Monday, October 12, 2015

Love by Numbers by Sara Donovan - Interview and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Sara will be awarding an eCopy of Love by Numbers to 3 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Welcome to It's Raining Books. Why do you write in your genre? What draws you to it?

I write romantic comedies because being in love and lust with someone, then trying to create long term intimacy with them without being engulfed, is so damn tough and funny and compelling in my experience, I can’t leave the topic alone. I guess I write about what I need to learn.

What research is required?

The external world of Love By Numbers that I hoped would be fresh for readers was the world of the science of the ‘brain in love’ – in particular how ‘influence-able’ the falling in love experience can be both by the environment and by our early childhood experiences.

I read lots and lots of studies and a book or two on neuroscience, attachment theory and what you can do to get your “in love” brain circuitry and brain chemicals to fire up with someone you choose.

That was the easy bit.

Researching my own painful experiences, especially the embarrassing and ugly ones – like my own occasional borderline obsessiveness, my feelings of powerlessness around some men and my sometimes complete insensitivity to other people, were the harder things to truly research.

Name one thing you learned from your hero/heroine.

My heroine and my hero taught me that some people can look fragile on the outside, and be actually very resilient on the inside, while others can look tough as nails on the outside and be mush on the inside.

Do you have any odd or interesting writing quirks, habits or superstitions?

I have a fabulous writing quirk – and it has to do with neuroscience.

Before I discovered my quirk, I would often sit for hours staring at my computer screen wondering how to overcome a block or fix a problem.

Eventually, I would get an idea, write a scene for an experiment, then backspace it to oblivion a few minutes later. Then the staring would set in again. Very frustrating!

When I was taught the role of the conscious and unconscious mind in creativity, I took the following steps when things were clearly going down the unproductive route:

1) Work out exactly what you don’t know but need to know to progress your writing.
2) Express what you don’t know in the form of a question
3) Go and do something fun and forget you’ve asked the question
4) Expect that when you are in the shower, or have just woken up, or are driving the car, or walking in the bush, or chopping the veggies etc that the answer will pop into your head and give you a surprise
5) Thank your unconscious mind for the answer

Sounds quirky to me despite the fact I know that using your conscious mind to ask the question and your unconscious mind to answer the question works really well.

It’s the same process that happens when you forget what you were saying when you’re in a conversation. You change the subject so that you can remember what it was you were saying before you forgot….

Are you a plotter or pantser?

I need structure so I can break the structure.

I utilise story templates, character templates and even scene templates when I write. I’m a template junky compared to most writers I know.

I fill out all the templates in longhand first, then go to the computer and type whatever feels right – which usually turns out to be what I’ve plotted on my templates, but not always.

Look to your right – what’s sitting there?

I’m on a Qantas jet that’s taxiing down the runway at LA airport. There’s an Australian girl in her twenties sitting next to me who is thumb texting at a million miles an hour even though we’ve been told to turn our phones off.

Anything new coming up from you? What?

I’m working on a romantic comedy about a socially active women who is trying to save the world and win the guy at the same time. She’s a wannabe documentary film maker who is in love with the subject of her film – a social activist who is living off the grid in what appears to be an ideal community.

The story is an exploration of the monogamy/polyamory spectrum, how far people will expose themselves for a cause they believe in and the light and dark side of being a hero.

Do you have a question for our readers?

Fabulous question! I would love to know from your readers how important it is for them on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 1 = not at all, and 10 = extremely important) to learn something from the books they read

How to Fall in Love with Someone YOU Choose. (Why not, if you have a broken man-picker?)

Choose an available compatible guy-friend who doesn't turn you off and rewire your brains for a hot and heavy romance.

1. Get emotional while watching a sad movie.
2. Share a major adrenaline rush.
3. Be competent at something cool, but don't make a big deal out of it.
4. Have him provide food from the hunt (a good restaurant will do).
5. Eyegaze until it doesn't feel weird.
6. Fulfil each other's primary fantasies within reason and without judgment.
7. Sleep together like stacked spoons.

Repeat the above until love and lust click in. Then send your love brain chemicals into overdrive by not seeing each other. That's when things really get cooking.

Read an excerpt:

‘Nip it in the bud and run like hell,’ he read from my notepad after I’d had a rant about my suspected limerence problem. ‘Hard to nip something in the bud when it’s already a forty-metre gum tree.’

‘It’s not a forty-metre gum tree. It’s slightly less than that. And anyway, what about you and Holly? You’re almost as bad as me.’

Holly was my high school classmate, flatmate of two years and soccer team-mate. She was our team’s starting striker and I was sweeper, which pretty well sums up our relationship, despite it being the off season. I was sure Nathan was somewhere on the limerence spectrum when it came to Holly — which was probably the real reason why he’d suggested going back to my place when we were on the phone.

‘Well despite the Ryan-labelled box of condoms in your ensuite cupboard which is a bit obsessive,’ (not fair of him to bring this up. I was half drunk watching The Secret and visualising my goals at the time), ‘I think you’re taking this OCD thing too seriously. If we’re obsessive, then half the people in this bar are as well.’

‘Really?’ I had a quick look around. ‘They don’t look obsessive to me.’

‘No one does from this distance.’

I sighed and looked out the window.

‘So, how would you get over Brian?’ Nathan asked gently.

‘Well, according to the experts,’ I said, putting down my New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and taking the textbook I’d borrowed from the uni library out of my bag, ‘all I have to do is have an intimate relationship with him so I can find his flaws and kick him off the pedestal.’

‘That could be problematic,’ Nathan said. ‘What are your other options?’

‘No contact or total rejection, which isn’t so easy to get unless you try to get it, so the book says.’ I threw the book back in my handbag.

‘I’d go for no contact,’ Nathan said.

‘I can’t. We work for the same company.’

‘That only leaves rejection.’ Nathan’s eyebrows knit together. ‘You’re not going to try to get Brian to reject you, are you?’

‘Of course not! I just have to find a way to stop thinking about him.’

Only I was thinking about him again already.

‘So your only real option is to make a list of his fatal flaws and kick him off the pedestal without being his girlfriend. You have put him on a pedestal, you know.’

I gave Nathan a resigned smile, then tried to list Ryan’s shortcomings in my head. Within seconds, I was back at the wine bar with him, having our third imaginary drink.

‘Tell me your deepest, darkest faults,’ I said as I leant towards him.

‘Only if you tell me yours first’, Ryan replied, making me laugh.

What was I doing? How could I be having another Ryan fantasy already?

‘So you have to do an assignment, right?’ Nathan said, picking up the handout that was in my notepad.


‘So you do it on curing love addiction and write twenty pages on Brian’s flaws.’

‘Very funny.’

‘Or maybe you’ll get a lucky break and he’ll be retrenched tomorrow.’

The thought of never seeing Ryan again suddenly sent a chill down my spine, despite it being the one sure way I could get over him.

‘Odyssey won’t retrench him. He makes them too much money,’ I said. ‘But if I survive the restructure, I’ll use my obsessiveness to get over him, not into him. I have to. Otherwise it won’t just be Gran’s ring I’ll be accidently throwing away — it’ll be another year of my life!

About the Author:Sara Donovan is a corporate facilitator and instructional designer who delivers training programs in neuroscience and communication skills. She draws inspiration for her writing from psychology, science and her accidental romcom life.

Buy the book at Amazon.

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  1. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

  2. I do remember! I loved the movies ever since I was a kid and was intrigued and even envious of the writer who had created the story and characters more than I was of the movie stars that acted in the movie. I wanted that skill from the time I was pretty young.


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