Francene Carroll discovered a love of reading at a young age and from that moment on she was hooked. She became a high school English teacher to share her love of the written word with her students and taught for several years in an outback school in Australia before moving back to the city two years ago. Francene has been writing seriously since then, and in this time she has published the romantic comedy Pleasure Island (Siren-BookStrand). Writing has given Francene a great deal of fulfillment, and she hopes to publish many more books. With this goal in mind, she has recently decided that city life is not for her, and with her partner David she has escaped the rat race of Sydney to return to the bush. They are currently living in a former post office which they inherited from David’s aunt. Their new town has a population of less than three hundred and consists of a roadhouse and a pub. Francene hopes the historic location and serenity will inspire her. She is looking forward to the laidback lifestyle in the country and chance to focus on her writing.
Q: What types of books do you like to read?
A: I was lucky enough to grow up in a home where books and reading where highly valued. Ever since I can remember I have read anything and everything I can get my hands on! As a teenager I was obsessed with teen romances and especially the Sweet Valley High series. I also loved anything by Jackie Collins and Barbara Taylor Bradford. This gave me a grounding in romance and women’s fiction that came in very handy when I decided to write my own novels. I still read romance and chick lit as well as modern literary fiction and non-fiction, especially biographies. I also studied English literature at university and spent many years immersed in the classics. My reading list today is very eclectic and consists of the latest releases from commercial authors like Meg Cabot and Nora Roberts, any books by classic authors such as Charles Dickens that I still haven’t gotten around to reading and everything in between!
Q: How do you come up with ideas for your books?
A: I really can’t say where my ideas come from, and I don’t like to analyze it too much in case the magic disappears. With Pleasure Island I started with the concept of two characters who were completely different from each other and it just snowballed from there. In the past I could not understand what authors meant when they talked about characters taking on a life of their own and refusing to go in the direction they had planned for them, but now I know what they mean. The events and characters gain their own momentum and the story almost seems to write itself at times. When my writing flows like this I feel like I am tapping into a deep part of my subconscious and I believe this is when I do my best writing.
Q: Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
A: I haven’t been writing for long and so far I’ve been lucky not to suffer from a serious case of writer’s block (touch wood!). If I get tired or I feel that my writing is becoming stale, I like to take a nice long break and get some fresh air. If I’m having a problem with the plot or characters I find the best thing is to sleep on it and the next day the problem is usually solved. I also find that looking for images online of settings and characters for my book really helps to get the creative juices flowing. I love designing mock covers and PowerPoint presentations and can spend hours on these things. It may seem like a waste of time to some people, but it is all part of the creative process and it really works for me.
Q: What is your ideal location for writing?
A: My ideal location for writing would be sitting in my study overlooking rolling green hills and mountains with no other houses in sight. I really crave silence and serenity when I write and I would love to live on acreage far from the madding crowd. I have been lucky enough to live somewhere like this already and hope someday to get the chance again.
Q: Are you working on anything at the moment?
A: I have a few works in the pipeline that I’m very excited about. I have recently completed a vampire novella and I’m working on a romantic suspense novella. I’ve also started a contemporary romance and I am toying with the idea of a novel about a bushranger. I taught the poem “The Highwayman” a few years ago and was touched by its haunting beauty. I feel inspired by my current location to write something historical along the same lines as “The Highwayman”, but maybe with a happier ending! I also had great fun writing Pleasure Islandand I am hoping to write something again with a comic edge.
Q: Did you always want to be a writer?
A: Yes! Writing and teaching are the only things I have ever really wanted to do and I have always believed I would end up writing books. I am very impressed when I read novels by young people in their twenties who have a lot of maturity and insight into life. For me the journey towards becoming a writer has been much longer and there have been many detours along the way but I am proud to have been published before reaching my fortieth birthday. I now feel I have a lot of stories to tell, and the wisdom and insight to tell them well.
Q: Who or what inspires you the most?
A: I am a very visual person and I am most inspired by beautiful scenery. I love taking country drives and walks through the park or along the beach to give me ideas. There’s something about being outside in nature that is so liberating and I really look forward to these times to relax and let my imagination run free.
Q: Does your day job help or hinder your writing?
A: At the moment I have no day job which is a rare luxury, but I’m sure this will change soon. Although I’ve often dreamed of being a full-time writer, especially when the alarm goes off at 6.30am, in reality I don’t think it would work for me. I need the structure and routine provided by a day job, along with the human contact. I think a good job that inspires you will keep the creative juices flowing and help you come up with ideas for your writing. It’s a matter of finding the right balance.
Q: What are your favourite love stories?
A: I don’t like love stories where the hero and heroine fall in love at first sight and then some obstacle pops up that prevents them from being together. I prefer stories where they feel antagonism towards each other at first sight and then fall in love as they get to know each other. These kinds of stories are more realistic in my opinion and a lot more fun. No one can deny that Mr. Darcy is an arrogant jerk to start off with but Elizabeth can’t resist him despite herself. It is Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy’s battle with their own feelings of attraction that makes Pride and Prejudice one of the greatest love stories of all time. Other favourites along these lines are Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing and the film When Harry Met Sally.
Q: Where do you see yourself in five years?
A: Hopefully still writing and loving it. I’d like to have several more published books under my belt and an established reputation. As long as writing continues to give me pleasure and fulfillment, I will keep on doing it!
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