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Second Fiddle - Meg Chronis

Tell us about your writing career

Since I was a girl, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I did an English Lit degree and got into magazine publishing straight out of university, and soon after that, went off on my own as a freelance writer, editor and publication manager.

I’ve spent over two decades writing magazine features, thousands of press releases, website copy, you name it. Several years ago though, I set about changing lanes to become the sort of writer I’d always dreamed of being: an author.

It’s been a long up-hill journey learning the craft of novel writing. My first rom-com was really a testing ground for everything I was learning, and has been consigned to a bottom drawer.

My second rom-com, The Seven Day Switch, won the ROSA Strelitzia Award for best unpublished romance novel in 2019, and landed me a literary agent.

Why did you choose to write romance?

When I was younger, I loved horror, and devoured everything written by Stephen King and Dean R Koontz. I also loved fantasy: Raymond E. Feist and Ursula Le Guin and the unmatchable Sir Terry Pratchett.

But for a long while now, I’ve loved nothing more than escaping into Romancelandia where I get to fall head over heels for a gorgeous book boyfriend. Rom-coms are a natural fit for me, because they’re perfectly suited to my naturally sarcastic voice and irreverent view of the world.

What is the name of your story in the anthology?

Second Fiddle.


Intern Sophie James is one weekend and one glamorous safari wedding in the South African bush away from becoming a permanent member of the Star Weddings team. All she needs to do is not mess up.

But booking a wedding string quartet that turns up minus a first violinist would definitely count as messing up. A problem which could easily be solved, since Sophie knows her way around a violin. Except a long time ago, she packed away her instrument for a very good reason, and no way is she going to step in now, not even if it means the end of her fledgling career.

So it’s a good thing she finds herself in the right place at the right time to rescue the delectable—and heaven-sent—violinist Nate Holt from a baboon that’s holding him captive in his shower, giving her all the leverage she needs to twist his talented arm to play for the quartet.

Which should be problem solved for Sophie, if life wasn’t so determined to force her to confront what happened all those years ago. Once she finds out who Nate really is, will she be able to put aside past failures and future fears, to take hold of a present she didn’t even know she wanted?

What was your inspiration for this story?

I was asked to write a story using Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love” as inspiration. It felt like a grand-gesture sort of song to me, perfect for a super romantic declaration, the kind we all love to read at the end of romances. So I actually worked backwards for this story; I saw the swoon-worthy final scene in my head, and went from there.

What kind of research did you do, and how long did you spend researching before beginning this story?

This story has a cast of violinists and animals from the South African bush. I’m an amateur violinist and have played in ensembles and informal orchestras, so I know the classical violin world quite well. I did watch hours and hours of the phenomenal Ray Chen doing what he does best, and get to call it work, so that was a bonus!

As for the wildlife, like many South Africans, I’ve had my share of encounters with baboons, so writing a meet-cute involving a shower and a massive chacma or Cape baboon was easy enough! (Trust me, those guys are super intimidating...the fangs!)

How long did it take you before you began writing this story and then, how long did it take then to complete?

I was busy doing revisions on my standalone rom-com at the time, so I didn’t write this novella in a straight line, so to speak. It took a couple of months, I’d say.

How do you select the names of your characters?

Usually names just come to me; a character will just feel like his or her name. For this novella, the heroine, Sophie, was named after the world-famous violinist Anne Sophie Mutter...her father wanted to get in on the self-fulfilling prophesy vibe. The hero, Nate Holt, well, I don’t want to give away too much about him, but suffice to say I wanted a name that was catchy and sexy.

Once I have the name, the character starts to become real in my head, like an actual person that I know.

How do you like to collect and organise your ideas?

Sometimes I think I only became a writer so I could justify my out-of-control fetish for pencils and notebooks! I have a notebook per book project for writing down initial thoughts (in pencil, of course). As I research online, I save useful info to Evernote (great app!) and straight into Scrivener, the writing program I use (a fantastic tool for writers!) where I can access it easily when I write.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I definitely prefer to plot out a story before I start writing, which isn’t always a good thing, since at times I overthink things. I try to work out the story as far as possible before I start writing, but after a while, I just want to get going, plot holes and all, so then I do wing it or ‘pants’ a bit. While I write, things change as I learn new things about the characters, or I stumble upon a far better plot idea than I’d already thought up.

Author bio:

Meg Chronis writes sassy, funny, feel-good rom-coms that promise humorous hijinks and heartwarming happily-ever-afters.

She lives in Johannesburg, South Africa, with her engineering husband who is a steadfast supporter of her dreams, brings tea without being asked, and never objects to finding another rom-com cued for viewing on Netflix. She has two teenage daughters who readily give input on fixing plot snarls, make (more) tea, and educate their mother on the ways of social media.

Meg is an amateur violinist, has become—much to her non-sporty surprise—a total fan-girl for MotoGP motorcycle racing, and posts far too many photos of her Yorkshire terriers on Instagram. (Who can blame her? They’re super cute.)

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