Beautiful Stranger – An Interview with Author Fiona Marsden

From my earliest years I preferred to play with Barbie dolls rather than baby dolls because I could create a cast of characters and force them to live out my fantasies.

An avid reader from the dawn of time, I love contemporary romance, vintage romance, fantasy romance, scifi romance, historical romance, mystery romance, dystopian romance…you’re probably picking up a theme here.

There is one thing I absolutely insist on in my books, both reading and writing and that is a happy ending.  It’s natural that I should gravitate to Romance because that is the key selling point – a happy ever after!

FrontCover - Kiss ma

Q. What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

It’s perhaps more a case of what literary pilgrimages I would like to go on. One of the big appeals to me in reading is the armchair travel. Which is probably why I was never as interested in Australian authors in my teens. I want to visit Britain for the history and places I’ve heard of, New Zealand because of the descriptions by romance author Essie Summers, and Prince Edward Island because of Anne of Green Gables.

Q. What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?

It’s a vast business out to make money so probably full of unethical practices. Personally, I feel uncomfortable with paid reviews.

Q. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

It energizes me. Unfortunately, real life exhausts me so much at times it’s hard to make it to the writing seat.

Q. What is your writing Kryptonite?

I’m not sure how to take this. What will stop me writing is usually someone questioning what I write or a story idea or my motivation. Which is why I don’t really share much during the creative process.

Q. Have you ever gotten reader’s block?

Yes. Usually I can fix it by switching genre. I have what I call my Prozac shelves full of Golden Age Mystery writers and Georgette Heyer. If they don’t work, maybe something non-fiction.

Q. Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

I write what I want to read. I just hope that other people have similar taste 😉.

Q. What do you expect from an author when reading a book, short story or article?

Always a good story with fiction. Hopefully with decent grammar and minimal typos so I can become fully absorbed in the world. An article is a different thing. Accuracy and punchy writing perhaps?


Q. What authors did you dislike at first, but grew into?

Probably authors writing Australian set stories. Not that I disliked them but I wasn’t interested in reading Australian stories when I was younger. I wanted to escape as far as possible. Now I’m enjoying them.

Q. How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader?

My characters often have issues that can be painful or sad but I generally deal with them with a light hand and being romance there is that guaranteed happy ending to keep the reader safe.

Q. Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Sometimes there are secrets in my books even I don’t notice. But I will often put a little tribute to a favorite author. Maybe a reference to a Heyer book or character that only a fan would notice.

Q. Tell us about your travels.

When I was young, I always planned on overseas travel but for various reasons, including bringing up a large family, it never happened. Until last month when I went on a writing retreat cruise to New Caledonia. Cruise and overseas travel with a writing retreat. Bonus.

Q. Has it (your travels) added to your inspirational well, or taken from it?

My travels within Australia have given me new locations and ideas for stories. I’ve never been a tropical island or beach kind of person, but I did enjoy very much the cultural aspect of visiting New Caledonia and the beauty of the islands. I daresay a billionaire yachtsman may visit New Caledonia in a future novel.

Q. Do you have any expectations of your readers?

I want them to enjoy my stories and getting to know my characters and hopefully feel good when they get to the end.

Q. On your writing journey, what has been the lowest and the most painful moment and vice versa?

I might start with the high point. Finalling in multiple contests and winning first prize in the Emerald Pro at this years RWAus Conference and tied for first in the New Zealand Koru was a tremendous boost. I think that might have made the recent low point even harder. The farther to fall, so to speak. I write what I consider inclusive romances and while they are not bestsellers, I feel very proud of them. They aren’t perfect, but they paint a world I love to exist in. When I was told last month by people on-line that as a white woman I have no right to portray characters of diverse cultural background it triggered a crisis of faith I am still struggling with today.

Q. Where can we find out more about your writing!?

You can find me via my website:

or Facebook!

boxedset Kiss me

Opening scene from Beautiful Stranger from the ‘Kiss Me’ Boxset.

Caroline Andersson squirmed in her too-tight bridesmaid’s dress. The fitting for the silky, ice-blue gown had been months ago when she’d only recently returned from Sydney after the end of the final Ironwoman series round. If Ethan hadn’t been her brother, Caroline would have said no to the gig. But she owed him big time.

She’d been thin as a rake, totally exhausted, needing nothing more than a holiday she couldn’t have. It had been only in the last couple of weeks she’d managed to gain weight. Too late to do anything about the dress with its heavily embroidered corsetry.

She evaded the dark-eyed stare of her opposite number in the groomsmen. Fran and Ethan had told her who the best man and the groomsmen would be, but she hadn’t really thought about it until now.

The bridesmaids she knew well. Fran’s cousin Belle playing maid of honour, and a friend from the minister’s office where Fran had worked made up the third. She’d met both women before at various girl’s nights at Fran’s place. Since Fran had moved in with Ethan earlier in the year, and with her own travelling commitments, they hadn’t seen much of each other during the run-up to the wedding. She hadn’t even made it to the wedding rehearsal, running late from a medical appointment.

Now she wished she’d paid more attention, her interest caught by the older groomsman in his tailored dark suit with the way-too-pretty face. The best man was presumably a friend of Ethan’s, a big brawny football type, almost as tall as the groom himself but with honey blonde hair instead of a pale straw like hers and Ethan’s.

The other two were cousins to Fran, Belle’s much older brothers. Which meant she should know both of them. The Li family wasn’t all that big but they were close. Pretty boy must be the eldest brother who lived overseas. Not that the other one wasn’t pretty too. She’d seen him at Fran’s place or family gatherings often enough. Not as tall as the stranger and rounder in the face, he was still old enough to have ignored the younger girls in the family so she’d never got to know him.

The pair looked enough alike to be easily identified as brothers, but there was something about the tall lean guy they’d partnered her with that kept her attention on him.

Maybe it was because he didn’t look like he was enjoying himself. The mouth was a case in point. It could easily be an identity in its own right. The way the ends tucked in spoke of tension, yet the fullness of the bottom lip indicated an innate sensuality. The top lip lacked the usual dip that would turn it into a cupid’s bow, but somehow the smooth upper arc was perfect for his face. It struck her that she’d seen it before, but she couldn’t remember seeing those dark eyes with the amber glints. They were quite spectacular.

Thank you for speaking with us today Fiona!

Happy Reading!

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