Sweet Kiss of Summer | Forever (Hachette) | Contemporary Romance | January, 2011
Nina Stokes's life is far from picture perfect. For years the small-town artist has waited for the day she'd be able to fulfill her late brother's wishes and hand over his rambling house to its new owner. Yet when a sexy stranger arrives on her doorstep, key in hand, Nina realizes she's not ready to let go of the house and all its memories-not until she gets some answers to what really happened to her brother.
Mick Rivers may be a hard-as-nails soldier, but throwing a woman out of her house isn't his style. Neither is dredging up memories of the past-a past he is struggling to remember. He desperately needs to sell the house, but he finds the brown-eyed beauty with the open heart and warm smile impossible to resist. So instead of moving on, Mick moves in. As sweet summer days lead to sizzling summer nights, Mick must finally face his fears. But can he tell Nina the secrets haunting his heart, without breaking hers?
What main genre do you write in?
Please tell us your latest news!
Sweet Kiss of Summer is out now, so I'm working hard on promo for that. I'm almost done the next book in the Enemy Club series, Frigid Kiss of Autumn (Just kidding. Sort of. That is my working title, though. I like to keep myself amused). Whatever the next book ends up being called, it should be out by spring.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write and read. That's it. Oh, and also--listen. You can never know if your work is any good or not. It's not up to you to make that call. You need to let other people read your work and then listen very, very carefully. Most of what you hear might not help you. But the least likely person will come along and give you that one element that you're blind to in your work. Hopefully, it won't be your mother-in-law, but it just might.
Do you have a favorite object that is pertinent to your writing?
I have an ancient Apple laptop that is so old, my children ask me not to bring it out in public. Needless to say, they won't touch it. It's awesome because it doesn't access the Internet. My kids use my brand new fancy laptop (that I bought for making videos and posting pictures of my cats on Facebook) while I lug my huge old machine everywhere. When it dies, I don't know what I'll do.
Please describe your writing environment.
My writing environment is dominated by bossy cats. They like to type long sentences like slkjjjjllkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk on my manuscripts. They wonder why my laptop is made of warm if it's not for sleeping. I do love them, anyway, though. However, if they were gone, I think I could double my output.
Do you have any other author names? If so, what are they and what's different about what you write under each name.
I also write under the name Diana Holquist. Diana writes urban romantic comedy. She's not as nice as Sophie, but funnier. Her books are often described with the words "sexy," "hilarious," "light," and "fast-paced." Sophie's books are described as "complex," "heart-warming," and "multi-layered."
Tell us all about "The Call" or "The Email"!
I had completely given up on selling my first book (which was my third manuscript, but the first work that got me an agent). Since I was so sure it was all hope was lost, I wrote what writers call "the book of my heart." That's the book that will never, ever sell but that you really want to write. Why wouldn't this book sell? Because it broke a huge taboo: it had a shy heroine. Then, out of nowhere, we sold both books in a two book deal. Make Me a Match and Sexiest Man Alive (written as Diana Holquist) were the first two book in the One True Love series about a gypsy who can tell you the name of your One True Love as destined by fate.
What inspires your writing?
Some writers start from characters. Some start from plot. I always start from a theme, or what's called a story question. These usually come from real life. For example, for Sweet Kiss of Summer, I met a mother who was also a soldier about to do her third tour in Iraq. I thought, what an impossible situation! How do you ever choose which duty comes first, your country or your family? At what point does this balance shift? This became the framework for the story. Mick has duties to his family, to his country, and then when he meets Nina, to love. How can he choose between them? It's a complex, nuanced situation, but one we all face everyday on a lesser scale.
Do you have any cool promo tricks you can share with other writers?
I hate networking more than anything, but unfortunately, this is the most important promo you can do for yourself. Go to conferences and form friendships, then keep them up. Also, don't spend money if you can help it. If you see me at the next conference, come and say hello. Believe me, I'm just as nervous as you are.
Tell us about your cats? Do they influence your writing?
My cats and I spend way too much time together. I can't help thinking that we've somehow achieved a sort of mind meld. I was hoping to get a cat on the cover of Sweet Kiss of Summer, as Nina's cats play a major roll in the story, but it didn't work out. My editor once wanted a dog on the cover of one of my books. That also didn't work out, and I sometimes wonder if my kitties sent any nasty e-mails behind my back.
Thanks so much for letting me come and visit! I'm on Twitter (SophEGunn) and Facebook, so look me up! I'd love to hear from you.