Sunday, 26 December 2010

Spotlight on Romance: Interview with Penny Watson + Giveaway

Today I would like to introduce to you Penny Watson, author of the funny contemporary and ultimate Christmas romance: Sweet Inspiration! Sit back, sip a caramel latte (or your spiked eggnog), munch on some Christmas cookies and read on, as a Christmas present you will find a giveaway at the end ;-)

Stella: Hi Penny, could you please tell us a bit about yourself? How does a biologist by training become a romance author?

Penny Watson: Hi Stella! I live outside of Boston, Mass with my sweetheart, two kids (son is 13, my daughter is 8) and our wiener dog Lucy. I have an undergraduate degree in biology and went to graduate school for horticultural science and botany. I love plants! I worked as an educator for many years--teaching science and coaching a variety of sports. When my husband and I adopted our son from the Philippines, I decided to stay home. That's when I picked up romance-reading as a hobby. After reading hundreds of romances, I decided to write my own....a werewolf story that combined my love of botany with a paranormal setting. I never quite finished that book, and then I got distracted by my new series, The Klaus Brothers Series. Maybe someday I'll finish the werewolf story.

Stella: You write romance novels, how did you discover the genre? And what is it that you love the most in it?

Penny Watson: Like most new moms, I was exhausted and over-whelmed when my son was a baby. I needed some fun, light-hearted entertainment. I bought my first romance novel and was instantly hooked on the genre. I love romantic fiction because it's a "sure thing" know you're going to get a HEA (Happily Ever After) at the end. There aren't a lot of things in life that have a guaranteed happy ending!

Stella: Also, if you could write under a penname, is there another genre you would like to try out?

Penny Watson: Great question! I am actually trying my hand at a mystery right now called Diabolical. The two main characters are botanists, so I get to incorporate my love of plants into this story.

Stella: Describe a typical day of writing, are you a planner or pantser?

Penny Watson: I start every day with a clears my head, gets me in a good mood, and I can trouble shoot my story while I'm walking around the neighborhood. Then I "pants" my story for a couple of hours. I love not knowing what's going to happen in the develops organically as I write, and sometimes surprises me, too! Then I take another walk (I'm obsessed with walking, can you tell???) at midday. I try to squeeze in another hour or so of writing before the kids get home from school. Since I had a heart attack this past August, I can't sit in front of the computer writing for 10 hours any more. Those days are definitely over!

Sweet InspirationStella: Your debut novel Sweet Inspiration is just perfect for the holidays, could you tell us a bit about it?

Penny Watson: Sweet Inspiration is the story of Nicholas Klaus, the eldest son of Santa Claus. He is expected to take over as Santa, but his true happiness stems from his career as a pastry chef. On a quest to discover the most delicious sugar cookies, he meets Lucy Brewster, a café owner from upstate New York. Sweet Inspiration is the story of their unlikely romance, including a near-death experience, lots of rambunctious elves, and a romantic scene in a sleigh. :)

Stella: Can I ask how did the idea of writing about a modern (and sporty) Santa and his 5 hunk sons come to you? You approach the whole Santa myth and universe in a quite unexpected and very original way, what inspired the story?

Penny Watson: My inspiration for the story came from a scene I saw in my head...Nicholas and Lucy making love in front of a fire. They were in a cottage with a snow storm outside. It occurred to me that it would be really cool if they were in the North Pole, and Nicholas was Santa's son. Then I just started brainstorming the idea of Santa having a family.....and I came up with the concept of five sexy brothers, all pulling together to help run Klaus Enterprises. I love stories that give a new twist to an old "legend" Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, etc. (A great example of this is the movie Shrek. The "beauty" ends up becoming an ogre at the end of the film...and embraces herself in this new persona. I love that movie!)

Making Santa a hot-tempered fitness buff seemed like a good play on his traditional role as a pudgy, jolly old elf.

Stella: In Sweet Inspiration both the hero and the heroine are (pastry) chefs, and the way you wrote about the preparation and then degustation of all the cookies and treats, I could smell the sweet scent of vanilla and baking cookies. Do you also enjoy cooking/baking? I would have loved to have some recipes from Lucy or Nicholas that I could try at home ;-) (later found the recipe of the Pumpkin Creme Brulee at your site, thank you, yum! :-p)

Penny Watson: I do love cooking and baking. My favorite thing is to use fresh herbs and vegetables from my garden. My daughter adores cookies, so we bake them a lot, especially near Christmas!
Stella: Book #2 of the series is coming out Christmas 2011, can you tell us what can we expect of Sweet Magik?

Penny Watson: Sweet Magik is Oskar's story. He's the bad boy of the family...always getting into trouble, loves to party and snowboard. I decided it would be a fun pairing to have him fall in love with...a librarian! Oskar and Kiana have great chemistry together. Here's the blurb for the book....

Book Blurb for Sweet Magik, #2 of the Klaus Brothers Series

Oskar Klaus' job is killing him. Not even his favorite hobbies (extreme snowboarding and browsing old bookstores) are enough to snap him out of his funk. It's not easy living in the shadow of four successful older brothers and a father named Santa. Little does he know that a kiss on New Year's Eve is about to turn his life upside-down.

Kiana Grant's Manhattan life is a world away from her childhood in Oahu. She traded sunsets and surfing for a respectable career in library science, but Oskar Klaus is a temptation that's hard to resist. Before she knows it, she's in the midst of an outrageous adventure in the North Pole, dealing with mischievous elves, wicked demons, and a devastating attraction to Santa's youngest son.

There's just one problem...a bitter elf hell-bent on revenge threatens the future of everyone in the North Pole, even Santa himself...

Stella: The Klaus family is such a warm and unique family, your love for them shines through the novel. I know it must be like asking a mother which child is her favourite, but do you have a character, hero, heroine who stands closer to your heart (is there a brother who you cannot wait to have the readers meet)? I promise I won’t tell the others! ;-)

Penny Watson: Oh boy, this is a tough question! Wolfgang's story is going to be wonderful...he is probably the most complex character of all the brothers. There is a darkness and melancholy inside of him that will be revealed in his book, Sweet Destiny. My other favorite character right now is actually an elf...Ingo, from Sweet Magik. I love him! And I hope my readers will love him, too. They'll get to meet him next Christmas, when Sweet Magik is released.

Stella: How many novels do you plan in writing in the series, will you tell all 5 stories of the brothers?

Penny Watson: Yes, all of the brothers get a HEA! I think there will be four books....both Sven and Gregor will be in #3, Sweet Adventure. And the final book is Sweet Destiny, Wolfie's story.

Stella: Now can you tell us 3 reasons why people should read your books?

Penny Watson: Okay....(1) Sweet Inspiration will get you in a festive, holiday mood. (And probably pretty hungry, might want to get a gingerbread latte while you're reading it!). (2) There's no other book that has a sex-in-a-sleigh scene. (3) It gives you something to look forward to for next Christmas...another Klaus brother bites the romantic dust.

Stella: Can you tell us what is next on your schedule? What we should be on the lookout for?

Penny Watson: I'm going to finish up Sweet Adventure this spring. Then, I have my botanical mystery (Diabolical) I'm working on. And another short botanical paranormal romance, called L'Araldo Di Primavera. It's about a fairy who is the Herald of Spring. You can see blurbs for these WIPS on my website...

Stella: Could you tell my readers a little trivia about yourself, something that they wouldn't know about you?

Penny Watson: My favorite job was coaching lacrosse, a field sport based on a Native American game. (I played myself in high school and's fast and rough!) It's a great sport, and I loved working with middle school kids. The last season I coached, my team was undefeated! It was a really exciting season.

Thanks, Stella, for the fun interview!

Thank you Penny for the insightful answers, loved learning more about the Klaus family and their behind the scenes :-)

You can visit, follow or contact Penny here:


Penny generously offered 1 ebook copy of her Christmas romance Sweet Inspiration to one lucky commentator.

Sweet Inspiration

Just leave a meaningful comment/question for Penny (no 'enter me' comments please, those won't count), and leave your e-mail address so I can contact you if you win.

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 7 January 2011.

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