From Reader to Writer - Clare Connelly Shares Her Publishing Journey

I’m very excited to welcome Australian author – and my soon-to-be fellow Harlequin DARE stablemate – Clare Connelly to Get Lost in a Story. Clare has a slew of independently published romance novels to her credit and her debut Harlequin Presents novel Bought for the Billionaire's Revenge is available to pre-prder now and will be out soon!

About Clare…

Clare Connelly grew up in a small country town in Australia. Surrounded by rainforests, and rickety old timber houses, magic was thick in the air, and stories and storytelling were a huge part of her childhood. From early on in life, Clare realised her favourite books were romance stories, and read voraciously. Anything from Jane Austen to Georgette Heyer, to Mills & Boon and (more recently) 50 Shades, Clare is a romance devotee. She first turned her hand to penning a novel at fifteen (if memory serves, it was something about a glamorous fashion model who fell foul of a high-end designer. Sparks flew, clothes flew faster, and love was born.) Clare has a small family and a bungalow near the sea. When she isn't chasing after energetic little toddlers, or wiping fingerprints off furniture, she's writing, thinking about writing, or wishing she were writing.

You can connect with Clare via her website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Sold to the ruthless tycoon… 

Innocent socialite Marnie Kenington was devastated when her parents forced her to spurn Nikos Kyriazis. She's never forgotten him, nor his raw sensuality. So years later, when Nikos insists on a meeting, Marnie's heart leaps…until Nikos strikes a cold, hard deal. Her family is on the verge of bankruptcy and he will rescue them—if she becomes his wife! 

Marnie's rejection drove self-made billionaire Nikos to unimaginable success. Now, he'll take his revenge. Marnie's poise is legendary, but he knows in the bedroom he can take her apart, piece by sensual piece…

Read a little, buy the book...

She sucked in a deep breath. The pain was as fresh in that instant as if it was six years ago. She ached all over. ‘You know what we’d been through.’ She squeezed her eyes shut. ‘What my family had lost. I couldn’t hurt him. I had to choose between him and...what I felt for you.’
‘And you chose him.’ His stare was filled with a startling wave of resentment. ‘You switched something in here—’ he lifted a finger to her chest, pointing at her heart ‘—and that was it. It was over.’

She swallowed convulsively. It had been nothing like that. He made it sound easy. As if she’d simply decided to forget Nikos and move on. But she hadn’t. She’d agonised over the decision.

She’d tried to explain to her parents that she didn’t care that Nikos didn’t have money or come from one of the established families they approved of. But arguments had led to the unsupportable— her mother in tears, her father furious and not speaking to Marnie, and the certainty that they just wanted Libby back—perfect Libby—to make good choices and be the daughter they were proud of.

‘In any event, the financial...compensation for leaving you helped to soften the blow. At first I swore I wouldn’t take it. But then...’

He spoke with gravelled inflection, sucking Marnie back to the present.

‘I was so angry with you, with him. I took it and I told myself I’d double it—just to prove him wrong. To  prove a point.’

Marnie’s cheeks were flushed. His hand moved to cup her face. She could have pulled away, but she didn’t. ‘I think you did more than that.’

His smile was grim. ‘Yes.’

So Arthur had given her boyfriend money to get out of her life? A chill ran the length of her spine. It seemed like a step too far. Pressuring her to end it was one thing, but actually forcing Nikos out?

‘I’m sorry he got involved like that. It wasn’t his place to...to pay you off.’

‘Not when you’d already done his bidding,’ Nikos responded with a lift of his shoulders. ‘Your father forbade you from seeing me and, like a good little Lady Heiress, you jumped when he clicked his fingers.’

‘Don’t call me that,’ she said distractedly, hating the tabloid press’s moniker for her.

It wasn’t that it was cruelly meant, only that they mistook her natural reserve for something far more grandiose: snobbery. Pretension. Airs and graces. The kind of aristocratic aspirations that Marnie had never fallen in line with despite the value her parents put on them. The values that had been at the root of their disapproval of Nikos.

‘So this is revenge?’ she murmured, her eyes clashing fiercely with his. Pain lanced through her. ‘Yes.’

‘A dish best served cold?’ She shook her head sadly, dislodging his hand. ‘You’ve waited six years for this.’

‘Yes.’ He brought his body closer, crushing her with his strong thighs, his broad chest. ‘But there will be nothing cold about our marriage.’

Bought for the Billionaire's Revenge is available for pre-order on Amazon

Let’s Talk…

Avril: How often do you get lost in a story?
Clare: I’m a voracious reader, but I never read when I’m writing a book, so it really depends on my schedule. I’ve just come out of a busy few months of writing and editing and am in the middle of three delicious weeks off. I’m making great headway with my TBR list – At the moment, my kindle is loaded with Paullina Simons, Trish Morey, Jane Porter, Jennifer Crusie and so many other great writers. I am thrilled to finally be getting a chance to devour them. I don’t think you can write well unless you read often. It’s like taking your writing muscles to the gym for a workout!

Avril: Tell us about how you got from reader to writer… 
Clare: For me it was a very unconscious slide. I have always read, and there’s something so immersive and consuming about writing, that it was a natural progression. I suppose I began to read differently, analyzing what I liked and didn’t like in books, why certain dialogue made me cringe, cry or laugh and to imagine my own stories. I began to write full manuscripts at thirteen, and submitted my first to Harlequin Mills & Boon at fifteen. It’s been a long road of learning. At first, the idea of writing a full-length novel was onerous, but now, I know what questions to ask myself to fully plot a story, and I have the discipline to follow it through. My sister is a writer, and she says I inspired her to start writing. (She was my original proof-reader on the manuscript my fifteen year old self penned!) Perhaps I did … but she certainly inspired me to self-publish, and I’m so glad she wouldn’t allow me to quit on my dream!

Avril: Do you have a ‘trademark’ – something people will recognize from one Clare Connelly book to the next? 
Clare: I write steamy, fast-paced romance novels with arrogant alphas who are generally redeemed by the end of the book by their love of a good woman. I try to make my heroines as sassy as possible – even when life has their back against a wall, I like them to have agency and grit.

Avril: What’s a typical writing day for you? 
Clare: My children are five and six years old – one is in school, the other not, so my day lacks structure to some extent. I try to write 2,000 words every morning before the rest of the house stirs, and then get a few hours in while my daughter rests in the middle of the day, and depending on how in love I am with the story or how pressing a deadline I’m facing, I generally write again before bed. It’s normal for me to find that I can’t step away from the keyboard when I’m in a book and so my day involves snatched moments of time whenever I can slip back into my characters’ lives.

Avril: Do you have favorite tropes? 
Clare: I would have said I love everything that is well-written with dynamic characters and a plausible conclusion, but actually, I’m coming to realize that it’s marriage-of-convenience capers that really draw me in… and I love a good mystery! Not a who-dunnit, but a lie or secret that bubbles away under the surface of the novel until exploding right at the end. I am really not a fan of sad storylines. Life is sad enough! I think that’s largely why I’m drawn to the beautiful craft of romance.

Avril: What’s your pet hate as a romance reader? 
Clare: Oooh! I have quite a few. I think romance writing is something erroneously perceived as ‘easy’. Actually, it’s really difficult to do it well – the books are generally short and there’s a lot of emotional growth to pack in – a huge arc of character development to cover. I think you don’t realize how well romances are written when they are done well… I have only ever not-finished one book in my entire life, and it wasn’t a romance. I’m very linear, so I persist even if I’m hating a book, and I really resent some things that are just plain lazy… such as, two-dimensional characters, inconsistent characters, and conclusions that are too quick! Like if a couple is angsty and arguing the whole way through a book, that’s great for tension, but then I need to see how they’re going to make it work. A simple ‘I love you’ doesn’t do that for me. I want to see them changing and growing and compromising so that I have faith they’ll be able to make it work for the long-haul.

Tell us in the comments why you read romance, and enter the giveaway to win a signed print copy of  
Bought for the Billionaire's Revenge...

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  1. Why do I read romance? Because I love LOVE, of course!

  2. I love going along the characters' journeys and seeing how they get past everything to finding their HEAs!

  3. I read romance as i love the stories they create and also they go thru bumps and i like to see how they are handled in the books. I also just really like reading about someone elses romance and get out of my world for awhile! Thanks for offering a print book and coming to GLIAS! peggy clayton

  4. There is a guaranteed HEA in romance. That's the main reason why I read romance.