Alli Sinclair is Australian born but considers herself a citizen of the world. She spent her early adult years traveling the globe, intent on becoming an Indiana Jones in heels. She scaled mountains in Nepal, Argentina, and Peru, rafted the Ganges, and rode a camel in the Sahara. Argentina and Peru became her home for a few years and when she wasn’t working as a mountain or tour guide, Alli could be found in the dance halls dancing the tango, salsa, merengue, and samba. All of these adventures made for fun storytelling and this is when she discovered her love of writing. Alli’s stories combine her passion for exotic destinations, the quirks of human nature, and the belief that everyone can dance, even if it’s to their own beat. In exciting news, Alli’s first book, Luna Tango, was today awarded the 2014 AusRomToday Reader’s Choice Award for Best Book of the Year.
Monique: Your first novel, Luna Tango, has recently been released. Can you tell readers a bit about it?
Alli: Luna Tango (first book in the Dance Card Series) and is about three generations of women and their turbulent relationship with the tango. Set in beautiful Argentina, the story is a mix of family saga, mystery and romance with some very sexy characters. (Pssst …. I suggest you meet Carlos Escudero from Luna Tango—professional tango dancer and man of intense passion!)
Monique: What’s the feedback been like so far for this novel?
Alli: I’ve had lots of great comments from readers and the story seems to have a wide appeal as it embraces travel and culture, dance, exotic destinations as well as romance and mystery. I had one lovely lady write to me and tell me the only reason she picked up Luna Tango was because her friend insisted, even though she won’t normally read books with dance in them (I’m not sure why not!). Anyway, she read Luna Tango, loved it and said she’s looking forward to more of my dance books! That email had me grinning for a week!
Monique: What do you like most about Luna Tango?
Alli: It’s been years since I lived in Argentina so when I was writing Luna Tango I got to revisit all my favourite places in my head and on the page. Writing about them gave me a chance to reminisce about the country I love but I was also overwhelmed by homesickness for Argentina. Now I get to hear from readers who have fallen in love with Argentina because of the descriptions about the culture and city and landscapes. It’s only recently that I’ve realised that Luna Tango is my love letter to Argentina.
Monique: Which characters do you like the most in Luna Tango? Which one did you like least?
Alli: Well Carlos is high on the list, of course – he’s one mighty fine man! I love Roberto’s gentle nature and how much he loves Louisa. The dynamics between Dani, her mother Iris, and grandmother Stella kept me intrigued because I never really knew in each scene who was going to take the lead and make the others work harder at their relationship.
I do have a soft spot for Iris. She has a good heart but every time she tries to do the right thing, it goes wrong.
I don’t want to say who I like the least as I’ll give away a twist but let’s just say, all is not what it seems with this person.
Monique: Which character are you most like?
Alli: I would say, Dani—minus the dysfunctional family! She has a great sense of adventure, is resourceful, open to new cultures and likes to dig beneath the surface of people to find out what really makes them tick. At the same time she also discovers new things about herself.
Monique: Which actor would you choose to play Carlos in a movie version of Luna Tango?
Alli: Hands down it would have to be Gilles Marini. In fact, he was the inspiration behind Carlos as I wrote Luna Tango. Yes, yes, he’s French but he has the smouldering good looks and charm of an Argentine.
Monique: Which 5 songs would you put on a soundtrack to complement this book?
Alli: Libertango by Astor Piazzolla
At Last by Etta James
Like a Bird by Nelly Furtado
La Cumparsita by Gerardo Madtos Rodriguez
My Happiness by Powderfinger
Monique: Tell me about your road to publication. What are some of the highlights and lowlights?
Alli: Over the course of ten years I wrote four manuscripts, had hundreds of rejections, three international moves and a couple of kids. Manuscript number four, Luna Tango, is what caught the attention of my fab literary agent and after a couple of rounds of revisions Luna Tango went out on submission. I checked my email countless times over that two-month period – even in the middle of the night. Obsessive much? It was a Thursday evening, well outside of office hours, that I received a call from my agent telling me Harlequin loved Luna Tango and the Dance Card Series and wanted to make an offer for a multiple book deal. I think my friends way over in Argentina heard me squeal with delight!
The editing process has been fantastic. I adore my editors and marketing staff as they’ve been so wonderful guiding me along the road to publication. As for lowlights, I don’t really have any although I was a bit overwhelmed during the lead up to release date and the first few weeks afterward. It was great to have so much attention from media and bloggers but at times I got overwhelmed. I’m used to hiding behind my computer, not doing a photo shoot for the front cover of a mag! Really, though, the whole experience has been better than I could have ever dreamt and I wouldn’t change one thing.
Monique: You wake in the middle of the night with a brilliant book-ish idea. What do you do?
Alli: I’ve become adept at writing with a pen and paper in the dark. I’m surprised I can read it the next morning but ideas have appeared in the middle of the night so many times I’ve trained myself to write blind.
Monique: Do you become emotionally attached to your characters? What happens when the book is finished? Do you close the door or wonder what they’re getting up to?
Alli: Oh yes, I certainly do! If a character is feeling pain, I feel it as well. It’s not unusual for me to have a good old cry when I’m writing a scene. By the time I’m done with the book, though I know I have to say goodbye and move on to meet some new characters. It’s not unlike travelling the world – you meet some new friends, have great times with them but know it has to end eventually (thank goodness for email, though!).
Monique: When you write, what is your biggest weakness?
Alli: Procrastination! If I’m stuck on a scene I’ll pop on over to Facebook or my email or chat and see what friends are up to. I need to put a time limit on it, though, as otherwise I’d get nothing written! Writing is a solitary affair, though, so it is nice to have little chats around the cyber water cooler to break up the day and remind myself there are real people out in the world.
Monique: What’s the biggest myth about being a writer?
Alli: That we earn kazillions of dollars!
Monique: Which book are you reading now?
Alli: At the moment I am reading: Maria Duenas’s new one The Heart Has Its Reasons. After I read her first book, The Seamstress, I was busting to read another one of Maria’s. I had to wait a couple of years but it’s proving to be worth the wait!
Monique: Do you ever skip ahead a few pages or read a book’s ending?
Alli: Oh no! I couldn’t do that! I like to get to the end of a book and know I’ve earned the reward.
Monique: Apart from writing-related projects, what else do you like doing with your time?
Alli: I have a couple of young kids so that keeps me super busy! Spontaneous roadtrips, visits to random parks or beaches, and plenty of kiddie arts and crafts fills my days when the kids aren’t at school. I love hanging out with family and friends, listening to music, watching movies and discovering delicious food and wine!
Thanks for answering my questions, Alli.
PS. You can read the first chapter of Luna Tango here.