Welcome to Jersey Girl Book Reviews, Tess!
Before we get to the interview, can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself.
I’m a physiotherapist who lives in Perth, Australia with one husband, two children, one dog and one cat who rules over all of us. Love at First Flight is my first novel. When I’m not working or being a personal assistant to my kids, I enjoy reading and all kinds of grannyish pleasures like knitting, baking, drinking tea, watching Downton Abbey and tending to my veggie patch.
How long have you been a writer?
I started writing Love at First Flight six years ago and it was the first writing I did since leaving school.
Do you have a day job, or is being an author your career?
I’m a physiotherapist and have been for the past twenty years. Along with my hubby, I own and operate three clinics around Perth. It is crazy busy so writing is definitely my night job. But I love my day job working in private practice. Every Tuesday I run exercise classes for the over 75s and we always finish with a dance number like the Hokey Pokey or the Macarena, best job ever.
What inspired you to become a writer? Describe your journey as a writer.
I was inspired by other writers and other stories. Books like Tully, The Bridges of Madison County and The Horse Whisperer stayed with me and inspired me. But when Stephenie Meyer wrote Twilight, something shifted inside me when I read it and I just had to write a book myself! So I began writing straight away but the journey was far more difficult than I could have imagined. It took six years and nine re-writes before getting published. The turning point for me was finding a literary agent who believed in my story and was prepared to fight to get a physiotherapist with no previous writing experience a publishing contract.
Please give a brief description/storyline about Love At First Flight.
It’s an unconventional love story. It doesn’t follow the typical romance theme and it asks the questions, how far would you go to be with the love of your life? What would you risk? And what if your soul mate is the one who will destroy you?
Mel is living the dream. She’s a successful GP, married to a charming anaesthetist and raising a beautiful family in their plush home in Perth. But when she boards a flight to Melbourne, she meets Matt and her picture perfect Stepford life unravels as she falls in love for the first time ever.
What begins as a flirty conversation between strangers quickly develops into a hot and obsessive affair with disastrous consequences neither Mel nor Matt could have ever seen coming. Mel’s dream life turns into her worst nightmare.
What was the inspiration for this story?
I've always been inspired by the tragic love story, the story of great love that just can't be. My favourite book The Bridges of Madison County stayed with me years after reading it and played on my mind. Then I read Twilight and out of nowhere I had to write my own book. Before this I had never entertained the idea of writing. But the longing in Twilight and the knowing that the one you love is the one that is dangerous for you resonated with me and I just had to write about that. So with the themes of desire and danger, I wrote a book about a married mother, because I wanted to write of what I know. I wanted to bring the great love story into the world of the typical suburban mum who is chasing after kids, working and running a home. I wanted her to have that Romeo and Juliet moment. So I wrote Love at First Flight.
How did it feel to have your first book published?
Surreal. Truly unbelievable. And it makes all the hard work and sweat worth it.
Do you write books for a specific genre?
Yes I write contemporary women’s fiction with romance elements.
What genres are your favorite(s)? What are some of your favorite books that you have read and why?
My favourite genre is contemporary women’s fiction, especially contemporary romantic ones. I am a hopeless romantic and I like reading contemporary stories because I find them easy to relate to. I loved Adriana Trigiani’s Big Stone Gap series. They were heartwarming books of small town life and I was so invested in all the characters. She is such a talented writer who brings lots of warmth and humour as well as lovely romance to her stories.
Do you have a special "spot/area" where you like to do your writing?
Yes, my favourite spot is snuggled up in bed. I’ve tried to be bohemian and trendy and take my laptop to hipster cafes to write, but I am just too distractable and get nothing done. I need to be tucked up in bed, late at night, hubby snoring peacefully next to me and that’s where I do my best work.
How do you come up with the ideas that become the storyline for your books?
I don’t, the ideas just find me out of nowhere. Often I am writing and find myself surprised at things my characters have just said or done because I didn’t know that was coming.
When you write, do you adhere to a strict work schedule, or do you work whenever the inspiration strikes?
When I am writing or editing, yes I do stick to a schedule of working every single night whether I feel inspired or not. However I tend to be hot and cold. I will write for four hours a night for a month to get a draft written or to do an edit and once it’s done I will ignore it for another month or two before picking up the manuscript again to re-work it.
What aspects of storytelling do you like the best, and what aspects do you struggle with the most?
I hate research. Hate it, hate it! But I love writing dialogue between characters, that comes very easily to me.
What are your favorite things to do when you are not writing?
My greatest hobby is reading. I love nothing more than heading to the beach (I live on the coast) with a good book and lying in the sun soaking up a story. I also love to bake and knit. And I’m obsessed with The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and New York! So watching them on TV is a real favourite.
What is/was the best piece of writing advice that you have received?
When we were doing the copy edit of Love at First Flight, the brilliant author Dianne Blacklock taught me the concept of Chekhov’s gun, one of her favourite writing tips, which is now one of mine too. Chekhov himself advised, “Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be hanging there.” This helped cut a lot of excess junk from my writing which was clogging it up.
What is the most gratifying thing you feel or get as a writer?
When people tell you that your story made them unable to concentrate on work that day or when they tell you that your characters haunted them days after they finished reading – that buzz is phenomenal! I write to move my readers so when I hear that this has happened, I’m floating on air.
How do you usually communicate with your readers/fans?
Mostly through Facebook but a few have also emailed me and I love that too. I’d like my readers to know how important they are to me. Every message, every email gets read and replied to and means the world to me. Being a writer is a lonely business. As a physio, it’s instant gratification – you treat somebody, they hop off the treatment couch and you get feedback and see the results of your work immediately. With writing, you put it out there and then wait for a response which can be agonising. So I would love readers to know that writers love to hear from you. We jump for joy when you reach out to us! Don’t be shy about emailing us or messaging us on Facebook. The reason we write is for you so we want to know about you and hear your opinions. I love it when readers tell me about their own lives, such as where they live, what they do and I especially love it when they send me photos of their own families. As a reader I never thought to contact an author or that an author would even want to hear from me, but now as an author, and speaking with so many other authors, I’ve seen just how much we all want and need that contact from our readers.
Is there anything in your book based on real life experiences or are they purely all from your imagination?
Hell yes! I really do believe you write what you know. Of course the novel is a work of fiction, not a biography and not a journal, and I credit my imagination for it, but I have definitely taken inspiration from events and people in my life.
It is no coincidence that Mel has long black hair and is a health professional who falls for a tall, dark, handsome and broody, moody physio. That’s me and my husband! But the great thing about writing is that I get to make Mel as hot as I like and morph her into someone as sexy as Angelina Jolie - hey, it’s my prerogative isn’t it? Matt’s parents are very much inspired by own mother and father in-law who lived out in the country on a sprawling property where we used to go to wind down from the city with them. Matt’s sister is a powerful human rights lawyer, just like two of my world-beating cousins. I even used my children’s names for characters - Tom, Lara and Lachlan. (Lara has a blink and you miss it part because I am saving her. I have big things planned for Lara in book two!)
And I incorporated many real life events into this fictional story. My husband and I tragically lost our third child Lachy at birth, my darling friend Jess committed suicide, my darling friend Julie fought a fierce battle with cancer and those stories and a few more events that shaped my life made it into the book.
What authors have been your inspiration or influenced you to become a writer?
My all time favourite author is Maeve Binchy. She inspired me with her amazing characterisations and the warmth she brought to her stories. Nicholas Evans inspired me with the way he writes about love with a palpable sense of longing. Marian Keyes inspired me with her humour and her telling it like it is.
What is your definition of success as a writer?
For me success was getting published so that anyone who wants to share in my story can.
Are you currently writing a new book? If yes, would you care to share a bit of it with us?
I am and I’m very excited! I am writing a contemporary romance called Flat White With One which is about my main character Mel’s son as an adult (he is a teenager in Love at First Flight). Nick is Australia’s most popular football player, a real playboy who falls for a young, conservative Egyptian girl named Anna with a tragic past who is anything but the typical footballer’s girlfriend. Flat White With One is their love story. Nick and Anna are tested by her family, Nick’s football community and the Australian public as nobody seems to approve of them being together.
Tess, thank you for visiting Jersey Girl Book Reviews and sharing with us a bit about yourself and your writing career!
About The Author
Author Tess Woods is a health professional who lives in Perth, Australia with one husband, two children, one dog and one cat who rules over all of them. Love at First Flight is her first novel for HarperCollins. When she isn't working or being a personal assistant to her kids, Tess enjoys reading and all kinds of grannyish pleasures like knitting, baking, drinking tea, watching Downton Abbey and tending to the veggie patch.
Love At First Flight by Tess Woods
Publisher: AUS Impulse / HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: April 1, 2015
Format: eBook - 283 pages
Kindle - 980 KB
Nook - 601 KB
Genre: Contemporary Romance / Women's Fiction
Buy The Book:
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Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours.
What would you risk to be with the love of your life? A family is threatened by an irresistible attraction in this compelling debut that will appeal to fans of Liane Moriarty and Anita Shreve.
Looking back on it now, I can see it was instant. the second we locked eyes. Boom. Just like that. the me I had spent a lifetime perfecting began its disintegration from that moment. And despite the carnage it brought to all our lives, I still don't regret it.
What would you risk to be with the love of your life? And what if your soul mate is the one who will destroy you?
Mel is living the dream. She's a successful GP, married to a charming anaesthetist and raising a beautiful family in their plush home in Perth. But when she boards a flight to Melbourne, she meets Matt and her picture perfect Stepford life unravels as she falls in love for the first time ever.
What begins as a flirty conversation between strangers quickly develops into a hot and obsessive affair with disastrous consequences neither Mel nor Matt could have ever seen coming. Mel's dream life turns into her worst nightmare.
Love at First Flight will take everything you believe about what true love is and spin it on its head.
My Book Review:
Every once in a while a book comes along that completely captivates me from beginning to end, and at the present time, Love At First Flight is that book.
In her debut novel, author Tess Woods weaves a riveting and intricate story of instant attraction, love at first sight, soul mates, marriage, family, infidelity, ramifications, loss, and forgiveness. Set in Australia and told in the first person narrative by Mel and Matt, their unexpected meeting on a flight leads to a hot and sexy affair that is both exhilarating and devastating, as their choices and decisions lead to consequences that will cut very deep for both of them and their families.
Love At First Flight is a powerful story that easily drew me into Mel and Matt's story. It took me on an exhilarating roller coaster ride where I experienced the full gamut of emotions. The author does an amazing job of describing the intense love that Mel and Matt had, the kind of love at first sight that simply can't be ignored, yet their choice of acting upon their love comes with hard decisions and consequences that affects their lives and their families. And if that isn't enough, their soul mate love affair has a complex mixture of deceit, passion, and obsession that could lead to a disastrous outcome.
As their story unfolds, the reader is taken on an emotional journey, and I found myself pondering my own marriage, and questioning what would I have done if I had met a man that I was instantly attracted to on a flight, and how far would I have taken that unexpected meeting / relationship. This story definitely provides much food for thought, especially when there are so many intricate factors involved: their soul mate love relationship, her marriage and family, his fiance, their professional lives, the depth of passion versus obsession, etc.
With a cast of characters who are realistic and flawed; a rich description of the Australian setting; and a compelling storyline that has enough drama, raw emotions, angst, romance, sexual tension, marriage and family dynamic, and surprising twists and turns, Love At First Flight will leave you emotionally drained and wanting more!
Kudos on a wonderful debut novel!
RATING: 5 STARS
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