Write from the heart: Love Rules

Romance is paying dividends for this high-flying Kiwi novelist

Serena Clarke - Author of 'All Over the Place'

Auckland mum and author Serena Clarke is living her dream after being named as a finalist for a prestigious international award for romance writers. Released in February, Serena’s first book has already captured the attention of the UK’s Romantic Novelists’ Association, and has been short-listed for a new writers’ award.

Married to her own “Mr Right” with whom she has two boys, Nate (9) and Zachary (6), Serena’s novel, All Over the Place, has also been published as an e-book by Crimson Romance, with a hard copy to be released in May.

And she’s looking forward to the glittering awards ceremony in the UK where she will rub shoulders with some of the top-selling romance writers in the world. Her own novel focuses on heroine Livi Callaway, who flees New Zealand after a reality-TV disaster.

“Some mishap occurs involving her fiancé and she decides to strike out into the world,” Serena (42) explains.

While trying to escape her past, Livi’s heart is torn between two men – one is sexy and smart, while the other is a cool American who has secrets that Livi is determined to expose. Unlike a classic Mills & Boon, Serena’s book is longer and along the lines of the popular chick-lit genre that she enjoys. “It’s as much about the woman’s personal journey as it is about the romance. Category romance focuses on the hero and the heroine – there’s conflict and drama, but in the end you know they will be together.

“With my genre there are a lot of side plots and secondary characters which you don’t get in Mills & Boon. “That doesn’t mean I think one kind of book is necessarily superior to another. Lots of the greatest stories in the world are love stories.”

Serena won’t know how well her book has been selling until September, but she says the digital age gives readers more worldwide access. “Authors can potentially reach a huge audience and make a good income – even with lower prices per book,” says Serena, who has worked as a proofreader and freelance writer in the past.

Serena Clarke – Leading man: Serena couldn’t have written her book without the support of husband Adam and their sons Zachary and Nate.

“It has also given readers the chance to try something they might not otherwise have done. If you’re buying something for $20 or $30, it’s a big commitment. But if you’re spending $4.99, it’s like being a kid in a candy store.”

Romance heroines have also changed from when Serena was growing up. These days they are more feisty, such as Bridget Jones or Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City. “They are not relying on men to define them, but at the same time realise that love is an important part of life – you can be independent and feisty and still enjoy love.

“There’s a lot more scope now for a female character in a book to face real issues.”

But one thing you won’t find in Serena’s novel is any hint of Fifty Shades of Grey. “Publishers classified it as ‘behind closed doors’. It’s not a spicy, steamy book.”

Fortunately, Serena has struck it lucky in the game of love herself. She has a tall, dark and handsome husband, Adam (42), who she’s been married to for 12 years.”I’ve had ups and downs

in love and been around the world, but I had to come back home to find the right guy.

“I couldn’t have written this book without Adam. He entertains the boys and takes them on countless outings so that I can write. “Every book needs a hero and I’m lucky to have one in my real life too. It turns out that happily-ever-afters happen in real life.”

She helps keep the romance alive by focusing on the good things that life can bring. “I think you have to decide there is magic and possibility in life and find it in all the little things and the big things. So much of it is going to work and taking kids to school.

All Over the Place is available from e-book retailers. For more information visit

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