Things are get­ting steamy be­tween the cov­ers in the Sun­shine State

Life & Style Weekend - - READ - — Roz Pul­ley

BAR­BARA Han­nay has sold mil­lions of books. Mandy Ma­gro is on best­seller lists. He­lene Young has won count­less awards.

They live quiet lives in Tarzali, Brins­mead and Trin­ity Beach, but their tales of love and lust are fly­ing off the shelves at air­ports, depart­ment stores and book­shops around the coun­try.

City folk are lap­ping up the steamy ro­man­tic sagas and sweeping out­back love af­fairs of our home­grown au­thors who are get­ting all the in­spi­ra­tion they need for their sen­sual page-turn­ers right here at home.

The Far North is home to at least seven pub­lished ro­mance writ­ers whose tales range from the hot, saucy and down­right erotic to the para­nor­mal and slowly se­duc­tive.

Some write un­der their own names. Oth­ers use pseudonyms. But all share a love of ro­mance and the place they call home.

In­ter­na­tional best-sell­ing au­thor Bar­bara Han­nay has won Amer­ica’s most pres­ti­gious award for ro­mance writ­ers and did it from her coun­try cot­tage on the Ather­ton Table­land.

“My sto­ries are al­most all set in North Queens­land and the last few I’ve writ­ten have been set on the Ather­ton Table­land,” she says.

Bar­bara says there is a real thirst among Aus­tralians for ru­ral ro­mance. “I think we look at bush peo­ple as liv­ing the le­gend for us.”

Her in­ter­est in writ­ing was sparked while teach­ing Year 11 stu­dents in Townsville. Within five years she was be­ing pub­lished by Har­lequin Mills and Boon and has now sold more than 50 ti­tles and 12 mil­lion books in 26 lan­guages.

She switched from the shorter Mills & Boon for­mula to longer nov­els a few years ago.

“I write a book for Pen­guin ev­ery year. I’m on my sev­enth now. I’m a fairly slow writer and in­clude his­tor­i­cal threads as well. I re­ally en­joy get­ting more lay­ers into the story and deeper into the char­ac­ters.”

Bar­bara’s books slot into the ro­man­tic saga cat­e­gory.

“I like what’s go­ing on in peo­ple’s heads and hearts rather than the phys­i­cal de­tails of their sex lives.”

Mandy Ma­gro is a coun­try girl who has lived the life she writes about.

Born in Ma­reeba, she has worked as a sta­tion cook, rodeo worker and fruit farmer. To­day, she is nes­tled in sub­ur­ban

Cairns, but pro­duces two rol­lick­ing Har­lequin ro­mances a year about the strong cat­tle sta­tion char­ac­ters she is so fa­mil­iar with.

She hopes some of them will one day find their way into a tele­vi­sion mini-se­ries or a Hollywood block­buster.

Writ­ing be­gan as a hobby for Qan­tasLink pi­lot He­lene Young, of Trin­ity Beach, but has now turned into a sec­ond ca­reer af­ter ver­tigo grounded her.

He­lene’s forte is ro­man­tic sus­pense and she is a mul­ti­ple win­ner of Aus­tralia’s Ro­man­tic Book of the Year and Favourite Ro­man­tic Sus­pense Award. Her next book, due out next year, will be about three gen­er­a­tions of women on a sta­tion west of Cairns.

Former oil­field en­gi­neer Eric Ge­orge took on the per­sona of Jac­que­line Ge­orge af­ter ad­vice from his Amer­i­can pub­lisher and has put out a string of steamy ti­tles from his home in Cooktown.

With 19 books un­der his belt across the gen­res of erotic ro­mance, his­tory, thrillers and non-fic­tion, Eric is cur­rently writ­ing a shared novel with Tas­ma­nian au­thor Deb­bie Prewer.

“It’s set in 18th cen­tury Eng­land and Amer­ica and will be about two peo­ple writ­ing a fun, his­tor­i­cal, erotic ro­mance with the in­ter­change be­tween the two au­thors, as well as the story. It should be a lot of fun.”

Erot­ica spe­cial­ist Joy Fulcher lives a dou­ble life, writ­ing un­der a pseu­do­nym in the guise of a fiery red­head who flirts with life­guards on our trop­i­cal beaches. A long-time Cairns res­i­dent, she’s ac­tu­ally brunette and works dis­creetly in a health-re­lated role.

Af­ter re­leas­ing two books in quick suc­ces­sion in 2014, Joy has taken a break from writ­ing, but fol­low­ers are hop­ing for a re­turn to the key­board soon.

Har­lequin’s head of digital and mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Adam van Rooi­jen, says the Sun­shine State’s in­sa­tiable ap­petite for ru­ral ro­mance has fi­nally come of age.

PHO­TOS: THINKSTOCK AND CON­TRIB­UTED

Queens­lan­ders have an ap­petite for ru­ral ro­mance nov­els, and some of the best writ­ers of the genre come from the Sun­shine State. From top right, Mandy Ma­gro, Bar­bara Han­nay and He­lene Young all call Queens­land home.

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