Real Life

My Mills and Boon dream came true

They met in a sunlit field. Soraya’s heart skipped a beat as Hamish’s masterful hands helped her into the saddle – this was a man who could teach her how to ride. When he looked deep into her eyes she finally knew the truth – that she too could write a great romance novel.

Soraya Lane of Yaldhurst, near Christchurch, is oills and Boon’s newest Kiwi writer, and although she maintains her romance with husband Hamish (43) is no fairy tale, she’s living the dream on their 5ha lifestyle block with their dog, Beau, four horses and five-month-old son Mackenzie.

Becoming a rich and successful romance novelist is one of the few things that could make her life better.

At 28, she’s well on her way to that happening. Her two novels about soldiers returning from war are already on sale in the US and the UK, with two more set for release, and she’s just signed on for another four books. Soraya’s novels fall into oills and Boon’s “sweet” line – classical romances with little bedroom action – rather than its “sexy” line. However, she says the oills and Boon books these days are worlds away from those of the past, which typically told stories of a virginal young girl falling in love with a rich older man.

“In terms of a formula there has to be a happy ending. The hero and heroine are the main characters – there’s not a lot of room for secondary characters.

“I find they want me to write about characters who are around the 30 mark. And I’m writing about women who are equally as successful as men.”

The age difference in Soraya and her husband’s relationship could have read like a oills and Boon novel. Soraya was just 17 when she met Hamish (then 32), but there was no protest from family and friends.

“We just clicked and it seemed right. We’ve never felt there was an age gap. It’s never been a problem for us.”

They were engaged after four years together and married on the beach in Noosa in 2007. They moved to the country three years ago and five months ago were blessed with the arrival of their son Mackenzie.

But she realises there will be no riding off into the sunset in her own life.

“I have got a fairytale romance in the fact that we’re happily married and have a lovely life together. My outlook is there’s someone out there for you that you can have a fantastic life with but it’s  always going to have challenges.

“I have very realistic views and I think that’s reflected in the stories I write. The people I write about have their own conflicts and problems going on.

Soraya also works as a freelance writer in Christchurch, but she has her heart set on making romance writing a success.

“I have always been interested in writing romances,” says Soraya, who hopes to join the ranks of New Zealand’s two most successful oills and Boon writers Robyn Donald and Daphne Clair in the future.

Soraya had to submit six manucripts before her first two – Soldier on Her Doorstep and The Army Ranger’s Return – were accepted. They are being released in New Zealand in July and are part of the American Heroes Come Home series, popular in the US because of the Iraq war.

originally, Soraya’s book included a reference to the war but she was asked to remove it and simply refer to characters  serving their country overseas.

“I’ve always enjoyed movies and books about soldiers. But my third book, coming out in November in the US and the UK, is about a former rodeo rider who’s moved to New Zealand.”

Soraya will have to wait at least a year to find out how much money she has made  from the novels but regardless of the outcome says she will continue writing. “Every time I’ve been knocked back I’ve kept writing. I think you just need to believe in your work.”

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