What a treat it is to welcome Loretta Hill to Behind the Pen today. I recently read her latest release, The Secret Vineyard, and absolutely adored it, so I’m thrilled to be able to showcase it again. Over to you Loretta…
When did you start writing?
I wrote my first “novel” at age 9. It was about twenty pages in an exercise book, complete with illustrations. It was about a kid who had two parents who were dragons. So “Game of Thrones” in reverse! Lol! If only I’d polished it. I might have made a killing.
How many novels have you written and published?
7 novels, 2 novellas
How long on average does it take you to write a novel?
About a year, crammed into 8 months.
What is your favourite character from “The Secret Vineyard” and why?
My heroine Grace, is of course, my favourite character, which is why the book is all about her and is in her point of view. However, I did love writing her middle child, Alfie. He’s a five year old speeding bullet with a danger fetish and a desire to die fighting a shark but not until he’s ten. Getting into his mindset and writing his dialogue was heaps of fun. I liked writing all the children actually. I find that in a lot of novels, children are more part of the scenery than real characters. For “The Secret Vineyard,” I really wanted to give them their own personalities and make them an integral part of the plot. A lot of the humour in this novel comes from them and they really show who Grace is as a mother.
What is your favourite scene from “The Secret Vineyard” and why?
It’s so hard to pick just one because I work hard to make every scene really count. There are some I have to write and re-write and re-write again to make work and others that just roll out perfect in the first draft. One of those, one-revision dream scenes that didn’t need much rework was Grace and Mitch’s first scene alone together. I loved this scene because it’s the first time they really start to connect – the cool thing about it is that Mitch can’t say anything at all.
Do you have any particular qualifications that relate to the subject matter covered in this novel?
I had to laugh out loud when I read this question. I have four precocious brats. Three of them boys. So yes, I think I’m qualified to write a book with a strong motherhood theme. I had heaps of material to draw on.
How far has your writing career evolved from when you first began to write to what it is today? Is this in line with your initial expectations?
With seven books and two novellas under my belt, I love writing more than ever. It truly is my dream career and always will be. I have realized though that there’s still room to learn and expand. Try new things. Push myself further. When I put out a new novel I always think, yep this is the best story I’ll ever write. And then I put out the next book and think, no, this is the best story I’ll ever write. The truth is, I think my best novel will be the one that’s published just before I die because every new book always teaches me something new about my art and what makes me a better writer.
What did you do when you finished this novel?
Lol! I went to bed and slept for two days. Well, no not really but I could have. I was so exhausted. In the lead up to deadline, I wrote day and night for about 7 days straight, pausing only to eat, shower and catch a few hours sleep. (I had babysitters to help out) It was the only way I could get the book finished on time.
How would you best describe this novel to a new reader?
Full of humour and heart. I have a very healthy sense of the ridiculous, so there’s heaps of laughs in there but also plenty of romance for my heroine. She has to pick between two gorgeous guys who are both hiding something from her. There’s also a mystery thread and other family relationships are explored. It’s got quite a lot packed into it.
Have you ever had to deal with a situation where someone feels they recognise traits of themselves in one of your characters?
Yes! I had a lady email once and ask how I knew her husband because he was clearly one of the characters in my book. Of course, I had never met her husband and told her so but I do love it when people really identify with my characters and see them as real people. It means I’m doing a good job.
The Secret Vineyard
By Loretta Hill
A sparkling romantic comedy about trust after betrayal, hope after regret, and falling in love after vowing never ever to do it again . . .
Single mum Grace has no plans – and no spare time – to fall in love again. Until she moves to her ex-husband’s secret vineyard . . .
Grace Middleton knew that her ex-husband Jake was a lying, cheating, wife-abandoning bastard.
What she didn’t know – until his untimely death – was that he was also the owner of a secret vineyard in the heart of the Margaret River wine region. And, much to the chagrin of his new wife, he’s left the property to Grace’s three young sons.
With the intention of putting it up for sale, Grace takes the boys to view Gum Leaf Grove. And immediately finds herself embroiled in mysteries from Jake’s past and the accidental target of the resident ‘ghost’.
Nowadays Grace believes in love even less than she believes in ghosts. So no one is more surprised than her when she finds herself caught between two very different men – with secrets of their own . . .