Note: This post originally appeared on USATodayHEA, Feb. 2017
Please tell us a bit about your new release.
Heating It Up: A Red Hot Russians Novella is the latest installment in my current series, and is the story of Alexei Zaikov and Nora Bradford, who team up to save their small, close-knit community of Amity Bay. What makes this story unique is that Amity Bay is actually a research station in Antarctica. But while the setting is unusual, fans of small-town romance will feel right at home.
What’s coming next (or what are you working on now)? (This question will go at the end of the interview.)
I’m busy writing the fourth full-length novel in the series, which releases in September. Shining Through returns to the world of competitive figure skating and features Russian bad-boy skater Daniil Andreev, who was Misha’s nemesis in Getting It Back. Daniil meets his match in Tabitha Turner, the golden girl of American figure skating, who’s eager to take a walk on the wild side.
What inspires your book ideas?
I’m always drawn to stories that I’d like to read, but that no one else is writing. It’s what led me to write a sports romance series about sexy male figure skaters, and with Heating It Up, to set a warm-hearted small town romance in an unlikely place.
Is there anything funny/strange/interesting/choose-your-adjective that’s happened to you while doing research for a book?
I’m a big fan of using maps to help me understand my settings and bring them to life, but Antarctica is so vast and empty, it was hard to get my head around it. So I improvised a lot more than I typically do with a setting. Though I did use photos of several other stations, Amity Bay is totally my invention. When I had the manuscript reviewed by two educators who’ve been to the continent several times, I was quite nervous, but to my immense relief, they told me I’d portrayed pretty accurately.
Do you have any particular rituals that help you get into the writing frame of mind?
Last year, I discovered a series of guided meditations created especially for writers, The Voice of the Muse, by Mark David Gershon. I downloaded the recordings and listen to one almost every morning. It helps me focus and be more relaxed about my writing and my process.
Do you write by the seat of your pants (pantser), or do you carefully plot your stories (plotter)? Has that changed at any point in your career or maybe it changes depending on the book? (You can treat this as one question.)
Over time, I’ve become much more of a plotter and find I really enjoy the process of thinking through the plot, romance and character arc beats, and I feel much more confident going into the first draft. While it’s still a lot of work to turn clunky first-draft writing into the story I’ve envisioned, I now use most or all of the scenes I planned, rather than having to cut out huge chunks of the story because I followed extraneous plot and character threads that went nowhere.
Is there a TV show that you’ve recently binge-watched?
Stranger Things on Netflix was awesome, and I can’t wait for Season 2. I’m also a big fan of This is Us, Colony, and The Americans. Fortunately, they seem to air at different times, otherwise, I wouldn’t have time to watch them all.
Do you have a pet that hangs out with you while you’re working? (Feel free to include a picture!)
My sweet kitty, Mango, is the perfect writing companion. She often lays on my desk, under the lamp, and if I’m really lucky, she’ll settle in my lap while I’m working. Occasionally, she gets interested in the keyboard, so I’m careful to save my work often.
Do you listen to music while you write? What are some tunes on your playlist?
I create playlists for each book, to listen to when I’m writing. Heating It Up’s includes songs specifically mentioned in the story, like the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun,” and “Is This Love” by Bob Marley and The Wailers, upbeat, warm-weather songs like “Castaway” by the Zac Brown Band, and songs that connect to the story in other ways.
I don’t suppose you’d want to share a picture of you with your ’80s or ’90s hair or perhaps a prom picture?
Why not? This is my engagement picture from 1989, complete with frizz. Since I have naturally wavy hair, big 1980s perms didn’t work well for me!
Red Hot Russian Alexei is king of the Ice…Antarctic style
Alexei Zaikov loves his life in remote Amity Bay, Antarctica, until a new luxury guesthouse threatens the community’s future. As head of Amity Bay, he’s driven to save it, but first must discover who is hiding out in the supposedly deserted lodge…and why.
Nora Bradford has lost everything; a promising career and the man she loved. Glacier Ridge Lodge, the architectural masterpiece she designed but was denied credit for, seems like the perfect place to grieve her loss, until a ruggedly handsome Russian arrives on her doorstep, determined to bring her in from the cold.
Desire sparks, leaving them hungry for more. But will the truth about Nora’s role in Amity Bay’s demise, doom their romance?
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