I'm thrilled to welcome Aussie author Cheryl Adnams to Get Lost in a Story. Cheryl is celebrating the one year anniversary of her novel, Common Ground – one of the most powerful romances I read in 2015, about a gutsy heroine dealing as best she can after experiencing the hell of Afghanistan. This book is set in beautiful South Australia, and one thing that struck me particularly as I read it was the healing power of that landscape.
Cheryl Adnams lives in Adelaide, South Australia. After discovering a love of writing in high school, she went on to complete courses in screenplay writing and a Diploma of Freelance Travel Writing and Photography.
Having travelled extensively, Cheryl lived and worked in the United States, Canada and then for a tour company in Switzerland and Austria. Back home in South Australia now, she has a deep love and pride for the Fleurieu Peninsula and Adelaide Hills regions – particularly the beauty of the beaches and wine region of McLaren Vale.
When she's not writing, Cheryl is avidly reading as many books as she can fit in around her busy full-time job as a training facilitator.
Connect with Cheryl via her website, on Facebook, and on Twitter.
Connect with Cheryl via her website, on Facebook, and on Twitter.
Rachel Raymond has always loved her job – she’s a strong, independent foreign correspondent and has built up an illustrious career chasing stories across the world. But her life suddenly changes for ever when at the end of a tour based in war-torn Afghanistan, the vehicle she and her team are travelling in hits a roadside bomb.
Liliana Howell is over the moon when her long lost best friend returns unexpectedly the week before Lily’s wedding in the South Australia Riverland. But it doesn’t take her long to realise that something is different about Rachel, even though her old friend refuses to talk about why she’s finally come home.
Fireman Tate Cassidy has also made the trip to the Riverland for the wedding and finds himself instantly drawn to the mysterious journalist. Tate has his own demons to fight, but when he finds himself falling for this woman who’s seen too much, can he use their Common Ground to help her through her darkest time? And will Rachel let him close enough to show her that can heal all
Read a little, buy the book...
‘Do you hear that?’ Rachel asked suddenly, squinting out towards the river again. She put her wine glass down on the coffee table.
‘I don’t hear anything,’ Lily said, sighing with irritation. ‘You’re just trying to distract me.’
‘Someone’s walking around out the back there.’ Rachel stood up and flicked off the hallway light, plunging the house into unrelieved black.
‘Everyone’s in bed,’ Lily said, reaching for the wine bottle, but then she stopped. ‘Wait. I hear it. It’s probably just one of the neighbours though.’
They watched as a figure stepped up onto the deck.
Lily’s eyes widened in panic. ‘I’m going to get Brett. Stay here. Don’t go out there on your own.’
Rachel waited until Lily had disappeared quietly up the stairs then, passing through the kitchen, she grabbed what was handy and crept out the front door.
When Brett and Lily made it back to the ground floor, Rachel was nowhere in sight.
‘Dammit, I told her to stay put,’ Lily spat in an angry whisper.
Brett moved a curtain to peer out the front window. ‘There’s a car parked out on the road. I don’t recognise it as one of the neighbours’. It wasn’t there earlier.’
As he turned back to Lily, they both watched a shadow pass in front of the glass doors again.
Terrified, Lily grabbed Brett’s shirt as he, in nothing but boxer shorts and t-shirt, crept towards the sliding glass doors to the terrace.
As Brett quietly slid open the door, Lily hit the lights, blinding their unexpected visitor.
But the visitor’s eyes were soon wide open again as he looked down, horrified, at the huge kitchen knife pressed against his crotch.
‘Don’t move. Unless you want to spend the rest of your days as a eunuch,’ Rachel stated with a quiet confidence.
Brett stepped out onto the terrace and his grin widened. ‘Tate? Mr Potato Head?’
‘The one and only.’ Tate smiled but stood frozen to the spot, Rachel’s knife still against his balls.
‘Tate Cassidy,’ Brett said. Obviously he knew the man.
‘That’d be me. Ah, do you mind calling off your attack dog?’ He looked at Rachel out of the corner of his eye. ‘I might want to have kids one day.’
‘Rachel, it’s okay, he’s a friend,’ Brett said, chuckling, and Rachel lowered the knife slowly.
‘What the hell were you creeping around for?’ Lily asked as the man relaxed enough to lean in to kiss her cheek and then drag her down into a swooping hug.
‘Hey! Get off my girl,’ Brett admonished good-naturedly.
‘She’s not completely yours for two more weeks,’ Tate teased, not letting Lily go. ‘There’s still time for me to change her mind.’
Brett laughed again while Tate straightened himself and Lily.
‘I got lost coming out of the city trying to find this place,’ Tate explained. ‘I probably would have been here an hour ago but I missed the turn-off and ended up in Purnong, is it? It’s so late I figured I’d just bunk down on the terrace lounge for the night. Wait til everyone got up in the morning.’
‘Don’t be an idiot,’ Brett said, slapping him on the back. ‘Come on in.’
Tate turned to face Rachel. ‘That okay with you?’ he asked, a teasing grin lightly touching his lips.
By the time she’d found the wherewithal to speak and answer his question, he’d already followed Brett into the house, leaving her standing there, knife in hand, feeling like an idiot. Rachel’s heart rate had returned to normal until Tate had turned those piercing blue-grey eyes on her and her pulse had shot back up to eleven. He was tall and broad and having had the hand without the knife on his back, she knew he was all lines of hard muscle under his white cotton t-shirt. His flippant arrogance annoyed her. Little did he know she could have caused him serious injury.
Belatedly, she followed them inside and in the light she was able to see him clearly as he turned to give her another guarded look. She usually hated facial hair on men, but she had to admit the rough stubble, hardly a beard, worked on him. His dark blond hair was cut close to his head and suited his strong jaw. She’d got used to military men with hair shaved close and it had become a bit of a turn on for her. But it was the eyes that grabbed her. Cool pools of pale blue ice and just as sharp, she noted, as he kept them on her, sizing her up just as she was him.
‘We weren’t expecting you for another week,’ Brett said, offering his friend a can of Coke from the fridge.
‘Thanks,’ Tate said, taking the Coke as he and Brett flopped onto the couches. Lily sat on the arm of the chair next to Brett, but Rachel stayed standing in the kitchen.
‘Is she allowed to stand down?’ Tate tilted his head at Rachel. ‘She’s making me nervous.’
Lily left Brett’s side and walked around the kitchen island.
‘Rachel Raymond, meet Tate Cassidy,’ Lily introduced properly, taking the knife out of her friend’s hand and putting it back in the knife block where it belonged. ‘Tate and Brett used to work together in Sydney before Brett moved here to be with me.’
‘Nice to meet you.’ Tate toasted her with his drink. ‘Love a woman who can handle her cutlery. Learn that little trick in home economics, did you?’
‘Throttle back, Butch,’ Rachel retorted, still unsure what to make of him. ‘You’re lucky I didn’t slice and dice your private parts.’
‘Butch Cassidy? Yeah, that’s original.’ Tate pointed a thumb in her direction as he turned to Brett. ‘Where’d you find her?’
‘Rachel is one of my oldest and dearest friends.’ Lily clipped Tate over the ear. ‘She just got in from overseas yesterday.’
‘Assassin?’ Tate questioned mockingly.
‘Journalist,’ Rachel threw back and pushed off the kitchen island. ‘I’m off to bed. Night, Lil. Night, Brett.’
‘Goodnight,’ they said in unison.
Tate watched her go. Interesting woman, he thought. The image that had burned into his brain when he’d turned to look at his assailant was of fearless dark brown eyes that had stared up at him from a pale face with sharp angles. Her hair was a short cap of dark spikes and despite looking like she weighed no more than two toothpicks tied together, she still gave him the impression she knew ten ways to damage him – big sharp knife or not. She had to have a good share of guts to take on a possible intruder with a kitchen knife. Considering the size of her that was saying something. She certainly came in a small package but what was with the oversized clothing? On further inspection, he’d noted she had an attractive face, no doubt better if she’d ever smiled. Cute and complicated, he thought as he watched her go into her room. Just his type – a long time ago.
‘Was it something I said?’ he asked the others as her bedroom door closed behind her.
‘You still have a way with the ladies,’ Brett teased and stood again.
Available via Amazon
Avril: How often do you get lost in a story?
Cheryl: I get lost in my stories all the time. I love food but I have been known to skip meals when the writing is going well. I live alone so there is no one to remind me to take a break or eat. All writers will tell you that when the words are flowing, and they are good words, it is the best feeling in the world. It is a bit scary though when you start referring to your characters as though they are real people as I did recently. I was doing some morning writing after breakfast and my characters “decided” that they wanted to have sex for the first time. I didn’t decide it, that’s just where the story went at that time. Sadly, I had to go to my day job and I left the poor guy hanging. No sex for him til the end of the day.
|Murray River, South Australia - Common Ground setting|
Avril: How much of ‘you’ do you put into your stories?
Cheryl: That’s an interesting question. I can’t say that I consciously put anything of myself into the books I write, but I can say that Common Ground was definitely written from my personal experience with depression and anxiety. I’m not sure I could have written Rachel’s struggle as deeply as I did without having dealt with many of those issues and symptoms personally.
Avril: Common Ground is a harrowing read in many respects. What inspired you to write it?
Cheryl: I’m not sure what made me write a heroine so traumatised by time spent time in Afghanistan. I had seen a lot of TV shows about post-traumatic stress disorder. They showed stories of people other than soldiers, like first responder medics and doctors, who also suffered mentally and emotionally through what they had seen in war. I think I wanted to show the struggle that a female war journalist would face as well. It is her emotional battle but the themes in the story also include the power of love in family units. And of course our hero who as a firefighter has been through something similar and his experience helps Rachel to find her way back. Hence the blurb: “Only love can begin to heal the deepest of battle scars”.
Avril: Do you have a favourite kind of hero and/or heroine you like to write?
Cheryl: I like a strong hero who also has a softer more vulnerable side. Who doesn’t? Australian men are very tough on the outside and larrikinism is part of our culture which I love. But the hero also needs to be a bit of a softy, especially for the woman he falls for, but without losing that lovely masculine strength. I also like to write strong heroines and often the hero has a battle on his hands and I think that’s what makes a great story overall. She’s tough too and gives him a run for his money.
Avril: I know you like to do some writing longhand. Why is that?
Cheryl: I find that when I am writing the first scenes of a story handwriting forces me to get the words down on the page without self-editing or fixing typos that can hold up the flow of the words. Plus, I write in a café in the mornings before my full time job so it’s much easier to write on paper than lug my computer around. Then I transcribe the scenes onto computer over the weekend where I have the time to expand on the scenes and make them better. But once I get to about 50,000 words, most of the writing is done direct to the computer.
|Walker Flat, Murray River, South Australia|
Avril: What’s next for you?
Cheryl: I have completed my first ever Australian Historical Romance. Australia’s history is a short one by comparison to the US and especially Europe but there are so many fascinating stories to tell. I decided to base my story in 1854 around the time of the great gold rush in Victoria and it follows real events in the lead up to the only home soil battle ever fought in Australia. The Eureka stockade battle was a clash between immigrant gold miners and the governing British Military. Immigrants were asking for basic rights and democracy so I made my heroine a female gold miner and my hero is a British soldier. You can imagine the clash of ideals between them as they try to forge a relationship while knowing they are on opposite sides of a very bitter rivalry.
Avril: GOTTA ASK: As a romance reader, what’s your pet hate?
Cheryl: As a reader? Oh, I hate too many flip flops in the hero/heroine relationship. Conflict is inevitable in a romance novel and there are always going to be challenges and even the occasional break up. But when characters break up once and get back together and then break up again and get back together…etc. Any more than two break ups and I get really frustrated. I read this exact thing recently in a book and I really did feel like throwing the book across the room. It was so close to the end of the book and completely unnecessary.
Thanks for having me over to Get Lost in a Story! Great questions. Cheryl xx
Heroes and heroines who’ve seen active duty are popular characters in romance. We'd love to read your comments about what's at the heart of their enduring appeal.