Friday, May 9, 2014

UP-CLOSE with romance and crime writer Christina Carlisle!

Tell us about your writing journey. How many manuscripts and years before publication? And what book number are you up to now?

I began writing romance in 1992. Three of us made a New Year’s resolution to write a romance and get published (we’d had too many glasses of bubbles at the time - jeez!) It was really an excuse to meet up once a month, drink bubbly and gossip, which we did. 

I had too many rejections to count and also didn’t realise I should “target” my manuscripts to particular publishers. I spent a fortune sending everywhere – how dumb is that? I had a lapse from writing for some years while colleague (and close friend) Diane Beer and I set up and ran the Romance Writers of America – Australian Chapter. That kept us very busy and we ended up with over 200 hundred members across Australia.

I was first published in 2005 when I had four books accepted by New Concepts Publishing - a boutique publisher in the US, in e-book format to begin with and then they were all taken into print.

At present I’m up to Number 25, but this includes four books which have been re-edited and re-published and four non-fiction books mainly about working with the media and corporate fundraising.

Chris, you’ve held down a whopping 27 jobs. Can you give us a brief history?

I won’t go through them all but rather will group them otherwise we’ll never finish. When I left school I trained as an engineering draftsperson – did this for nine years and also branched out over the years into architectural, civil, electrical and cartography.

I changed careers in my mid-twenties and became a horse-riding instructor; flight attendant; ballroom dancing teacher; ran hotels/motels/restaurants for 12 years and in 1984 joined the Women’s and Children’s Hospital as Director of Public Relations. I resigned in 2006 to write full-time, concentrating on the crime genre.

You’re an international ambassador for Variety – the children's charity, and a board member of Kidsafe SA. What’s drawn you to supporting children in need?

Kids are very special at anytime but particularly if they are sick or injured or disabled so yes, if I have made the slightest difference to make a better life for a child and his/her family, then I’m happy.

I was a founding member of Variety in SA in 1983 and held most of the positions on our committee over the years. I resigned from the board a few years ago (they were going very well without me!). I have been an international ambassador since 2001 and have attended most of Variety’s international conventions which are held in various cities across the world. I’m a life member of Variety SA.

I have been a member of Kidsafe SA for four years. This is a national body dedicated to the prevention of unintentional death and injuries to Australian children. We provide an information, education and resource service for parents and carers on all aspects of child safety and injury prevention. I don’t think you can get anything better than that!

I was extremely honoured in 2005 to receive the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for my services to children’s charities.

You've released a trilogy, dubbed Falling-In-Love. Why do you think trilogies are so popular right now?

I enjoyed writing this trilogy very much. Although they were connected by the individual stories of three friends who grew up together through boarding school and university, they can be read as ‘stand-alone’ books and that is what I think is the important thing about trilogies.

I have planned another one with a medical theme but at the moment it’s on the back-burner.

Your crime book, A Taste of Evil, was a finalist in the 2012 Novel of The Year contest and you’re also involved with the South Australian Crime Writers' Group. If you had to choose between romance and crime as a favourite genre, could you pick?

I LOVE crime - whether reading crime books or watching thriller movies, it sucks me in for some reason. A Taste of Evil was my first venture into a full crime novel and has been very successful. At the moment I am writing the sequel, Evil Attraction, which is keeping me riveted.

This doesn’t mean I don’t like romance. I think it is a wonderful genre, in fact, combining crime and romance works for me too and Falling for Nick surprised me by turning itself into a romantic suspense. Isn’t it fantastic when your writing gets away from you – the characters do things you are not expecting – and the plot veers from what you had planned? That is what is so fascinating and will keep me writing.

Crime Writers SA is a writing group based at the SA Writer’s Centre. It was established five years ago by our president, Stephen Lord, and we meet the first Sunday of each month at 10.30am. I’m happy to say I was there at the start and hold the positions of vice-president and secretary. We have 33 members with around an average of 15 who regularly attend meetings and others involved online.

We critique each others' work and have regular guest speakers such as criminal lawyers, major crime detectives and so on. Among our regular members are a pathologist, lawyer, senior policeman and criminologist, so we are well provided for with regard to research. Many of our members are now published and achieving success.

Several of your books have been published by digital publisher Champagne Books. What do you like about them and being published digitally?

The Champagne Book Group (CBG) is a super publisher based in Canada. I’m delighted to be one of their authors and was thrilled when its editors voted me as one of their five finalists in their Author of the Year Awards last month. I didn’t win but considering they have 143 authors on their books (excuse the pun), I was extremely happy to achieve this recognition.

All the staff at CBG are very professional and I have learnt heaps from my editor. They produce mainly digital novels but also take some of their books into print, which is what they have done with A Taste of Evil. As well as their own website they distribute on all major sites such as Amazon, Kobo and so on...

Finally, thanks for asking me to take part in this Q & A session. I very much appreciated it.

Many congratulations to the members of SARA. It has been so exciting watching the wonderful achievements of the various members.

So long for now…

For more on Christina, check out her site here.


  1. Great interview ladies! Loved learning more about your Christina!

  2. Great interview, Carla!

    Christine, it was great to read about your many and varied achievements. Wishing you much more success in the future.

  3. Wow, Christina, what a busy and productive working life you've had! And much more to come, I hope!


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