INTERVIEW and GIVEAWAY
Love at First Flight
by Tess Woods
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.
"I really wanted to hate Matt and Mel for what they put their families through but Tess' compassionate writing and complex weaving of the story was right on the mark. An excellent read. Couldn't put it down!" ~ Amazon Customer
"Love at First Flight is an emotional roller coaster. [...] I think Tess Woods has described the feelings that they had in such a realistic and sensitive way. A love that strong can be quite painful and she's described both the beautiful and the ugly side. Her characters were aware of their own flaws which was refreshing. I think Love at First Flight is an amazing and genuine read with a lot of very well described ups and downs. I enjoyed reading it and it's definitely a book that has made me think about love in general and what happens when fate throws something at you you're not ready for at all." ~ Lavender and Suzanne
"I enjoyed it very much, finding it well-paced and vividly written. Readers expecting it to be another bit of chick-lit or the average erotic romance will be in for a surprise. [...] Woods's gift for vivid descriptions of places as well as people (some of the secondary characters are outstandingly well drawn) gives an extra layer of pleasure to an excellent debut novel with a plot that offers unexpected twists." ~ Meredith Whitford
Interview With the Author
Hi Tess. Thanks for stopping by today to discuss your debut novel, Love at First Flight.
What inspired you to write this book?
I've always been inspired by the tragic love story, the story of great love that just can't be. My favorite 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.
Did you use real events/people from your own life as inspiration when writing this book?
Hell yes! I really do believe you write what you know. Of course the novel is a novel, not a biography, 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. Writing was my counselling!
Also, I am inherently lazy so the fact that the story unfolds in Perth and Melbourne, the two cities I’ve lived in most of my life, is not by accident. The more you know, the less you research. Some writers thrive on research, me – not so much!
How long did it take to write this book?
The story was written start to finish in six days. For real. But it was a mashed up piece of drivel! It took eighteen months and five complete re-writes with the help of two manuscript assessors who kept suggesting changes and sending it back to me before I felt confident enough to send it to literary agents.
What do you hope readers will take from your book?
More than anything I want my readers to be entertained. I want them to escape whatever they are doing and join Mel and Matt in their story. I want readers to be thinking about Mel and what direction her life will take when they have to leave her to get on with their real lives, and I want them to be happy to re-unite with her again when they pick up the book. I’m not out to challenge anybody and I don’t have a world-changing message for anybody. I simply want to entertain. When readers finish Love at First Flight, I would hope they are satisfied and that it captured their imagination.
When did you realise you wanted to be a writer?
I wanted to be a writer when I first learnt to write, but the dream got lost as I performed well at school and was encouraged to go down a health science route. I followed protocol, not instinct, and forgot about writing. The desire to write lay dormant for a good twenty years but once that sleeping volcano erupted, boy did it erupt!
What made you want to become an author?
I didn’t plan on being an author, I was quite happily minding my own business being a physiotherapist. But these characters in my head refused to go away so I had to write their story.
What is the best advice you were given for writing?
The wonderful writer Nikki Davies, who assessed the manuscript in the early days, told me to imagine every scene as a scene on a stage. The curtain opens. What do you see? What should the audience feel? What are the actors saying and how do they move around? What expressions are on their faces and in their voices? Start the scene with an opening and end it with closure. Do this for every single scene in the book. Once I learnt to write in scene like this, my writing changed dramatically and it became more authentic and palpable.
More recently, when we were doing the copyedit of Love at First Flight, the brilliant author Dianne Blacklock taught me the concept of Chekhov’s gun, one of her favorite 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 was your road to publication like?
It was a long and windy road with many speed humps and detours!
I wrote Love at First Flight in a week. Six years later it was published. In the meantime it was rejected by all twenty-two literary agents in Australia who represented commercial women’s fiction writers. Every last one of them.
After opening the front door to find my manuscript sitting on the porch in the reply paid envelope I had provided for the last remaining agent, I slid the manuscript under the spare bed, dusted myself off and forgot I had written a book. The submission process to agents had been exhausting and soul destroying. I couldn’t face beginning the submission process again with publishing houses. I figured I was in with a slim-to-none chance with a publisher anyway if none of the agents wanted it. I was done.
"I’ll self publish it one day when I’m rich," I thought. "I’ll give a copy to my mum and to my kids. The end."
Then along came an email. It was from literary agent Jacinta Di Mase. Jacinta had considered Love at First Flight two years earlier before deciding she didn’t want it. I was particularly devastated when Jacinta had initially rejected the book, because I was convinced she would take it. It was just this really strong gut feeling that I had a connection with her and she would be my agent. In the end, my gut was right (always trust your gut!)
Jacinta emailed me in 2013 and it went something like this, "Hey, I still have that book of yours in my mind even though it’s been a couple of years since I read it. So, did you sell it yet? And if not, are you prepared to make some pretty big changes I want done so that I believe in it enough to go in and bat for you with publishers?"
Excuse me, what? YES, I would be prepared to make changes!
So I started re-writing and this re-write was huge. A year later, in April 2014, I was ready to resubmit it to Jacinta. I hit send on the email and the next day headed off to Europe for the trip of a life-time with hubby and kids in tow and tried to put it out of my mind. If Jacinta wanted it, great, if not, I would self-publish it one day and sign the inside cover for my mum.
Four weeks later, we were in Cornwall on our "book tour of the UK". We were visiting places based on books we loved. Cornwall was my choice because of my love of The Shellseekers by Rosamunde Pilcher which was set there. We had arrived the night before from London (where we did all things Harry Potter). I checked emails from home and wow! Jacinta loved the new version and she had already started the rounds of publishers. That this happened the day I was living out a long-held dream to go shell-seeking just like a favourite character from a book was pure magic.
Fast forward eight months of nail-biting, finger crossing, acquisitions meetings where it was rejected at the last minute, editors loving it and then not loving it and then loving it again before deciding no they really didn’t love it after all, and then along came an editor who believed in my writing and was passionate enough to stand by the story until it had full approval from everyone in her publishing team. And that was Anna Valdinger at HarperCollins. Oh, how I love her! So I finally had a contract. With an April 2015 release, this is just over six years since I sat down and put pen to paper.
Wow, that's quite a story. So is this book part of a series or is it a standalone novel?
It’s a standalone book, however Mel’s son, Nick, becomes an adult and tells his story in my next book, Flat White With One.
What are your (writing) plans for the future?
I’m just about to get cracking on my second novel. Hopefully the ideas flow freely and I have more books in me.
Well, best of luck, Tess. Thanks for visiting today.
About the 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. 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.
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