Today it is my pleasure to Welcome romance author Joss Wood to HJ!
Hi Joss, welcome 🙂
Thanks Sara, nice to be here….
Five things on your bucket list:
Wow….that’s an amazing question.
Most of my bucket lists involve travel…
I’d like to take my kids on a backpacking holiday through Greece , Turkey and Croatia. I really want to go to the Kashmir region but it’s a bit dangerous so I’d settle for visiting the Himalayas…except that I would need an oxygen tank because I get the most horrendous altitude sickness. Bummer.
My husband and I have always talked about going to the Antarctica, preferably on a tall ship. That’s three. Mmm, I’d love to complete a proper triathlon, but that would actually involve training…but I have started swimming again so that’s a start. Four.
Five….why is this so hard? I’d like to read more, be less stressed, less busy. A great deal more chilled out.
Would you rather… have a beautiful house and an ugly car or an ugly house and a beautiful car? Why?
Um…I know that your readers won’t believe this but neither really… if you push for an answer then I’d have to say an ugly car because, really, it’s just a way to get from A to B. As for the beautiful house, I am, cross my heart honest, deeply un-materialistic so I like nice things but I could never live in a perfect house. It’s important to me that I have the type of house where my mates can come in, curl up in the corner of my couch and drink coffee or wine and not be afraid to spill anything. And they do….You know how they say that salt takes out wine stains out of carpets? Well, my carpets have more salt than the Dead Sea. 🙂
Let’s talk about your newest release: The Last Guy She Should Call
If you had to summarize the book for the readers here
The Last Guy she Should Call tells the story of Rowan, my world traveler, who gets deported back to South Africa, catastrophically broke. At the airport, Rowan can only remember two phone numbers: her parents’ (um…no!) and her best friend’s brother. Rowan has no choice. It’s time to call Seb and ask for help. Seb has always pushed her buttons, but at least now she knows how to push them back. Maybe it’s time to start sleeping with the enemy-even though Rowan’s sure there won’t be a whole lot of sleeping going on…!
Please tell us about the characters in your book?
Ah, Rowan is a bit of a free spirit who doesn’t know that she’s running around the world looking for something that is back home, in the place she was running from. Seb is wary of love and commitment and especially of woman who are free spirits and travelers. They are flighty and selfish and fickle and have the attention spans of gnats.
As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?
To be honest I am still surprised that they managed to find their happy-ever-after because they are very different characters with diametrically opposite points of view. They both had to give a lot to find a space in their relationship where they both could be happy.
What scene did you most enjoy writing? Why?
After Rowan and Seb sleep together for the first time, Seb comes home to find Rowan dressed up and looking to party. He accuses her of bed-hopping….
Seb swore at himself and ran an agitated hand through his hair.
Oh, crap. She’d kicked ‘hurt’ into the back seat and now she was seriously ticked. Wonderful. And could he blame her?
Seb twisted his lips and thought he’d attempt to explain. ‘Okay, look, that came out wrong…’
‘You think I am so easy that I could jump from your bed to someone else’s?’ Rowan laughed and the sound didn’t hold a teaspoonful of mirth. She held up a hand. ‘No, don’t answer that, because I’m very close to smacking you silly! What a joke!’
If it was, he failed to see it.
Rowan shook her head, snapped a set of car keys off the hall table and picked up the bag that she’d hung on the coat stand. She walked towards the door.
Seb was thinking of how to keep her in the room when she turned around abruptly and looked at him with blazing eyes. ‘No, I’m not going to do this again.’
‘Leave you to your assumptions. I think that’s a mistake I keep making over and over with you and my family. I allow you to jump to these crazy assumptions about me because…because of habit, maybe. Pride, maybe. But this—you thinking that I treat sex casually just because we had a great time in the sack—I can’t let this ride. The reason we had great sex is because we obviously—who knows why?− have amazing chemistry. Why we have this chemistry when I think you have the personality and charm of a horse’s ass is a mystery for another day.’
‘My turn.’ Rowan cut him off with a sharp wave of her hand. ‘As for my sexual history—do you know how hard it is, as a female travelling on her own, to get laid?’
She looked as if she was waiting for a response so Seb thought it was safe to say: ‘Uh…no?’
Rowan looked momentarily triumphant. ‘Hah! Of course you don’t. You just assume that it’s what we travellers do.’ Her chest rose and fell with temper. ‘Every man I meet—all the time—is a stranger. I don’t know him. I’m not given the time to know him. I can think he’s cute, but psychos come cute as well. Now, say I decide to take a chance… I have to get into a room with him—because, you know, I like a bit of privacy with my sex. That means I put myself in danger every time. And do you want to know how many times I’ve done that?’
Seb, now feeling like a first-prize fool, shrugged.
‘None, Seb. I’ve never done it. I’ve had a couple of relationships over the years with guys I’ve known for a long time. I don’t do hook–ups. It’s a dangerous and stupid thing to do when you don’t have any friends or family to rescue you if something goes horribly wrong.’
Seb scrubbed his face with his hands, feeling equally relieved and foolish.
‘And, just so that I’m very clear about this, we rocked it because you have a heck of a bod and you are a good kisser and I haven’t had any for a while.’
Okay, how deep was that hole he’d dug for himself and when could he throw himself into it?
But Rowan wasn’t quite finished; she still had another layer of skin to strip off him. ‘And I’m not going to a bar, you moron. I’ve got a job tending bar so that I can make some cash to pay you back and get out of your stupid, judgmental face!’
With that last verbal slap—which he so deserved—Rowan turned on her heel and walked out of his house.
What scene was the hardest to write? Why?
This scene takes place later in the book and is slightly more poignant.
‘Generous of you.’ How did he always manage to make her smile when she was feeling blue? Rowan bundled her hair up, held it on top of her head for thirty seconds before allowing it to fall again.
‘Okay, we’ll go over later. Tell me about your travelling.’
Rowan turned to face him, her back to the window. ‘That’s a pretty broad subject. Narrow it down…’
Seb thought for a moment. ‘Tell me what you love about travelling.’
‘The colour, the wonderful local people, their tolerance; the differences that are wonderful, the similarities that are universal. Buildings, bazaars, street food.’
‘And what do you most hate about it?’
‘Practically? Dirty kitchens and cheap hostel dorm rooms. The constant partying all around. The same questions all the time. “Where do you come from?” “How much of the world have you seen?” “How long have you been travelling for?” “Where to next?” Boring conversations, over and over and over again…’ Rowan hesitated.
‘Tell me, Ro.’
Rowan gestured to the bed. ‘This…’
‘This?’ Seb looked puzzled. He looked at the bed and then turned his gaze back to hers. ‘What?’
‘One of the worst things about travelling is relationships: finding them, keeping them, losing them. I have said goodbye far too many times, Seb. Far more than any person should. Ever. I can go for weeks without meeting another traveller, depending on where I’m staying, because I don’t want to…don’t want to get to know them and then have to wave them off.’
‘Are we talking about friendships or lovers?’
‘Either. Both,’ Rowan said. ‘Saying goodbye always hurts.’
And it will hurt so much more when I have to say goodbye to you, Rowan thought, holding his intense gaze. She knew from talking to other backpackers and from her couple of failed relationships that a relationship limited by time, like hers and Seb’s, was always more passionate than a normal, run-of-the-mill romance in the real world. They both knew that it had to end some time soon, so they had to make every moment count.
It wasn’t real. Or maybe it was too real. It just wasn’t built to last.
It would end with another goodbye. And she already knew that it would be absolutely the hardest goodbye she’d ever have to say.
Seb ran his hand through his very short hair and then over his stubbled jaw. He looked as if he wanted to say something, pursue the subject, but then she saw him retreat. Was he running from the emotion in her voice? From the sentimentality of her words? She knew that he’d never been good at dealing with raw emotion. He preferred to find a rational explanation behind every decision or action. She envied him that ability to be so clear-thinking, so sensible.
She couldn’t be like that… She felt everything. Twice.
Who would you cast in the role of your characters if your book was optioned for a movie?
Ooh, Jake Gyllanhal would work for Seb and Penelope Cruz for Rowan. They would so work.
If you could have given your characters one piece of advice before the opening pages of the book, what would it be and why?
To Rowan I would say that disasters sometimes turn out to be blessings in disguise. To Seb I would suggest to rationalize a little less and be impetuous a little more.
What are you currently working on? What other releases so you have planned for 2014?
Oh, wow, busy year ahead. I have a Harlequin Kiss coming out on April called Flirting with The Forbidden and is my diamond heiress Morgan’s story. Love that book! In June I have workaholic Ally’s story and in July I have a book out with Lucy King under Harlequin presents that’s called Wild About The Man. It’s the fish-out-of-water story of socialite Clem on a safari operation in Africa. Love that book too!
In October I’m part of a Christmas anthology with Maisey Yates and Carole Mortimer. And then, sometime later this year, I have Tori’s story, which is part of a Kiss Flatmates continuity with Nikki Logan, Charlotte Phillips and Louisa George.
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: I’m giving away two print copies and two e-books of The Last Guy She Should Call.
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: Because Rowan is, like me, such a travel nut, tell me about your travels! Where have you been (favorite place) or where would you like to go? Or do you prefer to get your travel fix through books? What’s on your travel bucket list?
Right from the beginning….
ROWAN DUNN SAT in the hard chair on one side of the white table in an interrogation room at Sydney International Airport and reminded herself to be polite. There was no point in tangling with this little troll of an Immigration Officer; she looked as if she wanted a fight.
‘Why have you come to Australia, Miss Dunn?’
As if she hadn’t explained her reasons to the Immigration Officer before her—and the one before him. Patience, Rowan. ‘I bought these netsukes in Bali…’
‘A netsuke is a type of miniature carving that originated in the seventeenth century.’ She tapped one of the fifteen ivory, wood and bone mini-sculptures that had been stripped of their protective layers of bubble wrap and now stood on the desk between them. Lord, they were beautiful: animals, figures, mythical creatures. All tiny, all perfectly carved and full of movement and character. ‘These are uncommon and the owner knew they had value.’
‘You bought these little carvings and yet you have no money and no means of income while you are in Australia?’
‘That’s because I drained my bank account and maxed out my credit cards to buy them. Some of them, I think, are rare. Seventeenth, eighteenth-century. I suspect one may be by Tamakada, circa 1775. I need to get into Sydney to get Grayson Darling, an expert on netsuke, to authenticate them and hopefully buy them from me. Then I’ll have plenty of money to stay in your precious, I mean, lovely country.’
‘What are they worth?’
Rowan tipped her head. ‘Fifteen at an average of two thousand pounds each. So, between twenty and thirty thousand, maybe more.’
The troll’s jaw dropped open. ‘You’ve got to be…joking!’ She leaned across the table and her face radiated doubt. ‘I think you’re spinning me a story; you look like every other free-spirited backpacker I’ve seen.’
Rowan, not for the first time, cursed her long, curly, wild hair and her pretty face, her battered jeans, cropped shirt and well-used backpack. ‘I’m a traveler but I am also a trader. It’s how I—mostly—make my living. I can show you the deed of sale for the netsuke…’
Officer troll flipped through her passport. ‘What else do you sell, Miss Dunn?’
‘You’ve gone through my rucksack with a fine-tooth comb and I’ve had a body search. You know that I’m clean,’ Rowan said wearily. She’d been here for more than six hours—could they move on, please? Pretty please?
‘What else do you sell, Miss Dunn?’
God! Just answer the question, Rowan, and get this over with. ‘Anything I can make a profit on that’s legal. Art, furniture, antiques. I’ve flipped statues in Buenos Aires, art in Belize, jewellery in Vancouver. I’ve worked in construction when times have been lean. Worked as a bar tender when times were leaner. But mostly I buy low and sell high.’
‘Then why don’t you have a slush fund? A back-up plan? Where is the profit on those deals?’
‘A large amount is tied up in a rickety house I’ve just co-bought with a friend in London. We’re in the process of having it renovated so that we can sell it,’ Rowan admitted.
And the rest was sitting in those little statues. She knew that at least one, maybe two, were very valuable. Her gut was screaming that the laughing Buddha statue was a quality item, that it was by a famed Japanese artist. She hadn’t planned to wipe out her accounts but the shopkeeper had had a figure fixed in his head and wouldn’t be budged. Since she knew that she could flip the netsukes for two or three times the amount she’d paid for them, it had seemed like a short, acceptable risk. Especially since she knew Grayson—knew that he wouldn’t quibble over the price. He was the best type of collector: one with deep and heavy pockets. Pockets she couldn’t help lighten unless she got into the damned blinking country!
‘The reality is that you do not have enough money on your person to last you two days in Australia.’
‘I explained that I have friends…’
The troll held up her hand. ‘Your not having enough funds has made us dig a little deeper and we’ve found out that you overstayed the visa—by six months—on your South African passport.’
Rowan felt her stomach sink like concrete shoes. That had happened over eight years ago, which was why she always used her UK passport to get into Oz. She’d been into the country four times since then, but they had finally picked up on her youthful transgression.
Bye-bye to any chance of getting into Oz any time in the next three years. Hello to a very sick bank account for the foreseeable future, to doing the deal with Grayson over the phone—a situation neither of them liked—or to finding another netsuke-mad collector who would pay her well for her gems. There weren’t, as she knew, many of them around.
‘You are not allowed to visit Australia for the next three years and you will be on the first flight we can find back to South Africa. In a nutshell, you are being deported.’
Rowan looked up at the ceiling and blew a long stream of air towards the ceiling. It was the only place in the world where she, actively, passionately, didn’t want to go. ‘Crap.’
The troll almost smiled. ‘Indeed.’
She’d got his number…
For savvy antiques dealer Rowan Dunn life is good-until a passport error gets her deported back to South Africa! Stranded at the airport, Rowan can only remember two phone numbers: her parents’ (definitely not an option!) and her best friend’s brother. As much as she hates it, Rowan knows she has no choice. It’s time to call Seb Hollis and ask for help…
Seb is even sexier than Rowan remembers-and just as infuriating! He’s always pushed her buttons, but at least now she knows how to push them back. Maybe it’s time to start sleeping with the enemy-even though Rowan’s sure there won’t be a whole lot of sleeping going on…!
Joss wrote her first book at the age of eight and has never really stopped. Her passion for putting black letters on a white screen is only matched by her love of books and traveling (especially to the wild places of Southern Africa) and, possibly, by her hatred of ironing and making school lunches.
Fueled by coffee, when she’s not writing or being a hands-on Mom, Joss, with her background in business and marketing, works for a non-profit organization to promote the local economic development and collective business interests of the area where she resides. Happily, and chaotically, surrounded by family, friends and books, she lives in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa with her husband, young children and their many pets.
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