Nov 30, 2012

Special Guest: Imelda Evans talks about Melbourne

First, thank you so much ladies for having me on the Lovecats!  I am a big fan of you all so it’s a great honour to be invited.

I wanted to share with you today a bit about the setting of my debut novel with Destiny Romance, Rules are for Breaking

Rules are for Breaking is set in Melbourne, which, for those who don’t know, is the capital city of Victoria, Australia and my adopted home town.  

I’m a big believer in setting.  I like to be able to visualise the houses my characters live in and the places where they work and play – basically anywhere that’s important to the story.  I’m weirdly fussy about it.  I’m quite happy to plunge into a story without knowing the colour of a character’s eyes or hair, but I’ll spend hours wandering town looking for a building that looks like a good home for my heroine’s business, or drawing the floor plan of her flat.  (Some might say that I spend too long, but is it my fault that my fantasies tend to real estate?  I think not.  It’s research, I say!  Very important for writers. ;) )

In the case of Rules are for Breaking I had ample scope for fun research, because buildings are quite important in this story.  Quite without me meaning them too, the buildings that are most associated with my two lovers became metaphors for their differences and, in the end, for the things they had in common.

Jo, my heroine, is an art dealer and the story opens in her art gallery.  In the story I don’t specify exactly where the gallery is, or what it looks like, but, like most of my settings, it had a real-life inspiration. 

I discovered ‘Jo’s gallery’ many years ago, not long after I moved to Melbourne – although I didn’t know then that it would star in a story one day.  I was just trying to get a feel for the city. 

I didn’t have a car in those days, so I walked everywhere.  I hoofed it to Italian in Lygon St and Laksa in Chintatown; I strolled south across the river to the Botanical Gardens and back north to loiter in the grand domed reading room of the State Library; I explored the Paris end of Collins St and, one fateful day, I wandered up Bourke St, in search of the coffee with a side order of flirting that no-one does quite like Pellegrini’s.

The Eureka Tower on Southbank in Melbourne
And there it was: on the corner of Bourke and Exhibition Sts, next to Hill of Content, one of my favourite bookshops.  A commercial art gallery, a thing I had not previously known existed (I was young at the time, remember).  It was selling Aboriginal art (and still does) and I remember lusting after many of the pieces, which were lovely but well out of my price range.

But even more than the art, I remember coveting the space.  It’s not enormous, but it is white of wall, high of ceiling and flooded with light and in that moment I, who wouldn’t know good art from guano and who shudders at the idea of running any kind of retail outfit, wanted to own it.

The Eureka Tower on Southbank in Melbourne
I soon left and forgot my crazy impulse, but when I came to write a story about Jo, a young Melbournite lucky in her profession, but unlucky in love, oddly enough she turned out to be an art dealer with a gallery that looked, at least in my head, exactly like that one I first saw in Bourke street 20 years ago.  (Which just goes to show that you should never annoy a writer because they apparently don’t forget EVER and EVERYTHING is material.) 

Jo has poured her heart and soul into that gallery.  She has built her whole life around it and the quiet, genteel, old, simple, low-rise building it lives in.  She’s happy in it – mostly. 

And then in swans Declan, an engineer from Sydney who spends his working life building tall, ultra-modern and complicated buildings, like the one pictured in the photos.

On the surface, they have nothing in common.  But ironically, it is through his ridiculously tall, loud, almost brash, building that he starts to make her see that maybe they share more than she thinks.  Enough for unexpected friendship.  And maybe even love.

Rules are for Breaking is a contemporary romance about two stubborn people who have to learn that they can’t run their love lives the way they run their businesses if they want a happy ending.  It’s also a story about buildings and music and picnics and rock-climbing and how you know when you’ve found ‘The One’.  It’s available now from Destiny Romance and I hope you like it!

Thanks for visiting us, Imelda! Melbourne is one of my favourite cities, so it was great to hear more about it, *and* to hear more about your debut book - it sounds like a whole heap of fun.

If you want to find out more about Rules Are For Breaking, you can see it on Destiny's website. You can visit the lovely Imelda on Facebook or Twitter or pop over to her website.  


  1. Hi Ladies & Imelda, great post. Rules are for Breaking is wonderful. I truly loved the character of Jo. I think your building metaphors are mighty interesting and appropriate. If anyone hasn't read Rules are for Breaking yet then they should get a move on! It's fantastic.

  2. Aren't you a love? Thank you!

    It's funny, because I hadn't actually thought about their juxtaposed buildings until I wrote this post. Must have been the girls in the basement who did that! But it's true that I do have real estate fantasies. And I'm ridiculously picky about setting, especially since a lot of it doesn't actually get into the book. I even drew a floorplan of Jo's flat... Is there a name for the condition, do you think? :)

  3. Hi Imelda!
    Fabulous to have you on the LoveCats! Rules Are For Breaking sounds terrific (adding to my to-buy list right now!) and it's a great cover!

    LOL on your real estate fantasies! It sounds like you really explored Melbourne and found all sorts of wonderful places.

    I did laugh at your advice about not annoying a writer because they store everything up for potential use in a book! We do, don't we!

    Good luck with Rules Are For Breaking! I'm sure it will be a smash hit!

  4. Imelda, I've only had the chance to the first couple of paras of Rules are for Breaking and I really like Jo already! Great story about finding that gallery and using the setting so many years later. I've done that too.

  5. Imelda, many congratulations on the release of Rules Are For Breaking. I LOVE the cover!

    I hear you on the real estate lust. One of my favourite idle-moment games is to draw up the floor plan of my dream house. I find the more over the top I can get the better. There's just so much fun to be had. :-)

    P.S. And I love the sound of Pellegrini's -- it must be that side order of flirting. ;-)

  6. Hi Imelda!

    Congratulations! Rules Are For Breaking sound wonderful and I'm looking forward to reading it!

    All the best!

  7. Thanks, everyone and thanks for having me, Lovecats!

    Sharon, I hope you like it. I did explore Melbourne. When we moved here, first I didn't have a job and then I worked right in the city. There is nothing like being there day in day out to really insert a city under your skin. Although I didn't use heaps of landmarks and none by name, I think the 'feel' of Melbourne is in the story. Jo is very much a Melbourne girl!

    Jennifer I hope you like Jo's story as well! You remind me a bit of her, actually. Not in colouring, obviously, but in style. I think you'd get on well!

    Thanks Michelle, I'm kind of taken with the cover too. I think the Destiny covers are gorgeous. And were we perhaps separated at birth? I thought I was the only person to draw up fantasy house plans! I must show you the one with the library some time... Re Pellegrini's, it's run by actual Italians and I don't think it's possible for an Italian man to speak to a woman without flirting a bit. I grew up in Fremantle, which has Italians like Melbourne has Greeks, so I feel at home there!

    Nas, thank you! I hope you like it, when you can shoehorn it into your busy reading schedule! :)

  8. Hi Imelda - congratulations on the release of Rules Are or Breaking - I am about to fire up my kindle and add it to my TBR read pile. Fabulous interview and lovely to have you visit LoveCats. :)

  9. Thank you Helen! I do love that it's so easy to buy books online. (I have stopped recording my purchases in the budget spreadsheet. Shhh!) I hope you like it. It was fun writing this post and I found out some things I didn't know myself while doing so!

  10. Welcome Imelda, and congrats on the release of Rules are for Breaking!

    Great post, although I am now terribly aware how vague I am with the descriptions of buildings in my books! Oh dear :)

  11. Ah, Imelda, does your library have a mezzanine level, wrought iron scrollwork and lots of wood panelling?

    Yes, there's far too much fun to be had with that game!


  12. No, Michelle, it does not! I must remedy that immediately! Although it does have deep Chesterfields and blood red velvet wing chairs and those ladder things that roll along the bookshelves. I like this game! :)

  13. Thanks Leah! And I wouldn't worry. I don't necessarily describe them all in detail. The tall one in this story is an exception, as it's a plot point, of sorts. I just have to have them clear in MY head. I get all antsy if I don't know where they go when they get up and storm out of the room! ;)

  14. Hey Imelda! Congrats on the release of Rules Are For Breaking. It's so great to help celebrate. The conflict between your Hero and heroine sounds brilliant. Can't wait to read it. =)
    PS I love Melbourne too.

  15. Imelda, thanks for visiting us at the LoveCats! Your book sounds fabulous.

    Buildings have been important in some of my books too - in Million-Dollar Amnesia Scandal the hero and heroine both have claim to a grand old hotel with a lighthouse on the grounds. Pretty much the whole story takes place there. I had such a clear idea of what it all looked like, partly thanks to photos of real lighthouses and old hotels as well as photos of the Connecticut coastline.

    Looking forward to reading Rules Are For Breaking!

  16. Thanks Robyn, I hope you like it!

    Thank you too Rachel! I love the sound of a hotel with a lighthouse. I wanted to live in a lighthouse when I was a child. I loved the idea of a tower and the isolation (pick the person who grew up in a big family). My buildings aren't quite that romantic!

    Thanks for having me! It was quite illuminating writing this post and you guys are so lovely. It's been fun!

  17. Congrats on the book! It sounds good.

  18. Looking forward to reading, Rules are for Breaking, Imelda.

  19. Hi Imelda,

    Thanks for sharing some of the background to your book. I love how places and feed into and even inspire some stories. Having the setting in your head is a great way to make the story and the characters real, I find. It was interesting hearing you talk about this location and realising I know it. Not well, as I'm not a Melbourne local, but enough to recognise it. I'll have to pop in next time I'm there. Good luck with the book release!

  20. Congrats on your release, Imelda.
    I've been across the ditch to Melbourne a few times now and it is absolutely my fav Australian city. In fact, my favorite RWA conference was in Melbourne a few years back at the Langham. A lovely introduction to the city.

  21. Ah, Joanne, the Langham is one of my favourite places full stop! It's so gorgeous I feel pampered just walking in there. It was a great place to have a conference and that was a fun one! Thanks for the congrats!

    Annie, I love to recognise a location in a book or even a movie. I get a thrill out of it, whether it's somewhere I've visited or somewhere I've lived. I hope other people enjoy visualising the locations in mine! I'm tickled that you recognised the gallery, although it's only the feel not the location that I used in the book. I don't know what the rent is on that shop in the centre of the city, but I thought it was probably more than my young gallery owner could afford, so I wasn't too specific!

    Eleni, thank you! I hope you like it!