We’re so excited about launching our brand new series DARE! DARE features smart, sassy heroines you’d want as a best friend, and compelling intense heroes who are worthy of them. We had a chat with Off Limits author Clare Connelly to find out more…
Off Limits is a hot read! Have you always written sexy storylines, or was this your first?
I love ‘open door’ romance. Sex is obviously a very normal, healthy part of a relationship, and I feel that exploring a couple’s sexuality creates a more rounded romance. All of my books feature a high heat level, but the premise of Dare really gave me the ability to push those boundaries. I’m very comfortable writing the bedroom scenes – I always feel like it’s a very organic extension of my couple’s interaction. It’s never sex for the sake of sex; as with real life, it serves to further their emotional connection.
What can you tell us about the inspiration behind Off Limits?
I wanted to write a hero who had loved deeply and lost – who had been almost completely broken by that loss – and who fought very hard not to be put back together, as though remaining broken was the ultimate proof of his love for his late wife. Jack has a lot of baggage, and he’s his own worst enemy. He doesn’t want to feel anything for anyone because he’s afraid it will devalue what he shared with Lucy. I loved writing his emotional contradictions. He has a huge heart but is terrified of using it again. Gemma has to gently break through his barriers and take the lead in their relationship, yet, at the same time, of course she’s utterly terrified of loving a man who can’t and won’t love her back.
How do you feel about being one of the first authors to write for Mills & Boon’s new series, Dare?
Writing for Dare is a dream come true. Let’s face it, writing anything for Mills & Boon is that! But I was sold on the premise of Dare from the first moment it was described to me. Modern, sexy, gritty and realistic – with the satisfaction readers know they can count on from a Mills & Boon. I think this series has universal appeal.
Your book has a lead female character who is a driven lawyer. Do you consider yourself a feminist?
Absolutely! I have two wonderful sisters and my mum is an incredibly strong, resilient and fiercely intelligent woman. She always set a great example – she taught us to work hard, and be kind, fair and gracious. These lessons are something I am ever-mindful of passing on to my son and daughter.
Why did you choose London and Sydney to feature in your book?
Beyond the fact it suited the story, I am a complete Anglophile! I have always loved the UK – London is a heady mix of history and contemporary glamour – which makes it an ideal story setting. My husband and I spent four years in London and I feel so very bonded to the beautiful city and its people. It is in my blood! But, first and foremost, I’m Australian, and I think an Australian setting has so much to offer. While our cities are cosmopolitan and urbane, our climate and the natural beauty of the country are beyond compare. I wanted my reader to fall in love with Jack and Gemma… and the locales they inhabit!
Do you envisage any celebrities when dreaming up your characters?
I do! I almost always start with a celebrity in mind, as I plot the book. It helps to get their ‘voice’ in place. But usually, by the second chapter, my characters have become fully their own people and I see them, instead of the original celebrity. In case you’re wondering, Colin Farrell and Gwyneth Paltrow were my Jack and Gemma inspiration.
Do you read in the same genre you write?
Yes! Voraciously. Well, I read almost anything, actually, but romance has always been my jam. I picked up my first Mills & Boon as a young adult (twelve years old) and wrote my first full manuscript at fifteen. And I read and read and read a lot of romances in between. Mills & Boon Modern is my go to, but really, I do read anything that has a strong narrative. I actually love crime and thrillers as well.
What are your top three books of all time?
Persuasion by Jane Austen
Million-Dollar Love-Child by Sarah Morgan
Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks
Duma Key by Stephen King
(I know, that’s four, but seriously… top three of all time? I can’t do it!)
What advice would you give to someone who wants to write but is too scared to start?
The best piece of advice I’ve ever received is that ‘writers write’. If you have a story to tell, you will find a way to tell it. Try not to put the cart before the horse – it can be onerous if you get bogged down in the concept of publication! Write because you want to tell a story, because you have a story worth telling. And enjoy the ride.
What was your biggest challenge in writing this book?
Ending it! When I write a book I really love, I don’t ever want to vacate their world. I fell so completely in love with Jack and Gemma that I felt an incredible responsibility to give them the ending they deserved. I needed to know that their HEA would truly stand the test of time.
And finally, when can we expect another book from you? We loved this one!
Burn me Once will be out in May – it’s a very sexy, fun read about a Grammy award winning rockstar on the rebound from a bad breakup, and his ‘convenient’ one-night stand … who becomes so much more.
Love the sound of Off Limits? Check it out here as well as the first set of DARE books!