I first blogged about Ally Blake, back in 2013, whilst I was more than a little obsessed with the Modern Tempted (aka Harlequin KISS or M&B RIVA) line. Since then she’s written a book via Facebook and released a number with Tule Publishing.
Her latest, Love Me Tender, is the first full length novel in her Cinderella Project series, and after inhaling it, I caught up with her to ask some questions.
Serafina Scott is loyal and intelligent, making sacrifices for the father that she loves. What comes across is her incredible strength; what do you think makes a #StrongRomanceHeroine?
From a light, perky, shoulders-back-and-smile-through-it-all heroine to a tough, abrasive, no-backing-down-for-anyone heroine, a heroine who is true to herself will always be a strong one.
Serafina’s truth is her love for her dad. He’s been her staunchest supporter and she’ll always be the same for him come hell, or high water…or true love.
Being part-Italian, I really loved the way that tiny details imbued Sera’s heritage; what made you decide to make her roots Italian?
Oh yay! I’m so pleased that rang true for you.
Since watching The Godfather I knew I was going to marry an Italian :). The language, the dark features, and all that innate swagger. Sigh… My husband is half-Italian so I did just fine.
For all that I’d never purposely intended for Serafina’s father to be Italian. He simply appeared on the page watching Toto movies on his tablet.
That last part (and many of the “tiny details” I added along the way) definitely came via my Italian father-in-law. He had zero interest in the internet until he realized the connections it gave him to his Italian roots. He’s already Skyped a zillion more times than I ever will!
Conflict is always central to any romance’s narrative, but the tragedy in Murdoch’s past makes him really stand out. How do characters’ internal conflicts and histories jump fully formed into your mind, or do they surprise you as you write?
My characters ALWAYS surprise me as I write.
I might have a tiny inkling at the beginning as to where their conflicts spring from, but their deeper truths are revealed to me as they are revealed to the reader. Piece by piece, layer by unpeeled layer, until they are laid bare and vulnerable.
One of my favourite characters in the novel is interfering fairy godmother Hazel. How important do you think secondary characters are within romances?
For me, secondary characters are of utmost importance.
The hero and heroine are two-dimensional to one another when they first meet, as they are to the reader. Seeing them with their families, co-workers, and best friends lets us see who they really are once their guards are down.
The hero and heroine also reveal so much more of how they are feeling to those close to them than they will to one another…which makes for delicious fun!
Love Me Tender is part of The Cinderella Project, (the prequel being Kiss Me Quick). Are we going to get to see other characters star in their own books?
Hazel – along with her new match-making business (The Cinderella Project) – is the through line: after trying to take over Kiss Me Quickshe simply refused to be left behind. And as readers keep getting in touch asking when this character is getting a book, or that one, what had started out as a one book story has fast morphed into a half dozen in my head!
As for now, Tell Me True is due for release early next year with Hold Me Now coming a couple of months after that and already a few favourite characters have put in appearances 🙂
Ally Blake has spent more than ten years in romance publishing. In that time she has travelled the world with her ever-patient husband researching fabulously noveliscious locations, had three bright bumptious kids, happily represented the romance genre on The Project and A Current Affair and in New Idea and eaten more M&Ms than should be medically possible.