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Guest blogger: Samantha Marshall

28 July 2019

Discovering romance

What do you want to do when you grow up?

For me, the answer has always been, “To write stories.”

As a child, I either told stories verbally or scrawled them in journals, on tiny pieces of paper—mum still has one I wrote on the back of a shopping list while pushing the trolley at the supermarket—napkins and, if I was truly desperate, my skin.

The first thing I did when my parents bought home a family computer was to find a typing program and start writing. It was a much faster and eminently more reliable way of working than on paper, and by the time I’d finished high school I had a completed novel under my belt. I never pushed on with that novel because, in my writing as in my reading (at the time, I read mainly hard fantasy novels) I felt like something was missing.

It was a frustration that persisted for years. Through it all, I undertook a writing degree and finished two more novels, which also never saw the light of day. I wrote for websites, for magazines and anthologies. I wrote for friends, for family, for myself; but I couldn’t solve the mystery of what, exactly, I needed in my work to make it truly whole.

In my early twenties, Mum put Slave to Sensation by the fabulous Nalini Singh in my hands. She said; “It’s about shape shifters. You’ll like it.” Given that Mum’s been my book dealer my entire life, this is more of a recommendation than I require—usually I get a bag of books and a hug. If she was putting this book into my actual hands and giving me not just one but two sentences’ worth of introduction, there was something special about it. I finished Slave to Sensation in a weekend, and it was a defining moment for me. I realised, at long last, what I’d been lacking in my writing.


And from romance, connection—because, as much as I enjoy a good steamy scene, there’s more to it than that. A human element, a sense of being let inside the character’s hearts in such a way that we feel every shining moment of love, fear, trust, hope and determination.

I immediately began messing about with short romantic pieces, using familiar characters from my unpublished novels to get a feel for this new, warm genre I’d discovered.

Over the next few years I had kids, got married, built a house; all that life stuff. Somewhere in there I managed a very quick, very rough paranormal romance that I temporarily published on Amazon as an ebook for family and friends. It was well received (by the ten or so loyal people who read it) but I pulled it from sale not long after because I knew it wasn’t the quality of writing I wanted to offer a broader readership.

Once my eldest was in school, I set about writing Sorcery and Stardust. What started as a little joke between friends over coffee rapidly evolved into something more. I pushed myself and my characters to their limits, both physically and emotionally, until I had a finished product I was happy with.

A month on from the release of Sorcery and Stardust, I’m half way into the second book in the series. It’s called Sorcery and Sandstorms and, so long as I’m not kidnapped by unicorns in the near future, should be out some time in 2020. I adore what I’ve written, and it’s because romance taught me how to reach deep inside a fictional heart and crack it open—not to break it, but to share it.

I’m also working on a rewrite of that paranormal romance I released all those years ago. It’s called Aislinn’s Shadow, will be out late 2019, and is book one in a series that I’m deeply excited to finally share with everyone. Those few loyal friends who read the original have been bugging me (in a nice way) for book two, but I knew I needed to be happy with book one first and so, here we are, almost at the end of the editing process approximately nine years after the initial plot idea occurred to me.

My mind and my heart are full of characters and stories to share and now, after searching so many years, I know that romance is my home. The complexities of our natures as human beings fascinate me, and I love nothing more than finding ways to explore those hidden facets during the course of a nice, meaty plot line. Whether we stand on two legs or four, have wings and horns or simply fingers and toes, wield a sword, a wand, a pen or a laptop, we’re all the same inside. We all have dreams, desires, things we love and things we hate. We all have limits to be pushed, depths to be plumbed and, most of all, hearts to be cracked open and shared.

When I write, I share mine.

You can find Samantha here: Website | Facebook | Instagram

Sorcery and Stardust

A sorceress. A warrior. A space deer.

The sorceress Arcana and her soulmerged deerken companion Caelum have spent fifty years traversing the galaxy, following the song that haunts Caelum’s dreams in an attempt to solve the mystery of their creation.

Fenris, stalwart Guardian of the Weaver and her Timeless Kingdom, leaps into a destabilised portal to escape the clutches of a madman intent on possessing the Weaver and using his army of warg to control the entirety of time and space.

Thrust together by the mysterious threads of fate, the trio cross the galaxy in a last ditch attempt to avert disaster. The tall, brooding Fenris holds the key to unlocking the mystery of Arcana and Caelum’s past, whilst they in turn have the skills to liberate his trapped queen and vanquish the bloodthirsty warg, who threaten the very fabric of reality.

To succeed, Fenris and Arcana must confront not only their own personal demons but the deep passion which threatens to bloom between them—or risk the complete and utter destruction of everything they hold dear.

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