Barbara Hannay stopped by the Tule blog to discuss the first book in the Outback Babies series, His Best Friend’s Baby!
Where did you get the inspiration for His Best Friend’s Baby?
Gosh. Sometimes I can pinpoint exactly when or how I settled on a story idea. Other times, they just seem to have arrived out of the ether, and this was one of those times. A couple of years ago, though, I wrote a single title about a woman who had a surrogate baby via IVF for her sister (The Sister’s Gift), so it’s possible that variations on that IVF theme were still floating at the edges of my imagination. In any case, when I was invited to write a Wirralong Baby story (thanks so much, Tule) this idea arrived quickly and it didn’t want to shift.
This is a charming friends to lovers romance. What drew you to this trope? What’s your favorite trope to write?
Thanks. I do love friends to lovers, possibly because some of the earliest stories I fell in love with, like Anne of Green Gables and Little Women, were essentially about friends to lovers. Mind you, I also find the trope challenging, as you don’t usually get to write the first meet cute, or the “getting to know you” scenes that come with other tropes. An added challenge is that there has to be a believable reason for these friends to not fall in love or discover their true feelings early in the piece. But exploring that history is always fun.
Another favourite trope of mine is “secret baby” and I’ve written just about every version of that possible from many different perspectives. I guess it’s a trope that also requires the characters to at least have a history, so maybe that’s part of the appeal for me. Bottom line, both these tropes bring a lot of underlying tension and I always like to know I have plenty of tension brewing before I can start writing.
Can you share a fun fact about your hero and heroine, Seth and Polly, to help readers get to know them better?
Well, Seth is all round gorgeous – owns his own garage in Wirralong but has also been building his own beautiful house on the outskirts of town. (Inspired by a builder friend of mine – and here’s a pic of friend’s house)
Polly is a computer geek and so a little nerdy, but she’s also not very good at mixing socially. This made her rather different from my usual heroines, but I loved showing how motherhood and reconnecting with Seth helped Polly to grow and relax and come to understand her true feelings.
What was your favorite scene to write and why?
Oh, my favourite scene to write was most definitely the first kiss scene. Polly has been struggling for so long to deny her feelings for Seth and she is very nervous about taking things further and, because of this, Seth knows she needs to initiate this kiss.
As I was writing the scene, I was also listening to classical music on the radio and suddenly a piece came on that was so absolutely beautiful and so sad and full of underlying tension that I had to find it and play it over and over. (In case you’re interested it was Mahler’s 5th Symphony Adagietto and you can listen to it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8LZ43LA2nY)
I’m hoping I managed to capture just a fraction of the music’s qualities in this scene.
Here’s a snippet from the lead-in to that kiss.
The words Polly needed to say next were the most difficult she’d ever uttered and she had no idea how they’d be received. She squeezed her face tight. She was terrified. ‘I just wondered if maybe we needed to kiss – and get it over with.’
Phew. Now the hardest part was out, Polly managed to add, ‘And then we would know once and for all – and we could get on with our lives with the big question answered.’
Seth still hadn’t moved, but there was a heart-stopping sheen in his eyes. ‘Sounds like a plan, Pollz.’
She felt compelled to make it clear. ‘And even if there were sparks, we could still keep things casual. No strings.’
‘You don’t want strings?’ he asked, lifting one dark eyebrow.
‘You don’t want strings, Seth.’
‘You – you’ve made such a big thing about us just being friends.’
‘Of course. Last year, when you were so generous and everything.’
‘Oh, yeah, right.’ Seth nodded as he took this in. For Polly, it was hard to tell if he was amused or sad, or if he was dealing with some other emotion altogether. ‘Well, okay,’ he said. ‘Let’s stick with no strings.’
‘So no one will get hurt.’
Very gently, he said, ‘I’d hate to hurt you, Polly.’
‘Well, no you won’t hurt me, actually, because this was my idea and if it turns out to be a big mistake, it was my mistake. And if I’m upset by the kiss for any reason, then I’d only have myself to blame.’
It felt like an age before Seth answered.
‘You’ve got it all worked out.’
Polly shook her head. ‘I don’t have anything worked out, Seth. I just feel like we’ve had this big question mark hanging over us for so long and I’ve been trying to pretend it’s not there and the pressure keeps building.’
‘It’s called desire, Polly.’
‘And I quite like your idea, your experiment. I’m willing to be a guinea pig.’
Oh. This wasn’t quite what Polly had expected. Apart from setting his glass on a side table, Seth still hadn’t moved. Wasn’t he supposed to be reaching for her by now?
‘You going to make a move on me, Pollz?’
Polly’s heart thudded hard. ‘You want me to kiss you?’
‘Isn’t that the plan?’
‘I – I’ve only ever done it the other way round – where the guy is the kisser and I’m the kissee.’
What are you currently reading?
I’m currently reading Barbara O’Neal’s When We Believed in Mermaids’ I’m not very far in, but absolutely loving it. Barbara is a wonderful writer – her settings, characters, storylines and attention to detail are just fabulous and this story about sisters and a huge mystery is incredibly intriguing.
About the Author
Barbara Hannay is a former high school English teacher who was first published in 1999. Since then she has written over forty books for Harlequin and has published eight single title novels with Penguin Australia.
With more than twelve million copies sold worldwide, Barbara’s novels have earned her five RITA nominations from Romance Writers of America and she won a RITA award in 2007. She is also the recipient of two Romantic Book of the Year awards in Australia and one of her novels is currently being developed as a television movie by Brainpower in Canada. Barbara lives with her writer husband on a misty hillside in Far North Queensland.