And finally, I chatted a bit about my writing—how much I steal from real life, my totally nonexistent plans for world domination, etc.—with Cynthia Woolf.
What genre(s) do you write in and why?
To this point, all of my published books are contemporary romantic comedies. Which surprises people who know my background, since I earned my M.A. in American History and worked as both a history teacher and a costumed interpreter at Colonial Williamsburg. Historical romance might seem like a better fit, but…I’m a perfectionist. Also a tiny bit lazy. I would be paralyzed by the prospect of getting the historical details wrong, but unwilling to put in the extensive research required to make sure that didn’t happen. So contemporary romance turned out to be a better fit for me, especially since I love making pop culture references in my writing.
I’ve also written a futuristic romance, but it’s much darker than my contemporary romances. I’ll eventually publish it as the first in a series under another pen name (Olivia Dart), just because it’s so different from my other work.
Tell us about your current series.
Ready to Fall is the fourth book in my Lovestruck Librarians series. Each of the books focuses on a different librarian in the Nice County Public Library system, which is located in the heart of rural Maryland. And the heroines are all friends, so they invade each other’s stories on a regular basis.
Although the books can stand alone, I think people who read all of them will enjoy the callbacks and connections with other stories. At least, I hope so!
What is your next project and when will it be released?
The fifth book in my series, Driven to Distraction, will come out in January 2017. I had a fantastic time writing it, since the dynamic between Constance (the Bookmobile manager) and Sam (the library’s hot IT expert) is so much fun.
The two of them meet for the first time in the margins of the third book, Mayday, and their attraction is both immediate and intense. So is their bickering. In Driven to Distraction, I stick them together in the tight confines of the Bookmobile for a week and watch all their defenses against one another crumble to dust. Like I said: great fun. I hope readers love the story too!
How likely are people you meet to end up in your next book?
Most of my characters are totally and completely fictional, made up whole cloth from my imagination. But on occasion, I do get inspired by someone I know or someone I meet. That said, I never take people from my life and insert them wholesale into a manuscript. I usually swipe a certain characteristic or a particular experience they had.
For example, a good friend of mine looks very sweet and innocent. But her e-reader contains the filthiest erotica I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Like, hilariously filthy. The first time we looked at each other’s e-book libraries, I was in the midst of asking whether she was offended by graphic sex scenes when I saw the titles and covers of some of her books.
Within a matter of seconds, I went from saying, “Is this ménage story a bridge too far for you?” to “No bridge ever created in the history of humanity would ever be too far for you. Damn, woman.” And a very similar scene takes place in a book I wrote between librarian manuscripts.
I hope my friend forgives me. Sorry, J***!
What is most difficult for you to write? Characters, conflict or emotions? Why?
External conflict—something from the outside that keeps the hero and heroine apart, rather than simply their pasts, their fears, or their disparate desires—can prove difficult for me.
I love writing internal conflict. When I’m reading someone else’s book, that’s what I’ll remember—the emotional journey of the central couple, rather than the specifics of the plot. So I sometimes overlook the external conflict issue until my critique partner, Mia Sosa, reads the opening of my manuscript.
Her: “But what’s actually keeping them apart, besides their fears?”
Her: [waits patiently]
What do you have planned for the future?
::clears throat:: Please ignore that. Just a slip of the tongue.
Since I’m totally not planning to conquer the Earth, I’m excited about starting a new series soon! After binge-watching way too much HGTV during a bout with bronchitis in January, I plotted out several novellas loosely inspired by various shows on that channel.
I mean, don’t you want David and Hilary from Love It Or List It to make out? Of course you do! And I’m going to make that happen for you. (Fictionally, at least. I can’t actually force the real people to french each other, despite my wishes.) It’s going to be glorious and ever so naughty.