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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Agricultural Show... and memories of Kewpie Dolls: with Amy Andrews

My next guest and I were so head down in our latest books, that Friday completely passed us by, so apologies for the late posting of a Friday Fun Fact - on Tuesday!

Amy's post is timely because here in Melbourne (a long way south of Amy's home town) it is Royal Show Time. I don't know whether the concept of the Agricultural Show is a uniquely Australian thing but As Amy says, every small town has them and for us citysiders, it is a few days in the year when the country comes to the city. As a kid you got to get up close and personal with sheep, cows, pigs, goats. There were contests for cakes and preserves and my mother used to enter her needlework. The Country Women's Association plys you with tea and scones. There was the added bonus of "Show bags" and rides and fairy floss. 

Amy is an award-winning, best-selling Aussie author who has written forty contemporary romances in both the traditional and digital markets. She has written for Harlequin Mills & Boon, Entangled, Harper Collins, Momentum and Escape.

HOLDING OUT FOR A HERO is a reunion of old school friends, Ella the sensible school teacher and Jake the quintessential bad boy on a motor bike (and don't you just love the cover?). And the best thing is it is FREE on Kindle so get in QUICK!  Click HERE

OVER TO AMY ANDREWS and the joys of the "Show"

When I was little, I used to love going to “the show”. The annual agricultural exhibition that was the highlight of any small town - or big city for that matter.  Of course, these were there to showcase agricultural produce and wares. Things like the prize bull and the biggest pumpkin and who was the best cake icer in the district.

But there was also side show alley. With the show bags and a dozen different rides that whizzed you around until you were throwing up your Dagwood Dog and fairy floss in a spectacular rainbow.

But for me, as a little girl, I always looked forward to getting my kewpie doll on a stick. I simply adored these things and it was always the highlight of the day!

So when it came to writing Ella in Holding Out For A Hero and teaming her up with her best friend Rosie and Rosie’s two crazy ex-carnie aunts I knew immediately that Ella was going to have the same fascination with these dolls that I had. And because of Rosie and her carnie connections, Ella has quite the collection.

So, as part of my research, I had to go and buy myself one – of course! That’s her in the picture. She sits in my office and watches over me. And I spent a lot of time online looking at images and checking out the long and rich history of these perennial favourites.

It was like being a little girl all over again!

Anyone remember the kewpies?


In the dawn hours he hadn’t paid any heed to her room. Only her and her naked skin and the mattress behind her had entered into his tunnel-visioned world. And it had been too dark. But the mid-morning sun pushed its bright fingers around the drawn blinds illuminating the space. He looked from side to side. Ella’s room was very girly.
Purple ceiling, pale pink walls, a purple-and-pink striped quilt. A large framed print featuring van Gogh’s Starry Night was pride of place on the wall opposite her bed. Then he noticed the little dolls stuck on bamboo sticks adorning the frame and anchored at other points around the room. They were everywhere. He’d seen them before of course, at the Ekka. Every little girl in Brisbane walked around the annual show carrying one of the damn things with their glittered hair and bodices, tulle skirts, netting wings and too-wide eyes—no doubt from the stick being jammed so firmly up their backsides. But it was kind of freaky to have so many wide kewpie doll eyes staring down at him like he’d been sullying their owner all night.

When sensible schoolteacher Ella Lucas rides into her home town on a Harley and seduces the resident football hero, Jake Prince, she figures she can be forgiven and move on. After all, she's just buried her mother.

Two years later, back in the city, their paths cross again but this time Jake is in the process of destroying her favourite dive bar. With her home facing a wrecker's ball, her school being closed down and her 15-year-old brother hell bent on self-destruction, it's the last straw. Throw in a dominatrix best friend who is dating a blue ribbon guy so straight he still lives at home with his mother, it's no wonder the sanest person in Ella's life is a dog.

With all this to contend with, the last thing Ella needs is Jake back in her life. But, as fate would have it, Jake is the only chance she has to save her school.

As the school football season heats up, old secrets threaten to surface and Ella takes on greedy developers, school boards and national tabloids. But can she save not just her home, her school and her brother, but also the reputation of the man she's never been able to forget? And, more importantly, does she want to?

Holding Out for a Hero is a quirky, heartwarming tale of unlikely romance, friendship and family.