Interview with Stu Reardon
©Jane Harvey-Berrick, 2019
Stuart Reardon is a rare figure in the world of romance novels—he’s a man, he’s a cover model, a fitness trainer, a photographer and videographer, and he’s reached the highest level of professional rugby it’s possible to achieve, having played for his country. So how do all those fascinating and diverse parts fit together?
Q Do you remember any books you read as a kid?
Pinocchio. Because it taught me never to tell lies—I didn’t want a big nose.
Q What books did you read to your son when he was young?
Bob the Builder was one, but mostly I made up stories for him. He used to love them, and I have a good imagination—some were based in reality, some fantasy.
Q What’s the book you most wish you’d written?
And now I have Jesus-hair…
Q When did you start to feel like a writer?
I still don’t. Maybe after a few more books, or a world tour, signing books in every capital city!
Q What has writing taught you?
Everyone has a story in them.
Or possibly … never let the truth get in the way of a good story.
Q What is the most rewarding part of being a writer?
Meeting my amazing my co-author Jane Harvey-Berrick. A class act.
And then all the great places we’ve visited and the fantastic people we’ve met.
Q What do you want to achieve?
In life? Hmm, interesting. I don’t know… does anyone know their purpose?
I’d like world peace, to end famine, and for everybody to live together in peace and harmony. [said like a beauty pageant contenstant]
No, seriously, my personal goals? To get to a place where I’m comfortable in life, financially, too: a simple life with Emma. She works a lot of hours.
Q What is your favourite reader experience, either in messages or at a Gift Box event?
When they write and say that the story resonated with them. One reader from Samoa had a brother who was a professional rugby player and he got injured. She said Undefeated reminded her of him, and it made her very emotional. I felt very proud then of what we’d written.
I’ve been to Brazil three times now and every time I enjoy it. Roberta and the girls at Gift Box have become friends. They really took a lot of time and showed us around Brazil. We’ve been to Roberta’s family home, too. By far the best people I’ve met in this business.
Q What is your philosophy in life?
Say yes more than no.
Q Describe yourself in three words.
Q How would your best friend describe you?
No, calm, collected … no wait … a good person. A crazy good person!
Q If you were an animal, what would you be?
A lion. An old, scarred, battle-hardened lion.
Q Most likely to say…
“Don’t be grumpy, Fran!”
Q Least likely to say…
The correct pronunciation of anything Portuguese when I’m in Brazil!
Q What makes you angry?
People who are mean.
Q What makes you swear? Because I’ve never heard you swear. Do you save it for when you’re with guy friends?
Sometimes. I don’t feel the need. It can be aggressive. If someone gets aggressive with me, I can get aggressive back, it’s a sign of anger.
Q In Brazil, you shared a hotel room with Franggy Yanes. What’s he like as a roommate?
He’s cool. A good guy. I’ve known him four or five years now, and on trips I always share with him, so it’s easy for me now.
He’s my brother from another mother.
Q What did you think the first time you met him?
I thought he was a cool guy, a bit hard to read. But then again, the first time we met, I don’t think he understood anything I said because of my accent!
It’s easy to get on with him. He’s a good person, he’s helped me.
Sometimes he needs time on his own, but I think that’s true of all of us.
Q Who spends longest getting ready?
Fran will say me! I’m always late! He says, “I’m not waiting for you anymore,” and walks out the room. But that’s because he always gets in the shower first.
Q Who’s the messiest/tidiest?
He’s not messy, and I’m not either. Although Emma would said I’m messy! We’re both really tidy but our girlfriends wouldn’t say the same.
Q You’re working on a photographic book project with Fran. What’s that been like? What have you learned?
It was really cool. Every time I’ve met him he’s taught me loads. How to shoot, how to use my camera properly, frame rate, shutter speed, the technical side. He helped me with editing and to set up my light room. How to correct things, composition—just a lot. Every time we meet, he teaches me more.
Q What is it about photography that you love?
The creative side: something that looks good, it’s timeless, the originality of it.
Q What is your favourite colour and why?
Black and white, probably black. I wear a lot of black—it makes my muscles look big [laughs].
Q When you’re having a bad day, what cheers you up?
I listen to music or an audio book, see Emma. Usually, I can snap myself out of it. You have to put it in context—there are a lot people worse off than me. I’m pretty harsh on myself.
Q What would be your ideal day? Where would you be? Who would you be with?
Lying on a beach in an all-inclusive hotel!
Bora Bora or Mauritius, or in one of the wooden huts, relaxing and chilling for a week. Then I’d start taking pictures.
I don’t really take many holidays. That’s why the first week would just be about relaxing. If I’m photographing, I’m thinking about that—it’s nice just to recharge and enjoy somewhere with Emma.
Q You’ve probably already answered this, but mountains and snow, or beaches and sunshine?
I like mountains and snow, too, but that would be about climbing and skiing, whereas a beach is just relaxing.
Q Do you think writers are different to other people? Are we observers? Creators?
Everybody has something they want to do, something they’re passionate about, but writers and photographers are always thinking about what they’re going to create next. Some people are creative with cooking—it’s what you’re interested in. People have different passions—that’s what drives you.
Q Have you ever written with a friend? What was the experience like? How did it differ from writing by yourself? What were the pros and cons?
Pros: she’s great! And it’s less stress than writing a book by yourself.
Cons: I can’t think of any. Oh, wait! The other author always wants to be on the cover. [Stu laughs, Jane doesn’t]
There’s so much to writing, so much more than just the plot. The flow is really important, the highs and lows, the characters. There’s more than people know about, I think.
Q Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?
Hopefully still alive! With my family with Emma in a nice house, more freedom. Yeah, maybe near a beach or in the country—you can get both at the same time in England. I think I’d probably still be in England, although there was a time when I wanted to live in Spain, but there are lots of great places here in the UK.
I used to think that far ahead but I don’t really now.
Q What message would you like to give to the people who read your books?
Thank you for the support. I hope the books inspire you and that you enjoy them.
Q Looking back at everything that you’ve achieved, how does it make you feel?
I’m proud of the stuff I’ve done. I think I could have done better. I could have had a better rugby career but I got injured a lot. If I could change anything, it would be that.
I’ve definitely always tried my best.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing. If we all had that, we could all live perfect lives. I’m proud of what I’ve done but there’s more to do.
I had some good times playing for my home town, playing for my country. Not bad for a skinny kid from Bradford.
Q What’s next for you?
A famous YouTuber! No, an established photographer and videographer with YouTube as my platform. I don’t have a foolproof plan yet, but I’m going to try and make that happen. I don’t class myself as a photographer yet, but I will be able to soon.
And I’m going to climb every mountain in the UK this year. Because I want to be proud of what I created, and I’m making videos as I do it. This Christmas, I thought I’d create things that I want to do, that I can be proud of.
I’m cutting back on travelling this year—so I’ll climb every mountain instead. I’m going to try and do one or two a week.
The biggest ones in the Lake District and Scotland will be in the summer time.
And I’m writing a book called Gym Or Chocolate? It’s going to be a bestseller!
There’s so much going on under that easy-going smile and beautiful eyes. Don’t underestimate the enigmatic and charismatic Mr. Reardon.