A big hello to my first guest blogger for the year! Loretta Hill was born in Perth, WA and although a lover of writing from a young age she put her dream on hold to pursue a less risky career in engineering. Blessed with her father’s knack for science, she graduated from the University of Western Australia and began working as a structural engineer, while continuing to create stories in her free time. She now writes contemporary romances for Avalon Books under the name Loretta Brabant and debuts this month with a commerical women’s fiction work for Random House Australia; The Girl In Steel-Capped Boots. She is happily married with three young children. When Loretta isn’t writing, she enjoys reading, good food and travelling.

1. Where do you draw inspiration from when writing?

I draw my inspiration from life – my experiences, those of people I know, people I meet, watching the news, travelling to new places I’ve never been before. If some topic or situation really takes my fancy, I have a jotting book to take a note of it. Then later I might do some real research into that area to see if I can take it anywhere fictionally.

2. You have a background in structural engineering, do you ever feel torn between your two interests, engineering and writing?

Torn is definitely the right word considering in the past I have had to sacrifice one for the other. At the moment, I am enjoying being on maternity leave because not only can I focus on my new baby but my writing as well. I probably won’t go back to engineering for at least another year but it will only be part time.  That’s right, I’m going to try and do it all. Fingers crossed.

3. As a new author how have you found the publishing process to date?

It’s been enjoyable, interesting and quite hard work. Particularly the editing. There are just so many stages of it. I finish one stage only to find there’s another one and then another one after that.  Not that I’m complaining. I’m very happy with the finished product. It’s definitely been polished to the last letter.

4. Can you tell us a little about your first book with Random House.

It’s called, The Girl in Steel Capped Boots and centres around a young woman called Lena Todd. Lena is a city smart girlie girl who is knocked off her stilettos when her boss sends her into the Australian outback to join a construction team. As an engineer, she needs this opportunity to prove to her colleagues and herself that she deserves her degree. The problem is she’s got 350 male chauvinists standing in her way.  This book is about personal growth and pushing yourself to the absolute limit and hoping it comes off.  There is a romantic story line and also a lot of comedy in it as well.

5. Who is your favourite character in your work and why?

My favourite character is my heroine. Lena is feisty but sweet.  She gets knocked down a lot but somehow always manages pick herself up and dust herself off.  She an innocent but also very intelligent.  So while her naivety sometimes gets her trouble, she never fails to pull herself out of it. While she is definitely the star of the show, there were some characters that I had a lot of fun writing.  One of these was Carl Curtis- Lena’s stressed out boss.  He’s a lovely guy and genuinely does feel for Lena but he’s too stressed out by his job and his men to give her any real attention. He’s terrible with women, a prolific user of profanities and a drunk whenever they have a day off.  But I love scenes with him in them.

6. The Girl in Steel-Capped Boots is set on the Pilbara. What’s the best thing about this setting? Definitely the wildlife. I had a lot of fun with a couple of kangaroos in my story. But a few whales also make an appearance. The Pilbara is a magnificent place, harsh but beautiful and very, very Australian.

What a great summer read, thanks Loretta.