Three Things I learned… Valentine’s Day edition

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We are starting Valentine’s Day with a bang – a Perfectly Paranormal Bang! In addition to three things I learned – RWA gets an inside look at the anthology and its participants with a Q&A!


1. There are so many great advantages of writing with a group of fellow authors

  • Shared workload of self-publishing
    • Cover – Samantha Marshall
    • Editing – Leisl Leighton & Marnie St Clair
    • Formatting – Georgia Tingley
    • Proofreading – Everyone
    • Promotional Graphics – Samantha Marshall, Leisl Leighton, Georgia Tingley
    • Questionnaire – Helen Howe
  • Other interested parties to bounce ideas off.
  • Meeting new friends and building relationships.
  • Sharing costs.

2. Learning new skills

  • I learnt how to write quickly because we had a self-imposed deadline, which I’d never had before.
  • Formatting was a challenge as I’ve never had to format an anthology with different authors, chapter titles, graphics, front and back matter.
  • Learning to compromise – some of the things we’d decided on were not what I would have chosen, but to work well within a group we all had to yield for the majority’s choices.
  • Working as a team.
  • Zoom meetings – never did this before. Because of lockdown and authors living in Victoria and me in WA, this was a necessary requirement.

3. Happy being part of something exciting

We had so much fun putting this anthology together that we decided we would create a series of – A PERFECTLY PARANORMAL … anthologies. The next one on our list will be released in October when we publish A PERFECTLY PARANORMAL HALLOWEEN – this book will be filled with spooky supernatural love. We’ve discuss doing other themes – Christmas, Easter, New Year’s Eve, Celebrations, Fairy Tales, the list goes on and on … so you could be seeing us around for a while!  

About A Perfectly Paranormal Valentine

A Perfectly Paranormal Valentine – anthology

Valentine’s Day – celebrating forever love with roses and chocolates, claws and fangs, and a magical spell or two …

Whatever your paranormal pleasure, dive into these five original stories from award winning and new Australian authors in this magical anthology.

Featuring sweet or spicy romance, action, revenge, secrets and curses, this paranormal anthology will fill all your Valentine’s Day desires.

Witch, Vampire, Demi-God, Fae and Shifter: who will get their happy ever after this Valentine’s Day?

A Perfectly Paranormal Valentine can be found on: Amazon, Booktopia, Barnes & Noble

An Interview with the authors

Clockwise from top left:
Georgia Tingley, Samantha Marshall, Marnie St Clair, Leisl Leighton, and Helen Howe

Q.1. What do you like about Valentine’s Day?

Georgia: I was asked to go steady by my boyfriend at 14 on Valentine’s Day in 1977. 5 years later we married on Valentine’s Day. It was always a special day for me. Plus, my husband could never forget our anniversary – very convenient! Haha 😊 However, since divorcing and now remarrying it doesn’t hold that same importance anymore. As a romance author I still love the idea that a special day is devoted to romance and love even if it has been commercialised.

Helen: The idea of romance.

I love to look at flowers, but only from a distance because of my chronic sinusitis. ☹

Leisl: I love anything that’s about love. That’s about concentrating on the good in relationships and the commonality we all share no matter what our race, religion or political leanings. It’s why I love writing about romance and forever love.

Marnie: I like the old-fashioned way of seeing if you get a card from a secret admirer. Or giving one as a secret admirer.

Samantha: I love the sentiment of reaching out to a loved one and showing them they are appreciated. Also, I like chocolate, soooooo… there’s that. Haha.

Q.2. Why paranormal?

Georgia: There is something very sexy about paranormal, whether it’s a vampire, witch, angel, etc. (I’m picturing Antonio Banderas as  Armand in Interview With A Vampire – be still my heart.) I think it’s the combination of supernatural power and immortality, plus, a tiny bit of a fear factor that’s very erotic. Bomm chickka wow wow!!

Helen: The stories having the most impact on me growing up, were Fairy Tales, which, now that I’m grown up (in terms of years, anyway) translates to fantasy and paranormal. Some parts of me will never grow up, which I’m okay with because childish wonder is also an excellent trait for an author to own.

Leisl: It fascinates me to think about a world with magic and full of fantastical and mythological beings that are real and not just imagined. I love to imagine a world where they are real and write them as such.

Marnie: Paranormal is fun! There’s a variety of situations and conflicts that you can explore.

Samantha: Well, I guess the simplest answer is it’s my jam. I’ve always believed in fairies, and unicorns, and vampires. I can’t do anything without conferring with the dragon on my shoulder first! If the world didn’t have a little bit of magic in it, I feel it would be a sad and lonely place to live.

Q.3. Did you have difficulty relating Paranormal with Valentine’s Day?

Georgia: Not at all since it was my idea hehe😃 . I always thought I would write a vampire story and had this outline in the back of my head … but there you go – I’ve written a witch novella! Sometimes the story can be a bossy boots and needs its voice.

Helen: No. I see Paranormal as romantic anyway. Life is nothing without romance, it makes the world go around. All the worlds.

Leisl: None at all. I have always been fascinated in the various pantheons and how Cupid is related to Valentine’s Day in particular – it was only a small step from that fascination to realise a world where Cupid was real, as is magic and an ultimate fight between good and evil.

Samantha:  Not in the slightest. After all, vampires have feelings too, right? I think expressing love is something that transcends all boundaries – even the supernatural.

Q.4. How did you choose your subject matter, considering how extensive the paranormal field is?

Georgia: I was listening to an old song – Love Potion Number 9 and I thought hmm I might write a fun romcom about that.

Helen: I had a dream about fae people based on butterflies and moths – they have gorgeous wings and I adore bright colours.

Leisl: It’s not a choice so much as what comes to me when I sit down to write. I have read widely and have always loved reading myths and legends and so there is a world of knowledge just ready to be tapped when I sit down to write something and I let my characters mostly pick and choose what they will be.

Marnie: I love witches and I love special abilities in humans – that’s the only kind of paranormal I’ve ever been drawn to writing (although I’ll very happily read shifters and vampires – hello, Twilight).

Samantha: I was chatting to Georgia not long before I started to write, and she asked me if I’d read any good dragon shifter romances lately. Later that night, I got to thinking – what if a dragon read dragon shifter romances? And what if, for some reason, she didn’t like them? My brain then went off on a complete tangent, coming up with all sorts of hilarious things that a dragon might find inaccurate, and before I knew it, Oaklyn was born. So I don’t know that I chose my subject matter so much as it chose me!

Q.5. Is your story character driven, or did a “scene” pop into your mind to have you build the story around it?

Georgia: I based my story around a side-character from one of my earlier romance books – ‘Having Faith’. Lots of my readers told me how much they loved my female main characters son, Scott. Some even asked me if I was going to write a story about him – well this is it! I too loved Scott. He was a happy guy. My daughter Ruby, who read my book, told me “Mum, if you’d had a son it would be Scott.”  I agreed. Hopefully someone will be interested enough after reading ‘A Broomstick Brew’ to pick up ‘Having Faith’ to see what Scott was like in that book.  

Helen: Well, I see fairy tales in everything and what is paranormal but a type of fairy tale? (If anyone knows different please tell me!) So there we have the background and having made that decision, the story was character driven by a kind of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ vibe, even to the names of the main characters: Dario and Zhulija. 😉

Leisl: It is character driven. I had some characters who had been speaking to me for a while wanting to tell me their story, and this was an opportunity to just let them. It was fun.

Samantha: To follow in from the above, it’s character driven. It has a plot and the events of the plot help shape the emotional connection between the two characters, but it really was about exploring the intricacies of both Oaklyn and Lux and how they fit together as a pair.

Q.6. Is this a one-off story or will there be more? 

Georgia: At the moment it’s a one-off. But I did write it with the potential to have another story in the future with my female lead character’s brother, Nash, who is a powerful warlock. Always thinking of the future

Helen: Definitely more. I’ve commenced the next exciting episode; a story for the next anthology: “A Perfectly Paranormal Halloween.” This is DeMaksim’s story.

Leisl: There will definitely be more. I already have a story for one of the secondary characters for the next A Perfectly Paranormal Anthology (which will be Halloween) which I hint at right at the end of this story.

Marnie: There will be more set in the Owlscroft Coven world. Next off the block is likely to be Avery’s demon-hunting cousin Harlow.

Samantha: Oh, there’ll be more. Haha. This novella is set in a world I’m currently writing book one of the series for (I hope that sentence made sense just then), which will be out in a few months. Catnip is set far, far down the timeline from when book one takes place – but it does have a spot! As for the immediate future, the novella I’m planning for A Perfectly Paranormal Halloween will also be set in this world. The thing I love about these stories is that whilst they can be read and enjoyed on their own, they will eventually become part of a larger family of novels and characters.

Q.7. Is the story part of a pre-existing series/world/setting?

Georgia: There is a scene in this book which relates to an earlier book, ‘Having Faith’, but you don’t need to read it to understand. But readers may want to go and have a look. Also as previously mentioned Scott is from that book as well.

Helen: This story is the first in a new series/world/setting. There is a lot of scope for other stories, which I plan to capitalise on.

Leisl: No. It is the first in a series of novellas – so a brand new series. I’m very excited about it.

Marnie: No – fresh for this anthology.

Samantha: Yes and no. As I mentioned above, I’m wrapping up book one in this series, but they are set in different times so the world exists, and yet is also different from, what I’ve got established this far. I was able to build upon the foundation I’d already created, but I also got to add some new things which was lots of fun!

Q.8. Will you be making the short story into a full length novel?

Georgia: Not this one. But at the end of 2021 I will be writing ‘A Perfectly Paranormal Christmas’ and that story, which I haven’t completely nutted out, has the potential to be an awesome full-length book. I may just write that and do another story for the Anthology. I’ll see how it goes.

Helen: I’m perfectly happy with ‘Filigree and Fate’ as it is. I like the idea of a series of novellas in this world.

Leisl: No. It actually began as a short story and I knew it needed to be more than that, but this novella allowed me to flesh out that story in the way it needed to and I don’t feel it needs to be more than it is.

Marnie: No plans for that.

Samantha: This one, no. It will stay as is – but Oaklyn and Lux are definitely going to make cameos in the series as a whole, both before and after the time we spend with them in Catnip.

Q.9. What made you decide on an anthology of short stories?

Georgia: After writing a novella previously I thought it would be great to do one with a bunch of other fabulous authors. It was a great decision because I’ve made some wonderful friends.

Helen: I was informed that I was taking part by a fellow author helping to gather the anthology authors together. I was terrified as I’d never published anything before and like every unpublished author, I was worried that my story would be sub-par. I’m thrilled to report that is not the case.

Leisl: I’ve been thinking of writing some novellas for a while and a few opportunities came up recently to be a part of some anthologies and I just jumped at the chance so I could prioritise the novella ideas and create and expand on a new series that is only novellas and not full-length novels. I will still write full length novels, but there is something to be said for being able to write all those story ideas that never fitted into a full-length novel but still deserve to be told. A 30-40k word novella is a perfect vehicle for these and I’m excited to be finally able to do it.

Marnie: Writing a novella is a great way to explore a new idea or to get back into writing again.

Samantha: I love challenging myself as an author, and I’m pretty verbose. So, with that in mind, agreeing to write something so short was a really exciting project for me. It was hard, but it was also really rewarding.

Q.10. Did you enjoy taking part in an anthology?

Georgia: Hell yeah! I’ve loved how everyone has contributed their skills, ideas, experiences, promotion, etc. It’s great to be able to collaborate. All the other authors live in Victoria and I live in WA. It would be great to have been able to meet and have a book launch together. But with the C19 disaster that won’t be possible. Maybe with one of our other anthologies. 😊

Helen: Absolutely. I’ve made new friends and stretched my boundaries in ways I never considered possible.

Leisl: Absolutely. It’s been such a pleasure working with Marnie, Samantha, Helen and Georgia and getting to know Samantha, Helen and Georgia who I didn’t know before this has been really amazing – they are such cool, lovely and generous women and very talented authors. Marnie and I are good friends and workshop and critiquing partners and it’s amazing to be working on this project so intimately with her too.

Marnie: Yes, I loved it 😊

Samantha: I loved every moment! Normally I work alone, so having an opportunity to peek inside other people’s work processes and discuss the way the anthology was taking shape as we went along was a wonderful change of pace.

Q.11. Would you take part in future anthologies?

Georgia: Yes, absolutely. I’ve already got ideas for future ‘Perfectly Paranormal’ Anthologies that we have planned. Hopefully they’ll get easier and easier the more we do. We’ll be Anthology Guru’s by the end of it.

Helen: Without any hesitation. It was loads of fun (we’ll ignore covid-19 stresses.)

Leisl: Absolutely. This is my second and both have been really amazing experiences. I’m looking forward to working with them all again on future anthologies.

Marnie: Yes!

Samantha: Definitely! I adored working with Georgia, Helen, Leisl and Marnie. Some of them I knew prior to this project and others I had the pleasure of getting to know, and they are all fabulous, incredibly talented women. We worked super well together and I’m very excited to sink my teeth (mwa ha ha) into the Halloween anthology which will be coming next.

Q.12. What, or who, inspired you to be a writer?

Georgia: I’ve always loved reading and thought I would love to do that – one day! I was on the road to writing already but I allowed life to get in the way of my dreams. But Lili St Germain actually inspired me. She is a wonderful writer of gritty dark romance. I binged her books in 2016 and then found out she lives in Perth (not too far from me actually). I thought whoa … if she can do it, so can I. A few years ago I actually met her at a writing festival and she was nicer than expected, which was an inspiration as well.

Helen: Reading fairy tales and having a vivid imagination. This story is my first ever to be published, but I’ve been filling notepads since I learned to read and write. I have an intense creative streak which I cater to every day in one form or another. As a child I learned the easiest way to fulfill that desperate yawning hole was with a pencil and a notebook.

Leisl: I don’t have an inspiration story or anyone that I looked up to who was a writer. I have always been creative – I used to perform, sing, act, was a musical director, tour manager, co-director and owned and managed a theatre restaurant for years. I also wrote and co-wrote scripts and so when I had children and had to give up all that, it was natural to sit down and write instead and I’ve never looked back. Writing brings me such joy and I’ve met some of my best friends through writing – it has been a truly remarkable journey and one I wouldn’t give up for the world for all that there’s been some truly low moments. The high moments and the friendships make up for it all. Now what inspires me to write is my writing friends, books that I read that I love and the readers who love what I write.

Samantha: I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember, so I can’t pinpoint a moment or singular person who put me on that path. However, as a child I was almost exclusively powered by The Silver Brumby series, by Elyne Mitchell. I wrote a lot of fan fiction about Thowra, and Baringa in particular was my favourite. In my teenage years, I was inspired greatly by the likes of Terry Pratchett, Anne McCaffrey, David Eddings and their ilk. The layers and complexity they wove into their tales taught me a lot about constructing my own worlds and stories. In my very late teens, I read Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh and she became a massive inspiration from an emotionally connective and romantic perspective. The way she handles her characters and their relationships is top notch. I try to learn something from every book I read, but I still come back to those three tiers of my life as the building blocks for my work today. If I can put a smile on even one person’s face with my stories, then it’s been worth it!

Where to find the authors

Georgia Tingley

Samantha Marshall

Marnie St Clair

Leisl Leighton

Helen Howe

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