Come on in! Grab your cup of java and come sit around the kitchen table with Harlequin Superromance author Liz Talley. There's plenty of room (it's a Texas size table ;)), and what better place to hang out and gossip about romance. In particular, the latest romance heating up in Oak Stand, Texas. Liz introduced us to the small town full of big hearts with her first Superromance, Vegas Two Step, back in 2010. I've been hooked by her voice, humor, and sexy take on Supers ever since. I'm not one bit surprised that she was a Golden Heart finalist in 2009. One taste of a Talley romance, and I know you'll be coming back for more!
I'll stop gabbing now (it's the caffeine rush) and get on with the questions. Be sure to ask some of your own. We've got time, plenty of coffee, and...heck...we're in a kitchen, so I'm sure we can dig up some snacks too ;).
1. Congratulations on the release of A Taste of Texas! The folks in Oak Stand, Texas sure know how to cook up some romance ;). Okay. Okay. I know it's a fictional town, and you're really the one behind the brewing. I'm just glad I get to savor the results. And I bet your latest hero is happy to taste test anything your heroine, professional chef Rayne Rose, cooks up. I don't care if it's the hero or the heroine, I'll order any story (movie or book) that involves a chef. What is it that makes chefs (of both sexes) so appealing in romances?
2. Well, I have to say that you take the cake on secret ingredients. In A Taste of Texas, Brent Hamilton, who played Oak Stand's ex-jock, cocky contractor in the first three books, turns out to be a closet author of none other than a sports series for young boys. You stirred a few more secrets into those first pages, but I don't want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't read it yet. From page one, you introduced a side of him that took me by surprise and made me want more. I actually felt guilty for having had preconceived notions about him...for judging him too quickly in the previous books. What was it about Brent that had you wanting to dig in? What's your method...character interview questions, casual conversations in your head, or something else?
You know in the first book, Brent was a plot device…very much a stereotype. But I love to take a stereotype and show him to be something more. When I thought about successive books, I discarded him at first. He was slimy. Ugh. But then one day I wondered why. Why was he such a man whore? And then my imagination took off. Like the Regency rake so many want to tame, I wanted to bring him to Texas in 2010. Could he be reformed? And by who?
3. Bubba, Bubba, Bubba (said with a grin while shaking my head). For any of you new to Liz's books, you have got to meet Bubba. He's the character of characters, though 'cream of the crop' would not quite describe him. He's certainly not 'gourmet', nor is he 'spicy'. He (cough, cough) does appreciate food though. He's probably the best, warmest comfort food you can think of...with a heart that's a Texas sized gold nugget. For all his rough edges, I'd consider marrying the teddy bear, but I'm married. Will Bubba be getting his HEA? Single, small town women everywhere want to know :).
Well, I had to give Bubba a woman. Just had to. Everyone seems to love him and we women do like to make sure everyone is loved. I wanted to give him a sweetheart…but she ended up very atypical of what a good ol’ boy would like. She’s a tart-tongued, semi-Goth assistant to Rayne Rose. She even has a nose ring and wears ridiculous boots, scoffing left and right at everything small town. But if anyone can teach her the delights of cow tipping and bass fishing, it’s Bubba. BTW, in the last book (A Touch of Scarlet) you’ll find out his real name!
4. Do you have a secret recipe, ingredient, or technique for serving up a synopsis well-done? Forks and knives are pounding the tables! Anything? Microwaving? Tupperware? Doesn't tupperware fix all problems?
Ah, the synopsis. Bane of a writer’s existence. When I first started, I worked like the devil to interject my voice in my synopsis while giving the editor or agent what she needed – a story with tight plot and engrossing characters. I think it’s important to be consistent with your voice in a synopsis. If you write dark and suspenseful, allow that to carry over. If your voice is light and chicklit, make sure you bleed some color into the overall story. Otherwise, it won’t be YOU. Only other hint - map it out and make sure you have GMC for each character…gotta show growth.
5. Call stories to aspiring authors are like fresh ingredients to gourmet chefs...they're inspiring and you always want more. We're ordering up your Call story!
Every writer loves a call story, doesn’t he/she? I certainly do. Let’s see. It was a Friday, and I had been out running errands with my hubbie. We got in and unloaded groceries. I popped some leftover veggie pizza in the microwave because I was starving, and checked the messages. When I saw Harlequin Enterprises on the caller id, my heart dropped into my toes. I tried to dial voice messaging, but mistakenly called the number. The receptionist answered and I said, “Oh, God. I didn’t mean to do that. Um. Wrong number. Sorry” and then I hung up so embarrassed. I finally listened to the message. Wanda Ottewell wanted me to call her back! Gulp. I ran to my office ignoring my husband who kept calling out, “What are you doing?” Wanda answered, we did some idle chitchat, then she said, “Amy (which is my real name) can I call you right back? I’m in the middle of something.” To which I stammered. “Okay.” So an hour later, after I’d been to the bathroom four times and taken a Xanax, she called back. She told me she wanted to contract the book, all the terms, delivery dates, etc. I dutifully wrote them down. Finally she said, “You have been so calm.” To which I said, “Thanks. I took a xanax.” LOL.
6. What's the one thing you did (other than not quitting) that you feel played a critical role in landing you your first book contract? Any words of wisdom for aspiring authors?
I behaved like I was a successful author. I made writing a priority, setting aside time as if it were a job. I also entered contests and went to conferences. I never passed up an opportunity to pitch to an editor or agent, I got a critique partner, and I printed up business cards. And most importantly, I imagined myself being successful. I found a fortune in a fortune cookie that read: If you can form it in your mind, you can create it in your life. I made that my motto for writing. So, overall, I think attitude matters.
7. After A Touch of Scarlet (October 2011), you're taking us out of Oak Stand, Texas and down to Southern Louisiana in a new series called The Boys of Bayou Bridge, due out Fall 2012. Can you throw us some bait? 'Cause I can't wait!
Well, of course. This series follows the three Dufrene brothers – Nate, Abram and Darby- as they embark upon the pursuit of romance. Of course, they don’t know they are pursing romance. LOL. Nate is a detective who must track down a threat against a Hollywood director’s son with the help of a certain pragmatic (and sexy) undercover nanny, Annie Perez. LSU football tight ends coach Abram has to pursue an elusive blue chipper recruit, but has to penetrate the defense of Lou Boyd to get to him. Lou drives a front end loader, but has a set of legs on her that has Abram pursuing the wrong Boyd. And then Navy lawyer Darby discovers he’s been hitched to his childhood sweetheart since they were teens. The wild Renny isn’t an ideal attorney’s wife for a high profile Seattle firm, but when Darby goes back to Bayou Bridge to dissolve the marriage and meet his long lost twin sister, he discovers just how perfect the wildlife and fisheries agent fits him. The whole series has a separate story entwined throughout all three books – the homecoming of Della Dufrene, the sister who everyone thought murdered.
8. It's all about internal conflict and being forced to make a choice ;). Your turn to choose. Hot, savory, sexy southern Louisiana main course...or one of their sweet, seductive, french caressed desserts?
Both. I want it all! Can’t you tell?
9. Now Louisiana is known for its unique culture and flavors. I never tried gator while I lived there, but I do remember how, during crawfish season, every gas station had a stand where you could buy boiled crawfish while filling your tank. Do you have any unique/quirky writing habits and/or a favorite deadline snack?
Not really. I like it quiet or if there is noise around me, I prefer the Starbucks variety. Coffee inspires me. I drink about a pot of coffee every day. I like it with sweet-n-low and cream, preferably hazelnut liquid creamer. I could probably lose weight if I’d give up the cream.
Oh, and the whole idea of Louisiana cooking being awesome is so very true. If you want a good vacation…a romantic getaway…go to New Orleans. Get a room in a nice hotel in the French Quarter. Try to go around this time of year. The weather is tolerable and it’s pretty. Then call me and I’ll recommend some restaurants. If you go to New Orleans and eat at a chain restaurant, you should be smited down. Seriously. Too many good places to choose from. It truly is my idea of a good vacation. Good food, good drinks (yeah, we drink a lot) and a fluffy bed in a city full of ambiance and character,
Thanks for having me here, Rula. Always fun to visit a friend and make new friends. That’s what I love best about the romance community. We learn so much from each other and it helps us be better writers.
Thanks for being here, Liz! It was great fun.
Blurb for A Taste of Texas:
Returning to Oak Stand, Texas, doesn't mean things haven't panned out for Rayne Rose. In fact, she's a celebrity chef so successful she desperately needs her equilibrium! Fixing up her aunt's B and B is the perfect step back. But how's Rayne supposed to get perspective with Brent Hamilton—the best friend who broke her heart—next door?
Beauty in motion. That was Brent then—and now. The boy Rayne adored has become a good-time guy…and all wrong for this widowed single mom. Still, she can't resist the different version of Brent she glimpses beneath the surface. And that taste tempts her to dig a little deeper. Because maybe what they once had could still be.
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GIVEAWAY: Liz is giving away a copy of A Taste of Texas AND a Starbucks gift card to one lucky winner! Just leave a comment and you'll be entered in the drawing. The winner will be posted here this Thursday, May 19th.