Australian author Kathryn Ledson's debut novel Rough Diamond is out now and the follow-up Emerald Island is already underway. She is quite deservedly living, as she puts it, "a dream come true".
"I am merely lucky that what comes to me in my writing is what people want to read," she says modestly. "It's not about writing what people want, I'm not sure I could do that . . . it's about what comes naturally - I'm lucky it's what people like."
Rough Diamond blends romantic escapism and adventure. Ledson captivates her readers with characters that are memorable and real - ordinary people caught up in extraordinary situations. Her gift is that nothing seems contrived and that reading her novel is akin to chatting to a very likeable friend. Rough Diamond also comes with the bonus of refreshingly Australian characters.
Her hero and heroine are destined to become much-loved icons. Jack Jones is a cross between James Bond and Mr Darcy, with Batman's lifestyle, but unmistakably Australian - down to his board shorts and bare feet (when relaxing, not chasing villains).
Ledson explains that "he probably comes from my own very high expectations of what all men should be like". That sense of fun is prevalent throughout her writing. Women and gay men everywhere will be in love with the perfect "but painfully flawed" Jones, but Ledson points out that he is also "the kind of man straight men want to have a beer with at the pub".
That was the one bit of Jones based on her husband. "Men elbow me out of the way (in the pub) to get to him - they just want to be around him," she says tongue-in-cheek.
It is actually another of the book's characters, Steve, who is supposed to be based on her husband. "In fact, Steve and Lucy are probably the only characters in the book based on people I know," she says.
Although the heroine Erica Jewell "endearingly tries hard to fit in, is a little rough around the edges and always surprises me with what she comes up with, I think I know Jack better".
Asked who she would like to play her characters, should Rough Diamond be made into a film or television series, Ledson is open to suggestions about Erica ("she eludes me") but is quite certain about the redoubtable Jack Jones. "It would have to be Hugh Jackman. I can't imagine anyone but him in that role."
Ledson hopes to have the time to visit Perth, perhaps attending the Romance Writers of Australia conference in Fremantle in August. She frankly admits that writing a second book is nerve- racking. "I remember reading somewhere that everyone has one book in them but to produce a second is quite frightening. Though I feel good about it."