Please enjoy this fantastic interview with the author of "Playing for Keeps," Glenda Horsfall.
Where are you from?
I was born and brought up in
Scotland but moved to a
small seaside town on the Lancashire coast
with my parents in my early teens.
Why do you write?
Why do I write? What a question! I love to read and can usually be found with a book in hand whenever I am not working. It has been a dream I have held since my early teens that one day I would write and publish my own book. It is one of those things that I’m sure many of us have the ambition to do, and in all honesty I thought it was something I would probably get around to doing when I retired. I’m glad to say I didn’t leave it that long, and now that I’ve been bitten by the writing bug my mind is constantly overflowing with ideas for new stories.
What inspired you to write your first book?
A random, what if, that crossed my mind. At the time women all over the globe were going crazy over Fifty Shades of Grey. It crossed my mind that a lot of husbands / boyfriends were in for a bit of a shock when their partners suddenly started asking for ‘something a bit different’ and I wondered how they would react. The premise seemed like a good story idea and I literally sat down one night and started to type up the wicked ideas which had crossed my mind. My son was seriously ill at the time and I was having trouble sleeping, so in the middle of the night when I was prowling the house and everyone else was asleep, I sat at the computer and developed the story idea. It seemed like a harmless and very quiet way to pass the small hours. I didn’t at that stage intend to submit it for publication, it was my private distraction. However, having been bitten by the writing bug, I signed up for a few online classes and it was through a publishers class that I was asked to submit the story for consideration. The rest is history.
What genre do you typically write?
I write erotic romance, or as I like to call it, romance with a bit of spice. I enjoy reading a good love story, but I also want the sex scenes to have a bit of sizzle. I can get the story and heat I want, if I write my own.
Do you feel like you have a specific writing style?
I’m definitely what is known as a ‘pantster’. I don’t plot, though I am seriously considering that I should and maybe I wouldn’t have so many re-writes. I generally get an idea, think about it for a week or two, and then sit down and let the words flow out. I will do a rough first draft and then leave it for another week or two, then go over it and see where I can improve the story. Only after I have done that do I give it to my editor for the final run through.
How long does it usually take you to write a book?
Playing for Keeps which is a relatively short book of about 140 pages took me two months to write, odd hours here and there in the middle of the night. Playing by His Rules is twice as long, and took me three months to write. By the time I sat down to write this book, I had become more disciplined with my writing and I allocated an hour of every evening to writing. Even if what I write gets scrubbed out or altered at a later date, I make an effort to write every day.
What do you do to conquer writer’s block?
I take a break. Leave the current work in progress as it stands for a week or two and just relax. I find that by the time I am ready to return to the computer I have normally worked out in my head exactly what I need to fix to get the story moving again.
What can you tell us about your favorite character from your book?
Matt is definitely my favorite character. Who can resist a man who will go all out to give his lover her secret desires, when she doesn’t know herself what she is really looking for. He makes the effort to work out exactly what she wants, and goes all out to ensure her satisfaction. Anything to keep his woman happy, in a totally Alpha male way. There is definitely nothing wimpish about Matt.
Who is your favorite author and what is it about them that inspires you?
That’s a hard question as I have so many that I enjoy, and they write different genres, but if I had to pick I would say Isaac Asimov for his Science Fiction. I admire anyone who can create an alternative world and make you believe it, see it and feel it. Sheer genius at work.
What book are you reading now?
Wallbanger by Alice Clayton. I went to RARE2014 in
in July and everyone was talking
about this book. I already had it on my Kindle but I have only managed to get
around to reading it. It’s been a very busy summer work and writing wise, but
I’m about half way through and loving it! Edinburgh
What are your current projects?
I’m currently coming to the end of publishers edits on Playing by His Rules and hopefully it will release in November 2014. I’m at the draft stage of my third book, Playing with Fire which is booked for January editing and March 2015 release.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
If I could change anything about Playing for Keeps, I would probably make it longer. It was written as a stand alone with a HEA ending, but, so many people have written and asked ‘what happens next’ and if I am going to do a follow up on Matt and Cassie’s story, that I am seriously thinking about it. It’s great that readers have taken the characters to heart and want to know how their life continues. Knowing I have produced a book that others have enjoyed gives me a warm glow!
Can you share a little of your work with us?
I would love to. Thanks for asking. Here’s an excerpt from Playing by His Rules which will release end of November / beginning of December 2014 and covers Xander and Chloe’s first meeting.
He entered the hotel lounge and sat down at the bar. It was nearly midnight and the area was reasonably quiet. At least, he didn’t expect to bump into any newshounds at this time of night, and especially not here. It wasn’t the kind of place the rich and famous frequented, more a local hotel. He didn’t expect the paps to be hanging around this hotel looking for a story.
After ordering his usual, Jack Daniels on the rocks, he casually looked around surveying the other occupants. There were several men in a booth in the corner. It was obvious from their dress and snippets of their conversation that they were City bankers. The empty champagne bottles on their table hinted at some sort of celebration. There were a few couples at tables around the lounge. He expected they were finishing off their night with a drink before retiring.
Tucked away in the corner by herself, he spotted a blond. Her long hair shielded her face as she sat head down, book in one hand, drink in the other. She seemed oblivious to the raucous conversation going on in the booth next to her as the bankers back-slapped and congratulated each other on the deal they had closed. He was intrigued. It was unusual to see a lone woman in a hotel lounge this late in the evening. Well, unusual if they weren’t hookers.
He watched her for a while expecting a partner or friend to join her, but it became obvious that she was alone. Something about her stillness appealed to him and he continued to watch her as he sipped his drink. She seemed to be an oasis of calm in the middle of a storm. His curiosity about her grew and he wished she would lift her head so he could see her face.
A loud crash reverberated around the room as the one of the bankers knocked an empty champagne bottle off the table. The woman jumped and dropped her book. The drink she had been holding sloshed and spilled across her lap. Her head snapped around turning towards the sound. For the first time he was able to get a look at her face. He caught his breath at her exquisite features. The long wavy blond hair framed a heart shaped face with high cheekbones. Her delicate shaped brows the perfect outline for her vivid blue eyes, which reminded him of the blue sky of Santorini in summer. She had a perfect cupid’s bow of a mouth and he found himself imagining how she would taste. Would she taste cool and refreshing, a balm to his troubled spirit or would she burn like the Mediterranean sun?
From across the room he could see her visibly relax when she realized the crash was caused by no more than a careless accident. She continued to scan the room as if checking that there were no other threats present. Seeming satisfied, she bent to pick up the book she had dropped. Looking at the wet table, she shook her head, before turning to place the book on the chair at her side. Lifting her purse, she rummaged through the contents with one hand while she shook the other.
Grabbing a towel from the bar, he walked across the room to introduce himself and help her clean up. Raising her head, as though she had sensed him, her clear blue eyes met his as he advanced. She quickly glanced around as if to see where he was heading. He watched as she nibbled at her lip and a small frown furrowed her brow. His imagination went into overdrive at the thought of what her mouth could do to him. As he continued his approach time seemed to slow. Although she now met his eyes her look was wary and she held herself completely still. Her posture immediately brought to mind a small doe he had spotted in the forest around his home. He had come across the doe accidently and she had frozen on the spot, sniffing the air around her, before turning and running in the opposite direction. If he didn’t know better he would say the woman was preparing to take flight and he wondered what or who had made her so edgy. He raised an eyebrow in query, wordlessly requesting permission to come closer and she blushed delicately in response.
The light flush betrayed her vulnerability and brought out his need to protect. Up close he was even more enamored. He stopped at her table, handing her the towel to blot up the drink she had spilled as he stood looking down at her. At her shy smile of thanks he murmured, “I thought you could do with some help.”
“Thanks, again.” Her voice was soft and low, and he once again felt desire unfurl low in his stomach.
“As we’re apparently the only two singles in the bar do you mind if I join you?”
Her gaze once again flicked to the hotel security at the door. He was glad that she was being cautious. He extended his hand, “I’m harmless,” he assured her.
With a little nod in his direction, although her eyes didn’t quite meet his, she extended her hand towards him. Her handshake was firm, but he was aware of the feel of her satin soft skin, before she gently pulled her hand free and indicated the free stool at the opposite side of the table. She was a shy little thing, obviously unaware of her own appeal. She nibbled on her bottom lip, an action he found incredibly erotic. Shit, he really had been too long without a woman if such a small thing could turn him on.
Straddling the stool, he was caught unaware when he tried to introduce himself. “I’m--”
“No names. We’re strangers meeting in a bar.” She held up her hands to forestall him. The tip of her tongue slipped out to delicately moisten her lips. “You don’t need to know my name.”
“What?” What the hell did that mean? What was she hiding? “I have to call you something--”
“’Something’, will do.” She giggled.
“Now, you’re being silly,” he teased, as he wondered how much of a night cap she had actually had.
“No, I’m not.” For the first time she looked directly at him, and he caught a flash of irritation in her eyes. She hadn’t appreciated being called silly, and he cursed himself for being an idiot. She obviously had her reasons for making her request, and he had just belittled them. She continued with a hint of determination, “I like my privacy and a girl has to think about her safety nowadays.” She closed her eyes briefly, as if in pain. “I’m quite happy to have a drink and a chat, but that’s as far as it goes. You don’t need to know my name for that.”
Surprise shot through him. If the bar hadn’t been so quiet, he would have thought he had misheard her. In his normal circle women clamored to know everything they could about him. They sure as hell made sure he knew exactly who they were and how he could find them again. His wealth seemed to draw them like a magnet. Even though he had intended nothing more than a half hour or so of convivial company, he wasn’t used to being dismissed so casually. He wanted her to want to know more about him.
“Well then, Angel,” there was no way he was going to call her ‘something’ and the endearment just tripped off his tongue, “can I get you a refill?” he asked, indicating her now near empty glass.
Chloe picked up her glass and drained the remaining contents slowly, as she surveyed him over the rim.
“Yes, please.” She handed over the now empty vessel, “Another dark rum and cola would be great. No ice.”
“Back shortly.” She watched as he strode towards the bar to place their order. He briefly acknowledged others in the bar as he passed them, but did not stop to chat. Even from the rear he was an attractive man. Now that he was not watching her, she allowed herself a moment to admire him. His broad shoulders tapered to a neat waist. He had long muscular legs and a tight butt, all of which were encased in black denim. She found herself wondering what he did for a living. Was it something physical which kept him in such good shape or did he work out to maintain his sculpted physique?
Delicious tingles vibrated through her as she recalled the sound of his voice. He spoke perfect English, but with a slight accent and she surmised he was European. He was possibly Italian or Greek judging by his coloring. He had a light tan and raven black hair, which he wore slightly longer than collar length. She gave herself a mental pat on back, feeling very pleased with herself for being able to attract the interest of such a gorgeous man. He had taken her request for ‘no names’ apparently in his stride and he seemed to still want her company.
Things were looking up. For so long she had felt unattractive and had deliberately dressed down to appease Nick. Now it was time for her to please herself, to do what she wanted to do, to go where she wanted to go. No longer would she take orders from a control freak.
If her interview in the morning went well, she would be on her way to creating a new life for herself. A life free of restriction and fear. For tonight, she was going to allow herself a little light flirtation.
He had his back turned towards her as he ordered their drinks at the bar. She found herself watching his interaction with the barman. From her seat she couldn’t hear what they were discussing but from the sound of laughter she caught, she surmised they were exchanging jokes.
He turned suddenly to glance in her direction, breaking into a large grin when he caught her eye. Mortified to be caught staring, she glanced away quickly, but not before she saw the wink he threw in her direction. Confident bastard. He was looking very pleased with himself whereas she was feeling flustered. Butterflies flitted around in her stomach and she took a deep breath. It had been so long since she had felt this pull of attraction, so long since she had even dared to look at a man other than Nick. The last time she had glanced at a man, well a waiter to be honest, Nick had broken her arm. She shuddered at the memory.
She reminded herself that she had an interview to attend in the morning. If she got the post, and she desperately hoped she was successful, then she wasn’t going to be around to see tall, dark and gorgeous again. She couldn’t afford to get involved with anyone.
She was glad now that she hadn’t divulged her name. Even if he wanted to see her again, he wouldn’t be able to find her. The idea was kind of liberating. Tonight she could be anyone or anything she wanted. She could allow herself to enjoy her time with him and leave when it was over with no strings.
Watching as he returned, she couldn’t help but notice other women following him with their eyes. It wasn’t only because he looked good, it was his designer clothes, his discreet gold jewelry, it was the confident way he carried himself. All of which marked him as a wealthy man. His long legged stride soon ate up the distance between them. He gave no indication that he saw the admiring glances of the women in the room. He kept his eyes firmly fixed on her and the butterflies in her stomach took flight at the gleam in his eyes.
When he reached the table he handed over her drink. He placed a large bowl of fat olives on the table between them.
“Help yourself.” He indicated the dish, before straddling the stool opposite her. He appeared totally relaxed and at ease with himself as he snagged a plump olive, biting it in half between his even white teeth, before popping the second half into his mouth. He chewed slowly as though savoring the taste, and her eyes were drawn to his lips, now lightly coated with olive oil. They looked full and inviting and she wondered how it would feel to have those lips upon her own. Would he be the type to offer soft teasing kisses which seduced her into surrender? Or would he be demanding, the take control, sure of himself, alpha male?
Raising her eyes, she felt her stomach flip as she saw him looking at her as though he had read her thoughts. Nervous tension raced through her as they regarded each other silently. In the end she was unable to hold his gaze. He was just too overwhelming and she rushed into conversation to break the silence.
“So, umm… Are you in town on business or do you live locally?” she asked.
He smiled widely, as if he was aware he had knocked her equilibrium off balance. “I travel a lot,” he told her, “but my main home is in Athens.” This didn’t really answer her question. Main home. How many homes did he have?
“So you are here on business?”
“No. Not this time.” The smile slipped from his face, and for just a second he appeared grim. “I am taking a little time out. Having a short break.” His voice was clipped making her think there was something about the break he found unpleasant.
“And you choose to holiday in Britain? In March?” she asked in disbelief. Why the hell would someone with a home in the sun, and obviously the means to go anywhere he wanted, choose to visit London where the weather was miserable at this time of year?
He shrugged his shoulders. “A change is as good as a rest, or so they tell me.” His chocolate brown eyes were alight with humor, as if her questions amused him.
She loved the sound of his voice. The deep timbre reverberated causing small tremors of desire to course through her and she held her breath as his gaze locked on to hers. Leaning on muscular forearms, lightly sprinkled with hair, he stretched across the table towards her. Her senses were bathed in the warm, inviting smell of sandalwood. Quietly, his gaze intent, he asked, “Now, tell me about you. What’s a beautiful lady doing sitting in a hotel lounge, late in the evening, alone?” His eyes roamed down her body and desire coursed through her. She could do nothing to prevent her nipples beading as his eyes skimmed her chest before returning to focus on her face.
Christ, Chloe. Get a grip of yourself. You would think you had never seen a man before. She chided herself.
“But, I’m not alone.” At his small frown, she rushed to quantify her statement, “I’m sitting with you.”
He grinned at her attempt to tease him, raising an eyebrow in query he prompted, “Well?”
“Pardon?” Her mind had turned to mush and she couldn’t remember his question. She cursed her libido. Why the hell did it have to kick in tonight?
“I said,” he was now openly grinning at her, as if he knew that she was flustered, and was amused by her reaction to him, “what are you doing in town?”
“Oh, hmm…sorry. I’m in town for the night as I have an appointment early in the morning.”
“You don’t live locally then?”
“Well… yes and no.” She twirled a long strand of her hair around her fingers.
“I live on the outskirts of London. My appointment is early and rather than have to face the commuter rush it was easier to stay in town overnight.” She didn’t tell him that the appointment was actually an interview or that her prospective employer had arranged and paid for the hotel room.
“This appointment is important to you?” He was studying her face intently as if her reply really mattered to him. “Business or pleasure?”
She felt herself stiffen in response to his query and had to make a conscious effort to relax. She couldn’t go through life thinking every man was like her ex or that every question was fodder for a jealous rage. Even so, she felt defensive. “Does it matter?” she replied quickly.
“No. It doesn’t matter.” He shook his head slightly, obviously bemused at her response. He was studying her intently, and she shuffled in her chair, uncomfortable that she hadn’t answered his question. “I was only making small talk.”
She felt mean. He’d meant no harm and she hadn’t meant to, but she had probably offended him. Impulsively she stretched her arm across the table, bringing her hand to rest on top of his. He turned his hand and grasped her hand in his own. His hold was firm, but gentle. Mesmerized by the desire in his eyes, she could only sit and watch as he slowly raised her hand to his lips.
“I’m sorry.” His tone was quiet, but sincere, as if he was aware that somehow he had upset her.
He had done nothing wrong; he had only been trying to make small talk. His apology filled her with guilt and her conscience forced her to defend him. “What are you sorry for? I’m the one that was rude!”
He brushed off her attempt to apologize, taking all of the blame on himself. “No, I obviously said something that triggered unpleasant memories. I could see it in your eyes.”
She was surprised at how perceptive he was and wondered if he missed anything.
Releasing her hand, he slapped his forehead. “Ah, now I get it.” He was grinning at her broadly, eyes alight with humor. “You’re famous, travelling incognito and you’re piqued because I didn’t recognize you.”
The idea was so absurd she couldn’t help but giggle.
“Hardly,” she said dryly. What would he say if he realized she was a nobody, so down on her luck she was willing to take a job on a remote island, just to have a roof over her head?
His banter had lightened the mood and she realized how long it had been since anyone had made her laugh. Her spirits felt lighter and she determined that she would make the most of the short time she had with him.
“Your face lights up when you laugh.” His eyes roamed her face as though memorizing all her features. “You should do it more often.”
“And what makes you think that I don’t?”
He shrugged. “Call it intuition. I get the feeling you haven’t had a lot to laugh about lately.”
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
My biggest challenge is getting time to write. I still work full-time at my day job, I’m an accountant for a construction company and it’s a very demanding role. Some nights I come home so tired from the office I just want to curl up with a book and read a book, not sit down and write one; which is why I have had to discipline myself to write for a spell each night.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write every day, even if it’s only a couple of hundred words. Take classes and learn the craft, I’m still amazed at how much I have learned over the last year re point of view, plot structure, character traits etc. I have found the lessons invaluable and I’m sure they have improved my writing and story telling. I would also advocate employing a professional editor and proof-reader prior to publication, ask friends for recommendations of people they have used as there are so many charlatans around on the internet it’s frightening.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
To those that bought, read and left reviews on my book – a HUGE thank you! I have been genuinely touched by the warm words of praise my debut novel has received, and I have to keep pinching myself whenever I receive fan mail. It is lovely to hear from readers, especially when they write to tell you that they have enjoyed the story you have written. I would like to ask readers to PLEASE leave a review if you have enjoyed my book, or indeed a book by any other author. Reviews are the life-blood of new authors and are one way you can help to get our name out there. Unless an author is contracted with one of the big four publishers, it is very hard to get publicity and let other people know about our books; every review helps even if it is only a few words long. For those that have requested a follow-up to Matt and Cassie’s story – I’m thinking about it. J
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