When Dani Smiled by Athina Paris
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Stranded on the side of a highway, Dani, a young fashion designer and IT expert, calls to reschedule an important interview, only to discover that her future boss is in the hospital. Nicholas, playboy and heir to Galfrey’s, can't help but be intrigued by the young woman's voice on the phone and races to her rescue.
Attraction is immediate and mutual, but whereas Nicholas has never waited for anything in his life, Dani quickly dampens his enthusiasm by refusing to be rushed into a casual liaison.
Sams is handsome, ambitious, and rich, but also self-centred, with huge self-entitlement issues, manipulative, and believes Dani belongs to him. A master programmer, he is also no fool and realises that he is about to lose what he has never had; Dani, and so begins a dangerous stalking game. It is up to Dani not only to outsmart Sams, but also save Galfrey’s and herself, as Sams is the keeper of a secret, which he hopes will coerce her into submitting to his twisted desires.
Love & Madness
by Athina Paris Genre: Romantic Suspense
Benjamin Powell believes he has begun an empire. He has three sons and owns the most successful construction company. But it all begins to crumble when he chooses to manipulate their lives. Twenty-seven years later, the consequences of his decisions are still being felt.
Three women enter this world and fall in love with the Powell men – Sofia, Christie,and Gloria – they will suffer, fight, win, and lose. Can one or all find their way back to happiness; whether with the man she loves, or with someone else?
by Athina Paris Genre: Contemporary Romance
After losing her mother to cancer, Gabrielle swears off love. Because loving hurts too much when things go wrong. Then, she travels to Africa to meet her father - a man whose existence she was oblivious to. Before long, there is also a baby sister to look after, and intuitively she knows that she needs to protect her. Promptly, there is another tragedy, and more than ever, Gabrielle realises how wise she is to lock away her heart. But that was before she met Jonathan Knight, a man who amuses and confuses her, and Paul, his best friend, who is just as smart and funny. Through an unfortunate sequence of events, she finds herself in a troublesome situation, but being who she is, she tries to handle it alone, unwittingly sinking into a morass of danger. A solution comes in the form of Paul, who makes a harebrained suggestion, which Jonathan - for reasons of his own - grabs and presents her with the providential arrangement. Instinctively, she declines the proposal, but Jonathan is persuasive and paints a wonderful picture of security. She accepts out of need, but soon, Jonathan’s ulterior motives unravel, and nothing is as it should be. But she can’t disclose the truth, for her secret could undo the safe future she is trying to create for her little sister.
All I Ever Wanted: Jessie
by Athina Paris Genre: Contemporary Romance
When Jessie meets John at college, they begin a friendship that should have never happened, for the Stevens and Barrymores parted ways 60 years ago, under acrimonious circumstances.
Then, John complicates things further by taking her to the family home and hiding her identity from his family. She meets his three brothers, and soon finds herself embroiled in four very different relationships.
Which one will be the love of her life? James, the heir to the Barrymore fortune. Mathew, the heartbreaker. Mark, the one who gives her sleepless night, or John, her best friend?
But can anything meaningful come out of these fateful encounters, when it has all been started on the shaky ground of subterfuge?
Athina Paris lives in South Africa but spent her formative years in Mozambique, where she was born and went to school. Years in convents and boarding schools prompted a deep curiosity and the need to liberate her mind, which quickly developed into an avid interest in reading and storytelling and led to a lifelong obsession with the written word and books. By fifteen she had read most of the classics, discovered ancient civilizations and became fascinated with various mythologies; a love she has kept to this day.
Raised in a culture where meddling is seen as 'caring', she became a spectator of human nature. Quiet and shy, she preferred recording conduct rather than participating in what she calls familial mass hysteria, and so built a treasure-trove of relationship observations from which she eventually drew backgrounds for the characters in her romantic novels.
She studied Interior Design, but soon felt the pull of her dormant talent and turned to Creative Writing, as she realised the significance of those notebooks packed with ideas. She soon followed it with Scriptwriting.
Set in faraway and exotic places, Athina's epic romantic work takes her characters on voyages of self-discovery while dealing with catastrophic love lives and an imperfect world.
A stint as a high school English teacher polished her skills. However, she has recently vacated the position to concentrate on her professional goals of writing, editing and proofreading.
Can you, for those who don't know you already, tell us something about yourself and how you became an author?
I enjoyed reading from a young age. To me, books were a passport to fantastic worlds, so much better than the real one. I spent most of my time in libraries living in exotic locations.
What is something unique/quirky about you?
I love animals, so I feed the garden birds every day.
Tell us something really interesting that's happened to you!
Most of my youth was spent in convents.
What are some of your pet peeves?
Illogical behavior. I don’t understand people who do not use common sense.
Where were you born/grew up at?
I was born in Mozambique (South East Africa) then moved to The Republic of South Africa when I was four. My father wanted me to learn my own language (Portuguese) so I went to school in Mozambique, but I spent most of my vacations in South Africa.
If you knew you'd die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?
Definitely spend it with the people I love reminiscing over all the wonderful things we did together.
Who is your hero and why?
I like the Marvel/DC heroes but don’t really have one that stands out for me; they all have combinations of the traits I appreciate and respect.
What kind of world ruler would you be?
I’m assuming I’d be a fair one. But that’s because I’m not in the hot seat making difficult decisions, facing challenges, and listening to criticism from all sides. It takes a person of integrity to remain calm and give unbiased counsel when the going gets tough.
What are you passionate about these days?
Getting other writers’work ready for publishing.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
I repurpose/refurbish furniture.
How to find time to write as a parent?
I never struggled to find time to write when my children were little, as I’m a night-owl and did most of it while they slept.
Describe yourself in 5 words or less!
Patient, kind, compassionate, and friendly, but watch out for the sarcasm.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I realized I was scribbling/writing down plot lines on anything that was paper.
Do you have a favorite movie?
The Lord of the Rings.
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?
I’d say all of them would make decent movies, but I choose Love & Madness first.
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
We usually go to the Miami Book Fair every November.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
Either an owl or a fox.
What inspired you to write this book?
I’m an observer by nature so I decided to write about relationships, and not just the romantic kind. Dynamics change through time and that has always been something I pay attention to.
What can we expect from you in the future?
More romances, but I’m also working on a fantasy.
Do you have any “side stories” about the characters?
In Love & Madness there are three fascinating but different women. Sofia is a sweet, trusting girl when the story begins, but quickly learns that life is sometimes a horrid ride. Christie and Gloria are cousins and there is a bit of rivalry between them. But after some trying experiences, they learn to trust and depend on each other. All three are dealt a nasty hand by becoming involved with the Powell men, but instead of becoming cynical, they do their best, and become better human beings.
Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in your books?
A few are naïve and too trusting, while some don’t trust others at all. It creates a good premise for challenges. Most of my work involves secrets, lies, and manipulations, to show how devastating they can be when used as weapons. I wanted to delve into crazy love and obsessions; neither is good when taken to the limit.
How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book?
I come from a Mediterranean(fiery lot) background so I’ve seen this kind of behavior in my own life.
Where did you come up with the names in the story?
I have a little book filled with names, surnames, and some exotic ones. I think about the story, the location—a name must fit into a specific culture as well, what I want each character to do, say them aloud, and go from there.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
Creating the mysteries, secrets, and lies that catapulted and entangled the characters.
Tell us about your main characters- what makes them tick?
They all want love/happiness and try to get it their own way, but sometimes there are obstacles they need to overcome. Where that goes wrong is when feelings are not reciprocated and the rejected person refuses to accept an emphatic NO, causing untold grief.
How did you come up with the title of your first novel?
Love & Madness speaks of the simplicity and yet complicated state that love is.
Who designed your book covers?
I sit with the publisher and discuss my vision. I happen to like down-to-earth designs, so we quickly come to an agreement.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
That is a trick question for me, because I am never satisfied. I can always think of another conversation, another dilemma, another twist. But then I would never be done, so I must draw a line somewhere and let the work go.
Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I am always learning. And because I am also an editor, I keep in mind everything I tell other writers to do and not do.
If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
I will stick to the three characters that dominate most of the story. I might pick Jennifer Lawrence or Margot Robbie, as they remind me of Christie, Jensen Ackles as Michael, and Alexander Skarsgård as Edward.
Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Despite all the drama, it is a Happy Ever After story.
How did you come up with name of this book?
I called it Love & Madness because that is what comes through from these people in their excesses.
What is your favorite part of this book and why?
When Christie decides she has had enough bullying and takes matters into her own hands.
If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?
I would spend the day with Benjamin Powell, to get into his brain and see what outcome he was expecting when he decided to dictate his sons’ lives.
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
All my characters are pure fiction but some of the situations and circumstances were things I saw in a diverse group of people.
Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
Now and then something unexpected happens in my stories, but mostly, I have endless discussions with myself and the characters to work out all eventualities.
Convince us why you feel your book is a must read.
This may sound a bit silly but as a teenager I devoured Barbara Cartland and Mills & Boon romances. Not so much for the characters falling in love but how the writers created the plot twists; that was always my favourite part. So I hope that I have been able to create my own spirals of crazy.
Have you written any other books that are not published?
Oh yes, I have a bunch of ideas in my notebooks.
If your book had a candle, what scent would it be?
Mocha. The enveloping security of chocolate and the wild adrenalin of coffee.
What did you edit out of this book?
A lot, as I needed to make it fit into today’s market. I had more twists than a nautical rope, but took many out and streamlined the story so it would not come across as too melodramatic.
Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
Yes. I would like to ask Stephen King where he gets those chilling premises. What vault does he dig into, is he afraid of his own tales, and does he have sleepless nights while he’s writing them?
Fun Facts/Behind the Scenes/Did You Know? -type tidbits about the author, the book or the writing process of the book.
Writing is a long and lonely process. So, be sure you like your own company and are okay with people thinking you’re crazy when you go over characters’ conversations alone and they wonder why you’re talking to yourself; including the correct tone of voice for multiple individuals and hand gestures associated with the discussion.
What are your top 10 favorite books/authors?
I love the classics: Brontë Sisters, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, and a bunch more. And on the modern side: Danielle Steel, Judith Krantz, Shirley Conran, and Nora Roberts.
What book do you think everyone should read?
Definitely the Dictionary. It’s full of knowledge that everyone should have, and it helps you spell correctly.
How long have you been writing?
About twenty-five years.
Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
Some are unexpected surprises. I usually plan my basic group then see what each one can and will get up to. Depending on one’s moral/ethics core there is only so much you can do. Characters are true reflections of reality so you can’t push them beyond their limits.
What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
As I write romance my research is done daily by observing people, listening to life stories, and then throwing them all together into a smoldering pot. When it comes to location, I Google maps/locales/food/clothes/etc., and write a list of worthy bits and pieces to make them sound real. But I’m lucky to have been to some places, so I draw from my own memory.
Do you see writing as a career?
I would like it to be, but right now I am more of an editor.
What do you think about the current publishing market?
There is something for everyone. But it is a pity more people are not reading the unknown authors being published by indie companies; there is a treasure trove of talent coming from that field. It’s unreasonable to think that only those published by the big five are worthy of attention.
Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?
I do when I can, but being an editor I read a lot of new material. My favourites are fantasy and sci-fi.
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?
It depends. Sometimes I like complete silence, especially if I’m dealing with a dramatic scene, as I need to say the characters’ lines out loud to get the effect. If I play music, it will be without lyrics, otherwise I try to follow those and can’t concentrate on my own work.
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
I have countless ideas, keep adding here and there, but I do concentrate on one specific story at a time.
If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose?
Any of the Robert Rankin books. They are hysterical and take you on all sorts of insane rides.
Pen or type writer or computer?
I began writing longhand and I still love that feeling. I then progressed to typewriter and that used to drive me nuts, as I wasted so much paper. Now, I do it entirely on computer.
Tell us about a favorite character from a book.
Samwise Gamgee (The Lord of The Rings) is my favourite character by far. Throughout the tale, Sam demonstrates and embodies what true friendship(love) looks like. He endures, supports, suffers, and eventually carries his friend—emotionally and physically.
What made you want to become an author and do you feel it was the right decision?
The fact that I always loved storytelling, had plots floating in my head, and often wrote things down seemed like a logical conclusion that I should assemble it all and put them into order. Whether they made me money or not was beside the point. Right decision? Some things have no explanation, you just do them because you must.
A day in the life of the author?
I spend most of my day editing, as I work from home, and a few hours painting. I repurpose/refurbish furniture, and do all types of crafty things, so I always have something to do.
Advice you would give new authors?
If this is something you truly want to do, then write. Practice whenever you can and if classes are possible, take a few. Don’t expect everyone to support you, because they won’t, and that includes family. Once you start, learn good habits, especially the technicalities: make sure you have a story to tell, the hero/heroine has a goal to achieve, proper sentence construction, spelling, grammar, don’t ramble, use clear and concise language, give us a satisfactory ending—not necessarily a happy one, as it might not be that type of story, but something that makes sense.
Describe your writing style.
I’m not sure I have a comparable one to anyone, so I try to see myself in the characters then write what they might be thinking/feeling towards the situation/person.
What makes a good story?
Anything that engages a reader will be classified a good story, and it doesn’t have to be the same for everyone. Hence why we have genres. Someone will love Harry Potter and another person thinks Hamlet is it for them.
What are you currently reading?
A Small Town Girl, by a new writer, David Delmonté, whom I met two years ago at the Miami Book Fair and didn’t have time to start reading right away. Trying to do so now so I can give him a review. So far, I like his style.
What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first? What are common traps for aspiring writers?
I do an outline and I also create cards for all my characters. I never want to be confused about who they, where they come from, and what they look like so I write all their details/traits down, including favourite colour and food. Then I begin with what I hope is a good opening.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
If I’m tired everything becomes a blur and I find it hard to concentrate and create.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
As they say, there are no original stories. We take something that has already been told, combine two or three different tales, change the names and settings, and there is our original piece. E.g. The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Harry Potter are all basically the same story. A lost hero, a helpful master, and a villain trying to destroy everything good. Just different people, settings, and time.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Stop dreaming, it won’t turn out how you imagine it.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
You assume you understand how the male brain functions. But since we are all people there is also a lot in common, you draw from the knowledge that we all want/need some basic things.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
For me, and because I need to edit, re-edit, read, and re-write numerous times, to make sure I’m satisfied, about a year.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
It does happen, but I have never really had it, as I believe outlines help keep you on track. However, now and then I will find myself struggling with a particular scene; something is just not right about it and I can’t find an immediate solution. I then move to another part in the story until the idea comes to resolve said hindrance.
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