Five Ways The Lion Tamer Surprised Me

Five Ways The Lion Tamer Surprised Me

As a writer who rarely outlines or plots in advance, I’m often (read: always) surprised by some of the twists and turns in my own stories. Some of my novels shock me more than others. You’d think I’d learn to expect the unexpected.

When I started The Lion Tamer, I knew roughly where I wanted it to go. I didn’t quite anticipate the journey it would take to get there. Scottie, in particular, surprised me. Then again, he is the more mercurial of the two men. Gray is quite set in his ways and stable in comparison.

In any case, here are five ways (or things) that surprised me in the sixth Sin Bin story. I’ll try to avoid spoilers if you haven’t read it yet.

  1. Scottie’s growth and his strength in facing his demons. I wasn’t sure he had it in him.
  2. Scottie’s little brother. He’s a darling. I love him.
  3. You’ll see.
  4. The Red Card. I could honestly write an entire novel centred around it.
  5. Gray’s patience. Honestly, he should be up for sainthood.

Even though I always promise myself I’ll at least attempt to plan in advance, my stories still surprise me.

I have to admit, I love that about writing.


Ten Things I Hate About You

Scottie and Gray from The Unexpected Santa and The Lion Tamer are two of the grumpiest men I’ve ever written. Seriously. They are.

And I ADORE them for it.

I also love the teen movie Ten Things I Hate About You. (Don’t judge me.)

So, I thought I’d write a few things that both men hate or very strongly dislike.


  1. People who don’t pay attention to motorcyclists on the road.
  2. Bad food.
  3. Cowardice
  4. Close-mindedness.
  5. Potholes.


  1. Nosy friends.
  2. Most of his family.
  3. Child abusers.
  4. Golf.
  5. Vegemite.

Is there anything you hate or strongly dislike?



The Wonder Twins.

Or, ten things about Alice and Alex, two of my favourite secondary characters in The Sin Bin. They appear first in The Royal Marine and feature more in The Unexpected Santa and The Lion Tamer. I thought I’d share a little bit about them.

  1. They are both autistic.
  2. Alice is obsessed with origami.
  3. Alex rebuilds motorcycle engines–with a bit of help.
  4. They eat the same thing every Thursday–beans on buttered toast. Every. Thursday.
  5. Alice cuts Alex’s hair. She’s done it since they were ten because he hates having people touch his hair.
  6. They drink warm, but never hot tea.
  7. Alex can’t watch scary movies. Alice loves them.
  8. Alice loves language–the way words sound. She often repeats phrases.
  9. They like eating out at restaurants, just the two of them but outside of the busiest times.
  10. They obsessively watch TV.



Sloppy Seconds.

Or, why I love secondary characters. lol

If nothing else in my stories stands out, I hope what does is the depth and diversity of personalities. The goal is always to make readers want to know more about the characters—and not only the main couple. The word is so rich and diverse so should the books we write.

I write a quirky collection of characters.

Love writing them.

Love reading them.

L.O.V.E. Them.

One reason why I often include bits and pieces of personalities of people that I’ve met or observed is it adds authenticity. Maybe it’s because I’m autistic, but I’m always drawn to the odd ones. I enjoy building those types of people into my stories.

One of my favourite examples of brilliant secondary characters comes from The Botanist and The Royal Marine. Both are stories where I introduce a group of retired military men and women into The Sin Bin series. They’re an interesting bunch who never shies away from making their presence felt.

For example:

“That explains why I found him underneath his desk snoring like a busted engine and cuddled up to an empty bottle.” Lily propped her feet up on his desk. “I thought you two stopped overindulging after that time in London when you were in your twenties.”

“Lils.” Hamish had tried to block out the memory of getting so wasted that their clothes, wallets, and even socks had been nicked off them. Lily had rescued both of them before their commanding officer had found out. “What happened to being sworn to secrecy? Hadn’t we decided to chalk that up to youthful enthusiasm and stupidity?”

“Stupidity being the keyword. Okay, okay.” She sipped her coffee; her green eyes alight with pure amusement. “So, Earp tells me you met someone last night.”

Some of my other favourite characters are Francis’ grandmother, in After the Scrum. She’s a riot. Her personality shone through from the very beginning.

Dr. Gen who makes her first appearance in The Wanderer is another example. She initially started out as someone who I only intended to be in a few chapters, but her personality brought her to the forefront in The Caretaker.

Genevieve turned her gaze away from Taine and smirked at Freddie. “You’ll thank me later when you’re thinking more clearly.”

Freddie choked on his last bite of spring roll. “Yes, thanks. Twmffat.

“I heard that, Whittle,” she called over her shoulder. “You will thank me later—with a bottle of wine. You know the kind.”

The pets of The Sin Bin are definitely shining stars in their own right. From Speedy the hamster to Ganesh the cat to  Zeus the Yorkie. They bring humour and life, filling in gaps. In many ways, Aled’s plants are equally as important—at least to him.

“I keep telling you not to mock Ringo. You’ll hurt his feelings, and he’ll stop growing.” Aled brought in a tray with two unmatched mugs and a plate of chocolate treats. He set it down and pointed around the room at the various flora. “Mr Navy SEAL, you’ve already meet Ringo, Paul, John, and George. Have I not introduced you before?”

“And you called me bizarre?” Wyatt accepted the Frodo mug, resigning himself to the dubious pleasure of hot tea, and studiously ignored the tightening in his jeans at the brush of their fingertips. “Do you always name your plants?”

“Friends have names.”

For Aled, his plants are important enough that it seems wrong not to treat them as characters in their own right.

What do you love most about secondary characters in novels?

Five Things about Francis.

Elegant young handsome man in grey costume.

As one of the main characters in After the Scrum, Francis Keen holds a special place in my heart.  Eccentric to a fault, he sprung to life in my mind and took over his own story like a whirlwind.  I thought I’d share a few things I love about him.

  1. He loves his dog more than he loves people.
  2. His beloved Fiat 500 not only has a name, but a personality.
  3. One word: Eccentric.
  4. The amazing courage that he doesn’t even realize he possesses.
  5. An unhealthy love of custard tarts.

I mean honestly, what’s not to love?

Five Thing about Character Creation


While finishing writing Misguided Confession, I’ve begun the tentative steps of platting out a project for the summer and another series for later in the year.  I use Scrivener quite a bit, but I also keep a story bible in a little spiral notebook plus I have a cork board over my desk which I put my story board.   The picture above is my 2016 story bible, it’s covered in stickers because I’m a nerd.  I’ll use it for all the stories big and small that I write this year.

Anyway, here’s a few things about how I build a world for myself.


  1. Sexy hot men are great for inspiration, writer’s block and drooling on keyboards.
  2. Even if it never makes it into the story, know what my characters prefers to wear, eat, read, watch, etc.  It helps solidify them in my mind.
  3. Create a story board and add all the details into my story bible.
  4. Make sure the spelling of names and places are written out clearly.  This is very important because once I didn’t do this and consistently spelled the same character’s name wrong throughout a novel about five different ways.   I was consistently inconsistent as it were.
  5. Create a music playlist that reminds me of the characters, the plot and the mood of the story.

How do you build out the story in your mind before writing it?

New Ideas.

Two wolves playing near forest

I love the scent of a new idea, like a shark enjoys going after chum.

Okay, maybe that was a slightly disturbing and disgusting analogy. All the same, I’m rather fond of new ideas.  I like the excitement of fleshing them out, discovering hidden secrets and idiosyncrasies of personalities.   It’s almost more fun than working with familiar, tried and true characters.  


It’s the difference between taking a vacation somewhere new where you have the chance to explore everything.  And going on a trip somewhere you’ve been a hundred times, it’s familiar, enjoyable and comforting, but none of the adrenaline rush of the unknown.

When I’m working on a new idea, I usually keep a Scrivener project open to jot down ideas and thoughts.  I spend time on Pinterest looking for the perfect reference for what the characters look like, where they live, what clothes they were, what food they eat, even the types of tattoos they might have.  I might not share all the details in the story, but it helps cement who the character is and what their world is like in my head.

What do you do with your new ideas?  Or do you prefer working with the familiar?