Sell beloved Eden to a developer? Watch the apple trees bulldozed for hobby farms?
‘You’ll have to sell, it’s inevitable,’ states charming and persuasive Adam Henderson. ‘I’ll give you a good price.’
‘Over my dead body,’ cries owner, Eve McGregor.
Eden was her father’s dream and now, all she has in the world. Since his death Eve has struggled to keep the orchard going but the bank is threatening foreclosure and Adam, wealthy, determined and far too attractive, won’t take no for an answer. Besieged on all sides how can Eve save Eden ? Will Adam convince her the future is more important than the past?
I am so pleased to have had the chance to interview Elisabeth Rose and not only because she is a talented multi-published author who was a 2011 Ruby Finalist for the Romantic Writers of Australia Inc., but because she also never gave up on her first book. Now published as Eve's Passion by Whiskey Creek Press, the book had a bumpy ride from initial manuscript to publication. As a fellow author who has several unpublished manuscripts mouldering away in a drawer, I found Elisabeth's story inspirational. It is also a nudge for every writer. If you have written a story that you believe in, then never give up.
I I understand that you wrote Eve’s Passion many years ago. Why didn’t it get published first time around?
I think it was because I was an inexperienced writer and didn’t understand the target market properly. I sent it to the London office of HM&B back in about 2001. I’d just started writing seriously and it was my second or third manuscript. I was thrilled to have two lots of revisions but just couldn’t nail what the editors wanted. ‘Lacking emotional punch’ they said. Consistently! They really gave me every opportunity to get it but I couldn’t back then.
· That is always so dispiriting for a writer. Did being turned down after two lots of rewrites make you feel like giving up or did you send the manuscript to another publisher?
I wasn’t ever going to give up. I think training as a musician makes you used to criticism and rejection to a certain extent. It’s tough to take sometimes but that’s how you learn. Someone who knows more about the subject tells you things that you can either accept and use or discard. People who become defensive or aggressive in the face of knowledgeable criticism when they’re still learning the craft or the art won’t learn much.
I did send Adam and Eve and the Apples, as it was called then, to one or two other publishers. I remember one rejected it and the other, a small Australian outfit, took ages to get back to me but then suddenly wanted it. Coincidentally I sold my first book. The Right Chord, to Avalon at almost the same time – 2006. The small publisher struggled along but folded eventually. Fortunately for me Tempting Eve (its second incarnation) hadn’t got past the early production stage. I had a cover but that’s all. It still pops up here and there online!
· That must have been so hard for you. To have a contract and then for the publisher to fold before publication is a writer’s worst nightmare. What did you do then?
Because I’d signed with Avalon at the same time and was very excited about that, I wasn’t disappointed at all. It was a very small publisher with limited distribution. When it folded I waited the requisite time for the rights to revert to me and then vaguely started thinking of giving Adam and Eve another shot. It didn’t suit Avalon because of the sex scenes. I think they’re quite hot thanks to the revisions that previous editor had asked for, so it wasn’t a complete waste of time.
· I am so glad that the book eventually found a home. Why has it ended up as Eve’s Passion?
Thanks Sheila, I’m pleased too because I really like this story. When I sent it off to The Whiskey Creek Press I thought up a new title just in case there were still some old covers floating about online.
· The cover is beautiful. Did you influence the design in any way?
Yes, the publisher ask for suggestions. I specified winter but not snow, apples, and that it should indicate rural life in some way. Gemini Judson, the artist, contacted me with her first draft and I really liked her idea. We adjusted one or two things and she came up with what we have. I love it.
· I absolutely love the play on names in the book. Eve in ‘Eve’s Passion’ fighting to save Eden, her dead father’s orchard, even though wealthy and persuasive Adam Henderson wants her to sell it. Did you start off with the names and write the book around them, or was it the other way around?
I think I started with Eve trying to run her apple orchard. I liked the name Eve, and Adam, of course, just naturally sprang to mind. I hesitated because it seemed a bit corny along with the apples but at the same time that’s who they were so I went with it. After that Eden was a natural—might as well go the whole way! Eve’s father had named the orchard Eden because he wanted to create a paradise for his family, so that really came first in the story chronology. Of course Eden becomes as far from paradise as you could get.
· I enjoy reading stories with feisty heroines. Eve McGregor sounds like someone who will battle right down to the wire. Is she based on anyone you know or have read about? Or perhaps she has a little of you in her?
I didn’t base Eve on anyone in particular but there are lots of examples of people who fight tooth and nail for something important to them. And you’re right Eve will fight to her last gasp.
· What about Adam Henderson? Is the reader going to like him at the beginning of the book or will his treatment of Eve alienate them at first?
Adam has his own demons but he’s also a canny businessman. He can see Eve’s orchard will never survive. She can’t run it by herself, she has no money to hire help and even if she did it’s not big enough to make a decent profit. He starts out wanting her land for his redevelopments but on meeting her quickly changes his mind and tries to save her from herself. His problem is convincing her she can’t win. I hope he’s likable and that I’ve made his position clear. He’s not inherently evil or nasty--he just sees the situation unclouded by emotion. This is what drives Eve nuts.
· The blurb doesn’t say why Adam is so wealthy. How has he earned his money and is it linked to Eden’s past?
Adam grew up in the area. His grandfather owned all the land and sold off blocks many years before. Adam’s grandparents raised him and his sister, and his family background is a major source of his unemotional view of business. His tough old grandfather taught him that buying cheap and then selling the redeveloped land was a more lucrative way of making money than farming it.
· What is your favourite part of the story?
I like the happy ending.
· Did you have to do much research for the book? I am looking forward to reading it but until I do I don’t know how much detail there is about orchards, growing fruit and bank foreclosures
I grew up on a small one-man apple orchard so most of what’s in the book is firsthand knowledge of that life. My brother and his wife run the orchard now but my Dad established it. We always had hens (chooks in Australia), a couple of cows, and I had a horse.
Fortunately I haven’t had any personal experience with bank foreclosures but for farmers these days it’s a sad fact of life.
· You obviously enjoy writing romance. How do you find your heroines and heroes?
It’s hard to say where they come from, isn’t it? I guess it’s different for each book. Sometimes it’s an incident. Sometimes it’s a face or a name that sparks an idea.
· What sparks a story for you? And where did you get the idea for Eve’s Passion?
I started out writing about musicians because music has been the main thing in my life and what I know best. After a couple of musical stories I cast about for another topic I knew about and realised I knew a lot about life on a small apple orchard. As for the idea— rural properties being sold for subdividing into hobby farms happens all the time. Some farmers must hate it when all around them the good farmland is used that way.
· Do you plan what you are going to write beforehand or are you what is known as a pantser – the sort of writer who lets the story develop at its own pace?
A pantser. I have a vague idea sometimes of where I’m going but other times I start writing and see what happens. Gradually a focus emerges but very often a new twist develops or the ramifications of an event or action grow deeper the more I think about it. That will throw up new ideas.
· Do you always know how your characters are going to behave or do they sometimes surprise you?
Both things happen. They need to be gently steered in a certain direction once I have an idea what that direction actually is.
· You never gave up on this book. Now that has been published you must be so pleased. Publication has vindicated your faith in the story. Does your persistence mean that it is special to you?
I hadn’t thought about it like that but you’re right. It is a bit special because I based it so much on my own childhood—the lifestyle, not the damaged families involved J. I have a very happy family. My parents at time of writing are both still with us and have been married for sixty-five years. I’ve dedicated this book to my dear ninety-year-old Dad. He’s my biggest fan.
· Finally, five seconds getting to know the real Elisabeth Rose:
· When you’re not writing, what do you like to read?
I’m partial to mysteries and thrillers. I do like romance, of course, but I’ll read almost anything.
· How, when and where do you write?
Desk top computer in the smallest spare room. No children at home anymore, so my husband and I have a spare room each until someone comes to stay. My days are fairly free as I work part time teaching music and tai chi with odd hours. I write every day but not regular hours.
· Are you working on a new book right now? If so, can you give me a hint about the story?
Evidence Of Love is the title of my latest work in progress. I have a detective falling for the widow of a well-known crime boss. She, having grown up in a family who made crime an art form, is trying to pretend her past never happened - new name, new city- but reluctantly becomes involved with the police when she finds the victim of a bashing in the park. She has to learn to trust the enemy, a policeman, and he has to trust her word she wasn’t involved in any of the nefarious doings of her rotten husband and her family despite all sorts of circumstantial evidence indicating that she may have been.
· What is your favorite activity other than writing?
Two activities or passions - music and Tai Chi
· “I can’t live without - music”
· “I would love to try - dancing the tango”
· One word to describe you - happy
Elisabeth Rose lives in Australia’s capital, Canberra. She has completed a performance degree on clarinet; travelled Europe with her musician husband and returned to Canberra to raise two children. In 1987 she began practicing Tai Chi and now teaches classes in that, as well as teaching and playing clarinet. Reading has been a lifelong love; writing romance a more recent delight
An extract of Eve’s Passion can be found on Elisabeth Rose’s website at www.elisabethrose.com.au