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Author spotlight: Teena Raffa

7 December 2019

For ARR2020 in March we will be featuring more than 90 romance authors across five cities. If you live in (or near) Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth or Adelaide, come along and meet local authors, as well as our international guests—Darynda Jones and Susan Donovan.

Today we are spotlighting Teena Raffa. She will be attending ARR2020 in Perth.

How old were you when you first started writing romance?

I wrote my first romance when I was 14. It was about a well-bred young woman who refused to marry the wealthy man her family had chosen because she was in love with a dashing highwayman. I knew nothing of love, had never been to England, and my research on the historical era I chose to write about came from Hollywood movies. Add in the fact I didn’t read romance and preferred ‘proper literature’ and you can imagine what it was like. I wrote Cassandra Bettany by hand in a school exercise book and shared it with my school friends. Surprisingly, it is one of my few early manuscripts that I still have.

My next attempt at writing romance came about 15 years later. I had read quite a few M&B novels by that time as my mother-in-law was an avid romance reader, but when I wrote my manuscript I broke all the romance writing rules. My response from M&B was that they knew what their readers wanted and I should familiarise myself with the requirements of the genre if I wanted to write it.

My third time lucky as a romance writer came in 2015 when Serenity Press publisher Karen McDermott invited me to submit a 12,000-word romance to the anthology Rocky Romance. I had fun writing ‘Perhaps Love’ about a romance writer who didn’t believe in true love and it became my first romantic fiction acceptance.

Who was the first romance author to catch your interest?

There were two: the Bronte sisters: Emily (Wuthering Heights) and Charlotte (Jane Eyre).

Have you written genres other than romance (or are you thinking about it)?

I’ve been writing for children since 1971, when our son was born. My publications range from picture books and short chapter books to MG novels and many of my short stories and poems have appeared in anthologies and magazines. I also worked for many years as a journalist and editor, so writing has been my passion and my business throughout my adult life. At the moment I’m toying with the idea of writing a series of cosy mysteries or a gritty psychological thriller, though I’m a long way from putting down any words.

Choose one of your books to turn into a movie—who would you cast in the lead roles?

What a fun question! I really had to give it some thought because I don’t have a lot of published romances to date. I finally settled on Grooming the Bride, a rom-com novelette about a young woman who wants to see her sister married without losing her own sanity or sinking into despair over her miserable love life. Then she has an encounter with a rude individual with an unusual request and saying yes to solving his dress dilemma is the craziest thing she’s ever done. It would make a fun movie. I’d cast Chris Hemsworth as Matt, Emily Blunt as Dani and Amanda Seyfried as her bride-to-be sister Hannah.

What is the hardest part of creating a story?

Staying focused long enough to finish it, especially if it’s longer than a few thousand words. I am a bit of a butterfly and am usually working on a dozen different projects at once. It’s easier for me to complete something short, then flit on to the next project.

What is your favourite place to write?

The main writing space is inside my head and I shudder to think what that looks like! I carry my stories around with me mentally, so a lot of the sentences first take shape while I’m away from my desk. I do a lot of scribbling in notepads at the kitchen bench, in a recliner chair at the lounge room window, propped up in bed, on the back patio or in the backyard on the sun deck. I have an office with my desktop computer, printers, filing cabinet, book shelf etc, and that’s where the manuscripts get knocked into shape for submission.

Have any of your characters been inspired by real-life people?

I don’t set out with that intention, though I can always see afterwards that there are some aspects of people I know—and of course myself—in my characters. I would probably describe individual characters in my stories as having been influenced by various people I’ve known during my life rather than inspired by a particular person. However, the dog in my latest short romance is definitely based on our gorgeous Labrador, Chloe, a rescue dog with anxiety issues and an obsession with toast at breakfast.

What was the last romance you read and loved (and why did you love it)?

When it all Went to Custard by Danielle Hawkins, about a single mum at risk of losing the family farm. Hawkins writes with insight and a light touch about everyday life. Her characters are vividly drawn, their interactions are realistic and her portrayal of young children is among the best I’ve read. The book is an absolutely delightful blend of hope, heart and humour.

Tell us about your latest release in 100 words or less

Christa’s Choice is a romantic novelette about a woman who leaves everyone and everything she knows in regional Australia to start a new life on the other side of the world after a cancelled wedding and an undeserved hate campaign. When the enigmatic taxi driver she met while leaving home turns up at the same hotel in Glasgow, Christa fears she might have swapped the unwanted attentions of one man for another. Or perhaps true love was her destination after all.

What else will you be working on in 2020?

The Seventh Summer is a contemporary romance about teenage sweethearts who thought their love would last forever, until one left the other in the lurch. Their paths cross seven years later on the first day of the school year and it soon becomes clear they have conflicting memories of what happened. Beth blames Chad. Chad blames Beth. They can’t both be right. And even after the misunderstandings are resolved, Beth must decide if she can trust Chad enough to tell him the truth about her son Kyle’s father.

If you haven’t booked your ticket for ARR2020 yet, you can buy one HERE.


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