Romance and contemporary fiction writer Lily Malone is charming, vibrant and warm, with a keen wit and a sharp intellgence. She lives in the South West of Western Australia, where she divides her working hours between an adminstration role for a local real estate agency and her writing. Lily has written three full-length romances stories and a novella, all published by Harlequin Escape, and her debut trade paperback, The Vineyard in the Hills, was published by Harlequin MIRA this time last year. She also recently completed her first contemporary fiction title, Ashes, inspired by the true story of a family member’s fight to recover from traumatic burns.
But the biggest news in Lily’s writing career to date is that she recently signed a three-book deal with Harlequin MIRA, for the ‘Chalk Hill‘ rural romance series. The contract was offered on the strength of the first book in the series, Water Under the Bridge, which Lily writes about in her guest post for my Shelf Aware series. I’ve been “friends” with Lily online for quite some time, and I finally got to meet her in person a couple of months ago. It felt like we’d known each other for years, and I just wish we’d had time to sit back and chat for longer. The next best thing was being able to read her answers to my Shelf Aware questions. I hope you’ll enjoy reading her post, too. As you will see, she’s a big fan of fantasy fiction, as well as romance, and she’s not too keen on systems for filing her books…
Q. How would you describe the work that you do and how you do it?
A. Well, I have two jobs. One is a good old administration day job working for a local real estate agency in my hometown, but the work I think you’re most interested in here is my writing. I write contemporary romance, usually in small-town or rural settings. I love the Australian wine industry so many of my books to date have been set in wine/vineyard regions of Margaret River and the Adelaide Hills/McLaren Vale in South Australia. I try to write three days in the week, with an aim of producing 10,000 words a week. I’ve been on that pace since school went back in February and so far, I’m sticking to it fairly nicely.
Q. What is your latest project, and/or what do you have in the pipeline?
A. I just finished (literally) a new rural romance called Water Under The Bridge. Shortly before writing The End I discovered that this will be a series, and Water Under The Bridge is Book 1. I can see three books in the Chalk Hill series, dealing with the stories of three brothers. The first is Jake’s story, the second is Abe’s and the third will be Brix’s book.
Q. Where are the main bookcases in your home or office? Do you also keep books in other places at home (or elsewhere)?
A. Our one and only big bookcase was bought in South Australia and has travelled through three homes and two States with us now. It’s Baltic pine — and gorgeous — and as well as our books it also has our stereo/internet radio and speakers. I do have books in my office (but these are mostly my books — boxes of them), plus some very special books that I keep in my office rather than in our bookshelf. My eldest boy, Mr 9, also has his own bookshelf in his room for kids’ books. Actually, speaking of kids’ books, these are also in a good old South Aussie meatsafe that is probably older than me! I weeded these out in the Christmas holidays but we still seem to have a lot!
Q. How are your books organised/arranged?
A. No filing system here. That would be way too mathematical for me. Our top shelf has a lot of our fantasy reads and my hubby’s and my favourite author, John Sandford, who writes crime fiction. Cookbooks & gardening are kind of together, on the third shelf, and my hubs has a lot of music books – Bob Dylan’s albums, lyrics, biography that kind of thing. He has a lot of guitar instruction manuals/music manuals in there too. The bottom shelf has photo albums (his and mine); two huge heavy fishing reference books, maybe something about card games, Australian Rules Football, a cricket almanac or two… and now I have to go check to see what else. (The bottom shelf is not very memorable!)
Q. What sorts of books predominate?
A. We have a lot of fantasy. I loved the ‘Empire’ series by Raymond E Feist and Janny Wurts, and I’ve read those books over and over. I also have the ‘Rift’ War series, Magician etc; and Lord of the Rings on the top shelf.
We have lots of Stephen King and John Sandford. We do have a few autobiographies. Andrew McLeod (Adelaide Crows footballer); Bob Dylan. I think I have an unauthorised Shane Warne biography somewhere.
Q. Describe your favourite reading place.
A. In summer, it’s outside on an old but very comfortable blue chair. In winter, it is on a couch by the fire. I don’t read in bed. I have a Kindle that I like reading on these days as my eyesight gets worse — I do love that you can enlarge the font on an e-reader.
Q. What book/s are you reading right now? Why did you choose that book/those books and what do you think of it/them so far?
A. I’ve just finished a rural romance with a big twist called Shelter by Rhyll Biest. This was my ‘reward’ read after finishing my own Water Under The Bridge book mentioned up above. While my book was out with critique group and beta readers is a good time to churn through the reading pile. Then I read a Dystopian book called The Last Girl (The Dominion Trilogy Book 1) by Joe Hart. Cracking read but I needed a very big dose of ‘suspension of belief’ to work with it. Right now, I’m reading The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham. My jury is still out on that one.
Q. What are your favourite books and/or who are your favourite authors?
A. My favourite author is an American crime/serial killer writer called John Sandford, more particularly the ‘Prey’ series featuring the hero Lucas Davenport. Ahhhh, Lucas! I also love Michael Robotham’s writing in Australia.
There are so many Australian women writers who I think the world of. In no particular order these would be: Rhyll Biest, Ainslie Paton, Tess Woods, Kylie Kaden, Charlotte Wood, Louise Allan (I cannot wait for her first book later this year); Jennie Jones, Juanita Kees.
Q. In the event of an emergency, if you could save just three books from your collection, which books would they be – and why would you choose them?
A. I think I’d save the ‘Empire’ series books I mention above. Mara of the Acoma was a wonderful woman in fiction, a great role model for leadership, and as I’ve grown older I recognise more and more political themes within that book every time I’ve re-read.
Q. If you could sit down for afternoon tea with your three favourite characters or authors, who would they be, what would you serve them, and what would like to talk to them about?
A. Afternoon tea? I think I’d pick two amazing Rhyll Biest heroes: Stein and Belovuk to have over to my place for afternoon tea, except I think we might drink Vodka. I’d also need a fireman character from somewhere, to hose me down… anyone know any great fireman characters from fiction? Perhaps otherwise, better sit them down with Leisl Jones perhaps, and we can all cool down discussing Leisl’s swimming autobiography, Body Lengths. I used Leisl’s book for research when writing Water Under The Bridge, about an almost Olympic swimmer… who never quite makes the team.