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02 April 2013

Meet Sandra Antonelli And Win

Sandra Antonelli is a delightful woman who has a way with words and a terrific sense of humour. I was delighted when I found out she was being published as I suspected those qualities would come across in her work - AND THEY DID! Below Sandra tells us how she went from a reader to a scholar to becoming a published author. One lucky reader can also win a Kindle copy of her new book A Basic Renovation.

How I Went From West Point to A Basic Renovation

There was a time in my life where I lived without a television. However, we had a radio that was always on, I possessed a very active imagination, I mean, I was awesome at pretending, and I had a sort of TV in my head because I went to the movies a few times a week.

No, I did not grow up in the ‘30s or ‘40s. We didn’t have a TV because we lived in Europe and there was too much cool stuff to travel to and see in real life, rather than on a small, black and white screen with a fuzzy picture.

My parents and my older brother were voracious readers. As the youngest, I thought it was my duty to keep up the family tradition of reading. We went to the library a lot. I’d come out with a huge stack of books. Because my brother was reading big fat books like the Count of Monte Cristo, that meant I had to read them as well. As a result, the books I chose were often above my reading level. I was 7 and reading stuff like West Point Plebe, which I chose because I had no idea what a plebe was and dammit, I was going to find out. Mixed in with the occasional Pippi Longstocking, Encyclopedia Brown, Beverly Cleary book, and those tales of what it was like to be a young man in his first year at the United States Military Academy, I had The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Three Musketeers, and pretty much everything by Rafael Sabatini. For me, reading meant Captain Blood, The Sea Hawk, Scaramouche—all high adventure stuff with a bit fat dose of…romance.

Ah, there it is, that magical word. Romance.

I noticed romance at about the age of nine, but it was always bound within a swashbuckling adventure. At ten I started to pay attention to the love story. I started looking for the love story. At 13 I was quite a geek. Somewhere around this age we’d moved to the States and got a TV. By then, I read science fiction (because my brother did), I played D&D (because my brother did) and I discovered the Gothic romance (because of a big fat book I found at the library). While perusing the shelves for another novel in Spider Robinson’s pun-filled Callahan series, I discovered Charlotte Bronte and Daphne Du Maurier and holy crap, I read Jane Eyre and Rebecca, and OH MY GOD Mr. Rochester and Maxim DeWinter!!

By 14, I realized my high school’s library had quite the collection of Harlequin romance novels. While I was at home I read Sci Fi and Daphne DuMaurier, but when I was at school I could read most of a Harlequin during the hour we had for lunch, and pick it up to finish the next day. While other kids were in the cafeteria eating, I was in the library chowing down on Charlotte Lamb, Ann Mather, and Violet Winspear romance. I also read anything Star Wars related, Ian Fleming’s James Bond series, as well as James Michener and a bunch of other big fat books. The majority of the books I read were about characters who were supposed to be young, but they were older than me. This set a precedent. I found I preferred reading about more mature characters who weren’t all wrapped up in the angsty bullshit of high school—because I wasn’t wrapped up in the angsty bullshit of high school. I was a well-adjusted nerdy geek with a circle of friends who all read (and went to movies).

Not only did my friends read everything and anything, one of them was storyteller who went on become a writer of an award winning YA series about a thief. Megan came up with the best stories to tell me. Sometimes she’d write something down and pass it to me between classes. Since we both had vivid imaginations, after a while we came up with a story together. It was about a moody, Rochester-esque thief named Christian and the woman he robs. Of course, the characters were older than we were. Megan’s parts were always awesome adventure bits. My parts were always scenes where, for some reason, the characters were about to kiss. Megan’s stayed with adventure and I’ve stayed with characters about to kiss. She was published in 1996. I was published this year. Her characters are young. Mine are mature.

So when I came to writing A Basic Renovation—and you’ve been waiting for me to get here, I know you have—I wasn’t really aware that I had a secret when it came to writing a romance novel with mature-aged characters. I wrote ABR novel for a Master’s Degree. A novel was a requirement of the degree, as was a thesis. The thesis was the tricky part. I had ¾ of it completed before I had to examine my writing and attempt to find a research question somewhere in the text that I could use as focus for the thesis. What this made me do was examine my reading tastes. I had to write a romance novel, so what romance novels did I like to read, which ones did I enjoy the most, and what had I written previous to ABR, and what, if anything did they have in common?

If you said, the characters were all older than me, then you’d be right.

Yet here’s the thing. I never consciously set out to write romance novels with forty plus romantic leads—it just happened. In everything I wrote, from the shitty very first big FAT novel that will forever sit in a box in my wardrobe, to ABR, even to the current work in progress that is part of my PhD, the creation of every story followed the precedent I set from the age of 7. But because I was looking from something when I was writing ABR, I had a moment that made me sit up and take note that female leads in romance fiction were limited to an age range that started as early as 17 and seemed to stop at 35. Sure, there were some that crept in under that line, and I had read those books, but how come there weren’t MORE? I had noticed that

In my early days as a plebian author, before I started down the route of romance writer turned romance scholar, I looked to other more experienced authors for counsel. I noted this advice as most useful: Write the novel you want to read. Since there were so few romance novels with the older characters I wanted to see, I went and wrote one for myself. Then I wrote another. And another. And one more—A Basic Renovation.

And just because I like to read about characters with maturity, because I went to so many movies back when we didn’t have a TV, because I adore early romantic comedies from the Golden Age of Hollywood, I had to make ABR a snappy, smart-assed rom-com with a slightly Rochester-esque Dominic and not-at all Jane Eyre-ish Lesley. I also had to give the world my version of a really mature-aged romance with 92 year-old GP and his eighty-something girlfriend, Eilish Flanagan. I had to set the novel in a place of great beauty, Los Alamos NM, which was also the location of one of mankind’s greatest, most horrible secret—the birthplace of the atomic bomb. Like the pretty town, every character in the story hides something or drops some kind of bomb; Dominic’s got a dirty little nuclear family secret, Lesley is the detonator, and GP? Well, GP drops the F-bomb.

About the book:

When it comes down to it, rats in the oven trumps Lesley’s desire to never set eyes on another Brennan family member. So Lesley, a pro at property redevelopment, scrambles to Dominic Brennan’s hardware store for supplies. Dominic knows poison — rat and otherwise — and he sees it in Lesley. The woman ruined his brother’s life. Now that she’s back in town, Dominic’s afraid she’ll drag up the past, the secrets, and the pain. They clash immediately, but mix in a teenage boy, a puppy, some white paint, and some loud music, and what starts as cold fury transforms into a nuclear attraction. This basic renovation becomes a major life refurbishment for them both. 

You can purchase A Basic Renovation {here
You can follow Sandra Antonelli on Twitter and Facebook. Her website is

To win a Kindle copy of A Basic Renovation please comment below with your name, your email, and tell us how you would like to renovate your home. The winner will be chosen on the last day of Aussie Author Month (30/04/2013) using and notified via email. The winner will also be announced on Book Bites.

This prize has been donated by Sandra Antonelli and the competition is open internationally. 

Congratulations Nae! You have won a copy of A Basic Renovation

Aussie Author Month is a terrific initiative shining a light on Australian authors whilst raising funds for the Indigenous Literacy Project.

You can find out more {here} about guest posting during Aussie Author Month. Let's share the love for our fabulous Australian authors!


Ainslie Paton said...

That Sandra Antonelli - firecracker. But bad taste in hats.

Brenda said...

Brenda Telford

I would renovate my bathroom first....oh the ideas I have! lol

Nae said...

We don't have our own house, yet. But we've already renovated his parents halway, carport, the laundry and probably painted the whole house by now. So I have no worries that when we finially find the right house, we'll change to it how we like it. :)

Renee M

Nae said...

btw Aussie month is a fabulous idea and a wonderful thought for the indigenious population.
Go Aussies :)

Anonymous said...

I'd put in a shelf over each doorway, but running around the room for books. Who uses that space just under the ceiling anyway?

winter underscore rose underscore at hotmail dot com

Shelleyrae said...

My whole house needs renovation - but the first thing I would do is replaced the stained carpet and chipped lino with polished floorboards!

Thanks for the chance to win


bookd.out at gmail dot com

Kaetrin said...

We need our en suite re done but I'd love a new kitchen we'd have to redesign the whole house for that though!

Hankts AT internode DOT on DOT net

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