May 21, 2012

The World Inside my Head

As a newly published author one of the most common questions I’m asked is…what inspires you? So, as I’m a new cat on the block, I thought I’d introduce myself by letting you in on a few of my secrets, what inspires me and just what is going on with my brain cells?

WARNING: You may not want to know what’s inside my head –it’s not always pretty! Proceed with caution!

Waipu Township
Places  I love to travel, I’ve been very lucky and visited quite a few places on my bucket list, but there are tons more places I’m burning to see. I aim to use some of those locations in the settings of my stories- but it’s early days, and so far I’ve used the real place Waipu in Northland as my jumping off point for creating fictional towns North Beach and Atanga Bay in books 1,2 and 3. 

Waipu Cove Beach
But in book 4 (currently unfinished), we visit real cities –Auckland and Rotorua here in New Zealand. It’s fun making up your own places, you can decide what’s there, how it looks etc- but it’s also great to use actual places so that readers can visualize exactly where your characters are. I’m planning book 5 and itching to use more glamorous places- London, Paris, Sydney, possibly LA.

People  At first, when creating my characters I used to trawl through websites and find pictures of glamorous people to help inspire me. That’s great for the exterior image- who wouldn’t love the adorable Paul Sculfer or cute Natalie Portman (both inspirations for my The War-Hero’s Locked-Away Heart book)? 

Paul Sculfor- source BangShowbiz
The real essence of my characters comes from people I know- the inner strength they have  when faced with adversity, or people I read about. Recently I read Katie Piper’s story- OMG, what a brave and strong woman – such courage. I’ve also spent 22 years working as a nurse and know first hand what both sick people and medical professionals have to go through every day. Dedication and professionalism, humility, vulnerability, grim determination…

some of my current faves
Food As the owner of over 85 cookbooks I hold my hand up and say I LOVE FOOD! (My first ever writing gig was creating recipes for an organic veggie delivery service in Manchester, UK). So food rates pretty high on my must-have list for my stories. In each of my books I try to match appropriate food with characters- it’s a fun thing to do- and what’s nicer than having the hero cook for the heroine? My most recent cookbook purchase is Marian Keye’s Saved by Cake- which I bought not just for the recipes (and I need all the help I can get with baking) – but also for the story of her recovery from mental illness. I love food of all kinds- although, (dare I admit this?) I’m not a huge fan of ice-cream…

Passion By this I don’t just mean high sensuality rating- although I do love a good HOT book! I mean- belief in something so strongly that you would do anything to achieve it. As a budding writer I made my craft and aspiration my passion (although I do have others too – on a frivolous level I couldn’t live without Zumba, but on a more serious note I’m a passionate proud member of Amnesty International). I tend to create characters who have a passion for SOMETHING. In my first book One Month to Become a Mum my heroine’s passion was for helping underprivileged kids. In Waking Up with His Runaway Bride, Mim’s passion was keeping her GP practice open, despite the odds, in remembrance of her mother. And in The War Hero’s Locked-Away Heart, Skye’s passion was to travel. I just love someone with burning ambition or dedication to a cause, it adds an extra dimension to their character- what do they have to do to achieve their dream? How can I, as a writer, make it difficult for them? (Mwahahaha…)

So, that’s a bit about me, and some of what makes me tick. I’m very pleased to meet you all – tell me, what inspires you? What are you passionate about? Do you love food too –any cookbook recommendations?

I have a signed copy of One Month to Become a Mum to give away to one commenter.


  1. love the cover on your book! I'd have to say one of my passions, since it's spring here in Canada, is gardening.Love going to the greenhouses and spending a couple hours inhaling all the color and scents of Spring

  2. 85 cookbooks, glory, your family must love meal time in your house. love the way you put food to your characters and give them a passion that inspires them too.

  3. Hi Louisa,

    Thanks for sharing your inspirations with us. I'm impressed with your cookbook collection as I find ours, though not as large, gives us inspiration again and again. Recently I've been rediscovering some old faves as well as venturing out into new recipes - often recipes I've had for a while but haven't tried. Ah, life can be so good with a terrific meal to look forward to.

  4. Hi jbiggar! Thanks for your comments! Ah, gardening- there's nothing better than that fresh smell of spring, or first blush of tomatoes...the only problem with New Zealand is that we have such a lot of rain and then sunshine that everything grows too fast! I, also, only like to grow things I can eat, so I leave the rest of the flowers and things to my hubby to sort out!

  5. Hi Jane! Thanks for popping over! I always try to make a meal from scratch (although, I don't always have the time)- every Sunday I make a meal plan for the week and pour over my recipe books to find little gems I can try or use. I hope my family likes the food- although I sometimes have the odd disaster...and as they're growing teenagers they're often looking for quantity not quality!

  6. Hi Annie- you are so right- life is good with great food and a full stomach! We're very lucky to have access to such fine ingredients in our part of the world. Old favorites are great to revisit aren't they, and you can always put a new twist on them.

  7. LOL - I am such a cookbook addict too!!! When I went through Europe I picked up a national cookbook for every country I could find one written in English in - such fun. I still flick through those--even tho most recipes are a fail for me as I'm a plant-only eater. I love having characters who have a passion for something too - helps make them 'real' I think!
    But yeah, there's nothing I like more if I'm tired than sitting up in bed flicking though a cookbook - I've passed it on to one of my children too--she was struggling to get to sleep at night so I handed her a birthdaycakes book and told her to think about which nice cake she'd like for her birthday... now she flicks through all kinds of (dessert) cookbooks just before sleep too :) Now she really does have sweet dreams!!!

  8. Your cookbook collection sounds great! I love cooking, and so does my beloved, luckily. We often jostle about who will cook tea. :)

    Thanks for the recommendation of Marion Keyes's Saved by Cake - must go look it up now.

  9. Very nice post. I like food. I'm inspired by other people's success.


  10. Enter my husband as a cookbook reader and owner. I haven't really counted them but we have a four shelf bookcase full of cookbooks. He reads them in bed also. We haven't been buying as many lately as he's using the internet to find new recipes. One great side effect is I usually don't have to decide what to help him make. He's the cook and I am the kitchen helper. I'm amazed at some of the things we have managed to cook.

    I'm a gardener and a reader of romance. i'm passionate about tomatoes and primroses and hostas.

  11. Hi Louisa. I'm a real foodie and am passionate about cooking too. I think the number of cookbooks in our house is close to yours. I tend to include food in one way or another into my stories. In my latest book my heroine was a chef turned paramedic. My other passion, apart from my writing, is the great outdoors. Nothing beats trekking in the hills or along the beach.

  12. Hi Natalie! Two fabulous ideas- buying a cookbook for every country you visit- I tend to do that when I come home from holiday (but somehow the food just doesn't taste as good without the sun, wine, rest)- and giving your daughter a cookbook to help her sleep! Imagine the dreams- it'd be like being in a Willy Wonka factory!

  13. Hi Rach! I haven't tried any of Marian's recipes yet (I can cook really well, but I'm the world's worst baker!)- but I'm going to give it a go soon- she has some really good looking things in there: I think I'll do the Wasabi and White chocolate cupcakes with salted caramel icing- sounds yummy!!!!!

  14. Hi bn! Thanks for your comments. I agree- there's nothing like seeing someone pursue their dream and achieving it to inspire you on your own journey!

  15. Hi kaelee! There's nothing nicer than having someone cook for you- you lucky thing! And I'm passionate about tomatoes too- I hate the supermarket pale pink ones and LOVE mine when they're dark red, just plucked off the vine and warmed by the afternoon sun- nothing tastes like them!

  16. Hi Sue! Great- dinner at yours then! One day....

    I know what you mean about being outdoors- feeling the elements on your skin- it's magical! (until it rains...) I just wish I had more time to enjoy it.

    Oh- and as an aside- I felt the elements on my skin today as I was sitting at my desk. It was pouring with rain outside...and suddenly inside too. Must get that study roof fixed!

  17. Louisa, I think that first and foremost romance writers are readers...who like to read everything. And, frankly, what's not to love about curling up with a gorgeous cookbook? :-)

    Good food, good wine, good company and good health -- other than a good book, what more could one want. ;-)

  18. I tend to cook tried & true. My family do not seem to appreciate some of my more valiant efforts.

    The best cookbook I ever came across was DAY TO DAY COOKING. It was the standard text for High School cooking. My Mother still uses it even now some ........... years later. It had the basics that you could then build upon.

  19. I have lots of cookbooks too! My similarly-obsessed friends and I call them our "food porn" -- and that's not just the Nigella Lawson ones! ;)

    I love cooking, although I would estimate that my collection of recipes outnumbers the times I actually get around to cooking. But it's great fun to read about, even if I don't even up getting out a mixing bowl or saucepan.

  20. Hi Louisa,

    It's been lovely to learn more about you.

    I love your coments about passion. What could be more desirable, more sexy than a man with passion for a cause or an idea. Equally, I love a heroine who cares so deeply about something that she'll test herself and her relationship in following her beliefs.

    I'm passionate about getting my man to cook as often as he can =)

  21. Barb, dh pretty much flat out refuses to cook! Bowl of Cornflakes anyone?? lol

    Hey, Louisa! Inspiration and passion is so important - in writing and in everyday life. My passions are, well, writing and reading. Which sounds a bit too obvious, but there you go lol
    I love making my characters and story come to life. I love buying tons of books to see how others do it.
    I also love cats...another obvious one. =)
    (The guy who doesn't cook will even admit he loves the new kitten too)

  22. Michelle! I absolutely agree! Good times indeed! I like to 'read' a cookbook- they're usually so much more than recipes, they're a slice of the author's life too.

  23. Hi Marybelle- thanks for the tip, I'll look out for Day to Day- it's always good to have the basics covered! I'm trying to teach my teenage sons to cook- but they only seem to want to eat (not spend any time cooking)

  24. Emmie! Food porn- love it! (Nigella does it so well, though doesn't she?)

  25. Hi Barb! Ha! Good luck with getting your man to cook- if he does it more frequently than mine (almost never) you're on to a good thing! Strange thing is, my dh taught me how to cook and we spent lots of time cooking together when we were just married- but things seems to have gotten in the way recently. I must drop bigger hints!

  26. Hi Robyn! Writing is a great excuse for reading, eh? So good to have a passion in your life, a good reason to get up in the morning, and fabulous when that passion is also your job! How lucky are we?

  27. I love to travel, too, Louisa! Yep, definitely a passion! I've been lucky enough to have spent quite a bit of time exploring New Zealand and now Australia - doing some more Outback exploring now as a matter of fact!

    I pruned the cookbooks a while back... though couldn't part with as many as I should have. Some of them have great "sounding" recipes that never quite hit the mark. One of our absolute favourites is a microwave cook book (fast food) and the other is a crock pot cookbook (very sloooow food!)

    Lovely to find out more about what goes on in your head!

  28. ouch.. i dont like cook but i like food *grin

    my passion : reading so many books and hope one day i can be a writer as like so many great authors :)

  29. Hi Sharon! Thanks for popping in when you're so busy having an adventure! Lucky you- I'm so jealous, you must send us regular updates (and photos). Oh- you ruthless woman, I'm no good at pruning any books, I can't bear to throw them away and struggle to give them away- when we emigrated we had to get rid of loads of things and I almost cried when I had to sort through my books.

  30. Hi Eli, thanks for commenting! Best of luck with the writing! Keep at it- I'm sure you'll get there!