Love At First Flight by Tess WoodsPublished by: HarperCollins
Publication date: April 1st 2015
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Looking back on it now, I can see it was instant. The second we locked eyes. Boom. Just like that. The me I had spent a lifetime perfecting began its disintegration from that moment. And despite the carnage it brought to all our lives, I still don’t regret it.
What would you risk to be with the love of your life? And what if your soul mate is the one who will destroy you?
Mel is living the dream. She’s a successful GP, married to a charming anaesthetist and raising a beautiful family in their plush home in Perth. But when she boards a flight to Melbourne, she meets Matt and her picture perfect Stepford life unravels as she falls in love for the first time ever.
What begins as a flirty conversation between strangers quickly develops into a hot and obsessive affair with disastrous consequences neither Mel nor Matt could have ever seen coming. Mel’s dream life turns into her worst nightmare.
Love at First Flight will take everything you believe about what true love is and spin it on its head.
What inspired you to write Love at First Flight?
I've always been inspired by the tragic love story, the story of great love that just can't be. My favourite book The Bridges of Madison County stayed with me years after reading it and played on my mind. Then I read Twilight and out of nowhere I had to write my own book. Before this I had never entertained the idea of writing. But the longing in Twilight and the knowing that the one you love is the one that is dangerous for you resonated with me and I just had to write about that. So with the themes of desire and danger, I wrote a book about a married mother, because I wanted to write of what I know. I wanted to bring the great love story into the world of the typical suburban mum who is chasing after kids, working and running a home. I wanted her to have that Romeo and Juliet moment. So I wrote 'Love at First Flight'.
Did you use real events/people from your own life as inspiration when writing Love at First Flight?
Hell yes! I really do believe you write what you know. Of course the novel is a novel, not a biography, and I credit my imagination for it, but I have definitely taken inspiration from events and people in my life.
It is no coincidence that Mel has long black hair and is a health professional who falls for a tall, dark, handsome and broody, moody physio. That’s me and my husband! But the great thing about writing is that I get to make Mel as hot as I like and morph her into someone as sexy as Angelina Jolie - hey, it’s my prerogative isn’t it? Matt’s parents are very much inspired by own mother and father in-law who lived out in the country on a sprawling property where we used to go to wind down from the city with them. Matt’s sister is a powerful human rights lawyer, just like two of my world-beating cousins. I even used my children’s names for characters - Tom, Lara and Lachlan. (Lara has a blink and you miss it part because I am saving her. I have big things planned for Lara in book two!)
And I incorporated many real life events into this fictional story. My husband and I tragically lost our third child Lachy at birth, my darling friend Jess committed suicide, my darling friend Julie fought a fierce battle with cancer and those stories and a few more events that shaped my life made it into the book. Writing was my counselling!
Also, I am inherently lazy so the fact that the story unfolds in Perth and Melbourne, the two cities I’ve lived in most of my life, is not by accident. The more you know, the less you research. Some writers thrive on research, me – not so much!
What is the best advice you were given for writing?
The wonderful writer Nikki Davies who assessed the manuscript in the early days, told me to imagine every scene as a scene on a stage. The curtain opens- What do you see? What should the audience feel? What are the actors saying and how do they move around? What expressions are on their faces and in their voices? Start the scene with an opening and end it with closure. Do this for every single scene in the book. Once I learnt to write in scene like this, my writing changed dramatically and it became more authentic and palpable.
More recently, when we were doing the copyedit of Love at First Flight, the brilliant author Dianne Blacklock taught me the concept of Chekhov’s gun, one of her favourite writing tips, which is now one of mine too. Chekhov himself advised, “Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be hanging there.” This helped cut a lot of excess junk from my writing which was clogging it up.
Which Hollywood stars would you like to see play the lead roles in the movie version of your book?
Hugh Jackman is the ultimate Adam, Orlando Bloom (with an Aussie accent) would make a convincing Matt, Rose Byrne (with dyed black hair) has Mel written all over her. Nobody gets to make a movie though unless my daughter Lara gets to be Lily.
What do you love the most about the main character in your book?
I love that Mel is raw. She is openly vulnerable and tortured and she desperately needs attention. I want to help her dig her way out of the hole she is in and help her find inner peace and happiness.
Why do you write?
Because if I didn’t I would need to be institutionalised. What else would I do with these people in my head if I couldn’t write their stories?
What tricks do you have to beat writer’s block?
I write anyway, even if it’s a pile of pigeon poop, I write it. Writer’s block eventually passes, and then I have something on paper and whether I keep what I wrote or not is irrelevant. Even if I go back and delete those pigeon droppings, I know that writing those words has led me to explore new ideas anyway. I never regret writing when I don’t feel inspired. In fact I’m always happy that I did.
What is the best marketing tip you can share for a new author to get their book noticed?
Be forward even if you are shy. Take on an alter ego, the author who is passionate enough about her book that she will be brave enough to tell the world how great it is. My friend Steph Pegler gave me this little gem: ‘Nobody except maybe your mum is out there waiting for your book. You need to make people notice you.’
What do you think makes a really good story?
A story where stuff happens on every page. A story where you don’t flip ten pages at a time to get to the next good bit.
Pick one series and tell us why – Harry Potter, Twilight or The Hunger Games.
Twilight. Not even a competition in my mind. Edward- ugh, he kills me, he is so perfect!
Do you take negative reviews of your book personally or do you shrug them off?
I cry. I totally cry.
What is it about this genre that appeals to you so much?
I love contemporary women’s fiction because I can easily relate to books that are set in today’s world with today’s issues. I love reading about strong women and seeing how they overcome their struggles. And I am in love with love so any romantic story will tug at my heart strings.
What made you want to become an author?
I didn’t plan on being an author, I was quite happily minding my own business being a physiotherapist. But these characters in my head refused to go away so I had to write their story.
How do you come up with character names?
The main characters, Mel, Matt, Adam and Lydia all came up with their own names. There was no conscious thought process, I would find myself introducing them into the story with their names pre-determined. The first draft only had these characters named. When I started writing the second draft, I began to name characters after my children and my friends or names that I liked.
Name one of your all-time favourite books?
The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller is my all-time favourite. The intense connection between Francesca and Robert Kincaid took my breath away and still does.
Who, or what, inspires you?
I’m inspired by the people I am closest to, my family and my close friends. I use a lot of what goes on in our lives to inspire my writing. I’m inspired by stories of hope, stories of survival. I love the underdog.
Where is your favourite place to write?
Snuggled up in bed. I’ve tried to be bohemian and trendy and take my laptop to hipster cafes to write, but I am just too distractable and get nothing done. I need to be tucked up in bed, late at night, hubby snoring peacefully next to me and that’s where I do my best work.
What is your favourite movie that was based on a book?
Renee Zellweger made me fall in love with Bridget Jones even more so than when I read the book. Watching her squeeze into nanna sized knickers and make blue food was cinematic gold.
Name two of your favourite authors.
That’s easy Maeve Binchy and Marian Keyes. I love these two Irish ladies so much!
Tell us a random fact about yourself.
I am completely obsessed with the Real Housewives of Beverley Hills. My heart goes aflutter every time any one of them tweets anything!
Favourite myth / fairytale?
Cinderella – I mean really, is there even any competition?
Tess Woods is a health professional who lives in Perth, Australia with one husband, two children, one dog and one cat who rules over all of them. Love at First Flight is her first novel. When she isn’t working or being a personal assistant to her kids, Tess enjoys reading and all kinds of grannyish pleasures like knitting, baking, drinking tea, watching Downton Abbey and tending to the veggie patch.