Oct 26, 2011


 WHAT I AM READING Ngaio Marsh - fabulous read!
WHAT I AM LISTENING TO: The Viennese Philharmonic Orchestra
WHAT I AM WATCHING: Downton Abby. 
Today we have the wonderful Christina Hollis joining us. What a treat!

Hello Christina and welcome to Lovecats! 
It’s great to see another sizzling Mediterranean romance coming our way with Weight of Crown.  Not an Italian setting though, I see, but a fictitious country. What are the joys and challenges of creating a whole new world?
Let's start with the joys - I wanted to combine all the things about all the countries I love in one package. England has some stunning countryside and fascinating history, but oh, dear, the weather! For me, romance means escaping to a land of golden sunshine and gentle breezes. Not either frying or freezing, and being blasted by wind that would blow the ears off a cat. As for my main challenge, that was in trying to remember where everything was in relation to each other. A quick sketch map or two sorted that out.

Tell us about the love affair you generally have with Italy.
I love Italy and the Italian people so much! My first visit was seven months after my son was born. Our bambino was given superstar status everywhere we went, which set the scene for everything that followed. The people are so friendly and open, and of course there's tons of history all around. That's before I mention the great growing weather. Even their rain can be warm (which means a lot to a keen gardener living in England).
Lysander has a deliciously wicked edge to him. Do you think we as readers look for different qualities in our fictitious heroes than we do as women in real life?
To a certain extent, yes, because fiction offers us all such a perfect escape from real life. We have the power to pick and choose our men without worrying about any possible downside to all that rampant testosterone. We want a guy who is tall, dark and handsome - not a man who swears the hind legs off a donkey when he hits his head on a low beam, goes into a decline when he finds his first grey hair and admires his reflection in every shop window he passes. Fiction gives us that - real men without all the angst.

 Alyssa starts off being buttoned-up but is gradually seduced.  Why do you think we always love stories like this?
Again, I think it's the element of escape into a fictional ideal. In real life "stuff happens" in a crazy, tumbling jumble of dates, bills, arguments, school runs, kisses, vet's appointments, holidays, noise, love and action, with one day bleeding hopelessly into the next. The gradual, sensual peeling back of layers of reserve indulged in between a hero and his heroine allows us to savour seduction as it should be -  one man totally focussed on his woman, desiring her and concentrating on her needs for as long as it takes. It's the way we'd all really love to be adored ourselves, with our own chaotic real lives relegated to the sidelines for a few hours.

If this book was going to be turned into a film, who would you cast as the main characters?
After a lot of enjoyable thought, I think Dr Adam Rutherford would make a good Lysander. I have absolutely no idea if he can act, but take a look at www.adamrutherford.com and you'll see that wouldn't matter ;) As for Alyssa, that's an impossible call. I'd like everyone to be able to identify with her story - she's you and meof course! Once you start naming famous names, you polarise opinions.

If you were given the chance to marry the gorgeous heir to the throne of a tiny country,  would you jump at the opportunity?
That's a surprisingly difficult question to answer honestly. Of course, being the centre of attention would be fantastic - dressed by my country's top designers and being able to go anywhere and do anything I liked in the company of a breathtaking prince must be heaven (Care to comment, Princess Catherine?) but believe me, these people work incredibly hard and have virtually no privacy. I'd hate that. Give me a piece of chocolate cake, a cup of tea and my lovely OH, who is the benevolent monarch of our own half acre of Gloucestershire countryside, any day!

If, for just one week, you could be the heroine of any book you’ve read, who would you choose to be and why. 
Christina Parsons, from K.M.Peyton's original Flambards novels. It would have to be in summer, outside of the hunting season of course, with the horses let down and lazy. I read these books as an unhappy fourteen year old, growing up in a crumbling, decrepit but (supposedly) romantic old house in the country. Christina's adopted home was so much more desirable  than my own, which goes back to my point about romance being real life without all the problems! A horse will listen to your secrets without making any judgements, and Flambards gave me hope that a dumpy, plain, lonely teenager could find herself a dashing hero (or two, or three...) in the most unpromising situation.

Let us know which heroine you'd choose to be for a week or feel free to ask Christina a question and be in to win a copy of her fabulous new book.


  1. Hi Christina and Zana! Great interview and I love the sound of your Lysander. Zoomed over to check out Dr Adam Rutherford, too, so now I've got a picture in my head for when I pick up your book! Actually his television shows look good too so I hope we get them DownUnder!

    As for which heroine I'd be for a week... I kinda fancy being someone who is a wildly successful writer and discovers she has unexpected resourcefulness to deal with catastrophes - so I'm going with Joan Wilder in Romancing The Stone.

    What lovely fantasy!


  2. Hi Christina
    What a fun thought! I'd have to pick Stephanie Plum from Janet Evanovich's bounty hunter series. She has the choice of Italian stallion Morelli and mysterious latino Ranger as her lover, eats all kinds of junk, never gets fat, and hangs around with the hilarious Lula. Sounds like a blast. Now to check out Adam Rutherford..

  3. Fabulous post Christina and Zana.
    Lysander sounds hotter than Hades. I'd love to be Elizabeth Bennett for a week so I could spar with Mr Darcy. Oh, and Ellen Ripley, because no one can fight a space ship of aliens like she does :)
    Great post :)

  4. Hi Zana and Christina
    I love the sound of your Lysander and Dr Rutherford.
    Who would I be? I can't pick one heroine but I tend towards suspense and the heroiines in those stories. At the moment I'm reading Beneath the Bleeding by Val McDermid with Carol Jordan supposedly about to solve the crime. She's cranky, a bit of a loner with a lot of hang ups. But she gets the job done.

    Natalie's picked a good one, I reckon.

    Sue MacKay

  5. Hi Christina - welcome to the LoveCats!

    Great blog post - can't wait to read The Weight of the Crown.

    Which heroine would I want to be for a week? Well, definitely not one in a suspense story or someone like Jane Eyre - she's great to cheer for, but would hate to live her life. It would have to be someone in a relatively comfortable situation who has a bit of fun... I think I'll vote with Helen and be Elizabeth Bennett. :)

  6. Hey Sharon, just dropping in because Christina is in England so in all likelihood still asleep! She'll be joining us later.

    I adore Romancing the Stone. What a tragedy that the woman who wrote it died shortly after. We lost a fabulous storyteller there!

  7. Ellen Ripley was a fantastic creation, Helen - apparently she was first written as a bloke! Great idea to change her.

    Loved your reasons for being Stephanie, Natalie!

  8. Hi Sharon, thanks for your kind words! I loved your mention of 'unexpected resourcefulness' - every writer needs a good dose of that!

  9. Great choice, Natalie - how DOES Stephanie manage all that? Wish there were no calories in chocolate cake...

  10. Hi Helen - Elizabeth Bennett (Like Beatrice in Much ado...) never had many of those "Oh, WHY didn't I think to say that at the time?" moments, did she?

  11. Hi Sue - Thanks for commenting. I think in fiction, crime detection and crankiness often go hand in hand...

  12. Hi Rachel, Elizabeth Bennett is definitely one of my favourites as well. The only trouble is, I couldn't have stood ten seconds in the company of her little sister Lydia!

  13. Hi Zana - thanks so much for inviting me here today!

  14. It is my pleasure, Christina and lovely to have you join us so early in your morning.

  15. Fabulous interview, Zana and Christina. I love a story about a buttoned-up heroine who learns to unwind. And Lysander sure sounds yummy to unwind with.

    Who would I choose to be for a week? Hmm... I love Lizzy Bennett but I'm not sure I could stand her mother and younger sisters for a whole week. I think I'd choose Georgette Heyer's Sophy from The Grand Sophy. That is one capable woman who knows how to have fun. :-)

  16. Marianne Dashwood from SENSE AND SENSIBILITY would be fun for a week. To do & say what I pleased without a thought for the consequences. She also snags Colonel Brandon who I have a soft spot for.

  17. I love Sophy, Michelle. I think she is the most endearing of all GH's heroines.

    Hey Marybelle, good to see another Austen woman being celebrated.

  18. Hi Marybelle - thanks for commenting. Colonel Brandon covering his sensitivity with unflappable common sense reminds me of my OH!

  19. I've never read Sophy, Zana, so I'll look out for her. Thanks for the tip!

  20. Hi Christina, hope I'm not too late to join in the fun! Totally see where you're coming from with Dr. Rutherford :-)
    I don't read many traditional 'heroine' novels, but Sergeant Angua from Terry Pratchett's Discworld series springs to mind as a woman who's really got it together and helps keep the city streets safe in her own way.
    All the best, from Ketty

  21. Hi Ketinka, my family are all wild about Discworld. Angua's another strong woman, and of course her little...condition adds an extra layer of conflict and interest.
    Thanks for commenting!

  22. Hi Christina,

    Lovely to read all your answers to Zana's fabulous questions!

    Can I be Bella from Twilight in love with a vampire?

  23. Hi Christina ... coming in a little late here, but welcome to LoveCats, it's lovely to have you here! Weight of the Crown sounds like a fabulous read -- I love the Mediterranean, and add to that some fabulous characters and a romance = the perfect read!

    If I could be the heroine in a book for a week, who would I choose to be ... now that's a tough question! I think I'd like to be Cecelia in Sorcery and Cecelia, because it's got a Regency setting (my favourite), plus she can do magic, plus there's adventure and a yummy hero!

  24. I do love the sound of this book

    As for a heroine I would like to be that is a hard one for me so many to choose from LOL although having enough money and all the glamour of being royalty would be great I am not sure I would like to give up my privacy either

    Have Fun

  25. Hey Nas, great to see you here.

    Em, I don't know Cecelia at all but I'm going to have to check that one out.

    Helen, I have to agree with you. Privacy is worth a fortune (she says on the internet!)

    CHRISTINA, thanks so much for being a great guest on Lovecats.

  26. Hi, Nas, Bella's great! Not sure about the vampire though...

  27. Hi Emily, it's great to be here. Cecelia sounds to have everything - Regency, a hunky hero and magic. That's some combination!

  28. Hi Helen, thanks for your kind words. A royal life must be wonderful, but as you say, in RL maybe the downside counteracts the good. Shame!

  29. It's been a pleasure, Zana. Thank you for inviting me!

  30. Now Christina, I've been thinking about this lots. Which heroine would I most like to be?I've come up with Eve from the JD Robb books. I love her futuristic world, her kick-ass work and, of course, her lover, Rourke. Might have something to do with his accent =)
    Thanks for being our guest here on Lovecats!

  31. Hi, Robyn, it's been lovely here on LoveCats!
    J D Robb writes great characters and yes, Eve's right up there with the best.

  32. Hi Christina,

    Hmmmm i would to be Bonnie from Vampire Diaries by L.J.Smith. She does incredible magic.

  33. Hi Sonali, thanks for commenting. I don't know Bonnie, but there are so many times in life that a touch of magic would come in useful, she sounds ideal!