Tell me a bit about Triple Threat. How did it come into being? What was your Eureka! moment?
My ideas for stories often come out-of-the-blue, and Triple Threat was no different. A sentence popped into my head one day: “The Farris Triplets were back in business”. I knew it was going to be a romantic suspense, crime-themed trilogy because the basic plots soon followed. Even so, I was uncertain about going ahead with it. I thought it must have all been done before. If my stories weren’t going to be original, I couldn’t see the point. So, I went and bought a heap of books with identical triplet themes. I discovered that many were either overly stereotyped (e.g. they all had similar names, played tricks on people, behaved the same, AND finished each other’s sentences – I mean, come on!) or highly sexualised. That was the ‘eureka moment’. It irritated me that identical triplets were being represented that way. I knew my personal experience with being an identical triplet could be used to show people how that translated in reality.
Give us a little tease of the relationship between Gabe and Lizzie. How did that come about in your head and subsequently the book?
I knew Gabe was going to fall in ‘insta-love’ with Lizzie. I also knew that Lizzie would be hesitant about giving him a chance. The way that played out surprised me though. Gabe’s first glimpse of Lizzie occurs via a newspaper article. I LOVED that he could tell her apart from her sisters even then! Lizzie’s first impression of Gabe is not good because she mistakes him for a journalist looking for a story on the high profile, cold case murder she and her sisters are working on.
Below is a short teaser from Triple Threat, showing their first meeting
‘Can I help you?’
The man standing to the side of her doorway hesitated, then took a step inside the room. She saw him swallow. Then he mumbled, ‘Hi, um, you’re Elizabeth Farris.’
He said it in a way that showed he already knew the answer.
Jesus Christ. Not another one. Looked like the six-month hiatus from being harassed had given her a false sense of security. She had to force herself not to roll her eyes. Sure, they were only doing their job, but that didn’t mean they could barge into her personal life whenever they wanted. This was her workplace for goodness sake.
She made herself sound calm when she replied, ‘I’m not interested in doing an interview.’
‘Oh. I’m not a reporter … although I am a journalism teacher here … but I’m not here for a story.’
‘How can I help you?’
His expression turned serious, ‘It’s something of a sensitive nature. Would you be free for a coffee?’
‘You mean now?’
‘If you’re not too busy.’
She glanced at the pile of assessments on her desk then back at him. ‘I’m not too busy.’
What came first: the plot or the characters?
With the Farris Triplets series, it was the plot that came first (that’s not always the case). The characters were more difficult to write because I’d put so much pressure on myself to write something different when it came to identical triplet characters!
I understand you are one part of a similar set of triplets. Are your characters based on your sisters? Are there any other real life influences in either the characters or plot of Triple Threat?
Ha ha. I’ve been asked this question a couple of times! The characters are not based on my sisters and I, but they do share a MINOR personality trait with one of us. Other than that, the only thing Lizzie, Nina, and Carrie have in common with us is the fact that they are vegetarians. Unfortunately, we do not solve cold cases or work in law enforcement either 😀
What draws you to Lizzie’s qualities as a heroine?
I love how forthright she is. She knows what she wants in a relationship and doesn’t see the point in wasting time or settling. Her romantic side also endears her to me.
And Gabe’s as a hero?
Gabe is just adorable! Such a sweet heart and old-fashioned romantic. The fact that he shares the same traumatic history as Lizzie also drew me to him. He can understand her in ways that other men would struggle with.
How did you begin your romance writing career? What drew you to contemporary/suspense romance? Is it the genre you enjoy reading in?
The funny thing about that is, for years I believed I wrote “mysteries” or “thrillers”. In my twenties, I was reading an article about genres in fiction and was shocked to discover that I’d actually been writing romance all those years! After the initial cognitive dissonance, I embraced the stories that came. To paraphrase Stephen King, I wasn’t drawn to contemporary/suspense romance, it was drawn to me. My reading choices are fairly open. I’ll read just about anything.
What’s your favourite romance trope? And favourite portrayal of that trope?
I have two: friends to lovers and second chance lovers! My favourite portrayals of the latter are Persuasion by Jane Austen, Be Mine, Cowboy by Jane Porter (what is it with the Jane’s?!), and Jilted by Rachael Johns. One of my friends to lovers favourites is Small Town Storm by Elise K. Ackers.
Can you give any advice to aspiring authors out there? What is some of the best writing advice you have received?
Advice: attend as many writing workshops as you can, network, keep going, believe in yourself.
Best advice I received: writers write.
What are your favourite books/authors to read?
I know it’s clichéd to say this, but Jane Austen is my all-time favourite writer! For someone who was middle class, she had remarkable insight into the lives (and loves) of the upper classes. Her stories are multi-faceted, with more than one plot going on most times. The love stories are sweet and timeless. What’s not to admire?
I also love Mary Higgins Clark. She writes in multiple view points like me and her plots are often intricate and detailed.
Rachael Johns is my favourite Australian author. I was only introduced to her books, via a happy ‘coincidence’, a few years ago and I haven’t looked back since. Love her characters. They are always memorable.
Where do you like to write? How do you write?
I can write anywhere, but at this stage, it’s usually with my computer on my lap! I am in the process of building a writing nook though, so that will change soon. I already have my writing desk 😀
My process usually starts with a one sentence quote, character, or plot. From there, it morphs to a basic outline. After that, I work on four different drafts. My motto is to get the first draft down as quickly as possible, hence it is more like a glorified outline. The meat comes onto the bones, so to speak, with the subsequent two drafts. The fourth draft is a final once over to pick up anything I may have forgotten etc. Then, it’s off to the publisher or editor … and the edits begin!
What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Any quirky hobbies (like the sisters of Triple Threat)?
In my spare time, I like to read, watch movies, go for hikes, spend time in nature, and hang out with my kids. Is any of that quirky?
They’re beautiful, accomplished, and they have identical interests…
In their spare time, identical triplets the Farris sisters work together to solve cold cases. Lizzie uses her skills as a Criminal Profiler, Nina her Scenes of Crime Officer experience, and Carrie assists through her work as a both a Forensic Scientist and Forensic Anthropologist.
Romantic and idealistic, Lizzie is picky about men. But despite the good-natured teasing of her sisters, she refuses to settle for anything less than ‘The One’. She loves her life, her job as both a profiler and a university lecturer, and her sisters, and won’t make changes for anything less. If that makes her unrealistic, then so be it.
Gabe Montcoeur has just moved across Australia from Perth to Cairns and starts a job as a journalism teacher at Cairns University: the same university where Elizabeth Farris works. On the surface, the move seems innocent, but he has an ulterior motive. Gabe wants to elicit the aid of the Farris sisters in solving the murder of his family members, and the only way to circumvent their notorious ‘no contact’ policy is to reach out to them in person.
But when Gabe meets Lizzie for the first time, the attraction is instantaneous — and mutual. The deeper they fall into each other, however, the more guilty Gabe feels about his real motivation for getting close. Lizzie wants the real deal, the one, true love — can Gabe ever offer her the future she deserves if he keeps holding on so tightly to the past?