The Tasting Table | An intimate table for two

In Guest Articles, Interview by RWA Blog Coordinator1 Comment

With the celebrations and family gatherings and cooking and socialising of Christmas behind us, the idea of a small and intimate Tasting Table appealed. New Year’s Eve is almost here, the perfect time to look back, but also forward.

I ventured out to a moody piano bar, its entrance disguised by street art in a back alleyway deep within a glitzy city. In a quiet corner, waiting for me in a booth with a variety of specialty wines to taste, was author Elizabeth Ellen Carter.

We got talking, and sipping, and she kindly allowed me to record our conversation. Please join me for an intimate chat about her writing, the fabulous magazine taking the romance world by storm, and what the next year holds.

PHILLIPA. So nice to see you, Elizabeth, and what a writerly place to meet! Remind me how long you’ve been an author, and about your journey to publication.

ELIZABETH. Thank you for the invitation to join you for drinks! The Shiraz is particularly good.

I’ve been a published author since October 2013 and I had no idea what I was doing… I dabbled with writing fiction a couple of times over the years, but I didn’t get serious until 2012 when I decided to commit to starting – and finishing – a complete manuscript.

A friend of mine – a bloke I’ve worked with – said that if I’ve written a romance I should join the Romance Writers of Australia. My first manuscript was short listed for an Emerald, so I thought I’d try my luck shopping out to various publishers.

I have to confess that I didn’t have a particularly good time with my first publisher. I made all the rookie mistakes, so I self-pubbed a couple of titles until I could find a new publishing home for my new novels and then self-published my backlist. And I’m so thrilled with my new publisher Dragonblade. They’re brilliant to work with.

PHILLIPA. I’m rather enjoying this crisp Chardonnay. What draws you to write books in different historical eras? Are there shared themes, or all very different?

ELIZABETH. I’m a bit of a magpie, I love collecting interesting bits and pieces of historical facts which I store away until the right time.

Apart from my series, which are connected, my novels don’t necessarily have shared themes except that I hope to bring to life, a bit more of the everyday world of people from the past.

I try to tell the stories of ordinary folk who are challenged to do extraordinary things. My heroes and heroines are not ones with limitless wealth and resources, there’s real risk in their choice to rise to the occasion and show genuine courage on their journey to falling in love.

PHILLIPA. Aside from writing fantastic novels, you are responsible for an amazing romance magazine – Love’s Great Adventure. Tell me more!

Loves Greatest Adventure – Christmas edition!

ELIZABETH. I was overwhelmed by the sheer amount of swag and merchandise I saw at a book signing last year. I wondered how these poor authors turned a profit by spending so much on things which are so quickly discarded.

My husband and I were both print journalists going back a few years, so we decided to establish Love’s Great Adventure magazine each quarter for readers and, as a point of difference, made it look like a fashion magazine.

I’m thrilled with how it’s been received and delighted when other authors become involved. It’s one of the things I love about the writing community.

Let’s raise another glass to romance writers everywhere!

PHILLIPA. To romance writers! (clink). I’ve heard you have a rather special guest speaking gig next year. What does it entail and how are you feeling about it?

ELIZABETH. I’m heading to the United States in September as one of the featured authors at the Historical Romance Retreat in California in September and in October, I’ll be in Sydney as a guest speaker at the Historical Novel Society of Australia’s biennial conference.

The two events are very different, but they’ll be so much fun. The first will be spending time in costume and mixing with historical romance fans.

The second will be much more focused on history, research and the publishing industry.

PHILLIPA. Where does your inspiration come from? And what research is involved in creating a series?

ELIZABETH. I start with a ‘what if’ and a ‘what next’. I work out the overarching narrative thread and then look at how each hero and heroine meet, fall in love, defeat the baddy, and get their HEA.

For my new series I started with the historical fact that Napoleon considered an aerial troop invasion of England. The notion was discarded in real life, but ‘what if’ plans were more advanced than we knew? ‘What if’ one simple change of location made the idea feasible? ‘What next’? How do our heroes and heroines discover and defeat such a plot?

PHILLIPA. Wow, I didn’t know that about Napoleon! What a great spin. So, who are your favourite authors?

ELIZABETH. I have so many! I try to read widely, so Jude Knight, Anna Campbell, Susanne Bellamy, CS Lewis, Daphne du Maurier, Charles Dickens, George Orwell, Thomas Hardy, Agatha Christie, Kathryn Le Veque are all on high rotation.

PHILLIPA. We share some beloved writers there. So, if I was starting out, either as an author or in the genre, what advice would you give? Apart from to try the Shiraz, which I agree is quite lovely.

ELIZABETH. Walk a mile in your character’s shoes and remember, they are just as real and as human as you and your family, your neighbours, your colleagues. Human nature is immutable – the things which make us love, laugh and cry today are true of 40 years ago, 400 years ago or 4000 years ago.

And, most importantly, only YOU can tell their story.

Love your history and be true to it. I’ve seen big name authors make huge mistakes by giving their characters 21st century biases and expectations. It jars and destroys the suspension of disbelief that all good stories have.

PHILLIPA. Share the most exciting or memorable moment as an author.

ELIZABETH. The very first time a reader, whom I didn’t know, wrote a review to say how much they enjoyed my story. After five years it still gives me joy when people let me know what they thought of my story, and I think it always will.

Soon afterwards, the battery ran out on my recording device, so you’ll need to believe me that we only talked about writing and didn’t continue our private tasting until dawn. ☺

Live and Let Spy by Elizabeth Ellen Carter

FATHER’S DAY Elizabeth Tasting Sample It links the Heart of the Corsairs and The King’s Rogue series.  

Author Elizabeth Ellen Carter

Elizabeth Ellen Carter is an award-winning historical romance writer who pens richly detailed historical romantic adventures. A former newspaper journalist, Carter ran an award-winning PR agency for 12 years. The author lives in Australia with her husband and two cats.







YouTube TrailersElizabeth has a brand new release, the first in a new series. (28 Dec) Live And Let Spy (book 1 The King’s Rogues)

Phillipa Nefri Clark

Phillipa grew up along lonely Australian beaches with wild seas and misty cliffs. From a young age she wrote stories and dreamed of being a writer.

These days she spends half her week running part of the family business and the other writing. Currently she is working on the third in her River’s End series.

Living in regional Australia on a small acreage close to a mountain range, Phillipa’s great loves – apart from writing – are her family of two young adult sons and husband, their Labrador, music, fine wine, and friends.

Check our her website, contact her by email, or follow on her on Facebook and Twitter


  1. Thank you so much Phillipa!
    I’m looking forward to heading back to that bar with you and trying the Chardonnay!

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