Hello Alli and congratulations on the release of your debut novel, ‘Luna Tango’.
What was the first story you ever wrote?
The one I remember clearly is a story I wrote one day after my family had dragged me to an AFL match. I was bored out of my brain so started writing about a humorous story about a character who was bored out of her brain because her annoying brother wouldn’t stop picking on her and her parents didn’t understand why she hated watching sport. Well, they say write what you know and I guess I was doing exactly that! The finished story had my family in fits of laughter but they still dragged me to another football match the following week. Le sigh …
Of all the individuals you have created, do you have a particular favourite? What appeals to you the most about this character?
I’m a little (okay, a lot) in love with Carlos Escudero the dance teacher in Luna Tango. Beneath his broody exterior is a man hoping for another chance at love even though his ex smashed has smashed his heart into a thousand pieces. He’s also conflicted – he despises tango because it ruined his life but he has to teach it because it’s all he knows and is his only income. Plus he’s super sexy. 😉
Has being published changed you at all? If so, how?
It’s given me more confidence in my writing but I still second guess myself and some days I look at the screen and think I’m only capable for writing s*&^t, but I now recognise it’s part of my writing process. The other thing about being published means I am a lot busier!
What would we find on your bookshelf / e-reader?
At the moment it’s The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. I’m very keen to get stuck into it as the book has been talked about widely. I also have a Spear of Summer Grass by Deanna Raybourn that has been highly recommended by writer friends. And I’m always revisiting The Seamstress by Maria Dueñas – it’s my go-to book when I’m in the mood to reread a story and revisit characters and settings I love.
What’s the most unappealing thing you’ve ever eaten?
Ha! That’s a great question! It would most definitely have to be cuy—deep fried guinea pig. Yeah. You read that right, I’m afraid. I lived in Peru for a while and cuy is often served during festivals. After some Dutch courage (ie lots of local beer) I gave it a go and tore off the tiniest piece. One nibble was enough to say ‘No gracias’ and swear never to try local delicacies after large quantities of alcohol. I’m a big fan of Hamish and Andy’s Cultural Eating segment on their Gap Year shows and I am very glad to say I haven’t gone as far as they have!
If you could be any of the following characters for one day, who would you be and why? How would you re-write the ending?
a) Scarlett O’Hara from Gone with the Wind.
b) Thelma or Louise from Thelma and Louise.
c) Princess Leia from Starwars.
d) Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffanys.
Oh most definitely Scarlett O’Hara! The dynamic between her and Rhett mesmerises me and even though she comes across as spoilt and bossy, deep down she has a good heart. Although after a day in corsets I might have wished I’d chosen Princess Leia – she definitely looks more comfortable!
Of all the books in history, which do you wish you wrote and why?
A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth. At the time it was published, A Suitable Boy was the longest published novel in history. The story has multiple family sagas that are drawn across a long timeframe and the characters are complex, engaging, and very human. Vikram Seth is amongst a large group of writers I adore from India as they have such a magical way of storytelling and the settings are just beautiful. I’ve always loved India and was lucky enough to travel there many years ago so when a writer describes a scent or scenery, it often takes me back to my own travels (minus the family saga!).
If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?
To write faster! I have so many ideas brewing but it’s hard to find the time needed to get them all down.
If you could go back in time, where would you go and when? What is one thing you would want to take with you?
1920s Paris without a doubt and I’d take a video camera to record all the wonderful adventures I’d experience and the very cool bohemian types that I’d befriend.
Can you tell us about your works in progress?
I’ve just finished the first draft of book two in The Dance Card Series. This one is called Flamenco Fire and is set in Spain. It’s been fun researching flamenco music, dance and lyrics and it is way, way, way more complicated than I ever expected. Luckily I have a flamenco expert on hand to throw curly questions at! It’s been wonderful getting to know the new characters (as each book will have a new set) and to put them in situations they’ve never dreamt of or they have done their very best to avoid. (Mwahahaha!)
I’ve also written a third of Turning Pointe, book three in the series. This one is about the Ballets Russes in 1920’s Paris. Again, the research and getting to know the characters and their situations has been loads of fun. I’m excited about these new books but there’s still a lot of work to do before they’re ready!
Finally, can you give us a sneaky excerpt from LUNA TANGO, please?
This scene takes place near the beginning of the story when Dani is trying to get Carlos on board to help her write her tango articles. He hates journalists with more passion than he ever danced the tango but he’s decided to give her a break—sort of.
‘I did not travel the world as a professional tango dancer because I am bad at it. I do not have my own dance studio because I am bad at it. When I teach you to dance, you will not be bad at it.’
She wondered what it was like living in Carlos Escudero’s bubble. She doubted there’d be much elbowroom between him and his inflated ego. Although, his self-assuredness almost led her to believe he could teach her at least a couple of steps. Then reality hit and she shook her head.
‘I can do this, you must have the trust in me.’ Carlos dipped his chin and locked eyes with her. ‘Trust in yourself.’
She did admire his attempts and thanked the Powers That Be that he had no idea who her mother was. If he did, she’d have to suffer the embarrassment of explaining why the dancing gene hadn’t just skipped Dani, it had fled. Also, she didn’t want to deal with the inevitable questions that would accompany her revelation about Iris. No one outside the family knew who her mother was and she had no intention of revealing this to anyone. Somehow, Dani needed to find a way to understand Iris’s idiosyncrasies and passion through Carlos. Learning the tango could be the easy part.
Alli is launching a super special competition today and the winner will receive a one-off prize that has been created especially for the occasion.
Click below for more information:
For those in Melbourne and surrounds, you are invited to the Luna Tango book launch and tango event held on 21 August at Readings Hawthorn. Tickets are $10 and will include a tango show and lesson, wine and food. Proceeds of tickets will go to Parkinson’s Victoria, an organisation very dear to Alli’s family.
Please note: due to limited space ticket bookings prior to event is essential.