For our first post of 2015 I’m welcoming Arlene Hittle to the blog, to tell us about her new book Blind Date Bride, and share her writing process and reading preferences with us.
KB: What inspired you to write your latest book?
AH: When the idea for Blind Date Bride hit me, I was working as an education reporter in Indiana. I was driving to an assignment and heard a radio news report that sparked my imagination. That was back in 1990-something, so I don’t remember specifics of the report, but whatever it was made me think “what if two people were forced to marry, sight unseen?”
Eventually, Blind Date Bride was the result. It’s the story of Kari Parker, whose best friend enters her in Romance TV’s “Get a Love Life” contest. As much as she doesn’t want a new man, she can't turn down the prize money that will allow her to help her parents save the restaurant they've run all her life. Sparks fly between Kari and her bogus groom, Damien, but building a real future out of their sham marriage proves to be tougher than baking a wedding cake from scratch… with no flour… in a broken oven.
KB: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
AH: To be honest, finishing the first draft of this one was the hardest part. It sprang from a one-act play I wrote and submitted to the community theater group in Logansport, Indiana. The play, set at the church, with the hero and heroine’s best friends beseeching them to go through with the ceremony, originally became the first chapter of the novel. But I wasn’t done with the characters yet. I wanted to know what happened next—and so I started writing. I was about 10 chapters in when September 11 happened...and though I had no direct losses in the attacks, for many months, I didn’t feel like writing funny. I didn’t feel like writing much of anything.
Then life got in the way—in 2003 both my parents died and I started the Atkins diet. (Lost 110 pounds in two years, mostly in the first year.) When I started writing again, I found other projects more compelling.
Finally, in 2009, I made it a goal to finish the manuscript. I even signed up for NaNoWriMo with the intent of writing the last 40,000 words. I only wrote about 25K that November, but the experience gave me the momentum to finish by the end of the year. Then it went through a couple of rounds of readers. After lots of editing on my part, I sent it to my copy editor.
KB: How much of the book is realistic?
AH: When I started writing, I thought it was pretty far-fetched. More than a decade later, thanks to ever-wilder reality TV premises, it was no longer way out there. About the time I released the book, I found out A&E networks were premiering “Married at First Sight”—a show about losers in love who meet for the first time on their wedding day. I wrote a blog post about it here.
KB: What’s your writing process like? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
AH: I wish I were a plotter. If I were, I bet it wouldn’t take me as long to finish a manuscript. Unfortunately, I’m an avowed pantser—and I tend to stall out in the middle of a story. When that happens, I often abandon it and go on to a shiny, new idea. Eventually, I go back and finish what I started, though.
KB: If this book is part of a series, tell us a little about the sequels
AH: Trouble In Paradise is the story of Kari’s and Damien’s best friends—the ones who get more wedding night action than the bride and groom. The story picks up after Blind Date Bride. Bethany and Cody have been dating for a while, and Beth, worried that Cody is losing interest, talks him into auditioning for Romance TV’s newest reality show, “Invitation to Sin.” A reluctant Cody agrees, figuring lightning won’t strike their circle twice—and before they know it, they’re in a tropical paradise facing “Survivor” meets “Temptation Island” scenarios that push their relationship to the breaking point.
KB: What are you working on now?
AH: Trouble In Paradise is in the editing stage. I’d like to have it ready for release in 2015. I also write for Turquoise Morning Press, and have releases with them in March (Breaking All The Rules, an opposites-attract story for Star Trek fans) and April (Just Right, a novella-length reimagining of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”).
KB: What book are you reading now?
AH: Victoria Dahl’s Too Hot To Handle. I’m getting ready to move, and it’s one of the books that survived the purge of my TBR bookcases. Yes, I have more than one—and they were all stuffed with books. I had to get really honest with myself and start paring down my collection, or else end up moving hundreds of pounds of books.
KB: For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?
AH: I love paperback books—the smell, the feel of the paper, the slick covers. Having said that, they take up A LOT of space (as I’m realizing as I prepare to move). On the other hand, I can carry around hundreds of titles on a single e-reader without breaking a sweat. I was even compelled to write a defense of the e-reader for the local newspaper.
KB: Do you write full-time or part-time?
AH: Sadly, part-time. I’m not making enough money yet to quit the day job. I was laid off in September 2014, so I enjoyed about a month as a full-time writer ... but something funny happened. I discovered I get a lot less actual writing done when I don’t have a set amount of time reserved for writing. When I have all day with nothing to do but write, the list of things I need to do before I start writing suddenly doubles.
KB: Do you have a special time and place to write?
AH: Honestly, I do a lot of my writing at Starbucks. Is it a cliché? Sure. But I get so much more done sitting at the coffee shop than I do at my house, where the dogs are just waiting to lay their drooly snouts on my laptop and the laundry/dishes/TV beckon. Writing at Starbucks is so routine that the mere smell of coffee puts me in a writing mood.
KB: Where can we find you online?
Amazon Author Page
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