Today it is our pleasure to welcome authors Jane Graves and Christie Craig. So sit back and enjoy.
MBA: Tell our readers a little about yourself?
JG: My husband and I live in the kind of house a real estate agent would call a “midcentury bungalow.” We call it a 1950s crackerbox.
Years ago, I went all the way through pre-med, intending to become a doctor. Unfortunately, what I learned in those classes is no help whatsoever in my current career as a romance author. I do, however, find all kinds of humor in the physics-related jokes on The Big Bang Theory.
We have one cat. Considering how obnoxiously intrusive she is, we’re fortunate there’s not two of her.
My husband and I go out to dinner almost every night of the week. Fortunately, we live in a Dallas suburb where 90 languages are spoken and there are cheap Thai, Chinese, and Indian restaurants on every street corner.
I do most of my romance reading while sitting at my desk during the hours when I’m supposed to be writing my own romance novels. They make the most wonderful procrastination devices. How dare another author write something I can’t put down! Don’t they know they’re holding up my livelihood?
MBA: What made you write “Heartstrings and Diamond Rings”?
JG: After creating the character of Alison Carter, Heather Montgomery’s best friend in Tall Tales and Wedding Veils, I knew one day I’d be writing her story. She’s a funny, self-deprecating person who, in spite of the challenges she faces in the romance department, is still an eternal optimist, which makes her the kind of character readers might enjoy spending three or four hundred pages with.
So then I had to start thinking about how she’d find her Mr. Right, since it had always been such a challenge for her. Just as Alison might, I brainstormed all the avenues—speed dating, blind dates, Internet dating—asking myself if there was a story there. And then I thought about matchmaking. My first inclination was to make the matchmaker a woman, but if there’s anything I’ve learned as a writer, it’s that I should never go with my first inclination. Then I thought, what if her matchmaker was the hero? There are all kinds of stories out there about women who are matchmakers for men, but I don’t know that I’ve ever seen those roles reversed. So I came up with a plausible reason why a man might take on that profession and made that the premise for Heartstrings and Diamond Rings.
MBA: Is “Heartstrings and Diamond Rings” something of a Cinderella story to you?
JG: Absolutely. I love the idea of the plain Jane who catches the eye of the handsome hero she assumes is out of her reach. But it’s not just the heroine’s reaction to the hero that makes the story. It’s that moment when the tables turn and the hero realizes just how wonderful the heroine is. But he can’t understand it. She is not his kind of woman. He comes up with every reason in the book why he’s spending all the time with her he can (except the obvious, of course) and when he’s not with her, he can’t stop thinking about her. He’s falling in love and doesn’t even realize it.
MBA: E-books or print books for you?
JG: Both! I love print books and thought I’d be a “print books only” person from now on—until I discovered just how easy it is to download a book and start reading. Of course, that’s a double‑edged sword. When all I have to do is hit a few buttons to buy a book, I shatter my book buying budget every single month.
MBA: What is on the horizon for you, a few tidbits into any future stories?
JG: I’m happy to announce that I’ll be doing two more books for Grand Central Publishing. They’re the start of a new series that’s set in a small fictional town in the Texas hill country. I can’t say much more about it right now, except that the books will have the tone of my previous stories—humorous, a little edgy, but ultimately heartwarming—with a premise that involves pets in an integral way. The stories will be set against the backdrop of a close-knit community populated by a quirky but engaging cast of characters, both human and animal. Watch my website for release dates!
A note from Jane Graves:
Plano, Texas is a perfect setting for my series because it’s an exercise in contrast, just as my characters are. In West Plano, people live in McMansions, drive Lexus SUVs, drink a lot of Starbucks coffee, and play a lot of golf. West Plano is upper-class Texas living with a sprinkle of glitter and a swimming pool in every backyard. East Plano used to be home only to blue collar folks who live in fifty-year-old tract homes with pickup trucks out front. Then the light rail came through and connected Plano to downtown Dallas, and the old downtown area was revitalized with trendy condos, restaurants, and bars. East Plano is middle-class Texas living with a touch of urban cool.
Alison Carter from HEARTSTRINGS AND DIAMOND RINGS owns a condo in downtown Plano, while the hero of that book, Brandon Scott, lives in a Victorian house on the edge of downtown he inherited from his grandmother. Because of its diversity, Plano, Texas gives me a great opportunity to show who my characters are by where they choose to live.
And now please welcome author Christie Craig, author of DON’T MESS WITH TEXAS
MBA: What made you what to write Western romance?
CC: Well, my books are set in Texas and I live in Texas. While the books aren’t set on ranches, that Old West attitude comes across in my characters. By that, I mean they’re a little hard-headed, they don’t mind getting down and dirty when they have to, and they speak their minds–sometimes too quickly, which results in a good ol’ foot in the mouth situation that readers of my books have come to expect. But mostly these characters just let their hearts guide them. Now, those hearts might be a little scarred and scuffed like a worn pair of cowboy boots, but those hearts are made of gold. And once you win them over, they’ll never let you down. I love old fashion loyalty, and hard working, bold people, who are generally found in a lot of Western stories, and my characters fit in that arena.
MBA:What is on the horizon for you, a few tidbits on future stories?
CC: I’m really excited about Hotter in Texas, my new trilogy for Grand Central/Forever. I just finished Blame it on Texas, book two. And I had a blast. Tyler Lopez is the smart guy of the three PIs. Not that he likes to be thought of as smart. As a matter of fact, his penchant for reading and puzzle solving is something he’d just as soon hide. But one look at the mysterious, but slightly familiar-looking redhead who he finds behind his desk fumbling through his case files, and he’s confounded. Not only can he not read her, but Zoe Adams is a puzzle he’s determined to solve. Unfortunately, before he can unravel the mystery, she manages to slip away.
When he finds her later and learns she thinks she’s the kidnapped granddaughter of a multi-millionaire client of their PI business, Tyler’s pretty certain that Zoe’s bra size is larger than her IQ. Doesn’t she know that kidnapping case went cold after the child’s body was found over twenty years ago? But when someone starts taking pot shots at Zoe, Tyler’s not so sure of anything anymore, especially his feeling for the his newest client. He’s sworn off love, but his heart’s not listening. And neither is Zoe.
MBA: If you could change anything what would it be?
CC: Oh, that one’s easy—my height. I’m 4’11” in my stocking feet, so in my next life, I’m going to be six feet tall. Seriously, I think we all have details in the stories of our lives that we wish we could rewrite. If only our lives were a first draft that we could just go in and tweak and fix things the way a writer does her stories. But ultimately, I would probably pass on the do-over. I think we are who we are because of the experiences we’ve had, both the good ones and the bad ones. For example, if I hadn’t known bad love, would I have recognized good when it came along? If my work hadn’t been rejected in the beginning of my career, would I have worked so hard to be the writer I am now? If I didn’t have dyslexia, which makes spelling and such so hard for me to master, would I have the intuitiveness about people that seems to help me in writing believable characters? So I guess, I’ll take the cards that’s been dealt to me, and be the best I can.
MBA Tell our readers a little about yourself?
CC: I’m a short, southern gal who enjoys good wine, good chocolate, and a good belly laugh. I love writing with a passion. I have a hubby who is my true-life hero, two kids, and the cutest granddaughter who knows exactly where I keep my candy stash in my office. (She thinks it’s actually her candy stash; I don’t have the heart to tell her that I have a sweet tooth, too.) If I have a motto in life, it’s the one passed down to me by my parents: If you can laugh at it, you can live with it. And with the crazy bunch I live with—a husband who starts two fires in less than a week while trying to learn to weld, a son who goes fishing and accidentally catches a goose, and while trying to get the hook out of the goose, gets flocked by the other geese—well, let’s just say we laugh a lot in the Craig household.
MBA: Where do you see e-books going in the future? E-books or Print for You?”
CC: Well, from what I’ve seen with my own book sales, the trend seems to be flowing more toward the e-book market right now. I personally love holding a print book. I love the smell of a new book, love the excitement of sitting down with a paperback and reading. But I’m not going to fight technology. I have my Kindle and have been acquiring a few titles for that.
Thank you so much. And I hope your readers enjoy Don’t Mess With Texas and I’ll leave you guys with my motto for a good life: laugh, love, read.
Christie Craig presents: 15 Things you’ll learn from Don’t Mess With Texas that might surprise you
- Never, ever feed a dog broccoli.
- You might be surprised how the weight of a dead body in the trunk of your car can go unnoticed.
- Don’t ever joke about killing your ex . . . in front of witnesses.
- In the right situation, vomiting on someone can endear them to you.
- When a good-looking detective steals your underwear, he may not be a pervert; he could just be looking for blood splatter evidence.
- Some men think hospital gowns are sexy, especially when a breeze comes by and a detective already stole your underwear.
- When your grandmother is getting more action than you are, something’s not right with that picture.
- Bed bugs are nasty little creatures but they can come in handy when trying to get someone to fall back in love with you.
- In the right set of circumstances, morphine can be an aphrodisiac.
- The consumption of five cupcakes when your heart is hurting is not always a bad thing.
- The way a couple shares an ice cream cone tell the viewing public if they’re sharing bodily fluids.
- Nothing can bring all the unresolved issues to the surface in a romance more than finding a naked woman in your boyfriend’s bedroom.
- The journey to fall in love isn’t all sweetness and light; it can also have its darker moments where you hurt like hell but it’s still a journey that makes life worth living.
- Love can make you laugh so hard you pee in your pants, but it can also make you feel like as though a pit bull just used your heart as a chew toy.
- Things really are hotter in Texas.