Welcome to Fabulous Fiction, which celebrates books so good, you just want to hug them when you’re done reading.
It’s August. It’s conference month. And yes… you’re getting this blog a teensy bit later than its scheduled delivery date, so sorry. Can I blame it on jetlag? (It’s a thing, right, even with a two-hour time difference?)
But anyhoo, without further ado, let’s get the drums rolling for August author of the month, RWA’s own Dakota Harrison.
Laugh. Cry. Love. That’s the head’s up Dakota gives us on her website of what she’s packing into her stories. There’s some interesting clues lurking out there on Dakota’s social media accounts, too, of what makes this rural romance author from Queensland’s chilly scenic rim district tick: K-Pop and uggies, Stranger Things and maple syrup, pussycats in pinot grigio cartons …
Hometown Cowboy was released by Tule Publishing in July. It is the fourth book in the With Love, From Kurrajong Crossing series, which Dakota shares with author (and previous Fabulous Fiction guest) Fiona Marsden.
Let’s find out some more about Dakota and her fabulous fiction …
STELLA: Tell us a little about your book, Dakota
Anything that can go wrong will…
Darby Jameson knows that spending the night with groomsman Ryan Thomas after her twin brother’s wedding is a big mistake. Darby’s not cut out for one-night stands and Ryan’s definitely not one for relationships – she knows this. Still, she falls hard for the sexy cowboy’s many charms, and it’s better than she ever imagined. Darby is in for a world of hurt when one night turns into a secret affair, but what’s she to do when his smile melts her heart?
When Ryan finally gives in to his attraction to his best friend’s sister, he insists it’s only temporary and best kept to themselves. Darby can do so much better than to take up with him. He has nothing to give to a sweet woman like her, and everyone knows it.
But when Darby drops a bombshell, suddenly a casual fling is no longer an option. With so much at stake, and so many factors keeping them apart, do Darby and Ryan have a chance at a happily ever after?
STELLA: Writing in a shared world: what are the pros and cons?
DAKOTA: So far, I haven’t come across any cons. Working with Fiona is wonderful. We get on really well and I believe we are quite well matched—she tends to write more melancholy and introspective characters, and I tend to write hotter. It just goes together.
STELLA: How much say did you have in the cover? The title?
DAKOTA: We get to give our ideas for the cover: what they look like, where it’s set etc, but ultimately it’s up to the powers that be what goes. The title is actually mine. I was stoked that they kept this one and Beneath the Sapphire Sky (the next book out next month).
STELLA: Did you have to coax/plead with the editor to keep something in?
DAKOTA: Not with this book, no. My main editor is fabulous. She just *knows* what the story needs teasing out of it in those first edits and if we disagree on an aspect, she always listens to the reason why I wanted something a certain way. Sometimes I then agree she was right, other times she’s happy to go with the vision I have for the story.
STELLA: What was the hardest thing about writing the manuscript? What came easily?
DAKOTA: To be completely honest, writing the last quarter was an utter [editor’s note: expletive deleted LOL]! I rewrote the ending four or five times and it just. wouldn’t. work! I had to step back from it and come at it from a different angle.
STELLA: Who do you rely on to bounce ideas off?
DAKOTA: Fiona. *big grin* We have some interesting conversations.
STELLA: Why will readers love your book?
DAKOTA: I think when Ryan—who has convinced himself that since everyone leaves him anyway, that it’s better to not get too close—when he realises that he loves Darby, and that nothing else matters other than telling her … It’s storming, he’s wet, he’s remembered certain things … It grabs me every time I read it.
Also, there’s a scene before that where he almost loses the chance to even try to tell her how much she means to him, and everything goes pear-shaped. That one for me is quite personal, as it’s a retelling of something that actually happened when I was a child.
STELLA: Do you have a favourite genre to read? To write?
DAKOTA: To read: Fantasy and Science Fiction Romance. There are some INCREDIBLE authors in those genres out there and it’s my happy place to relax my brain after writing a book.
To write: Contemporary (of course!), and Scifi romance. It just makes my soul sing.
STELLA: Do you have “must haves” in a book for you to love reading it?
DAKOTA: I have to relate to the hero. Many heroines annoy the heck out of me (although luckily this is changing quite a bit over the last five or so years. I’ve read some awesome heroines recently.) I can’t stand whiny characters. As soon as one moans and groans and is generally whiny, it puts me off the rest of the book. You don’t have to have all kick-butt or uber amazing I-can-do-EVERYTHING! heroines, but a solid confidence and inner strength (even if they’re a clutz!) really makes me happy.
And it MUST have a happy ending, or a promised happy ending in the next book.
STELLA: Has a reader let you know the special something in any of your books that has touched them? (eg – I have a major tissue-sniffle session whenever a book has an old, grey-whiskered dog in it)
DAKOTA: Yes! I love those little messages. They really make it all worthwhile, knowing you touched someone so deeply that they reached out. It’s wonderful.
STELLA: Has a comment in a review from a reader ever stayed with you? What was it? Why does it make you happy/proud/vengeful?
DAKOTA: Yes. A reviewer for The Talk Around Town (last book before this one) said that books like it was the reason she reads romance as a genre. It meant a LOT.
STELLA: What are your dealbreakers? The things that make you throw a book across a room? (eg for me it’s sadistic pleasure, or when my hero is done away with – think Buffy running a sword through Baby Booth. No way was I returning to that show.)
DAKOTA: Stupidity. In either the hero OR heroine. It annoys the living heck out of me. One I remember I wanted to throw into the pits of hell was a book where throughout the entire story, we were constantly barraged with how smart and incredibly intelligent this heroine was, that she was finishing her PHD in some uber awesome field that only Super Smart People can do, then about twenty pages from the end she finds out she’s pregnant to a guy who cheated on his wife, who she was two-timing the hero with. I’m sorry, but if you tout the heroine as that intelligent, I’m sure she could’ve figured out that birth control was a thing. (She didn’t. They didn’t use any at all. Ever. It did my head in.)
STELLA: How likely is it that you would be crushed if a meteor landed in your backyard and your TBR pile fell on you while you were sleeping? What are some of the books in there at the moment?
DAKOTA: Hahaha! I currently have six books on my bedside table, two of which I’ve read (one of those three times, and it’s a doorstop!), plus my kindle. So, no squishing for me. 😉
One is Tethered Souls by Tiffany Roberts; one is Kelly Hunter’s new one; one is A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas. Plus about 1200 odd ones on the kindle 😉 .
TBR ones that I haven’t touched at all stand at about fifty print books, and maybe a couple of hundred eBooks?
STELLA: How busy does writing life make you? Are you snowed under? Do you have to put limits on your reading and writing and social media so you don’t get burnout?
DAKOTA: Yes, re limits. I tend not to read at all for the first half of drafting a new book. If I do, I make sure it’s a completely opposite genre to what I’m writing, so I can’t accidentally pick up themes/ideas without realising. Once I’m nearing the end of the draft, I tend to go on a binge read of anything that takes my fancy for a week or two. Then when I finish a book and send it off to the editor, I tend to hoover up books/novellas anything that I can devour fast.
STELLA: Have you ever caught the bingewatching bug and lost your reading or writing mojo?
Not from bingewatching. I rarely do that as most of the stuff I want to watch are things that hubby likes to watch also, so wangling time when we are both able to watch rarely leads to more than two episodes of anything per sitting. To refill the creative well I watch and rewatch movies. They’re my crack. The visuals, the soundtracks, the sheer spinetingling thrills. (I watch a lot of scifi and action movies to de-stress. I watch RomComs when I’m in specific moods.)
STELLA: Okay, now for the nitty-gritty:
Favourite Australian holiday destination:
Noosa, on the Sunshine Coast. It’s my happy place
What’s your preferred drop?
Red wine. Or White. Or just wine. *big grin* I do love a nice scotch on the rocks, too.
Favourite fictional couple and why?
Rhysand and Feyre. If you’ve read the books, you know why. 😉 Also Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks in You’ve Got Mail.
That Iced Vovos no longer have marshmallow, that they replaced it with icing instead. Cheapskates.
[Stella: whaaaaat? OMG Iced Vovos featured heavily in A Town Like Clarence and I had zero idea the recipe had been messed with! Must do more research!]
If you could pack two non-essential items for a deserted tropical island, what would they be?
Books and wine. Or Mint Slice bikkies. (You could say they ARE essential)
Best thing about being a writer?
Making up new worlds and characters, and having readers love them.
Worst thing about being a writer?
Having to make those characters behave themselves! Book pirates.
You’re about to be stuck on the space station and you can take a crime novel OR a romance novel – what would you pick?
100% romance all the way! Even better if it has a hot alien hero 😉 .
Ooooh … It was an anime. The main hero from Kingsglaive.
Top three favourite places to read?
In bed or on the lounge.
What themes do you love to see shining through in a book?
Redemption arcs. I love seeing people who have been at their worst have to pick up and try to make good.
[Stella: me too. Redemption arcs are the best.]
Pineapple on pizza, yes or no?
HELL YES! It aint pizza without it.
Chocolate should be kept in the fridge, yes or no?
Yes. Some even in the freezer.
Holiday: beach or bush?
Mountains overlooking the ocean.
Proudest writer moment?
My first contract.
Three fun facts about you:
- I love dipping hot chips into strawberry milkshakes. If they have a little gravy stuck on the side, even better. (Don’t knock it til you try it 😉 )
- I love mint anything.
- Japanese chicken curry is my fave comfort food.
Keep in touch with Dakota
Dakota is on Insta as @dakota.harrison.writes
Dakota’s website can be found at www.dakotaharrison.com
Want to read the book?
Or type (or cut and paste) link from Tule Publishing into your browser.
About your blogger, Stella Quinn:
When Stella Quinn isn’t sitting in the sun scribbling in a notebook, she can be found walking her dog, roaming her neighbourhood in search of the perfect latte, or thrashing her children at scrabble. She grew up in England, Hong Kong, Papua New Guinea and Australia, and spent five (long!) years at boarding school in country Queensland.
Stella writes contemporary romance novels that are warm-hearted and filled with characters you want to be best friends with. She loves rural small-town settings, island settings, and everyday heroes. Imagine if Sea Change and Virgin River had a series of fictitious bookbabies … they’re the books Stella writes.
She’s currently (in 2022) trying to build a shed for her orchids, but keeps getting distracted by things like nutgrass infestations and how adorable her dog looks when he’s begging her to chuck a ball for him to fetch.
The Vet from Snowy River came out in June 2021 and is available here: https://www.harpercollins.com.au/9781867254102/the-vet-from-snowy-river/
A Town Like Clarence came out in July 2022 and can be preordered here: https://www.harpercollins.com.au/9781867225614/a-town-like-clarence/
The Vet sequel (which has a name! but it’s secret! and it’s all about Hannah!) comes out in May 2023 and there’ll be a fourth, which (currently) is just a twinkle in Stella’s eye, coming out in 2024.
Stella Quinn’s awards in the fabulous world of romance include winning the Valerie Parv Award in 2018, winning the Sapphire Award in 2019 and 2020, winning the Emerald Award in 2017 and coming second in the Sapphire in 2018. Stella was shortlisted in the Australian Society of Authors/HQ Fiction Commercial Fiction Award in 2020, and in the 2020 Ruby Award for best contemporary romance for Stowaway. With her writing group (who published a Christmas anthology of novellas) she was shortlisted by ARRA for best small-town contemporary romance in 2019. The Vet is a finalist in five categories in the ARRA 2021.
Follow Stella Quinn:
Newsletter www.stellaquinnauthor.com/subscribe – (there’s a free novella waiting)