiku engraved on it describing the peacefulness of that environment. It was written by yours truly. Every now and again someone phones me up and says, “By the way, I was in the Hamilton Gardens the other day and I saw a poem by a Vonnie Hughes. Is that you?” Mmm, I mumble, because in truth that haiku took only a very few minutes to write. Poetry comes much more easily to me than novel writing, but I kid myself that the experience with poetry writing keeps my words economical and apposite.
As far as novels go, I’ll stick to writing Regency historicals and contemporary suspense. I love the intricacies of the social rules of the Regency period and the far-ranging consequences of the Napoleonic Code. And with suspense I can give free rein to my interest in forensic matters and the strong convolutions of the human mind.
And I’ll probably write until the day I die. Like many writers, some days I hate the whole process, but somehow just cannot let it go.