Today my guest is author LaVerne Clark who's come all the way from New Zealand to Terry's Place. Welcome.
Thanks so much for having me on your blog Terry! I’m thrilled to be here.
I’ve read Romantic Suspense novels for years. Throughout those years, I’ve traveled all around America, discovering hidden pockets of the country through the adventures I’ve read and loved every minute of it.
Now I’m writing for the American market, with my debut novella, Guardian of the Jewel released by The Wild Rose Press late last year, and a whole new world has opened up to me. Seeing Guardian take its place on the virtual shelves alongside more well-known authors was a bit like sending my child off to its first day of school. I was proud and terrified at the same time. Would it be okay? Would it make friends or would it be bullied? How would it get on out there in the big, wide world? And how would people react to an Alien writer on their shelves?
Selling in America was the Holy Grail to me, but I admit to a case of killer nerves wondering how my Kiwi flavor and voice would be received. I desperately hoped the American public would ‘get’ what I had to say and how my characters said it, with the minimum of confusion along the way. I needn’t have worried – you are a smart lot : )
Spell-check combined with language setting have been such wonderful friends during this journey : ) It gently reminds me when I’m spelling words like ‘flavor’, in Kiwi-speak, making it a breeze when it comes to editing and making for a much happier editor I’m sure! Apart from that obvious difference, my fears of being from the opposite side of the world have been unfounded. If anything, I think it can be a bonus. Armchair traveling is safe, informative and cheap!
Yes, we are different, but this is where the fascination lies for me. I may be generalizing, but American’s have always come across as jovial and expansive. Everything they do is big and they are rightly proud of their achievements. America is the world leaders in many things, and New Zealand will often follow along like the sheep we’re renowned for some time after. Although we’re genuinely interested and welcoming to strangers, we can often be wary and standoffish. A throwback to our English ancestors I suspect : ) Tucked away at the bottom of the world, before the advent of airplanes, having strangers come to your shores was often met with suspicion and fear. In the case of the Maori, they often had good reason to feel this way. Maybe remnants of that still linger in the psyche of the average New Zealander today.
New Zealanders have a strong affinity for the land and is a theme I use with my characters. The land shapes who we are, our personalities often echoing the setting around us. Amy (the heroine of Guardian) for example, is strong and independent. She lives on the West Coast of the South Island with her son in an isolated town called Waiuta. It was once a thriving gold mining town, but had been abandoned for years and since become a ghost town. Amy’s husband was brutally murdered while overseas, and she feels her isolation and abandonment keenly in this lonely place. The West Coast has a reputation for wild weather and harsh beauty which pulls at the romantic soul – a perfect place to set a story. With this in mind, Amy needed the resilience at her core to survive and when danger comes her way, this trait becomes an important tool to help her through a life-threatening situation.
A trip to New Zealand wouldn’t be complete without discovering a little about the culture and history of the Maori. Being proud of my own Maori heritage, I like to highlight a few Maori phrases, places or myths. Sharing tidbits with readers is one of the most enjoyable aspects of writing for me and one I hope readers enjoy also. I hope it whets your appetite enough to come and visit some day.
What is your favorite place to ‘visit’ when choosing a book to read and what is it that appeals to you most about this place?
LaVerne is giving away a download of Guardian of the Jewel to one commenter. Winner announced on Saturday. You can find more about LaVerne at her blog, Novel Natterings. For more about Guardian of the Jewel, click here.