Boarding Call for Debut Romantic Comedy Author Cassandra O'Leary

The world needs more romantic comedy! Which is why I’m so excited to have my fellow Aussie rom com writer Cassandra O’Leary here to talk about her prize-winning debut novel, Girl on a Plane – a sexy, sassy, summer read. I’m a former aviation girl, so anything with a plane is guaranteed to catch my eye, and if it’s funny and romantic, all the better! 


Cassandra O’Leary is a romance and women’s fiction writer, communications specialist, avid reader, film and TV fangirl and admirer of pretty, shiny things.

In 2015, Cassandra won the We Heart New Talent contest run by Avon Maze/HarperCollins UK and her debut contemporary romance/romantic comedy novel, Girl on a Plane, was released in July. She was also a 2015 finalist in the Lone Star writing contest, Northwest Houston Romance Writers of America, and a 2014 finalist in the First Kiss contest run by Romance Writers of Australia.
Cassandra is a mother of two gorgeous, high-energy mini ninjas and wife to a spunky superhero. Living in Melbourne, Australia, she’s also travelled the world. If you want to send her to Italy or Spain on any food or wine tasting ‘research’ trips, that would be splendiferous. 

Connect with Cassandra on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.


When feisty Irish flight attendant Sinead Kennealy locks eyes with sexy Australian CEO Gabriel Anderson in First Class, sparks fly. But as they jet across the globe from Melbourne to London, it’s clear that they’re in for a turbulent journey . . .

Stressed-out Gabriel doesn’t do relationships. And Sinead isn’t about to be fooled by another bad boy after escaping her stalker ex. Then a storm hits, causing the plane to land unexpectedly, and Sinead and Gabriel are thrown together in Singapore. 

The pressure rises as Sinead’s unhappy past threatens to catch up with her. But might Gabriel be the one to heal her heartbreak? If he could open up about his troubling secrets, maybe a relationship could actually get off the ground. Fasten your seatbelts – this WON’T be a smooth ride . . . 


Sinead scanned the rest of her passengers, letting her gaze slide over the business people who all looked much the same. Except… 

Well, hello there. 

Shockingly handsome young man with a perfectly sculpted face, full, kissable lips, sparkling blue eyes and dark blonde hair in 3A. Her belly fluttered and flipped. She was experiencing mild turbulence. Because of him? Her gaze tracked down his long, lean form, from broad shoulders to slim hips under a sharply cut suit. The man knew how to wear a suit.

And the man stared directly at her with intent—anyone would think he wanted to pounce on her and eat her alive. Yowza. Her stomach performed its own little dance and flipped over in the most peculiar way. As if she was falling.

Her hands formed into fists at her side and she sucked in a soothing deep breath. She was all hot then cold, goosebumps pebbling down her arms. The last thing she needed was another man who wanted to own her. But not all muscular and fit men were like Padraig. She’d left her mad ex-boyfriend years and thousands of miles away. Why couldn’t he stay there, out of sight, out of mind? 

Don’t engage the crazy. Calm blue ocean. The image of a tropical Thai beach popped into her mind and calm washed over her like gentle waves against the shore.

She was still staring at Mr Hot Stuff in 3A. Rubbing her arms, she hastily looked away.

It was nearly time for the coffee and tea service, not the time for the distraction of a handsome man with a James Bond-ish air about him. Who looked like he would be able to handle himself… and a woman too.

What would it feel like, to let him handle her? Oh, Lord. She had a sneaking suspicion it would feel mighty fine. Heat crept up her throat and surged across her cheeks. The last thing she needed was a blush lighting up her face like an emergency beacon.

Girl on a Plane is available at Amazon, iBooks, Google Play, Barnes & Noble and Kobo.

Check out the trailer...


Avril: How often do you get lost in a story?
Cassandra: As often as possible! I generally read every night before bed for about an hour, so I suppose I read one or two books a week depending on length. I also love movies and TV, but I’ve been trying to limit my viewing to make sure I have time to write and read. As far as writing goes, I write five days a week when I’m in drafting mode. When I’m in editing mode, I just tear my hair out.

Avril: Tell us how the good news about your first book unfolded.
Cassandra: I’m a fairly new fiction writer, having decided to write my first novel about three years ago and throwing myself in at the deep end (I learned to swim along the way). In early 2014, I started writing a short story about a flight attendant who meets a sexy first class passenger, which morphed into a full-length contemporary romance novel. Sinead and Gabriel had a bigger story to tell!

After entering the manuscript in a few writing contests and submitting it to several publishers, I received an email out of the blue in August 2015 from an editor at HarperCollins in London. I’d won the We Heart New Talent contest which I’d entered in February. OMG! The prize was a publishing contract with digital-first line, Avon Maze!

Then came a few months of re-writing and polishing, followed by the editorial and marketing stages. Now, my debut novel, Girl on a Plane, is out in the world after launching on 18 July 2016.

Avril: Were you always drawn to writing romantic comedy or are there other subgenres you considered as well?
Cassandra: I love romantic comedy, both in books and film, and it was natural I’d be drawn to writing it. There were years of immersion in romcoms that came flooding into my work once I started writing fiction. At the moment, my ideas seem to fit into romance with humour and women’s fiction genres. But I also love to read widely, and I may venture into young adult or science fiction one day. I am a huge fan of both The Hunger Games and Star Trek, for example, so I could see myself wandering off in either direction.

Avril: Are there any particular writers who’ve inspired you along the way?
Cassandra: Truck loads! In romance and women’s fiction, I’m drawing inspiration from Aussies such as Amy Andrews, Kelly Hunter, Sarah Mayberry and yourself, Avril! Internationally, I love Marian Keyes, Victoria Dahl, Maggie Alderson, Paige Toon and so many more. In humour fiction, I adore Douglas Adams, Ben Elton and Dawn French.

Avril: Can you tell us what traits you most admire in a hero and heroine?
Cassandra: In a hero, I suppose it’s having a heart that’s open to love, even if he’s a tough guy on the outside. I love a male character who isn’t afraid to go after what he wants. In a heroine, I want to see both strength and vulnerability and someone who can look after herself. If the characters are funny, that gets bonus points.

Avril: If you had a crystal ball, where would you see yourself as a writer in five years’ time?
Cassandra: Hopefully I’ll be writing fabulous stories with a few more books out in the world, in print as well as e-book. And sitting in my own special writing room in my renovated house. Or living in a villa in Tuscany, because, why not? If I was a bestseller into the bargain, that would be awesomesauce.

Avril: What are you currently working on?
Cassandra: I’m finishing another romantic comedy manuscript, Dating Little Miss Perfect, which features online dating and mistaken identities. Then I’d like to get back to a manuscript I started about a year ago, but didn’t get much time to work on. That’s actually a linked book or continuation of Girl on a Plane…but somehow I couldn’t write it straight after finishing the first novel.

Avril:  What are your favourite subgenres to read?
Cassandra: I love contemporary romance with humour, but sometimes I need a change. I’ve been getting into historical romance including Anna Campbell and Tessa Dare’s regency romances. Also, I’m reading a little fantasy with romance, such as the fantastic Captive Prince series by C.S. Pacat. 

Avril:  As a romance reader, what’s your pet hate?
Cassandra: I’m not into extreme alpha-holes or TSTL (too stupid to live) heroines! I also have issues with heroes calling a woman ‘baby girl’ or ‘little girl’ – to me that’s icky.

Leave a comment telling us your favourite romantic comedy movie and enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for your chance to win an autographed copy of Avril's own debut romantic comedy, Here Comes the Bridesmaid - originally released in 2014 and now available in a new large print edition.

Can she make organizing her friend's wedding any harder?   

* Sunshine Smart has only got two months until the big day! 
* She has to include the grouchy, surly best man Leo Quartermaine—a top chef and her complete opposite!  
* Said best man is extremely handsome and sexy—and knows it! * He has no interest in decor, flowers, clothes or shoes…but has an uninformed opinion on all four!  
* And just a few days in she's already slept with him. Rookie mistake

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Hi,

    ALONG CAME POLLY is fun. It's a tad quirky & off-beat, but that just adds to the flavor.

    1. Oh yes! And I especially remember the restaurant scene (which I think is an Ethiopian restaurant). Hilarious!

  2. I don't know any from your part of the world.. but living in the USA, my favorite has been 27 Dresses... which is about a women who has been in 27 wedding as a bridesmaid and has the dresses still... in the end, she gets married and makes her 27 bridesmaids wear those dresses... everything from a Southern Bell style, a tux, all kinds!

    1. I love that movie and have it on DVD! Benny and the Jets - who could resist the karaoke scene? (And I confess to having worn some shocking bridesmaid dresses in my time!)

    2. That's a good movie. Also if you want to try some Aussie romcoms, Muriel's Wedding and Paperback Hero (with Hugh Jackman as a truckdriving romance novelist) are both good fun!

  3. I just realized how little I watched movie. I don't have anything in mind for movie, but for book I think I have some though I forgot :)

    1. Some of the really old movies are the first that spring to my mind - Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Singin' in the Rain, Bringing Up Baby. But I'd have to say, these days I'm more of a reader.

    2. You have good taste in old movies, Avril! I also love a few more modern romcoms such as Working Girl, When Harry Met Sally, Four Weddings and a Funeral and Friends With Benefits.

  4. Replies
    1. I'm glad someone mentioned that one. It's a fabulous movie.

    2. Not sure about that one...I've seen it once but it didn't really make me laugh. I'm a tough audience though, I want all the laughs and the sighs...

  5. After logging on to my Amazon wish list of fave movies and tv (yes hold that "L" on your forehead because I also keep an Excel list of faves), I realized I am more of a dramedy fan but a rom com reader - Avril when does the next book come out?!?

    A few of my faves (haters don't judge if dramedy instead of rom com): Easy A, Dan in Real Life, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Just Go With It, She's Out of My League, Valley Girl and How to Marry a Millionaire (and probably countless other old movies I can't remember.)

    1. I don't keep an Excel list - but I sure check out lists other people are kind enough to compile, which qualifies me for a matching L. I remember She's Out of my League - if I'm correct in thinking there's a scene about a toe? Easy A too, and of course How to Marry a Millionaire has to be on any list!

  6. I absolutely love romantic comedies and am a sucker for cheesy films! I really enjoyed Love Rosie because you could see how much the two main characters loved each other during it. Bridget Jones Diary is also a great classic and never fails to make me laugh. Another film I find myself re-watching is ten things I hate about you as I have a real soft spot for Heath Ledger.

    A few others I loved are Love Actually, How to lose a guy in ten days, Friends with Benefits, Valentines Day and Letters to Juliet.

    1. Ten Things I Hate About You is one of my top 10! I haven't seen Love Rosie but I might go and look that one up. There was a movie quite similar in plot to Friends with Benefits that had Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher in it - I'd love to see that one again!

  7. Great interview! One of the best movies of all time - SENSE AND SENSIBILITY with Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant. If you haven't seen it, you absolutely must. Directed by Ang Lee and screenplay by Emma Thompson (I think she won an Oscar for her screenplay). On the more modern front, I LOVE LOVE LOVE TWO WEEKS NOTICE with Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant. Delightful.