Aug 31, 2011
An Appointment with Leonie Knight!
by Sharon Archer
I'm extra thrilled to have Leonie Knight as a special guest on the LoveCats today because she's a fellow Medical Romance author! She got her First Sale ribbon at the recent Romance Writers of Australia conference in Melbourne just two weeks ago. Her first book, Suddenly Single Sophie, is on the shelves DownUnder right now and it's a gorgeous read!
So, a big warm LoveCats WELCOME, Leonie!
Thank you so much for inviting me as a guest on the LoveCats DownUnder blog. It's a privilege to be rubbing virtual shoulders with some of my favourite romance authors, several of whom I met at my first RWAus conference.
Ooo, terrific picture of you and Amy Andrews and Emily Forbes rubbing shoulders at the cocktail party, Leonie!
What started you off writing?
I've always loved to write. At age six, in first grade, I remember a story I wrote about what I wanted to be when I grew up and no, I didn't want to be a story teller. I wanted to work in a lolly shop. My addiction to all things sweet, including happy endings, grew from there. When I graduated to high school, fuel was added to my creative fire when I had a massive crush on my English teacher but the fire burned low over the busy years of university, marriage, kids and a demanding job, all of which seemed to take up every minute of my days.
I started dabbling in writing again about ten years ago, recording anecdotes from my parent's long and eventful lives. Writing seriously with the aim of publication kicked off when I joined a critique group five years ago. I am lucky enough to live near the generous and always encouraging Anna Jacobs and couldn't have achieved what I have without my writing buddies, Teena Raffa Mulligan, Susy Rogers, (me) Anna Jacobs, Lorraine Mauvais and Claire Boston.
I love that photograph of you with your wonderful critique group, Leonie! They all looked so happy for you!
Tell us about the inspiration for Will and Sophie's story.
The idea for the story of Sophie and Will's bumpy journey along the road to finding love originated from a TV documentary about a rundown inner-city suburb destined for destruction. It was saved by a spirited group of people, determined to make better lives for themselves. In my story I wanted to show a community working together to overcome serious and sensitive problems as a backdrop to the unlikely romance between my hero and heroine, and their attempt to overcome their own inner demons. I've made Sophie and Will work hard for their happy ending.
Is there anything in particular you'd like to share about the story?
I guess the main thing is that, with my editor's blessing and guidance, I have woven some tough issues into my story—like drug and alcohol abuse, dysfunctional families and terminal illness—that in the past have been considered difficult to incorporate into a category romance. In fact I give credit to my forward-thinking editor who says that nothing is really taboo in category romance if it is written well and sensitively and doesn't overshadow the romance.
I know your medical background is as a doctor. What was your area of specialty and can you tell us your most unusual experience?
I worked as a GP in both city and country practices for over thirty years (yep...I've got a few life-years under my belt) and retired two years ago. My main areas of interest were women's health and senior's health—both broad and challenging areas which have given me heaps of material on which to base future novels.
There's nothing that really stands out as the most unusual experience but over the years I've never stopped being surprised at the attitude some men have to their own health. I've found most men need to be dragged, kicking and screaming, to the doctors - usually by their wives - for routine health checks. But if something actually goes wrong, no matter how minor, they convince themselves they have a serious or even terminal illness. I remember one gentleman, probably in his forties, who was visiting the country area near where I was practicing at the time. He was so anxious, he'd been booked in as an urgent case and explained that he had a strange lump at the back of his knee that started with a slight itchiness but was increasing in size at an alarming rate.
'What is it doctor? A dangerous skin cancer?'
When I checked it out I couldn't help but smile. He had a common, relatively small kangaroo tick, about the size of a five cent coin - the sort of bread-and-butter-medicine rural GPs see every day. His relief when I told him was palpable and I removed the culprit after shocking it into loosening its grip on the man with a heated paper clip then gently removing it with forceps.
Problem solved - one satisfied and relieved customer!
Ouch! What a great anecdote and a lesson, too! I can well imagine that your patient was very relieved!
On a lighter note...
What do you do for fun? Listen to ABBA, and do Latin Line Dancing – badly.
What are you reading? Susan Duncan's memoir, Salvation Creek.
What are you watching? Re runs of the American Sitcom, Everybody Loves Raymond—a hilarious insight into relationships and family dynamics.
What are you listening to? Birdsong at dusk.
What's making you smile? Being exactly where I want to be, surrounded by the people I love, doing the best job in the world.
And what about future books?
My second book, How to Save a Marriage in a Million, is due for release in the UK in November and in Australia in December. I am contracted for another two books, the first is near completion.
Leonie has generously offered to give away a copy of her debut novel, Suddenly Single Sophie, while she's visiting the LoveCats! Her question to you is....
What's making you smile today?