Tuesday Book Club: Susanne Bellamy’s Winds of Change

 In Being An Author, News, Tuesday Book Club

I know what you’re thinking: “Gee, it’s right in the middle of my summer holidays and I really wish I had a good book to read.”

Well, I’m glad I can help.

Susanne Bellamy’s latest rural romance Winds of Change is just the book you need to relax for a few hours with some wonderful characters and a satisfying happily ever after.

I’m thrilled to invite her to tell us all about it. Welcome Susanne!

The lovely Susanne Bellamy writes heart-felt rural romances

The lovely Susanne Bellamy writes heart-felt rural romances

What were you like at school?

A nerd of sorts. I love learning for its own sake, and school fed my curiosity about all manner of things. I guess I belong in the ‘lifelong learners’ group.

What inspired you to write?

Apparently I have always made up stories. I had an imaginary friend who came on lots of adventures with me before I reached school age, and my first overseas trip was on the ‘Fairstar’, at the ripe old age of seven. Plenty of fodder for an active imagination!

Which writers inspire you?

Liane Moriarty is my most recent discovery. Her characters and the stories she spins out of ‘everyday’ Aussie lives intrigue me. Annie Seaton has burst onto the Australian scene with her eco-adventure series, which I love for their ecological research and strong connectedness with the land. But I have several writer friends whose passion for writing inspires me to keep going during the inevitable bouts of self-doubt. They are my true inspiration.

What inspired you to write this story?

As often happens, I ‘saw’ the meeting between my protagonists and played with it to learn who they were. It started with a cyclone off the Queensland coast, the closing of the Townsville airport, and the line “Jax, returning like the proverbial bad penny.”

After that I just had to find out their history! It also turned into an ‘opposites attraction’ story – the soldier who dislikes movies because they’re not real life, and the actress who hates guns because … (I can’t give that away!)

How much research do you do?

Quite a lot. For this book, I consulted two pilots, a member of the Army, and people involved in production for the movie elements. That’s on top of lots of online research to find out what questions to ask in the first place. **A positive for someone who loves to learn anyway!

Can you give us a blurb to let us know what the story is about?

Winds of Change - a story of second chances and opposite attract.

Winds of Change – a story of second chances and opposite attract.

Blurb: Winds of Change

When famous actress, Willa Raynolds, comes home to the Australian outback to film a miniseries, the last person she expects to see is her first love, Jax Heathwood. Their breakup was unpleasant and he is the last person she wants on the set.  Jax, an army major, is on injury leave and to his dismay has been seconded to provide technical advice on location for Willa’s series.

But when Willa is the subject of a stalker, Jax’s protective instincts kick in with a vengeance and he realises he’s never got over her.

Who wants to harm her? Can Jax keep her safe and convince her to take another chance on them?

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?

We learn through life’s experiences, and I enjoy giving characters a second chance. I love strong, independent females who may not know the depth of their strength until tested. Willa challenges herself, physically and mentally, by doing some of her own dangerous stunts, and the traumatic ending of her relationship with Jax has pushed her to excel in her art.

I’m drawn to protector males, not necessarily alpha types, but men who are decent and honourable and capable, and sometimes figuratively blind to what or who best suits them. Jax has pushed himself to become one of the youngest Majors in the Army, but where Willa is concerned, he has been blind.

Both Jax and Willa have matured since they dated as teenagers. While the road ahead is decidedly rocky, they are now capable of seeing themselves, and each other, clearly.

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from Winds of Change?

Channing Tatum or Jeremy Renner as Jax, and Scarlett Johannson or Drew Barrymore as Willa.

What book/s are you reading at present?

Currently, I’m reading Devika Fernando’s The Prince’s Stubborn Bride and Annie Seaton’s Daintree. Both just happen to be book 2 in a series.

What writing project are you working on next?

I’m planning book 5 in Hearts of the Outback and contemplating whose story to tell next. I’m drawn to Brent Wilson, the journalist in books 3 and 4, and Corporal Dave Preston; I’ve not yet written a red-headed hero but I think Dave will be my first! There is also Harrison Douglas, an engineer at the Mt Isa mines who has a fleeting role in book 4. It’s difficult to choose sometimes!

Also, after the success of A Bindarra Creek Romance, a number of the series authors are working on another group project, but more on that next year.

Up, up and away! Susanne's interest in adventure takes off

Up, up and away! Susanne’s interest in adventure takes off

Tell us something unique about you that they wouldn’t guess from just looking at your photograph?

I’ve discovered a love of certain ‘high-flying’ action adventures this year. Hot air ballooning, zip-lining, and open-sided helicopter flights have been a real adrenaline buzz.

What is your favourite positive saying?

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

What is your favourite book and why?

Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. It begins slowly, capturing the hot, lazy days of a childhood summer, and builds into a gripping tale of racial conflict and humanity against the odds.

What is your favourite quote?

Happiness does not depend on outward things, but on the way we see them. (Leo Tolstoy)

What is your favourite movie and why?

Casablanca – Rick and Ilsa’s ultimate selflessness, a ton of fabulous lines, and Bogie and Bergman, with a stellar supporting cast. Who can resist: “We’ll always have Paris.”

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

Would you like to share an excerpt from your book?

Willa meets Jax at the airport after a ten-year separation, as Tropical Cyclone Sasha lashes Townsville:

Juggling a packet of sandwiches and a cup of strong coffee with her suitcase, she looked around. All the tables were taken. Heading towards a patch of carpet behind a column where she could lean against a wall, she drew her suitcase in to form a small barricade and slid down the wall.

She slipped a pearl-pink manicured nail under the sticky tape on the plastic sandwich container and flicked it open. Fresh, hard-boiled egg and lettuce nestled between two slices of soft, white bread cut into triangles. She tucked the sprig of parsley into her sandwich, took a big bite and shut her eyes, groaning as the buttery mix hit her tongue.

“Still like the simple things in life then.”

That voice. Deep and smooth with an underlying bite like her favourite Bundy rum and dry. Tingles of awareness thrummed down her spine and her heart stuttered at the sound.

How long had it been since she’d last heard his voice?

Since he roared off into the sunrise without me. Damn the man. So many teenage memories lay between them but she would not let him know just the sound of his voice could still affect her. She would not allow it.

She reached deep for her snarky self. Reluctantly, she opened her eyes and looked up.

Six feet four of straight-backed, broad-shouldered, buzz-cut, granite-jawed deliciousness met her gaze. “Jax. Returning like the proverbial bad penny, I see.”

Crinkles appeared at the edge of his moss-green eyes as their gazes connected. Ten years of army life had shaved his cheeks into angular planes and added an air of authority and control only hinted at before he’d chosen the army ahead of her.  When he’d been the bad biker boy and she’d pushed parental boundaries.

“Heading home on leave. Are you travelling alone?” He looked around then dropped his khaki duffle bag against the wall and joined her. As he slid down the wall, he frowned and his mouth tightened.

“Don’t feel you have to join me.” Sarcasm dripped from her lips. If he was so reluctant to pass the time with her, why had he sought out her company?

She dabbed the paper serviette over her mouth and surreptitiously ran her tongue across her teeth, hopingshe’d got rid of any parsley. Not that Jax meant anything to her now, but a woman had her pride. “So, a flying visit?”

“Home from deployment. I plan to visit Mum.”

Mum. Not Mum and Dad. She’d heard his parents had divorced, and not amicably, soon after she and Jax broke up. “How is she?”

“Loving life. She’s planning an exhibition of her new series of paintings.”

“How wonderful. Your mum is such a gifted artist. I’m glad she’s doing so well. And—your dad? Is he—?”

“He was posted to Canberra and then had a couple of stints overseas. I heard he’s in Germany now.” Jax’s tone dismissed further questions. She took the hint. His father had never been an easy topic of conversation. But then, back in their teens they’d been more interested in making out than talking. Perhaps that had been one of their failings as a couple. That, and we were too young to settle down.

“There’s been a lot of water under the bridge since those days. So, where have you been?”

“Here and there. You?”

“Mostly LA.” Time at her parents’ home was a rare treat and perhaps the reason she’d let Charlie convince her to fly in today. Combined with bone-deep fatigue she hadn’t realised existed after two full-on seasons of the top-rating crime show.

“Ah, yes, LA Lawless. Did you get time off for good behaviour?”

“Funny guy. I have family living here too. And an event in Mt. Isa Sasha is making me miss.”

“Dust and desert will make a change from your usual glitterati affairs.” There was a rough edge in the way he drew out the words, as though he still hadn’t overcome his dislike of the fakery of her chosen profession.

Stupid as it was, a slight ache in her chest suggested his opinion still mattered. But it didn’t. How could it when he’d been the one to walk away? “You think that’s all I do? That my work is unimportant?”

“It’s entertainment, not necessity.”

“Unlike your defender of the country. Yet you support your mum’s art, don’t you?”

“I cheer her on in her artistic endeavours.”

“But not mine? Forget it. There’s no point rehashing old arguments.”

He slugged back half his coffee and sat staring into the cardboard cup. “I didn’t say what you do isn’t important, Willa.”

“Let’s leave it, shall we?” Reopening old wounds was counterproductive, especially if they had to pass hours waiting out the storm. Better to behave as old friends than ex-lovers.

“Like we always did. We never really talked about it.” His green-eyed gaze narrowed and he let the statement hang like an enticement.

But Willa knew there was no going back. Clamping a lid on the past, she assumed her casual, chatty interview persona.

“It’s not like we’ll see one another after the cyclone has blown itself out. Why not just remember the good times? We had plenty of them.”

He shrugged. A muscle worked in his jaw and he stared out the window.

Willa looked past his stern profile. The sky had grown darker as they sat in their corner and wind lashed the trees until she thought they would be uprooted before the full force of the storm hit.

“What’s wrong, Jax?”

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