Engaging the Enemy

Today’s lovely guest, Susanne Bellamy, lives up the range from me in Toowoomba. Her latest novel, ‘Engaging the Enemy’ is out now and stars a gorgeous Irish hero. She’s very kindly dropped by for a chat. Enjoy 🙂

Susanne, thanks for dropping around and congrats on your new release. I loved Mahoney and Andrea’s story, ‘Engaging the Enemy’, from start to finish. An emotionally satisfying read!

Thanks, Helene. I’m delighted to be visiting and that you enjoyed Andie and Matt’s story.

You now have three books on the shelf. How easy or difficult was your first publishing experience? How does it compare with your latest release?

First books are generally close-to-our-heart stories but for most of us, our writing skills aren’t as polished as we think they are. Although my debut novel, White Ginger, won third place in the RWA 2011 Emerald Award and found a home with a small publisher (who has since been taken over) it was rejected by HMB and I completely understand why now. At the time, I was disappointed. Hindsight is a wonderful learning tool. I love this story but I see more conflict potential and phrasing I would change if I were writing it now.

I have several first draft manuscripts sitting in the virtual bottom drawer, a couple of which I plan to rewrite. I’ve learned so much simply by continuing to write and seeking feedback and I believe my writing has become tighter with each book.

Engaging the Enemy was contracted by Escape Publishing last year and has just released. The experience with Escape has been positive and supportive and so much easier. Naturally I have a better idea of what to expect this time round but Escape’s professionalism and practical support have been wonderful.

It sounds like you found a wonderful writing home with Escape!

What comes first for you – characters, story, setting or something else?

Setting or first meeting between protagonists or a combination of the two. One Night in Sorrento was definitely inspired by place.My husband and I stayed in Atrani, next door to Amalfi for a week. Each day we walked or caught a bus along the coast road. It’s a stunningly beautiful drive but add in the fact that Italians drive on the right hand side while we drive on the left and I wasn’t inclined to drive myself. However, I saw the meeting of Rhiannon and Luca each time I looked the wrong way before crossing the road! You never know when the muse will strike!

Engaging the Enemy was inspired by an abandoned building, which I spotted from a passing tram in Melbourne. The whole idea that there had to be somebody to love that place kicked into high gear when I realized there were two people prepared to fight for it.

And fight for it they do – a believable conflict that showed us so much about Matt and Andie.

What’s your writing process? Has it evolved with successive books?

When I began to write I started with a broad idea and just wrote. I re-read at the start of the next session and went back to seed ideas as the plot developed. I had no idea of plotting and held much of the story in my head.

Now, I consider myself an organic writer but my Entangled Ignite editor requires a reasonably detailed ‘beat sheet’ which keeps me on track…most of the time! I still get those moments when another idea strikes and I have to feed it into the plot. Even when I think I know my characters, the more they interact with one another, the greater the scope and the deeper the layers become.

And when I find an image of a character or place I’ve already described I pin it straightaway! Gosh, I love Pinterest!

Lol, I must admit I have no idea what to do with Pinterest….

Your heroines are champions in the sense that they have a strong sense of right and wrong, a need to stand up for the underdogs. How much of your own values go into your characters?

I suspect quite a bit. Social justice perspectives and environmental awareness are important to me so it’s likely my writing reflects them. White Ginger’s main character, Arne, is a marine biologist working to save the reef. Amelie has the same core values of family, community and preservation of the environment; in fact, she has to overcome her phobia (which is mine!) in order to help Arne in his crusade.

Andie de Villiers works with her friend, Lexie, to keep their crisis accommodation open because she knows that they are all that’s standing between the mothers and children and the certainty of domestic violence. When Matt’s purchase of their building threatens The Shelter, Andie faces the dilemma of lying or being responsible for the loss of their safe house. As a civilized society, we need to be more aware of our combined responsibility to protect and care for those who are vulnerable. If I have built that sense of caring for others into a romance, I’m happy!

Can we have a sneak peak behind the scenes?

Of course! I do have a lovely view from my writing space and Anna is never far away when I’m writing.

Love your writing space and there’s something very comforting about a faithful hound watching over her writer.

Finally what’s the best advice you’ve received or given?

Join RWA; enter competitions; get a critique partner. Read. Write. You can’t edit a blank page.

Oh, and Be Happy 😀 (courtesy of Bobby McFerin)

And ditto to that advice! RWA continues to be a powerhouse, encouraging new writers and supporting more established writers 🙂

Thanks for dropping by, Susanne. Wishing you stellar sales and best seller listings for Engaging the Enemy.

Thanks for hosting me! I’ve enjoyed being here, Helene.


One building, two would-be owners and a family feud that spans several generations: all relationships have their problems.

Andrea de Villiers can’t lie to save herself. But when developer, Matt Mahoney, buys the building she and a friend have established as a safe house in the Melbourne CBD, she decides that protecting The Shelter is more important than her aching heart. She will confront Mr Mahoney, and she will emerge victorious. There are no other options.

But Matt has other plans for Andie, and she soon finds herself ensnared in a web of well-meaning lies and benevolent deceit. To protect the building and the families that depend on her, Andie agrees to play the part of Matt’s fiancée, and play it convincingly.

But lies soon bleed into truth, and what was once a deception starts to feel all too real. Can Andie accomplish her goals and protect The Shelter, without losing her heart to the charming Irish developer?

You can find Susanne at:

  1. Facebook         https://www.facebook.com/susanne.bellamy.7
  2. Twitter             https://twitter.com/SusanneBellamy
  3. Website           http://www.susannebellamy.com/
  4. Pinterest          http://www.pinterest.com/susannebellamy/
  5. Goodreads       https://www.goodreads.com/author/dashboard

And Buy Engaging the Enemy at:



Amazon UK

Amazon USA


Google Play



17 thoughts on “Engaging the Enemy

  1. Thanks so much Susanne and Helene! Yeah Susanne sure is a very talented writer! Would love to be able to write as well as she does. I’ll be submitting my story in September this year to a couple of publishers so we’ll see how that goes. Looking forward to reading more from you both! 🙂 xx

  2. What a lovely compliment, Kariss! Thanks. I have several wonderful role models and a great mentor without whom I wouldn’t have come this far. I love helping others achieve their goals too, and look forward to seeing your books out there soon.

  3. What a great interview Susanne and Helene. Having read the book in under a weekend last weekend I agree, Engaging The Enemy is a brilliant story! I couldn’t put the book down! And Susanne you are very inspiring to me as a person and a writer! 🙂 xx

  4. Hi Elizabeth,

    Thanks for visiting my blog. RWA certainly has helped so many writers on their journey and the friends we make there celebrate successes, pick us up when we’re down and cheer on every step of the way! A wonderful community of writers 🙂

  5. Hi Louise, thanks for stopping by. It’s very important to take the time to celebrate and savour the highs and the occasional lows. It keeps everything in persecutive 🙂

    Hi Juanita, look forward to seeing you in Sydney! Glad you enjoyed the interview as well as Susanne’s fabulous stories 🙂

  6. Noelle, thanks for dropping around. Apologies for being late to greet my guests! Airlines don’t stop for anyone…

    Maggi, it’s great advice and that joy of writing should never be forgotten or it shows all too clearly in our writing! Thanks for visiting.

  7. Thanks for stopping by, Louise. Maggi nailed it, didn’t she! Reflection on our successes is often forgotten in the rush to keep writing, yet they are hard-won and should be enjoyed.

  8. Lovely interview Helene and Susanne, enjoyed reading it. Good luck with your writing. I like what Maggi said, “A writer’s emotions … take a moment to enjoy… 🙂

  9. So true, Maggi. It is a roller coaster ride but made so much easier by our wonderful, supportive writing community. And if we can choose to learn from negative things, but focus on the positives, it helps a great deal. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  10. Lovely to see you here, Noelle! Thanks for stopping by and for your very kind comments. Helene is a wonderful host and I’m delighted to visit her.

  11. That last bit of advice is important, Susanne. A writer’s emotions tend to soar and dip with our fortunes. We need to take a moment to enjoy our successes instead of rushing on to the next.

  12. A lovely interview, ladies. Congratulations on the new release, Susanne. I love your stories, and your writing style is fluid, rich, and very enjoyable. Best wishes for your continued success. And Helene, a great interview! 🙂

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