Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Interview with Ros Clarke + Giveaway

You might remember how much I enjoyed Table for One by Ros Clarke back in March, so I was very excited to hear that Ros' next novel was to be published as an Indulgence novel (=meaning that it will be longer than a novella, the length of a category romance). The Oil Tycoon and Her Sexy Sheikh was released last month and let me tell you it is an exotic modern fairy tale I'm sure all romance fans will love! I was lucky to sit down with Ros and interview her about this book, the research she did and many other things I was curious about. So join us, read on, and you could even win a copy of The Oil Tycoon and Her Sexy Sheikh!

Stella: Hi Ros, welcome back to Ex Libris! What has happened to you since you were last here in March, when you were promoting and celebrating the release of Table for One, your very first novella released by Entangled Publishing in their Flirt imprint? Any exciting news to share?

Ros: Hi, Stella! Thanks for having me here again. It's been a hectic few months since March, getting my new novel ready for publication with several last minute edits and rewrites. I've also been working on a new novella and my next novel. It's also been really exciting getting my very first royalty cheque from Entangled and seeing sales of my self-published books going up too.

Stella: Your latest novel The Oil Tycoon and Her Sexy Sheikh was released by Entangled Publishing in their Indulgence imprint in July, congratulations! Can you tell readers what they can expect of it?

Ros: Thank you! It's really exciting to finally have this book out. It's a classic contemporary romance with a few twists to give it a bit more of an edge. There's a business conflict, an ethical conflict, a religious conflict, a cultural conflict and a family conflict - all of which my very modern sheikh and his ambitious oil tycoon heroine have to negotiate before they can find their happy ending. The action travels from London, to the freezing cold North Sea, to the glittering blue waters of the Persian Gulf.

Zubara Fort in Qatar
Stella: A big part of the story takes place in Scotland, at the freezing North Sea. The descriptions were so vivid I wondered: have you been there? Or do/did you live there by any chance? (curious about the other locations as well, did you visit, were you there on holiday, or were your descriptions based on Google photos and internet research?)

Ros: Yes! I lived in northern Scotland for about six months a few years ago. I haven't actually been to Aberdeen where the story is set, but I know the landscape around there in all its grim bleakness. I haven't ever been to the Persian Gulf so I had to do my research for that part of the story online. One of the good things about making up a fictional country is that no one can tell you the geography is wrong!

Stella: Would you like to introduce the hero and heroine of The Oil Tycoon and Her Sexy Sheikh to the readers?

Name: Sheikh Khaled ibm Saqat al Mayim, aka Dr Khaled Saqat
Country of origin: Saqat, a small Arab country on the shore of the Persian Gulf
Country of residence: UK
Occupation: Senior Researcher at the Natural History Museum. Also heir to the throne.
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 13 st.
Hair: Black
Eyes: Dark brown

Name: Ms. Olivia McInnes
Country of origin: UK (Scotland)
Country of residence: UK
Occupation: Senior Executive at MCI Oil.
Height: 5'8"
Weight: 10 st 6 lb.
Hair: Dark brown.
Eyes: Blue.

Oil platform
Stella: The heroine of The Oil Tycoon and Her Sexy Sheikh is an oil executive. Interesting and brave, very 21st century feminist approach to have such a strong, powerful, independent and ambitious businesswoman as the heroine. Was it a challenge not to have Olivia end up a negative character with the premise of the story her being an oil industry executive and working in such an environmentally unfriendly sector?

Ros: I never thought of it that way. I knew that I wanted oil to provide the basis of the conflict in the book because that's such a big issue in the Middle East. As soon as I'd worked out that Khaled was going to be the environmentalist, I needed a heroine who would challenge him on that. Olivia truly believes that her company does everything it can to protect the environment, but that oil is a necessity in the moden world. She knows that Saqat is a poor country and that oil could transform the lives of people living there in all kinds of positive ways.

Stella: The hero of The Oil Tycoon and Her Sexy Sheikh is a marine biologist, what is your favourite sea animal? (do you have a favourite funny youtube video maybe?)

Ros: Well, I didn't have one before I wrote this book, but now I am very partial to the dugongs. They are incredibly ugly but in an adorable sort of way. They are found in Australia around the Great Barrier Reef, and in the Persian Gulf and one or two other places, but their numbers are falling.

There is a Mr Weebl cartoon about dugongs! Warning: this will earburn you for weeks.

Stella: The Oil Tycoon and Her Sexy Sheikh has two components of the most common categorromance titles/heroes: a tycoon and a sheikh, what inspired you to combine these two?

Ros: I like books where the hero and heroine are on equal footing, rather than one of them having power over the other. Sheikh Khaled needs Olivia's company to drill for oil, in order to give his country the wealth that will bring it into the modern world. And she needs him to sign the contract so she can prove to her father she's the right person to take over the company. They are both strong, intelligent, ambitious people and a good match for each other - if only they can work out how to be on the same side.

Stella: Any story featuring sheiks is/sounds exotic. What kind of research did you do to make the story, the hero’s heritage and the heroine’s profession seem authentic and believable? Any interesting/fascinating/weird/crazy tidbits you learned during research?

Tank room in the National History Museum
Ros: I have a friend who used to work in the oil industry so I talked to him a bit about life on the rigs. And I had quite a lot of school friends who lived in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Dubai - again because their parents worked for oil companies. But mostly, I did internet research. I was fascinated to learn about all the research work that happens at London's Natural History Museum and I did lots of research on the reproductive cycle of the dugongs. When the female dugongs are in heat, apparently they will be mounted by every male in the area, so you can't tell who is the father. The male dugongs play no part in bringing up the calves. No romance there!

Stella: I'm curious about the Arab culture/language research you must have done for the book: There are a couple sentences in Arabic, and the name of the hero's country means Saqat at the sea, are these existing, actual words/expressions or did you make them up?

Ros: I don't speak any Arabic but in my day job I am an Old Testament research student which means that I know a number of related languages including Hebrew and Ugaritic. Al Mayim means 'the sea' in Hebrew and it is the same expression in Arabic. The rest of the Arabic I worked out using the internet and checking with people who know more than I do. I won't guarantee it's all correct but hopefully I did a better job than the people in charge of the signs at the Olympics.

Stella: You are a self-proclaimed Twitter fan, so tell me, if you had to make a Twitter-style elevator pitch of The Oil Tycoon and Her Sexy Sheikh, how would you describe it? (in 140 characters or less)

Ros: Oil tycoon and environmentalist sheikh clash in the boardroom, burn it up in the bedroom, and come to an understanding out on the sea.

Stella: Can you share with us any behind the scenes secrets related to The Oil Tycoon and Her Sexy Sheikh? (either to the inspiration behind the story, the moment/event that sparked it, the writing process or any scenes or characters that got deleted/changed in the final version?)

Ros: It got changed a LOT before the final version! One of the things that got cut out was a little secondary romance between Khaled's private secretary, Jamil, and the woman assigned to look after Olivia while she's in Saqat, Jemimah. In my head, Jamil and Jemimah are now happily married and still good friends with Khaled and Olivia.

Stella: Do you have a favourite scene/line in The Oil Tycoon and Her Sexy Sheikh? (Or which one was the hardest to write?)

Ros: I loved the scene with Khaled and Olivia sitting in front of the wood fire, drinking whisky and sharing some of their deepest secrets. It's so intimate and tender, as though they are separate from the whole world and can just be themselves with each other.

Stella: What shall we expect from you, what is next on your schedule?

Ros: There will be a couple more short stories hopefully coming out this year and I'm working on my next novel for Indulgence. I've also got some historical romances in mind but I just need to find the time to write them.

In this book I enjoyed playing a little bit with genre conventions - my sheikh isn't an alpha male but a caring environmentalist, and my heroine isn't a touchy-feely pushover, but a cool, ambitious oil executive. What unusual jobs would you like to see for romance heroes or heroines? Think outside the box and maybe I'll be inspired by your suggestions!

Ros is a writer, a student, a church worker, a crafter, a blogger, a twitterer, a lazy gardener, and an appalling housekeeper. She lives in a sixteenth century shed in England and is very glad that it has twenty-first century plumbing. She is interested in almost everything except cricket and football (US and UK) and mostly she likes happy endings in fiction and in real life.

Ros has been writing stories for as long as she can remember, never dreaming that other people would be interested in reading them. A few years ago, she discovered a writing forum on the internet, and has never looked back. Her head—and her hard drive—are full of ideas for fresh, fun, contemporary romances that she hopes you’ll love as much as she does.

You can find Ros on twitter, at Goodreads, and at her own blog. Come and say hi!

The Oil Tycoon and Her Sexy Sheikh is part of Entangled’s Indugence line of contemporary category romances.

His duty, her dreams, undone by their desire…

In the male-dominated oil industry, executive Olivia McInnes plays a careful game – she’s cold, uncompromising, and ambitious as hell. Once she seals the deal to drill in the clear waters of Saqat, she’ll finally prove herself worthy to take the reins of her father’s oil company. Her only obstacle is marine biologist – and Saqat’s royal heir – Sheih Khaled Ibm Saqat , who’s determined to protect both his people and his country from environmental devastation…

It’s not long before Olivia’s icy cool exterior is shattered by the intelligent and wickedly hot sheikh, and business is surpassed by sweet, stolen pleasures. But outside the bedroom, there’s reality to be faced. Soon Khaled must return to his obligations – and his betrothed – in Saqat.

Caught between duty and ambition, can an oil tycoon and a sexy sheikh find room for love…or will this business deal spell disaster for them both?


Entangled Publishing generously offers an ebook copy of The Oil Tycoon and Her Sexy Sheikh to a lucky commenter!

All you have to do is leave a comment answering Ros' question:  What unusual jobs would you like to see for romance heroes or heroines?

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 31 August 2012!

Good luck!

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