Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Vonnie Hughes
Today, Australian/ New Zealand author Vonnie Hughes joins me. Please welcome Vonnie!

Caroline: Where did you grow up?

Vonnie: I’ve spent most of my life in New Zealand, and we came to the Gold Coast of Australia only nine years ago. My husband and I (I sound like the Queen) have two adult sons, both married, and they followed us to Australia where we all live within a short distance of each other. Our sons married very interesting girls – one is Japanese and the other Ukrainian! We came to Australia for the more tropical weather and laid-back lifestyle.

Caroline: My husband and I have always wanted to travel to Australia. What’s your favorite way to relax and recharge? Hobbies?

Vonnie: The dog and I jog/walk together most mornings. We trot alongside the little marina or along the Broadwater under the trees. When nobody’s looking I do a few lunges or sideslips. That sort of thing relaxes me. I also go to the gym twice a week, but that does not relax me! This trying to keep fit and slim thing is a real bugbear. (I’m short). My other main hobby is reading and reading and reading. I’m also involved on the periphery of animal rescue, and I help out with the Romance Writers of Australia assisting with preparation for next year’s conference and judging and also proof-reading for their monthly magazine. I guess that’s umm…relaxing?

Caroline: Sounds pretty busy to me. Do you have a favorite quote that sums up how you feel about life?

Vonnie: “Do as you would be done by.”

Caroline: What do you hope your writing brings to readers?.

Vonnie: Pleasure and the memory of an intriguing story.

Caroline: What advice would you give to unpublished authors?

Vonnie: Keep trying. Never, never give up. Sometimes success comes at the oddest times. And remember, it all depends what you mean by ‘success.’ If you want to be on the NY best selling list, fine. If you want to write YA novellas for iPads, fine. You just do your thing.

Caroline: Good advice. What is something interesting you discovered while researching this book?

Vonnie: I am actually talking about two books at once, since both came out on the same day. One is a Regency and the other a Romantic Suspense. I found the research for the Romantic Suspense – LETHAL REFUGE from the Wild Rose Press – to be just as hard to track down as my Regency research. For the Regency, I used my favorite collection of 19th century references such as WELLINGTON’S PENINSULAR WAR, SOLDIER OF THE 71ST, and THE AGE OF ELEGANCE for information regarding the particular regiments that fought in various skirmishes and battles. Even though my hero spends only nine months there, it is essential to get the facts right. With regard to the contemporary Romantic Suspense that is set in New Zealand, my home country, I researched the police hierarchy online. Their police force is set up similar to the British one so sometimes I cross-referenced. It is a question of getting attitudes, practises and titles correct. Nothing worse than a police procedural set in the southern hemisphere that sounds like a Mickey Spillane novel.

Caroline: That would be odd. Tell us about your latest releases.


THE SECOND SON is how Lord John Trewbridge inherits a marquessate for all the wrong reasons, and how Marguerite Ninian, a disabled woman, teaches John to forgive himself.

When he came upon the scene of the accident, his heart caught in his throat. The farmhands had set flares around the over-turned phaeton, and in the blackness it looked like a scene from Hell as men heaved and tugged, trying to free Spencer who was trapped beneath the cross-struts.

It was a bad situation. Had Spencer been caught beneath a wheel, they could have lifted the high-perch phaeton off him. But he was caught fast beneath the centre structure. No wonder he screamed when they tried to shift him.

John swallowed hard and dismounted. He crouched down beside the phaeton.

“Spence? It’s me. John.”

“Knew you’d come. Guilty conscience wouldn’t let you stay away.” Spencer’s voice was slurred and fading, but there was an echo of the old vindictiveness still there.

“Guilty conscience?” John asked, wondering if his brother’s mind was wandering.

“Oh, yes. I’ve always known you wanted to be me.” Spencer paused and fisted his hand for a moment. His other arm was trapped beneath the phaeton.

The pain must be excruciating. John tugged off his glove and held tight to Spencer’s free hand. “No, Spence. I envied you Trewbridge, not the title. Oh, and sometimes I envied your famous way with the ladies. But I didn’t want to be you.” He noticed he was talking in the past tense and reined himself in. How callous could he be? “No. I’m too dull to enjoy racing around, trying to keep ahead of my conscience.”

Spencer ignored the last comment. “Dull,” he rasped. “I told her that would singe your whiskers.”

“For a time it did,” John murmured. “But I’ve found someone who needs me and doesn’t think I’m dull. And I have an estate that will not give me sleepless nights like the responsibility of Trewbridge would.”

There was a long silence and John felt the world shrink down to just the two of them, in the dark, with the sounds of rescue far away. Then Spencer’s cracked voice whispered, “But you will have it all now, while I dance with demons.”

“I don’t think so. We’ll get you out of here. More men are coming. We will lift this damned phaeton off you and—-”

“No!” Spencer’s voice rose again. “I do not want to be saved.” He gave a slight huff that might have been a laugh. “Never did.”

The erratic pulse fluttering against John’s fingers slowed, and in the fitful torchlight, John saw his brother slide away. Spencer’s last breath exhaled on a sigh and his face gradually slackened into pain-free oblivion. His cold hand lay flaccid in John’s warm one.

John bent his head and prayed for Spencer’s soul. He had never, never imagined that one day he would kneel on the edge of a roadway in the peaceful English countryside beside his dying brother. He choked back a sob. “A wasted life,” he whispered.

Romantic Suspense: LETHAL REFUGE

Abused and abandoned as a child, Célie Francis knows better than to trust anyone. But after she witnesses a murder, she's placed in the Unit—New Zealand’s witness protection program—where she’s expected to trust strangers with her life.

Inching along the wall, Célie reached the window. She held on to the door jamb, a little island of security in a sea of fear. Then she stretched across and peered out.

A featureless face stared back at her.

She screamed and jumped back, bashing her elbow on the laundry tub.

Peaches lumbered to his feet, shaky and confused.

The face was still there. No eyes. No mouth. No nose.

Peaches staggered over to the door and snuffled.

Mesmerised, Célie kept staring at that distorted face as she backed into a corner.

Then the face moved and a hand spread across the glass. The forefinger and thumb rubbed together.

Flashes of memory seared her mind. She gasped, remembering that fearful morning when she’d discovered poor Occy’s disemboweled body. Stunned, struggling not to vomit, she’d been hovering over what was left of Occy when she sensed she was being watched. For a few precious seconds she had stared back at the creepy figure silhouetted in the early morning gloom watching her—just watching her.

Then he’d rubbed his thumb and forefinger together covetously, as if he were contemplating the best way to eat her alive.

And she’d bolted. And done her best to bury those memories.

Whoever that monster had been, he was outside the window right now.

Caroline: Wow, that certainly piqued my interest! Where can readers find your books?

Vonnie: Either by clicking on the buttons on my site at or going to my page which is

Caroline: How can readers learn more about you?

Vonnie: As well as the above website, there is also

Thanks, Vonnie, for being a guest today and sharing your new releases with us. Books make wonderful gifts, don't they?

I'll be back on Friday to share a Christmas story with you. 


Darcy Lundeen said...

Oh my, you are a terrific writer, Vonnie. One of your excerpts made me want to cry and the other gave me the creeps. I definitely have to get your books. The information on your life in both New Zealand and Australia was also interesting.
Thank you for being on Caroline's website, and thank you, Caroline, for hosting Vonnie. And, of course, a most joyous holiday season to both of you.

Vonnie said...

Thank you Darcy. You are very complimentary. Are you sure we're not related? LOL

Darcy Lundeen said...

Sadly, I'm sure we're not related at all, Vonnie, and my comments were completely heartfelt. Your writing is great. Again, a Happy Christmas and wonderful New Year to you, Caroline and all your loved ones.

Jenny Schwartz said...

Vonnie, I think "do you thing" is the best advice whether for writers or anyone else. We're all creative in different ways, whether cooking, sketching, gardening, sewing (eek! not me, not sewing) and need to find our way of doing whatever it is we enjoy rather than comparing ourselves to others. Love the interview!

Caroline, I saw the pic of Texas blue bonnets ... they're lovely :)

Patricia said...

I love the excerpts. They're well-written. I also enjoyed reading about your life, Vonnie. I've followed your posts before and didn't know you lived in New Zealand. Nice interview.

test said...

Vonnie, good advice for unpubbed authors (and pubbed authors too!) and congratulations on not one but two releases.

Anonymous said...

Terrific writing Vonnie, but then we always knew you were. Your excerpts really wowed I need to read them.

Beverley Eikli aka Beverley Oakley said...

They sound terrific books. I'm really intrigued by The Second Son as I've read Coming Home - which I loved - and know it's the prequel.

How exciting to have two such different books out within such a short time of each other to showcase your talents.

Beverley Eikli aka Beverley Oakley said...

They sound terrific books, Vonnie! I'm really intrigued by The Second Son as I've read Coming Home - which I loved - and know it's the prequel.

How exciting to have two such different books out within such a short time of each other to showcase your talents.

Anonymous said...

Great to read your interview on the blog, Vonnie but even better was your wonderful book, The Second Son. I finished reading it about half an hour ago! Your writing is superb and your ability to create the era was spot on. Really great story and couldn't put it down...especially loved that the heroine had a disability.

I am off to see if I can access the romantic sus. one now.

Jo Duncan

Monica Fairview said...

Enjoyed reading about you through this interview, Vonnie. I never imagined you needed as much research for both novels!
Loved the excerpts. Hope the novels do very well.

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Vonnie,
Great blog
I envy you living in sunny Queensland when I am down here in unpredictable Victoria.
Loved both excerpts.



LaVerne Clark said...

Oooo - Vonnie! I'm putting Lethal Refuge on my wishlist for my hubby to get me for Christmas.

I agree with everyone else - you are a wonderful writer and I'll be looking out for more from you.

Lovely to learn more about you and I'm so glad your boys followed you - close by for Christmas! How wonderful!

Have a great Christmas Vonnie and Caroline.

Vonnie said...

Thank you Jo. Glad you enjoyed The Second Son. As Beverley says, there is a prequel to it called COMING HOME. Although it was originally published as a hardback with Robert Hale Ltd, they are producing it as an e-book on 31 January.

Hi Beverley and Patti and Shirley. We all get around the ether, don't we?

Happy holidays, everyone.

P.L. Parker said...

Great interview Vonnie! My oldest son has been to Australia twice and he loves it there, says the Aussies are the friendliest people he knows. Excerpts very interesting. Congratulations on the releases and much luck with sales.

Anonymous said...

Nothing better than discovering a new author and Lethal Refuge sounds like a book I would enjoy. Thank you Caroline and Vonnie!

Susan Macatee said...

Sound like some great reads, Vonnie! Best of luck with both of them!