Wordy Wednesday – Interview with Author Bella Leone

I can’t tell y’all how happy I am to have the lovely Bella Leone stop by for an interview this week. See, this girl right here? Yeah, she’s kind of why I started taking writing seriously in the first place. She was my very first CP/beta, and the first person who gave me encouragement to pursue this crazy writing thing. Now, we’re celebrating the release of her first full-length novel, a M/M Adult Romance entitled DOWNPOUR. From its Goodreads blurb:

Weathering one of the fiercest storms of your life can seem almost impossible, but once you’re through it, things can be a whole lot brighter. Markus Simmons, a pre-med student who moonlights as a barista, narrates as he and his long-time crush, Clinton Stewart, learn more about themselves and what they’re willing to go through to heal and be together.

It took weeks before Markus knew his crush’s name. It took months of serving him coffee every morning before Markus learned that Clinton was an American History major. It took nearly six months into their senior year at UC Davis before Markus accidentally found out that Clinton had no family, few friends, and rather than the dorms, he actually lived in the library.

Let’s get started, my dearest Bella. When you sent me the idea for DOWNPOUR almost a year ago, I flailed like the fangirl I am. And now, here you are with your book in your hands. To say I’m excited would be the biggest understatement of the century. Can you tell the readers a little bit about the inspiration for the book?

I can’t believe it was March of 2012 that this idea came. It seems so long ago, but then again only eight months. I was hit with this idea while grocery shopping with my husband (2nd time for those keeping track. HAPPY HOUR came at the grocery too.) and while we were walking around I happened to see a homeless man who we’ve seen before walk in and head toward the Starbucks kiosk just inside the store. Before he got to the counter, a very handsome young barista came around the counter with a cup in hand and gave it to the man. They exchanged a few words and the man walked out while the barista went on to help other guests. I was just kind of dumbfounded. Immediately I texted you, Chelle, and asked what you thought and mentioned it to my husband as we walked to the check out. Both of you liked it, so I went right home and did a quick outline. I also found this picture when trying to find characters. It fits so perfectly.

28 days later, I had 55,000 words.

(Michelle note – I remember you sending me that picture! Sigh. Brings back so many memories.)

You know how I love “casting” my characters. Who do you picture as your Markus and Clint?

Markus was always African American and Japanese American in my head because that’s who I saw actually do the coffee giving. I found a guy on a modeling headshot site soon after that was quite similar and I wish I knew his name. He is so beautiful.

As for Clint, he came later. The man in the store was older – maybe by ten or more years. As my story unfolded in my head, I made him more of an equal to Mark. At first I imagined someone like Paul Walker, but he was too big. My dear writer buddy Kat introduced me to Chase Crawford and it was kismet. I’d never seen him before but he’ll forever be my Clinton Stewart with his shaggy curly blond hair and a little grin.

Jesse morphed into the love child of Paul Walker and Kellan Lutz. He’s just that all American athlete who looks better shirtless.

Peter was always Peter Facinelli from Can’t Hardly Wait or Nurse Jackie combined with David Tenent of Doctor Who fame. He must have a sweater vest though!

I love Markus because he’s such a dreamer and do-gooder. I adore Clint, even though he breaks my heart at times. What about them makes you love these guys?

Exactly what you said. Markus is a Pollyanna. He sees the good in everything. It’s why he doesn’t turn his back on Clint. It’s his drive to be a doctor. He’s just one of the good guys almost to a fault.
Clint is the underdog. I love that he went from being a prince who had everything to a pauper with nothing. He wants to be closed and bitter but he can’t. Love is in charge.

You’re what I lovingly refer to as a fluffernutter. You and I – we love the fluff. Of course, there are plenty of romances out there for readers to choose from. Tell us what makes DOWNPOUR different from the other romances.

I’d like to think it’s well written as anything published should be, but I also think it’s special because it’s based on something real. And Mark and Clint come alive. Their story is one that happens all the time. It’s a real story and a lot of the details are from real people.

DOWNPOUR has a few secondary characters who are just as amazing as the main fellas. Do we have any chance of seeing more of them in the future? 😉

Yes. The second book will be about Peter and Jesse. Writing that now. The third book will be Tyson’s story. He’s another character to fall in love with! His story is partly done and pretty angsty.

Thanks so much for stopping by, my dear. DOWNPOUR is available now!

Thank you for letting me come by for a visit! I hope you all enjoy the story!
Bella

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Interview with Author Jessa Russo

Hi guys! We’re doing things a little differently this week. Instead of Wordy Wednesday, I had the honor of interviewing the lovely Jessa Russo. Jessa is the author of EVER, which was recently released by Curiosity Quills. From its Goodreads blurb:

Seventeen-year-old Ever’s love life has been on hold for the past two years. She’s secretly in love with her best friend Frankie, and he’s completely oblivious.

Of course, it doesn’t help that he’s dead, and waking up to his ghost every day has made moving on nearly impossible.

Frustrated and desperate for something real, Ever finds herself falling for her hot new neighbor Toby. His relaxed confidence is irresistible, and not just Ever knows it. But falling for Toby comes with a price that throws Ever’s life into a whirlwind of chaos and drama. More than hearts are on the line, and more than Ever will suffer.

Some girls lose their hearts to love.

Some girls lose their minds.

Ever Van Ruysdael could lose her soul.

Hi Jessa! Thanks so much for joining us around these parts.

Hi! *waves wildly* Thanks for having me!!

First of all, I have to ask the dreaded question: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hmm. Well, that’s a very vague question. Lol! Let’s see … I’m 32 years old, a mother and wife, and I’m completely obsessed with reading YA. I find that YA books are so much more creative than anything else. What else … I’m also a huge fan of New Orleans … slightly obsessed with Ian Somerhalder … addicted to coffee (aren’t we all?) … addicted to makeup and shoes, though don’t spend much money on either … in love with all types of pasta … I love to cook but I suck at it … I love the beach but I’m scared of the water now that I’ve seen way too many scary movies … I hate clowns but love the movie IT … I think being a mom is the most important job I’ll ever have and I’m secretly terrified that I’m failing … I still don’t believe I wrote and published a book. Surreal doesn’t even begin to cover it.

How long have you been writing?

I have been writing seriously since 2009. I believe I started EVER in late 2010. We’ll just pretend those stacks of angst-filled poems from my youth don’t count. 😉

I had the pleasure of reading an ARC copy of Ever. Let me just say – wowza. What was your inspiration for writing the story?

Awww, WOWZA? That’s awesome! Truthfully, I have no idea what my inspiration was. I know that’s a terrible answer, but it’s the truth. Ever as a character had been floating around in my head for a while, but I hadn’t known what her story would be yet. Then I started writing – she lived in a house FULL of ghosts, and somehow fell in love with one of them. The ultimate case of loving a boy she couldn’t have. Eventually, I killed off a lot of my darlings, and whittled the [ghost] story down to Frankie.

If you had to describe Ever in one word, what would it be? What was your favorite part of writing her character?

Yikes. That’s a hard one. But I keep coming back to loving. Ever is full of love, whether for Frankie, or for Jessie, her mom and dad … eventually Toby. She’s a loving person. She follows her heart. Even if it leads her in the wrong direction. She’s a hopeless romantic, and she believes in true love wholeheartedly.

Do you believe that ghosts truly exist? Or do you just enjoy writing about them?

Yes. There are just too many things that can’t be explained. And too many moments in my own life where I’ve seen something that shouldn’t be there. I swear I see my dead cat walking through our house, and my mother-in-law’s house smells like cigarettes sometimes and she has never been a smoker. Just little things like that make me wonder.

If you had to dream-cast Ever, Frankie, Toby, and Jessie, who would you pick?

Ever is tough because she’s built like a real girl, and not like a model or actress – I would need someone on the shorter side, with curves. But as far as faces go, I guess Emma Roberts would be a good match. For Jessie, I’d say Amanda Seyfried or Candace Accola. Candace’s spunk as Caroline in TVD is perfect for Jessie, but Amanda Seyfried looks more like how I picture her. Toby is EASILY Alex Pettyfer. YUM. And Frankie … hmmm … another tough one. If we were casting (I wish!) I’d ask them to throw on some glasses and their hair would need to be done up in a pompadour so I could really answer this question. But without being able to do that, I’d say it’s a tie between Steven McQueen (TVD), and Matt Prokop (Geek Charming).

And now, a few quick-fires:

Favorite music?

ALL. Honestly, I love everything. To give you an example, my top favorite songs of all time are probably Golden Years by David Bowie, Stay by Shakespeare’s Sister, Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd, Neon Moon by Brooks and Dunn, and Man in the Long Black Coat by Joan Osborne (the Bob Dylan original is good too, but not my fave).

Favorite writing snack?

I don’t have one. But I do drink a lot of coffee in the morning, and that’s my best writing time, so I’ll say coffee.

Sweet or salty?

BOTH! Combine the two and I’m a happy girl.

Beach or mountains?

Beach. ALWAYS the beach. What can I say – it’s probably my Southern California upbringing.

Frankie or Toby? (And yes, you must pick one!)

Toby. Definitely Toby. But if I could combine the two of them into one amazing fictional boyfriend, that would be more fun.

Thank you again, Jessa!

EVER is now available for purchase, so grab your copy. This is one you don’t want to miss out on!

Wordy Wednesday – Interview with Author Nina Post

Happy Wednesday, everyone! As I’m sure y’all know, whenever I read a great book, I love running here to tell you guys about it. Well, today, we’re mixing it up a bit. I’m not just going to tell you about my most recent read – I had the pleasure of interviewing the author of the book!

Nina Post, the author of One Ghost Per Serving, was kind enough to sit down and answer a few of my questions.

Eric Snackerge has had a rough time lately. After being possessed by a mischievous spirit, he lost his scholarship and got blamed for a scandal that left him blacklisted from the legal profession. Now he’s working two minimum wage jobs and is desperate to show his wife and daughter that he can put his life back together — before his best-friend-turned-enemy swoops in and steals his family away.

When Eric learns about an unusual contest, he realizes that winning the grand prize will help him make his daughter’s dreams come true. But he’ll have to overcome his own self-doubt — not to mention the seemingly impossible odds — in order to achieve that goal.

However, this isn’t your run-of-the-mill sweepstakes. Everyone who eats the product develops an insatiable craving for more. Plus, the people behind the contest are dispatching everything from spy cameras to attack helicopters to make sure that Eric doesn’t get any further.

As Eric soon learns, the contest was only the first phase of a much larger plan. If the villains are successful, they will spread a dangerous supernatural pathogen throughout the food supply. But with distribution of the tainted products already underway, does Eric have what it takes to stop their plan and protect his family from being the next victims?

Hi Nina! I’m so excited to have the opportunity to interview you. You
just released your second book, One Ghost Per Serving, through
Curiosity Quills. Can you tell us a little bit about your inspiration
for the book? How did it unfold for you?

I’m thrilled to have the opportunity. Part of the inspiration for
Ghost sparked when our favorite brand of yogurt started running a
contest on the lids. I began keeping the lids in a drawer, but my
husband and I realized that despite the ridiculous number of yogurts
we bought on a monthly basis, at least one piece was always missing.
It seemed impossible to win even the most nominal prize.

Around the same time, I was reading about yokai, which are
supernatural creatures in Japanese mythology, some of which used to be
human or were inanimate objects that came to life after a certain
period of time. Many had specific roles or tasks, particularly in the
household.

I also read that people who are most susceptible to spirit possession
(not that I necessarily believe in that) have low self-esteem. So I
put my character in a support group for Spirits, Sprites, Apparitions
and Disincarnate Essences, with the tagline “Do you want to stop
possessing humans with low self-esteem and get some self-esteem of
your own?”

Your main character, Eric, has had a rough go at things thanks to his
ghostly companion. If you had to describe Eric in one word, what would
it be?

I would describe him as “self-doubting”. Sure, he lost eighteen months
of his life when he drank a free sample of POUNCE! and was possessed
by Rex, an unusually strong spirit. But his state at the beginning is
a result of not believing in himself or his abilities. He and Rex
develop a complicated possessor/possessee relationship, and Eric
doesn’t trust that Rex is actually his friend, even though he seeks
his guidance.


As a writer, I know that characters become near and dear to an
author’s heart. What was your favorite part about writing Eric?

My favorite part about writing Eric was putting him through the
ringer. He needed to face all of these obstacles during his quest to
win a seemingly impossible contest. Then, I could get him to a place
where he’s stronger, learns to trust his own gut (a probiotic pun),
and take charge of his own life.

Overall, which character was your favorite to write?

That’s a tough one to answer, because I really did have a lot of fun
writing every character. But I would say it was Taffy, the acerbic
twelve-year-old who’s afraid of nothing, totally comfortable with who
she is, and obsessed with food borne-pathogens and zoonotic diseases.
She’s the one Eric is going to all this trouble for.

You incorporate so much humor into the book, but are still able to
maintain the steady storyline. That can be a delicate balance, so your
ability to do so is pretty awesome. Do you have any comedic
inspirations? Any authors you look up to in general?

Thank you! I have many comedic inspirations, but I’ll list some I
haven’t mentioned elsewhere: I love Woody Allen (his humorous essays
were a big influence on me), The Office (original), This is Spinal
Tap, Gene Wilder, Eddie Izzard, Absolutely Fabulous.

As for authors, I admire pretty much any author who works hard and
treats people well.

Do you actually believe in ghosts, or just enjoy writing about them?

No, but “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are
dreamt of in your philosophy.”

Are there any new releases in 2012, or even 2013, that you’re dying to
get your hands on?

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but I can think of several. MR. REAL by
Carolyn Crane, AMERICAN ELSEWHERE by Robert Jackson Bennett, IN
SUNLIGHT AND IN SHADOW by Mark Helprin, LIVE BY NIGHT by Dennis
Lehane, DODGER by Terry Pratchett.

And now, a few quickfires:

Favorite writing snack? When I’m writing, I usually stick to just
coffee or gum, but I also like Granny Smith apples.

Favorite TV show? Pete & Pete.

Favorite movie? The Wizard of Oz.

One person that makes you laugh until you cry? My husband!

Jelly Beans or Jelly Bellies (and yes, there’s totally a right
answer)?
Jelly Belly. They have a flavor enhancing process that my
candy-making character Taffy would respect.

Once again, thanks so much for allowing me to interview you, Nina. One Ghost Per Serving is now available, and can be picked up at Barnes & Noble and Amazon. Also, if you visit the book’s Goodreads page, Nina is having a giveaway. Enter for a chance to win a copy!

Nina Post


Nina Post is a fiction writer who lives in downtown Chicago. She is the author of ONE GHOST PER SERVING and THE LAST CONDO BOARD OF THE APOCALYPSE, both from Curiosity Quills Press. Her very early cultural influences include Steve Martin’s comedy albums, Chuck Jones, and MAD magazine. She likes spending time with her husband, reading, running, and information gathering.