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Eye On Romance
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Shana Abé

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Kelly Hunter
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Ships and steel, king tides and southerlies. And me. I was born in Australia in the port city of Newcastle, famous for its steelworks, drinking holes, and deep, safe harbor. "That’ll be such-and-such," my grandmother used to say at the sound of a ship horn, deep and mournful. "She’s been waiting offshore for the last eight weeks but they’re bringing her in and she’ll dock at number three." Some grandmothers keep an eye on the neighbors. Mine kept an eye on the ships. I did my schooling in Newcastle, went on to university and ended up with a Science degree and a research fellowship in Biochemistry. A year and a half later I traded in all my worldly possessions (there weren’t many), cashed up, and set off to see the world. I’ve been a breakfast cook in Vancouver, a low roller in Vegas, a chalk artist in Paris and a farmhand in Wales. I’ve dived the Red Sea, seen the red caves of Petra, been stranded in the Sinai, and breathed the spice markets of Istanbul. Those are the places that stay vivid in my mind. Eventually I returned to Australia and acquired a husband and children. We worked in the cotton fields for a while, me as an agronomist, my husband working on his PHD. We then moved to Brisbane, where my husband, now a research scientist, worked a biological control project for CSIRO and I worked for the Department of Primary Industries coordinating teaching programs for farmers. We went to Malaysia as a husband and wife team on another biological control project, fell in love with the food but not the isolation. We decided it was time to settle down so we returned to Australia and made our home in rural New South Wales. My husband took a lecturing position at the local University and the kids went off to school. We acquired cows, chooks, and pets, and we dug gardens and planted trees whose roots grew deep into the ground. I work part time filling vials for a veterinary pharmaceutical company and also spend a day each week demonstrating Soil Science at the University. Oh, and there’s one other thing I do with my time these days. I write romance. The Writing Thing In 2000, as an unpublished writer, I started entering writing contests. That year I won 1st place in the Romance Writers of America (Australian Chapter) Valerie Parv Award with "Second Time Lucky", a reunited lovers story. The full manuscript was requested and eventually rejected by Silhouette Desire. It was the first book I ever wrote and in hindsight, it's not all that good. I love it anyway, more for what it represents than for the way it reads. It currently lives in my bottom drawer. In 2003 I placed first in Romance Writers of Australia’s Query Letter and Synopsis Competition with "Thief of Hearts", a treasure hunt story. This one is currently flatting with Second Time Lucky. In late 2003 I wrote a story aimed at Silhouette Special Edition called "Billie's Way". This one bypassed the competitions because I had a full request from a QLS. I was getting better at this writing business, but this one was rejected too. Then came Romance Writers of Australia’s First Kiss Competition in 2004. Again, I placed first with "Only One Week." This later morphed into "Wife for a Week" and is - ta da! - a lead title for Harlequin Mills & Boon's Modern Extra Sensual line, set to launch in March 2006 in the UK. So... Hits and misses aside, I finally found my place, my style. Possibly my voice. I love reading stories that blend humor, glamour, romance, and whimsy. I love writing them. That’s the master plan.

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