Today we have Australian author, Rebecca Byfield in the hot seat to celebrate the launch of her new book, The William S Club.
About the Author:
Riley Banks is a pen name. My real name is Rebecca Byfield (I write Young Adult novels under my real name).
I started my career in journalism while living in Papua New Guinea and Saudi Arabia. I have since travelled the world with my husband, three children, two Cocker Spaniel dogs and one very lucky street cat.
I have since returned 'home' to Australia and now live in Tasmania
Do you plan everything or just let the story flow?
A little of both - I try to have some idea in mind of where the story is taking me but I am not one to plan out every step along the way. More than anything, I like to let the characters lead me where they want to take me...
Do your characters ever want to take over the story?
Ha, and now I have seen this question so yes, my characters definitely change things up. Sometimes I've been heading in one direction but it just doesn't feel right for the character and I've changed the plot to fit them. After all, it is my characters I befriend, not the plot line.
What is your favourite food?
Very difficult question. I enjoy so many different types of cuisine that I'd be hard pressed to pick just one but I do have a soft spot for French food... and Japanese, and Thai...
Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Definitely a morning person. With three kids and a husband (all who love to hog the computer) the only way I get time out to write is to get up at the crack of dawn while they're all still in bed. Have been known to be at the computer typing furiously at 4.30am while they all sleep in.
Where do you dream of travelling to and why?
I have done quite a bit of travel over the years but there are still so many places I'd love to go. Russia, Canada, South America, to name just a few. In fact, one of my biggest dreams - and what I'll do when my writing finally pays me a full time wage - is to drive around the world with my husband. First stop would be Alaska where I'd love to drive all the way down to the tip of Argentina.
Do distant places feature in your books?
Definitely. Having travelled so much and having lived overseas, I love to feature exotic destinations in my books. The William S Club starts in London and takes in Paris, Nice, Vienna, Portofino and Dubai before getting to Sydney. It also has scenes set in Switzerland and Washington DC so it is quite a 'global' book. Another series I write for YA (www.vampireorigins.net) features an expatriate family who have lived in nine different countries before landing in Romania. Having lived as expats ourselves, and having raised my children as expats, it will always be there.
Do you listen to music while writing?
Sometimes. It depends on my mood. I have two play lists dedicated to writing. One is purely instrumental for when song lyrics get in the way of my creativity. Another just has songs I love that inspire me. But sometimes, I just need silence.
The concept for The William S Club started when reading an article about property prices throughout history. I had just ordered Chinese and started thinking 'wouldn't it be great if we could have bought property during the war? How much would that property be worth now?' From there I started jotting down notes and creating characters that could be interwoven into the story and voila! The William S Club was born. It follows journalist Charlotte Burke who changed her name to escape her past.
Charlotte's latest assignment sees her attending a cross-continental press trip with Harvey Incorporated, which puts her on a collision course with the past she was trying to escape. Everything Charlotte thought she knew is about to be turned upside down as the William S Club pulls strings behind the scenes, leading her back to the one place on earth she swore she'd never return - Sydney.
It is hard to pinpoint one genre for the book. It has elements of romance in the growing connection between Charlotte and Damon Harvey. There is the suspense in the background with readers turning pages to find out what The William S Club's big secret is and what their interest is in Charlotte. With quite a few heated sex scenes, it has elements of erotica without actually being an erotic novel. The one thing that is clear - every person who has read it has found it impossible to put down, with nearly all finishing within a day or two at the most.
What have you learned about writing and publishing since you first started?
Heaps. When I look back over my early writing, I cringe and wonder how I ever sold anything. That goes for both my fiction and my journalistic work. An over reliance on adverbs and flowery prose, not enough character development and backstory...
Is there anything you would do differently?
I have changed all of the above. I also send my work out to be critiqued and edited by others. One thing I have also learned how to do is to place a hook at the end of each chapter that makes readers hate to put the book down. Never, ever end a chapter with a relaxing scene. Always keep the adrenaline levels high.
Who, or what, if anything has influenced your writing?
I've always loved to write. I remember writing short stories for my friends when I was still in primary school. Funny, those friends kept those stories and still love to read through them. As a child, I grew up reading lots. I was insatiable with books, reading well into the night. Some of my favourite authors as a child were CS Lewis, Enid Blyton and Stephen Lawhead. I loved to read these magical worlds the authors had created. My dad always hated that I read so much, thinking I should concentrate more on the real world. But the real world will always be there. Fiction allows me to escape into my imagination for brief periods of time.
Anything you would say to those just starting out in the craft?
Read voraciously. Don't just stick to your favourite genre. Read many different styles and by many different authors. And yes, even read some that get caned by the critics so you can see how NOT to do it. Don't go overboard on descriptions and limit your use of adverbs and exclamation marks (I'm reading The Hunger Games right now and on one page, I think I counted 30 exclamation marks). A wise author once told me there should be no more than 2 or 3 per book (says me fighting the urge to put an exclamation mark at the end of that sentence).
What are three words that describe you?
Passionate (about my family, life, travel, writing, books - if you don't believe in things with passion, then you're just wishy washy). Dreamy - I do love to live inside my head and have so many dreams at night, I've taken to keeping a notebook by my bed. Talkative - whether it is in my writing or verbally, I don't mind having a chat. I was blessed with the gift of the gab.
What's your favourite book or who is your favourite writer?
Just one? Hmm, I love Gone with the Wind. For its time, it really pushed the envelope. Scarlett O'Hara might have been a hussy but she had the courage to stand by her choices and accept the consequences for her actions. She is my inspiration in writing strong female leads that don't always need to be rescued (but don't mind it every now and again).
Blurb of your latest release or coming soon book:
The William S Club
A beautiful Australian journalist who changed her name and fled her homeland, a billionaire property magnate who dredges up her tortured past and an elite club with a secret they have killed to protect.
Sydney is the one place Charlotte Burke swore she would never return but The William S Club have other plans.
Lust, sex, violence, blackmail and even murder, they will stop at nothing to keep their secret hidden, pushing Charlotte and the other players towards their dangerous end-game.
List of previous books if any: The Vampire Origins (previously available
for sale but now going through a rewrite). (www.vampireorigins.net)
Any websites/places readers can find you on the web:
http://www.aussieicon.com (being redeveloped).
Thank you, Rebecca and good luck with your books :)