I hate cars. Let’s get that straight right from the beginning. I have a brother who is a total car nut. He started restoring his first Jaguar when he was about 15, helped by our father. Being unable to tell one end of a spanner from the other, my only defence was to hate cars.
But slowly they managed to creep under and over and around my mental block. I still hate cars – but I do like driving the nice ones!
My brother is still a car nut, and he usually has about seven cars parked in a huge shed behind his house. When I go to visit, I borrow one of them. My all time favourite was a big yellow Ford Mustang – two door. A real American muscle car. Sean Connery drove one as James Bond in Diamonds Are Forever.
On one of my visits, I had just collected the car from my brother, driven about a kilometre, and was pulled over by a policeman. I wasn’t speeding. I hadn’t been drinking. He just pulled me over because in his mind, women don’t drive big yellow mustangs! He made a couple of comments to that effect which had steam coming out my ears. He didn’t give me a ticket – just made me mad!
At the time, I was thinking about my next book. The challenge I set myself was time. I wanted to write a book that covered just a few days. Could I change my characters’ lives in just one week?
When I added the policeman’s comments to that – the answer was simple. I wanted to write a heroine who not only drove a sport car, but could also do all the mechanics and then beat the men at that thing they think they do best – driving.
A car rally was the perfect solution. My brother, who has raced more than a few times, was a perfect resource for the technical detail. The romance part I could do myself. All I had to do was come up with a hero who would not be threatened by a woman who was a better driver than he was. The answer – someone who knew the insecurity she had deep down inside.
In locating my car rally – I wanted somewhere wild and rugged. A place where emotions would come easily to the surface. A place that could be both beautiful and dangerous. The area where I grew up was as flat as a billiard table, so it’s no great surprise my eyes turned towards the mountains for this story. The Snowy Mountains are stunningly beautiful – and the chance to visit again in the name of research was just too good to miss.
Girl Racers is the result. It was a fun book to research and to write. I haven’t become a car nut – but I think I understand them better now.