WA author Lily Malone, one of three guests at my Stories on Stage: Date Night event (April 29, 2015), and I met online and have since become friends (even though she’s mad about sport and I’m clueless about it). Like me, Lily has worked as a journalist, juggles family and part-time work with writing, likes gardening, walking, wine, and walking in gardens (sometimes with wine). She took up romance writing in November 2010, after an ill-fated dalliance with colour-field painting that ended when her youngest son put a golf club through the canvas. In March 2013, her debut novel, His Brand Of Beautiful, was published with Escape Publishing, and in May 2013, she self-published her novella The Goodbye Ride. Her third published work, Fairway To Heaven, about love on the golf course and lust in the sand bunkers, is due for release in April. To connect with Lily, visit her website, or follow her on Goodreads, Facebook, or Twitter.
Monique: First up, what do you think of when I say … vanilla?
Lily: Icecream. Beans. Beanie colours. I have a vanilla-coloured beanie too. I know you want me to say ‘sex’, and because I hate to disappoint, I’ll say it. SEX.
Monique: Your novel, Fairway to Heaven, is about to be released via Escape Publishing. Can you tell readers a bit about it?
Lily: It’s a reunion romance set on the beach at Busselton. The heroine, Jenn, has hot-foot it out of Perth for some solace and to do some soul-searching after she discovers her partner cheating on her in a sand banker (he’s a golf professional). She’s also trying to rediscover her mojo and sexuality after the birth of her young son, and as the book develops we become privy to Jenn’s physical problem, that I refer to as “her dodgy vagina” which creates troubles for her enjoying sex. She states quite early in the book: “I just want sex to feel normal again. I don’t have to see stars. Normal. Do you think that’s possible?” So she has to get her body ‘healthy’ again, and open up her heart to trust a new partner – the boy she loved in school (Brayden) – once she realises she wants to pursue a new relationship with him and not ruin her second chance at love.
Lily: Like many writers, I went through the process of offering the book to Escape, (they had published my original title His Brand Of Beautiful). I had just been through tax time (July 2014) and I had so much paperwork and a mess of excel spreadsheets with sales in many different countries and the US ‘financial year’ is different to that in Australia, and it was just a nightmare. That was a large part of my decision to stop self-publishing.
As for changes, there weren’t many. Most changes were ‘style’ matters or clarifications. I was very glad that one of the things reviewers often commented on about Fairway ‘Mark 1’ was that it was well edited and well written, so that was good.
The major change is that it has a new cover.
Monique: What do you like most about Fairway to Heaven?
Lily: Its originality, I think. The fact that it puts a heroine in play who has a physical issue that dominates her thinking and her life, and that she has to come to terms with and overcome it so it doesn’t limit her. I also throw a curve ball at my hero which is quite unusual in romance. (Can’t talk about that one or it would be a spoiler).
Monique: Which actor would you choose to play Brayden in a movie version of Fairway to Heaven?
Lily: Charlie Hunnam inspired a fair bit of Brayden. Not in his ‘biker’ mode from Sons of Anarchy but more when I pictured Jenn and Brayden as teenagers, some of Charlie’s younger pictures are lovely. Also, I pictured Brayden with a beard – not a full monty – but more than just stubble. I’d seen Charlie Hunnam pictures as Jax Teller and in other paparazzi pics with a beard that I liked. Sorry – I’m very shallow – not much more deep thinking went into it 🙂
Monique: How do you mentally prepare for writing a love scene? Is wine involved?
Lily: Now you know I love my wine, Monique, but I rarely write with a glass nearby. I don’t think I mentally prepare for love scenes any differently to writing any words in one of my projects.
Monique: What does your husband think about the love scenes? And your mother?
Lily: Hubs has never said much about the love scenes, nor has my Mum. The funniest thing was a friend who saw me on the beach in the last school holidays. She had just read His Brand Of Beautiful (so had her mother-in-law) and she said to me: “I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to look at you again without blushing!”
Monique: What makes a love scene in a book good? And what makes it bad?
Lily: I couldn’t tell you what would make a bad love scene because I wouldn’t read it and I’m sure I wouldn’t even last in the book long enough to reach a love scene. I don’t have time to drink bad wine or read bad books. I can tell you that what makes a good love scene for me is when an author puts the scene together in a new/different way. Jennie Jones’ scene with Charlotte and Dan and the weightbench in The House At The Bottom Of The Hill sticks with me for the dialogue, for the fun of it, and for the fresh feel of sex on a weight bench. Rhyll Biest has a scene in a wonderful book called Unrestrained where the heroine is washing dishes when they start to get it on. I’ve never looked at washing dishes the same way again.
Monique: Which five songs would you put on a soundtrack to complement this book?
Lily: Lots of Bob Dylan. Brayden Culhane has a thing for Bob Dylan (which my husband does too just quietly) and I had some fun with this in the book. Love Minus Zero No Limits was a song we had as a ‘reading’ when we got married (not as a song). So that had significance to me too.
Monique: When you read romance do you like them mild, medium, or freakin’ hot?
Lily: I need a fair bit of freakin hot, or at least the premise of it being freakin hot – but I don’t think I write that way. As I’ve written more books I tend to write less sex scenes, or certainly full-blown sex scenes (pardon the pun), but I do like to get to the point. My books aren’t the type that has sex scenes that drag on for pages while he teases her mouth, strokes her eyebrows, touches her hand, and whispers sweet nothings to make her knees knock. My hero tends to get straight to the point! Third base, whoa, we’re here baby!
I do need the books I read to be authentic, so for me these days that means the language needs to be right. I like a bit of swearing. I wouldn’t say I have a ‘potty’ mouth but I think contemporary reads need a bit of swearing. It annoys me if dialogue doesn’t sound right, or if I find myself thinking: “those characters wouldn’t say that.” Hmmm… that’s not much about hot sex now, is it. Next question…
Monique: Tell me about the dirty draft sessions. They sound intriguing.
Lily: I think I started this when I sent an email to Juanita and Jennie one day and said something like: “one day ladies we should open a pub in the middle of nowhere and call it the dirty draft.” The name kind of stuck, although the pub idea didn’t. We are great friends who met through our writing and on Facebook and developed from there. We share lots of things to do with our writing, with the writing industry and our books. We beta read/critique eachother’s work from the very “dirty draft” stage, and generally, I think it’s right to say that we make what can be a lonely passtime (writing) so much more fun!
Monique: You wake in the middle of the night with a brilliant book-ish idea. What do you do?
Lily: Forget it before morning.
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?
Lily: No. Not me. Once it’s finished, it’s finished. Even Fairway which I wrote in 2013 and published first in January 2014, I found thinking about it again when Escape picked it up, and then editing it again with Escape, very challenging because by then, my head was in the next book, which is “So Far Into You”. This has also been contracted by Escape.
Monique: When you write, what is your biggest weakness?
Lily: I don’t know? I always struggled with procrastination – especially last year. This year I’ve been much better. So I don’t know about weakness?
Monique: What’s the biggest myth about being a writer?
Lily: That you get hours to ponder the words and the universe in a stunning mountain-side retreat (that you’ve been able to afford because your book is a best seller) and no-one ever interrupts your muse when it’s rolling.
Monique: Which sort of books do you like to read?
Lily: Crime fiction. My favourite authors are Michael Robotham and John Sandford. I also read a lot of romance and chicklit – far more than I ever used to once I began writing it.
Monique: Apart from writing-related projects, what else do you like doing with your time?
Lily: Gardening. Cooking. Drinking. Walking. I got a bike for Christmas and I’ve enjoyed being the ‘red menace’ tearing around town.
Monique: What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you while writing?
Lily: Funniest? I can’t think of anything funny. My kids say lots of funny stuff to me. Like they’ll come and asking me for orange juice when I’m in the middle of writing something sexy, but I never remember stuff like that.
Monique: What’s with the pink beanie?
Lily: I lived in the Adelaide Hills for 12 years where it gets bloody cold. I started wearing beanies while I was over there. Here in south west WA I find I don’t wear them as much around the house or outside because it isn’t as cold. When the picture I use as my profile or avatar was taken, we were in South Australia. I probably had young-child-hat-hair and thought: “quick, put a beanie on to cover it”… not much more thinking than that went into it, but the beanie has become a bit of a brand, or trademark of mine I guess. I’m in a writing group called Naughty Ninjas (great bunch of ladies) and they call me: “Beanie Queen”… Another writing friend, Kylie Kaden, always calls me “Beanie Girl”… so it’s kind of stuck. I like it.
Monique: Is vanilla a good thing?
Lily: Yes. Vanilla icecream – plain and simple – is my favourite.
Thanks for answering my questions, Lily.