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Spotlight on Bella Frances, The Playboy of Argentina


This week's Spotlight is on author Bella Frances and her latest release The Playboy of Argentina

@ellefran on twitter


What inspires you to write?

The richness of life.  Everything I observe, feel or lust after.  Capturing the beauty of the first waft of honeysuckle every summer, the truth of humanity as one person helps out another, no matter the scale or cost, the fact that love is the fuel of our lives.  Love, more than anything is what makes me want to write.  But I know that we all have our pain, our dark times, and that it's the lows that help us value the highs.  Although romantic fiction is all about the joy of love, the characters have to battle their demons to find true love.  My books are a bit darker than some for that reason.  I love the darkness and drama, but only if there is a guaranteed HEA!  

Tell us about your writing process…

I'm not a 'notebook' writer - I wish I was!  I observe so much and think I'll remember it, and maybe I do - maybe it gets planted in my rather soupy subconscious and comes out unwittingly.  

I am definitely an unstructured writer.  I uncover my characters through writing about them.  So far, all of them have arrived in the shadows of another story I am currently working on.  Having lived - a little, I see so many similarities in people - tropes, if you will - but its the partnership, the couple, the passion between each hero and heroine that excites me.  Why is it only Frankie that can tame the lion in Rocco?  What was it about Georgia that broke past Danny's unstinting ambition?  Why will Michael break the habit of a lifetime to save Tara?  I love the concept of 'the only one who really gets me.'  I love it and I believe in it.  
Because I uncover my characters I take a bit longer to get to a perfect piece.  I write quickly - but redrafting and revisions are a core part of the process for me.  Oh the pain of it all!

Do you talk to (or listen to) your characters?

Hmmm.  Interesting question.  Do I listen to them? I think the answer is yes, since I don't consciously know what they're going to get up to all of the time.  I do plot, but I rarely follow it exactly.  Sometimes it comes as a pleasant surprise when I return to my synopsis and realise that we've all behaved ourselves and followed the instructions!  They're very real to me.  In my early days of writing romantic fiction I couldn't bear to part with them.  There is still one manuscript I have never sent off to any publisher or agent.  I couldn't bear to!  Maybe they'll see print one day, but I had such an emotional, joyful journey with them that the thought of them being scrutinised and potentially rejected was too much.  Ridiculous!  

What advice would you give…?

My advice to anyone wanting to write is write.  My advice for anyone wanting to be published is the same for anyone wanting to achieve anything in life.  Set your sights, work out your path, each step of it, get your head down and go for it.  Go on a course.  Get genuine feedback - I sent short stories off and paid for critique.  I was told I was obviously a professional writer by one - a backhanded compliment!  Stop doing the housework and spend your time in your own version of a garret, your family will understand, perhaps.  Read and write and write and write.
To become a better writer - open your eyes, your ears and your heart.  Hang out with creative types: writers and musicians, artists and dancers talk differently, they see things differently.  Indulge a little bit of your left brain tendencies or you'll never be organised or structured at all - I think commercially successful people have a lot of left brain action going on, as it happens, or keep someone close to them who has.

What is your favourite genre to read?  Is it different to what you write?

I SO love romantic fiction.  I always have.  I get as so much pleasure from a well written novella as any piece of literature - it's just a different sort of pleasure.  I intensely dislike literature that requires superhuman effort to read.  I don't subscribe to the pain no gain theory and have abandoned so called 'masterpieces' because they were turgid and unpleasant.  That said, I love a book that requires concentration and helps evolve my thinking or experience or offers something in the way of a novel appreciation of life, or a unique use of language.  I love poetic writing and I love writing that is spare.  I love it all!
Probably it comes down to things that touch the human spirit, that make me see and understand more clearly.  Cordelia's duty towards Lear, and his blindness; the patience, glimmer of life, then desolation of the Lady of Shallot; the everyday, razor-sharp insights offered by Raymond Carver, the universal wisdom in the lines of Mary Oliver, the beauty of early Yeats…

My current book, The Playboy of Argentina, slammed me on the back of the head as I was writing the Scandal behind the Wedding.  I never even knew Danny had a sister (Frankie) but as soon as she formed on the page I recognised the passion she had for Rocco.  I knew she was the only one who would fight hard enough to get her man.  And she was the only one he would let in to his terribly dark world.  Argentina! Why there?  It's always held an allure for me - my grandmother, a highly influential character herself, was a governess there in the twenties and thirties and her house and her stories were full of her times there.  Not being able to afford to visit I researched it thoroughly until I knew exactly where each scene was set in the characters' present and past.  Can you imagine the joy of doing research for a polo playing Argentinian playboy?  Its an unmitigated festival of glamour and masculinity.  It also gave me an excuse to get back into reading Jilly Cooper!  Perfect.
Suffice to say they have a very rocky path, but a very fulfilling ending.  They are about to pop up in the story of Rocco's brother, Dante.  A very different character, but with his own secrets who is beginning to realise he doesn't hold all the cards!  Informally titled Dante and the Duchess, you can check it out as it evolves, on my website.

Buy Links:

Amazon 

30 comments:

  1. Splendid answers, particularly about listening to characters!

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    1. Thanks William! I meant every word. My characters do scream rather loudly from time to time. Particularly when I go off piste with them as happened last night during a re-read of yesterday's writing. Dante was quite despairing of me - he'd NEVER behave like that (he told me) :)

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  2. Hello, Bella! Congratulations on your latest release.

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    1. Thanks so much! I've loved every step of this journey. For most it's getting 'the call' but for me the highlights have included the faith other writers have placed in me. Them and my wonderful editor Flo Nicol.

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  3. Great interview. Fascinating about your grandmother. Wishing you much success.

    Hey, Nas;)

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    1. Thanks so much Sandra. I never knew how much of an influence she was until she passed away. An incredible woman. Not sure what her views would be on a steamy sex scene however!

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  4. I listen to my characters too. They are much smarter than I am. ;)

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    1. Hey Kelly aren't they always! Thank goodness they're patient with us. Even after the black moment they can still make a wrong turn (thanks to poor directions!) But it 'feels' wrong don't you agree? That's when they shout loudest I always find.

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    1. Thanks Kelly! Working hard on the follow up - Rocco's brother. Totally different animal!! But just as sexy :-)

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  6. Pleasure to "meet" you, Bella! Congrats on your release!

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    1. Delighted to be here and chat to you all Meradeth! Such lovely comments and a fab site! Thanks for your good wishes xx

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  7. What a fantastic interview, ladies! Bella, your responses really resonated with me, because they sound unaffectedly honest, as opposed to some rehearsed canned responses.

    Your books sound terrific, too. Are they meant to be stand-alones, or because they share common characters, should they be read in a certain order like a series?

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    1. Thank you Susan! I shot from the hip and the heart, I supppose! And yes - I don't set out to link the books but I can't help it when I uncover these wonderful new characters in each story. My current work-in-progress tracks Rocco's brother Dante, from 'Playboy of Argentina'. He danced onto the page like a Gene Kelly meets Matthew McConaughey demi-god. Who could resist that?? xx

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  8. Great interview. I liked both the questions and the answers. Getting to know a new author is always fun.

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    1. Thanks for your comment Mary and I agree with you regarding the questions! They were great fun to answer. Look forward to chatting again soon!

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  9. Congrats, Bella! I wish I was a "notebook" writer too. I think of things, but I never write them down at the time and just hope I remember them.

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    1. Ha Cherie! We must rely on our fabulous memories then. I sometimes wonder what notebook writers do with all those notebooks though. Surely they can't use everything they note - or even find it?!?

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  10. Great interview ladies. The best: 'My advice to anyone wanting to write is write.' Didn't mind that bit about forgetting the housework either! Bit hard to do. :-)

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    1. Hey Denise - I am currently NOT writing and have just emptied the dishwasher. The other best bit of advice is 'PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH!' ;-)

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  11. Hi Bella

    Oh I loved this one a fantastic story ☺
    A great interview
    Congrats on the release

    Have Fun
    Helen

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    1. Your lovely comments made my day Helen Thanks so much X

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  12. Hi Bella, this is a must read for sure!

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    1. Hi Rachael! Looks like 'From One Night to Wife' is a must-read too :-)))))

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  13. Hi Bella, this is a must read for sure!

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  14. Oh my. Just that title... Character-led stories are the best in my opinion.

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    1. Agreed Crystal though to be honest I couldn't imagine writing any other way. It's like making new friends :)

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  15. It's wonderful seeing characters form on the page. I always have an idea of them before I write, but then they grow as I type. This looks like a great read.

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  16. Thanks Medela. Yes that's half the fun isn't it. The 'oh! I didn't know that about you' moments that happen as you type. Must head back to my current work-in-progess now to see what they're up to without me...

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  17. Fascinating to hear how this story evolved and why it is set in Argentina. I love that the main character just appeared and her story was known. :) Best of luck to Bella!
    ~Jess

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