Chesterfield couch, in royal purple - just perfect for our distinguished guest on tonight's show.

Chesterfield couch, in royal purple – just perfect for our distinguished guest, author Noelle Clark on tonight’s opening show.

Welcome to the first author interview on my blog.

Joining me on the very comfy purple couch is Noelle Clark, whose debut novel Let Angels Fly, has just been released by Etopia Press.

Noelle is from Brisbane which is only a quick drive up the road from my home on the Gold Coast.

Thank you for being on my ‘show’!

How long have you been writing?

Ever since I was little, I’ve loved writing. But don’t ask me to do quick maths! LOL. I’m strictly a humanities girl.

I’m a true Sagittarian with a strong streak of wanderlust. I started work early in life, purely to earn money to travel. At the ripe old age of sixteen, I set off on a Greyhound bus bound for Melbourne – all by myself. I was an immature sixteen year old – more like 13 or 14. What was my mother thinking?

A rose by any other name, would still be Noelle Clark, author of Let Angel's Fly.

A rose by any other name, would still be Noelle Clark, author of Let Angels Fly.

However, that trip was the first in many trips, many flying solo. I always filled out a very detailed, and descriptive, travel journal. Mainly for my family at home who never really got a chance to travel. I wanted them to share the wonders, cultures, and food, of the places I visited. Once we got the internet – and emails – I sent off a long and passionate email every day. Lucky I’m a fast typist! My mother, especially, loved them. She would follow me around the world on a map, travelling with me vicariously.

Around fifteen years ago, I discovered I was good at writing songs – words and music. An avid guitar player, this was a perfect way to express myself. I went on to win some very prestigious awards, and have even had my songs recorded.

How long have you had the desire to be a novelist?

Not that long. My main goal was to write about the love affair of my grandparents – their story is very compelling, passionate, exciting. I went to some memoir writing courses, but I just couldn’t get it to ‘gel’. One of the lecturers suggested I throw off my inhibitions, and write the story as historical fiction – based on fact. That did the trick. I am very proud of my book ‘Stone of Heaven and Earth’. It’s not published yet – but then again, I haven’t sent to a publisher. It’s an epic tale set in China between 1914 and 1929.

By this time, I had joined a local writing group in Brisbane, called YON Beyond. I got interested in romance and romantic suspense. I attended my first RWA Conference last year – and I’ve been hooked ever since. I love the writing communities, the people, the support and friendship. So, I put my historical fiction to one side, and embarked on romance.

Let Angels Fly by Noelle Clark, published by Etopia Press. Available at all good e-tailers.

Let Angels Fly by Noelle Clark, published by Etopia Press. Available at all good e-tailers.

What’s the inspiration behind Let Angels Fly?

This is a tale of growth, healing – and justice. The angel in ‘Let Angels Fly’ is not introduced to the reader until quite late in the book. Her real name is Beng Melea Angel, and she’s a statue in one of the lesser visited temples in Angkor Wat. The scars she bears as a result of greed and selfishness, are parallel to the scars that both Abbie and Craig bear. Similarly, the Angel’s healing is symbolic of the eventual healing for Abbie and Craig.

Cambodia is not the usual setting for a romance, I think for many people who live outside of the south-east Asia region, Cambodia is the Pol Pot Legacy and the 80s song by Kim Wilde.

What was it that appealed to you about Cambodia? Have you been there yourself?

Never would I have thought that Cambodia could be so beautiful. I visited there last year, and quickly saw past the horrific poverty, landmine danger, and hideous legacy of Pol Pot, discovering the most friendly, gentle and humble people I’ve ever met. The Cambodians I met were warm, helpful, and hardworking.

But romance? I have to say that the place I stayed was gob-smackingly gorgeous! I wanted to move in there permanently! Exotic – but not pretentious.Comfortable, but homely. It was my very own ‘Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’! Where better for a mature woman like Abbie, to meet a handsome, very desirable, hero like Craig?

One of the fascinating temples of Angkor Wat

One of the fascinating temples of Angkor Wat

I love the idea of tying in a mystery (the tomb raiders) with the romance. Is there a balance you have to strike to developing an ‘action’ side of the plot with the romance side of the plot?

I’m sure that there are rules to writing romantic suspense. But, um, I don’t know what they are. Not yet. I just wanted to write a good story, with lots of happy moments, exciting moments, action, mystery, set in an exotic location – and a little bit of “lurve” on the side. LOL

What is it that you love about your characters in Let Angels Fly?

Well, Craig can leave his boots under my bed any day! He’s tall, good looking, caring, a wonderful humanitarian. He’s my ideal man. 🙂 I love him.

Abbie is a woman whom I admire. She had a loveless marriage for many years, then ended up getting kicked while she was down. She had some dark days, but showed strength of character enough to pull herself up and embark on the first day of the rest of her life. She’s happy, warm, and likeable.

Pantser or Plotter?

I’m definitely a plotter – until I’ve worked through my plot and ended up several thousand words short of my goal! Then I become a frantic pantster! But, I map it all out, write character profiles, and spend literally days on research. I even draw my own maps so I know where my characters are.

How long did you work on Let Angels Fly before sending it to the publisher. Was it nerve-wracking waiting for an acceptance?

I initially began writing ‘Let Angels Fly’ for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), last November. The story just flowed so easily. I had the first draft written by 30th November. Then I let it sit until Christmas, when I revisited it and tidied it up. I saw that Etopia Press had several new romance lines and were calling for submissions – so I sent it off. I had my contract by the end of January! It’s been a roller-coaster ride since, I can tell you!

Hunky Italian men? Perhaps the Amalfi Coast? We will have to wait and see.

Hunky Italian men? Perhaps the Amalfi Coast? We will have to wait and see.

What would be your advice to aspiring writers?

Believe in the story you have to tell. Work hard at writing it – and at learning the craft of writing. Research any formulas in the genre you are writing, eg romance must have a ‘happy ever after’. Join writing groups. Attend conferences, courses – learn from the experts. And lastly, listen to advice from those who obviously know what they’re talking about.

Tell us what you are working on now?

My life is consumed by promotion right now! But I’ve written another book since ‘Let Angels Fly’. It’s another romantic suspense called ‘Rosamanti’. It’s set in Italy, in an area I know quite well, and again features a strong heroine and a gorgeously hunky hero called Pietro. Mama mia!

Thank you very much for spending time with us Noelle!