On studying Arabic and seeing letters in colour: Let’s meet Lara Temple

On studying Arabic and seeing letters in colour: Let’s meet Lara Temple

Author Lara Temple has her first book – LORD CRAYLE’S SECRET WORLD – out now and available for your reading pleasure at last! We love getting to know whose stories we’ll undoubtedly be growing to love in the Harlequin family, so here’s Lara to answer a few nosey questions…

Share five things we’d probably never guess about you.  

  • I met my wonderful husband when I was fourteen and he seventeen and we went out on two dates (not sure they would even qualify as such!). It was a disaster – I was a shy, nerdy thing, and utterly overwhelmed by the age difference and I chickened out royally. We met again many, many years later, both after having been in other relationships. And did a much better job…

  • I have synaesthesia – I see letters and numbers and even musical notes in colour. It took me many years to realise not everyone had this strange quality – it’s very useful for memorising phone numbers!

  • I used to skip classes sometimes during high school. But being a nerd I would go to the library and find a quiet corner and surround myself with romance novels and Scientific American magazines. Amazingly my teachers never complained about my absences, I suppose they felt that so long as I got good grades, they should give me a long leash – I really appreciate their forbearance! I still get a strange feeling of comfort when I smell that very specific musty library smell.

  • I studied Arabic in Egypt and travelled all over that amazing, complex country – I camped out in the oases of the wild Libyan desert, climbed the pyramids in the moonlight, played backgammon with the locals in the markets, but also witnessed the darker side of the very difficult political situation.

  • In between work, kids, and now my writing I am working (very very slowly) towards a doctorate in philosophy of mind – it is marvellous agony – sometimes frustratingly impenetrable but when I finally manage to get my mind around a knotty problem, I feel on top of the world.  

What was the inspiration for your book, LORD CRAYLE’S SECRET WORLD?

I was in the military and then I worked on Wall Street and in the City for many years – all very male-dominated environments which present women, even today, with a host of challenges that have nothing to do with the profession itself. If it is so challenging today, I wondered what it would have been like for a woman to find herself dealing with such male environments at a time when women were a very, very distant second class citizen. Where the will to succeed could in itself be a hindrance.

The challenge was not just to create a heroine who could credibly succeed in such a world, but a hero who was strong enough to not only accommodate but embrace her ambition (and her for that matter, of course…). I think Michael and Sari fulfil my ambitions perfectly, but I am a bit biased… 

How much of yourself is reflected in the book?

Like Sari, I grew up in a chaotic environment (artist parents, frequent moves). In Sari’s case it leads to an over-developed sense of responsibility and loyalty and sometimes an almost self-destructive need to prove herself. Like Michael, I served in the military and witnessed the cost of violence and having to be accountable for people lives. Michael’s reaction is a heightened sense of responsibility, the need to maintain order, and to ensure that the country he cares for is not dragged into destructive situations again. I wanted these qualities to feed the conflict between Michael and Sari and also be at the root of what draws them together. Passion threatens their hard-earned stability, but if the risks of admitting need and love are great, so are the rewards.

Do you tend to read in the same genre you write?

I love historical romances, and grew up on Georgette Heyer (I still re-read her with great pleasure) but I probably read more murder mysteries (both historical and contemporary but always with either a strong romantic or psychological slant). I have read all of the Sherlock Holmes books countless times, as well as every P.D. James, and have just read a fine historical mystery/romance by Arianna Franklin. I hate coming to the last book of a particular favourite author – it’s like being kicked out of paradise. I keep them all and hope with time that my overburdened mind will forget the plot so I can go back and read them again.

What’s your writing process like? Talk us through your day.

With two little kiddies (4 and 6) my days are pretty hectic, but on days they are in school I come home from dropping them off, tidy up the inevitable chaos of getting them out the door, make a cup of tea, a slice of toast, open the veranda doors and set up my laptop on my dining room table which overlooks our garden. And write, and write, and write…

I have to set two separate alarms to make certain I snap out of my dream world so I can go pick up the kids. Once they are home, there is absolutely no chance to work. I always worked hard in my profession, but I never had as much fun!

What is in store for your readers next?

My next book will be “The Reluctant Viscount” – a story of betrayal and redemption. Adam, Lord Delacort, was driven from England by scandal and betrayal and returns a decade later a rich and very cynical rake. My heroine has always looked after her family’s interests at the expense of her own, but she is far from being the meek wallflower she appears. When she seeks Adam’s help to rescue her cousin she becomes entangled in a plot against him. Drawn together by passion and instinct, they must overcome the scars of betrayal in order to find redemption in love.

I am also working on a story which takes place in the glittering gambling houses of Venice where my hero, a very roguish rake, and my heroine, an apparently nameless adventurer on the run, are drawn together by danger and passion.

Tell us the best advice you’ve been given about writing.

Writing is like any job. Sit down, every workday, and write. DO NOT WAIT FOR INSPIRATION.

I grew up with artists who really believed that talent is everything and one must only wait to be discovered. Pretty early on I realised this was nonsense. Then I read an article about Stephen King and the one thing that stuck in my mind was how prosaic his description of the writing process was –he sat down at the same time and same place every day, and wrote for hours. That simple image stuck with me for years but it wasn’t until the So You Think You Can Write competition (SYTYCW) in 2014 that I started doing precisely that (THANK YOU Harlequin!). Now, every day I sit down in the same place, more or less at the same time, and write. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes abysmal, but overall it is a wonderful privilege and joy.

Thank you so much Lara Temple for sharing your thoughts with us! Don’t forget to grab your copy of LORD CRAYLE’S SECRET WORLD now!