Friday, 21 December 2012

Meet the Author - Francine Howarth

It's time for another 'Meet the Author' post, and today I'd like to introduce fellow Famous Five Plus author, and a writer of both historical and contemporary romance - the wonderful Francine Howarth!

So, sit back, stick your feet up, and let Francine tell you a little bit about herself, and her latest novel, Stalker in Paradise...

First I want to express many thanks to Michelle for daring to let me loose on her blog, and secondly to say it’s great to be here in the esteemed company of another brave Indie author.

Now for something to say… Oh lordy, where to start… O.K. Almost every author will tell you they get asked the same old questions, over and over again. But rather than bore you senseless with reams of questions and stock answers, I’ll share the one I get asked and hate the most: Q) “Why do you write contemporary as well as historical romances?”
This question immediately has a tag-on sentence: “Surely it’s better to specialise in one or the other.”



In truth there’s no simple answer to the above, except to say portraits are invariably the inspiration behind the novels I pen, which can be contemporary or historical. I will say my heart lies within historical romances simply because I’ve loved all things historical since I was old enough to read. That said, contemporary novels have their appeal, too. But getting back to the inspiration aspect of creating other worlds within the world we know and its past.

I often wonder what a person was thinking on the day the portraitist centred attention on the subject’s eyes and mouth. Eyes and mouths reveal so much about a person: a hint of amusement, a sparkle of lust, so on and so forth. Eyes, after all, are supposedly the windows to our souls. That is why eyes for me become important within a novel: their colour, intensity, and their ability not only to see they are able to convey much alongside character mannerisms. The senses too, play a huge role in presentation of atmosphere, whether interior or exterior. What do the characters hear, smell and feel by touch? Also, I’m a great believer in keeping peripheral characters as vague as possible, for they are not in any way central to the plot, whereas the hero and heroine are vital components in keeping reader interest alive. See if you agree with me.


This is the opening to my latest novel Stalker in Paradise:


Tethered to the mainmast of a sailing ship and fifty lashes of the whip supposedly raining down on his back, he sensed something or someone on the quayside. It was little more than a flash of creamy white in his peripheral vision. Nonetheless, instinct and aversion to the paparazzi kicked in and he inclined his head to see what had caught his eye.

   Yee gods.

   An exquisite apparition had come to brighten his day. Not as such, but certainly a vision of beauty. What with a cloud as black as the darkest night overhead and looking like it intended business, and the fact Ricky Lindon had just buggered a scene take, the director’s sudden yell, ‘Cut’ came as no great surprise.

   The master of proceedings threw down his copy of the day’s script in a gesture of utter frustration, and furthered with a snide comment: ‘The effing script Lindon, read it, you might get an idea of what I want from you today.’

   ‘And if I’d sneezed?’ he quizzed, even bigger grin

  The director turned and stormed off, shouted, ‘Take a break, and when Don Juan is ready to continue, perhaps he’ll be good enough to let me know.’ The director paused, turned, and his entourage parted like the red sea for Moses. ‘Oh, and Ricky, see to it your back on set by one on the dot.’ The director’s finger drummed his watch. ‘And no distraction hanging around.’

   As the director resumed his stride, Ricky glanced over his shoulder to fellow actors standing close by. ‘What in hell is his problem?’

   His co-star shrugged. The flogging master did the sign of the cross with his fingers, and the camera crew continued scrambling to cover their kit with rain covers whilst sniggering like idiots.

   The creamy vision all the while remained on the quayside taking in the scene of irate director and minions scurrying along behind him.

   ‘Yeah, yeah, so I goofed,’ he said, making light of the whole situation.

   Hell, he’d only turned his head slightly and concentration of looking pained at supposed punishment of fifty lashes had lapsed into a broad grin. Damn it all, he couldn’t believe a woman like that would be standing there all alone without a man of some sort hanging on her skirt tail. She was gorgeous despite her face half shadowed by a wide-brimmed hat and reflective shades. He swung his head back round to get a better look at long slender legs and slim shapely hips of the barefoot goddess.

   Whoa. If he didn’t know better she could easily be his ex.

   A sudden offshore breeze whipped at her cream-dress and dragged it up her thigh, and the casual way she caught the brim of her hat to prevent it blowing away caused his heart to blip: several times. He panned his eyes back to her face, the sensual sexuality of a smile bestowed upon him utterly breathtaking, not to say stimulating in a maddeningly frustrating way. But the eyes, he couldn’t see her eyes. Couldn’t really read her.

   Overhead the black cloud stretching to the far distant suddenly shimmied past the sun like the gods were on his side. Lit from behind her figure turned to silhouette. A stunning figure, too. But something  . . . something about her was damn familiar.

   No. It couldn’t . . . couldn’t be Tara.

  There it was again, that come get me smile beamed from beneath her brimmed hat. It had to be her. No two women were that alike except identical twins, and Tara didn’t have a sister let alone a twin.

   What in hell had happened to her once beautiful long blonde hair?

   The fabulous vision rapidly turned about and strolled away, brazen and sensual serene. The way she leisurely pulled her hat from her head and shook long blonde locks loose set his pulse racing, for it was as though she had read his very thoughts.

   Was it Tara? Dare he shout out her name? He’d look a right tosser if wrong in his thinking. He had to know: one way or the other. He turned to one of the sound technicians, asked, ‘Hey Ron, do you know who that gorgeous beauty is?’

   Ron glanced over the rim of his specs in her direction, replied, ‘Yeah, she’s with the guy who bankrolled the movie. Don’t know her name, though.’

   ‘What, the old guy?’

   Hell he sounded like he was well choked. Damn it, he was choked. His heart dived. He was still lashed to the mast and nobody taking a blind bit of notice of that fact. He yelled, ‘C’mon guys, give me a break here. Set me loose.’

   His intention was to go after her. He turned his gaze back to the departing vision of beauty. Just then a man with a clipboard stepped toward her in a rather officious manner. Her dismissive gesture of hand in the air suggested she didn’t have a pass and had no right on set. And she looked like she didn’t give a monkey, as though she owned the place, and that was just how Tara would have responded to a jumped up jerk.

   Great, how in hell was he supposed to get near her if she was shacked up with Darrell Easterly the shipping billionaire? Easterly had bodyguards galore, probably ex special-forces soldiers with sniper credentials to die for: literally.

   Was he brave enough to take on bodyguards? Sure he was if it meant he could get near enough to Tara to make her see reason. Buggerations. To be a swashbuckling hero on the big screen was one thing but facing down a gun another. Damn it. He could do it if he was forced to. He and Tara had unresolved history and he was still pissed at being dumped on the sidewalk by an armed security guard.

   Ricky Lindon, heartthrob movie star once upon a time engaged to Tara Portland, and then on one nightmare day suddenly thrown out of her apartment block merely because she’d spied him kissing some girl in a restaurant. Yeah, there was unfinished business, because she hadn’t given him a chance to explain?

   A damn kiss had wrecked their relationship, and it wasn’t his fault it had happened. That part of it really stuck in his craw. Trying to explain about the incident had gotten him a slap to face. A door slammed in his kisser and the added indignity of armed guard hauling him into a lift before bundling him out and onto the street. Tara had then vanished within days, and had now popped up with a shipping magnate in tow.

   Well, there was something needed to be said, and the apparition on the quayside had given him the big come get me if you dare. No way could Ricky Lindon walk away from that kind of a challenge.

This is the back cover blurb:
Actor and Hollywood golden boy, Ricky Lindon, loved Tara Portland with all his heart and lost her through no fault of his own. On seeing her again he’s determined to do whatever it takes to get her back. But fate intervenes in a way that rocks the very foundations of his movie star lifestyle. Not only is Tara surrounded by bodyguards, the new man in her life is a force to be reckoned with, and a disastrous incident turns Ricky from one-time lover to secret stalker. But is the thrill of watching over Tara as she sleeps enough, or will compulsion to touch her be his downfall?

Stalker in Paradise is available here at Amazon and Amazon .com

You can see more of my books listed at: Francine

Francine, thank you for agreeing to guest here on my blog, and thank you so much for an extremely interesting 'Meet the Author' post!  

I wish you lots of luck with Stalker in Paradise, and I hope you have a very Happy Christmas, and an extremely successful 2013!


  1. Many thanks for having me along as the last guest for 2012, Michelle. Cheers to all! Chin chin...


  2. Cheers, Francine! And it was an absolute pleasure to have you here on my blog. :) Wishing you and everyone else the very best for 2013!

  3. Great, exciting excerpt and intriguing blurb, Francine. Good luck with your release! I agree with you about the importance of getting the eyes of your characters right. They reveal so much about a person, whether fictitious or real, and play a vital role in painting a scene, an exchange between characters or your hero or heroin's moods. Whatever colour or shade, they are the first thing I decide upon when I imagine the characters of my story!

    1. Thanks for dropping by, Marie. The first thing I look at are eyes! Caused man a heart blip over the years... ;)