We caught up with Modern author Melanie Milburne to chat about her new book One Night on the Virgin’s Terms, the first book in the Wanted: A Billionaire trilogy. Read on to find about more about the inspiration behind the trilogy and to get some fantastic film and TV show recommendations for romance lovers!
What was the inspiration behind your new book, One Night on the Virgin’s Terms?
One of my favourite story tropes is the friends to lovers one, or more specifically, falling for the older brother’s best friend, which is not all that surprising since I married my older brother’s best friend. My heroine Ivy Kennedy is desperate to lose her virginity, so she asks her brother’s friend Louis Charpentier to help her achieve her goal before she turns thirty the following month. But of course, one night is not enough for either of them!
My editor suggested writing a heroine-led trilogy for a change and I couldn’t have been happier to do so. My three heroines are friends and flatmates in London. Ivy Kennedy, Millie Donnelly-Clarke and Zoey Brackenfield are each grappling with issues in their lives. Ivy wants to lose her virginity before she turns thirty. Millie wants to protect her mother from yet another ruinous divorce, so engages top divorce lawyer Hunter Addison, the man she insulted on a blind date a couple of months ago. And Zoey is desperate to succeed with an advertising pitch for a lucrative project to prove she has what it takes to run her father’s advertising agency, but her arch rival Finn O’Connell is very much in the way!
What do you enjoy most about writing for the Mills & Boon Modern series?
I love an alpha hero with a heart and I love how it is the heroine who unlocks his guarded heart at last. I love crafting complex characters with deeply emotional issues to address. I enjoy taking my characters to exotic locations and watching them fall in love. And of course, I love the happy ending!
Could you tell us a little bit about your journey to becoming a published author?
As soon as I was old enough to understand what a book was, I wanted to be a writer. I was the annoying kid who won the creative writing prize every year during Primary School. My best friend from Kindergarten (we have been friends for a very long time!) told me recently how much she envied my ability to write so industriously beside her while she was still chewing her pencil, wondering what on earth to write about. But life didn’t go according to plan and I didn’t write my first novel until my boys had more or less finished high school. But once I finally gave myself permission to write, I embraced it fully. I wasn’t put off by my first four rejections, because I knew it would take time to work at my craft. I sold on my fifth submission and finally achieved what I knew I was put on the earth to do – write stories.
What does your writing routine involve?
I like to write with plenty of block time available because I can then stay with my characters without interruption. I like to do 2000 words a day, which means 10,000 a week and I usually have the weekend off if all goes to plan. Some days are 500-word days, other days are 5000. I try to be kind to myself and not worry if I don’t achieve my daily goal, as I know I will catch up when I get the chance.
What advice would you give to aspiring romance writers?
I used to say read as much as you can and I still say that, but really, I think one of the most important things to do is write as much as you can. Each book I write teaches me something about the writing craft and also about myself. Don’t be put off by the inner doubts – most writers have them, even the most successful ones. Learn to control them instead by having a counter script at hand – I can do this.
How would you describe your ideal romantic hero?
Intelligent, a sense of humour, compassionate and self-sacrificing.
What are some of your favourite romance films/tv shows? Any recommendations?
I love so many of the classic romantic comedies such as Doris Day and Rock Hudson in Pillow Talk and Lover Come Back. And anything with Cary Grant, such as An Affair to Remember and Arsenic and Old Lace. I love more modern classics like Notting Hill and Pretty Woman, One Fine Day, Crazy Stupid Love, Lars and the Real Girl, The Big Sick, Bridesmaids – I could go on and on!
I also love a good film or TV adaptation of my favourite Jane Austen novels such as Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Persuasion and Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. The most recent Emma featuring Bill Nighy is fabulous. And I have just finished watching Virgin River on Netflix and loved it. I can’t wait for Series Two.
What do you do in your spare time when you’re not writing?
Since becoming a grandmother last year, nothing gives me more joy than spending time with my little granddaughter. I love being with her and watching her develop. Her smile melts my heart and when her little arms reach out to me, I feel so incredibly blessed.
What are you currently reading?
I’m reading a thriller, The Bluffs by Kyle Perry a fellow Tasmanian author. I tend not to read romance while I’m working on a book and only read them when I’m between projects. Thrillers and crime novels might seem an odd reading choice for a romance author to read but good writing is good writing in any genre. I love a heart-stopping page-turner and I am often inspired by novels in other genres.