Happy Saturday everyone! Today is an exciting day. I’m hosting my first guest in my hammock. The couch was nice, but I thought my guests would enjoy a view of the ocean where I live. Don’t worry, there’s still drinks. Please join me in welcoming fellow Crimsonista (author with Crimson Romance), Serena Clarke.

Thanks so much for having me to visit today, Elke. Summer is keeping on and on in New Zealand this year, so a sparkly white peach Bellini is just perfect. And it seems like the right kind of drink to share with an island girl like you! J

Oh, Bellini! I haven’t had one of those in a while. Peach it is. For me, I’ll have the mango version. Now that we have our drinks, let’s learn a little about Serena before we start with the fun stuff.

Serena b&wAbout
Serena grew up in a family of itchy-footed readers and dreamers – not concentrating, reading the atlas and Narnia books, and planning to escape somewhere magical as soon as she could. When she was 16, she went from New Zealand to live in Sweden for a year. It was the beginning of many travels and adventures – and quite a few disasters! She didn’t know it at the time, but eventually she’d be grateful for all the downs as well as the ups. As writers say in the face of adversity: “I can use that.” She’s now living back in New Zealand, where she writes stories reflecting her determined belief in magic, possibility and second chances – and happy endings!

Ah, New Zealand. One of the places on my bucket list. Okay, now for the fun stuff. What is your favorite book and author?

Funnily enough a lot of my favourite books are still the ones from my childhood, like the Narnia books. I recently re-read Charlotte’s Web, and it made me cry all over again! Like a lot of people, I adore Wuthering Heights. I first read it when I was studying English at university, and I couldn’t sleep at night for thinking about it! But most of my reading is contemporary women’s fiction and chick lit – preferably with a lovely happy ending! I’m about to start The Wedding Bees, by Sarah-Kate Lynch. She’s another New Zealand author, who writes funny, quirky and romantic stories.

Charlotte’s Web, is a classic and one I’m eager to share with my kids. If you could be a character in any book, movie or TV show, who would it be and why?

Serena Little Paris KitchenCan I be a real person in a TV show? I just discovered Rachel Khoo, on a programme called The Little Paris Kitchen. She left England to study French at La Sorbonne and pâtisserie at Le Cordon Bleu. Then she started a popular two-seats-only restaurant in her little Parisian apartment. Now she has her own cooking show, filmed in her teensy kitchen, and a book. Oh, and she has fabulous dresses and is incredibly beautiful. What a life! But she’s made it all happen through her own hard work. I like that.

Wow! Food and writing. Nice combination. What book are you currently promoting?

All Over the Place is contemporary romantic fiction with a chick lit feel. It’s a fun, feel-good story set between London, New Zealand and Paris, with an interwoven plot, snappy dialogue and a chick lit vibe. Livi strikes out into the world after a reality TV disaster, but finds that her old life won’t quite let her go! It’s about finding the place you’re meant to be – and the person you’re meant to be with. One lovely reviewer called it “a thoroughly engaging, globe-hopping confection of a novel…an enchanting journey of both distance and heart.”

All Over the Place cover

Travel, friends, adventure, true love…

how far would you go to find the place you’re meant to be?

 Livi Callaway has fled back to London after a reality TV disaster in New Zealand. Safely anonymous in the big city, she’s determined to stay under the radar from now on. But her attempts to build a new life are complicated by unexpected visitors from her old one, and new dangers and temptations lie in wait.

Late one night, she meets a mysteriously sexy American on the Underground – and the events that follow take her from Pooh Bear to the golden lights of Paris, via a trail of rock stars dead and alive. A family in disarray, a determined Swede, a crazed Australian and a childhood friend (who might yet be more than that) have her all over the place as she tries to discover the American’s secret – while keeping her own.

With help – and occasional hindrance – from her friends, what she eventually finds is something unexpected…sometimes, running away can lead you to exactly what you didn’t know you needed.

Available at all major e-book retailers, including Amazon, Amazon UK, iTunes and Barnes & Noble.

Ah, Paris and an intriguing story. A win-win combination. What was your favorite scene to write or research?

My favourite scene was a romantic one in Paris, lit by the golden lights of the Eiffel Tower. I’d plotted the book out, so I knew it was coming. Whenever I hit a tricky patch, I reminded myself to keep going because I was getting closer to Paris! Lots of people have posted videos on YouTube, showing a walk down Paris streets – I had fun watching those and calling it ‘research’!

The view from the Eiffel Tower is amazing! What’s your favorite joke?

Oh, you’ll be sorry you asked! I like really terrible, groan-worthy jokes. My favourite is “Where did Napoleon keep his armies? Up his sleeves.” Boom boom!

(My kids seem to have inherited this terrible affliction – their favourite is “What’s brown and sticky? A stick.”)

LOL! Cute. Best dessert you’ve ever had and where you ate it?

Semlor – Swedish cardamom buns filled with cream and almond marzipan, dusted with powdered sugar. My Swedish ‘family’ eat them the traditional way, in a bowl of warm milk. Just thinking about it makes me put on a pound or two! Where was it? In their farmhouse kitchen in the south of Sweden, surrounded by wheat fields and plane trees.

Those sound delicious and like you said, fattening. Wildest thing you’ve ever done in your life that you’ll admit to?

I jumped off a nice safe guided tour of Morocco, to go to a traditional Berber wedding in the High Atlas mountains with a friend of a friend of the guide. I found my tour party again in Casablanca – I think they thought they’d never see me again!

Morocco! You’ve really traveled the globe (and to places on my list). I bet that made the rest of the tour interesting. Serena Morocco palms

Thanks so much for being a guest on my blog, Serena, and trying out my hammock.

Thanks again Elke, I really enjoyed our chat! Maybe we should have just one more cocktail before I go… 😉

Okay, you talked me into it. Cabana boy, another round please.

You can find Serena at her website, and on Facebook and Twitter – She’d love to hear from you!