About the Book:
When life in the fast lane threatens to implode … Melanie Hunt’s job working for the Delta racing team means she is constantly rubbing shoulders with Formula One superstars in glamorous locations like Monte Carlo. But she has already learned that keeping a professional distance is crucial if she doesn’t want to get hurt. New Delta team driver Aiden Foster lives his life like he drives his cars – fast and hard. But, no matter how successful he is, it seems he always falls short of his championship-winning father’s legacy. If he could just stay focused, he could finally make that win. Resolve begins to slip as Melanie and Aiden find themselves drawn to each other –with nowhere to hide as racing season begins. But when a troubled young boy goes missing, everything is thrown into turmoil, including Aiden’s championship dream.
- Tell us a little about your book Before You and about the F1 backdrop to your novel?
Before You features Formula One racing driver Aiden Foster. He’s just joined a new racing team, Delta, and believes it’s his final chance to win a championship. Also his final chance to prove to the motor racing world, and himself, that he has what it takes to emulate the success of his championship winning father. All he needs is a year with no distractions. He doesn’t need to find himself attracted to Melanie Hunt, Delta’s press officer. Nor does he need the arrival of a troubled young boy.
- Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
Aiden Foster drives a Formula One car at blistering speeds round a track, where a momentary loss of concentration could lead to disastrous consequences. Oh and he’s drop dead sexy with a wicked sense of humour. Not convinced that makes him special? How about, when Mel Hunt starts dig beneath Aiden’s handsome, cocky veneer, she finds a man quite different from the one she thought he was.
- How much research do you do?
During the racing season, Formula One is always on the television. In recent years I’ve been lucky enough to go to Spa and Silverstone, so I’ve seen it live, sampled the atmosphere, heard the engines and felt the speed. I thought it would give me enough knowledge to write a romance with the sport as a backdrop, but I was totally wrong. The book takes place during the racing season and I found it isn’t really what happens on the track I needed to learn about, but what happens between races. For example, how do racing drivers keep fit, how much of their time is taken up with sponsor commitments, what does the paddock look like? Formula One Racing for Dummies gave me insight into racing strategy, personnel, tracks and described a typical week for a racing driver outside racing. I also researched more online, particularly around their fitness (each race is likened to running a marathon). Another book called Formula One Paddock gave me a flavour of Paddock life and helped me visualise the huge motorhomes that house the team offices, driver rooms and hospitality during the Grand Prix. Finally, for Mel’s role, the McClaren press office suggested I read Super Ego by Julia Wurz, who used to run the Press Office for the Benetton Formula 1 Team.
- What inspired you to become a writer?
I started to make up my own endings to books I was reading. Soon I was imagining a whole new set of characters, in a different setting, but finding the time to do anything about them was difficult. Then, after a few too many drinks (!) I made a New Year’s Resolution to write a book. For once, I kept to it, and though the book never made it, by then I was hooked on writing. It took many years and rejections before I got my first contract – I put it down to perseverance, a love of writing and a dose of luck!
- What is your writing process?
Process sounds very grand for what I do. I mull over ideas in my head for a long while, starting with dreaming up the perfect hero (it’s a tough job, but someone has to do it). Then I build other characters and a plot around that. When it’s sufficiently formed in my head, I dump the contents into a word document, forming them into biographies and a rough outline. I don’t start to write until my lead characters feel real to me.
- Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
My brain dump forms a rough outline that I chunk out into sections. These get refined as I start to write; I slot ideas that come to me into the sections which then start to form chapters. I guess what I’m saying is I start with the bones of the book, then flesh out the detail as I write.
- How do you come up with your ideas?
I can take inspiration from anything. For example, the place I used to work (pharmaceutical industry) was the inspiration behind my novel Search for the Truth. A cardboard cut-out of my racing hero, Jenson Button, led to Before You. Because I like variety in my (fictional) men, when I’m dreaming up my next hero I tend to make him quite different from the one I’ve just written; that, in itself, can inspire a whole book.
- Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
Aiden Foster is outwardly laid back and charming with dark hair and dazzling grey eyes – Matt Bomer would do nicely. But while I was writing him, I confess I kept looking at my cardboard Jenson J.
- What is your favourite book and why?
Favourite book of all time is more than one book – it’s the Poldark series by Winston Graham. I love strong, flawed characters so Ross Poldark is a perfect hero in my eyes.
- Who is your favourite driver and Team in F1?
Given my answer to question 7, it won’t come as a surprise to find Jenson Button is my favourite driver. Now he’s retired, I’m staying with McClaren, despite their current issues, as I’m very happy to watch Fernando Alonso. I also have a soft spot for Daniel Ricciardo – it’s that smile!
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