Friday, 12 October 2012

Interview with Rachel Astor + Giveaway

Today I am happy to welcome to the blog Rachel Astor, whose latest novel Sugar Rush was one of the novels debuting Entangled Publishing's new Bliss line! What's more, Sugar Rushis a delicious romance full of decadent desserts and tempting treats mmm... You don't believe me? Then read on and you could even win a copy of Sugar Rush!

Stella: Hi Rachel, welcome to Ex Libris! Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?

Rachel: Hi Stella, thanks for having me! Sure, I grew up on a farm, once worked at a bar named after a dog, and I’m a twin, which routinely gets me stopped by complete strangers thinking I’m my sister. In fact, it happened at an ice cream shop just last weekend.

Stella: Lol, life as a twinm must be kind of an experience. :-) Your latest novel Sugar Rush is your first to be published by Entangled Publishing in their brand new Bliss line, congratulations! You self-published your previous novels, can you tell us how this experience now was different?

Rachel: Great question. The biggest change in my writing process was actually writing from a guy’s point of view. Before, most of my novels had been from one person’s point of view, and this allowed me to expand and challenge myself.

Although I’ve always had professionals review my self-published works, there were more rounds of editing and revision with Bliss, which is great…it makes a writer feel like they really have a team backing them up.

Stella: Sugar Rush sounds like a deliciously succulent and sweet read, can you tell readers what they can expect of it?

Rachel: It’s light and fun (like a decadent gourmet almond macaroon), centered around a gourmet chocolate competition involving two long-time enemies, the owners of competing candy shops in the same quaint tourist town.

Stella: Could you introduce us Dulcie and Nick, the heroine and hero of Sugar Rush?

Rachel: Dulcie Carter has been running her family’s sweet shop, Candy Land Confections, on her own since her mom passed away. It’s a great job, but with rent, supplies, and everything else, she needs to keep it hopping with sugar-crazed customers. Add school and trying to have a life and she’s drowning in caramel nougat.

Nick Sugarman has been busy living the high-life ever since his father decided to automate their chocolate business and began worrying more about profit than originality. With his Harvard degree in hand, Nick’s poised to take over when his father retires. He might also be just what Dulcie needs to get her act together…either that, or he’ll drive her over the deep end.

Photo by Heizco
Stella: Now let’s play: if you had to create a candy/dessert name, what would Dulcie and Nick be called? And what would YOUR dessert name be?

Rachel: Dulcie would probably be a Caramel Captivation and Nick would be the Dark Chocolate of Desire. I would probably be something a little less romantic, like a Strawberry Zinger Taffy perhaps.

Stella: Oh Dark Chocolate of Desire sounds deliciously tempting ;-) Do you have a favourite scene in Sugar Rush? (Or which one was the hardest to write?)

Rachel: Any of the scenes with Dulcie’s Grams were really fun to write, and of course the final scene of the candy competition where the winners and losers—both in love and candy—are discovered. :-)

Stella: Can you summarize Sugar Rush for us Twitter-style (140 characters or less)?

Rachel: Candy maker Dulcie is drowning in stress, until she meets Nick and falls faster than she can say ‘sugar high.’ But soon she discovers who he really is: her competition.

Stella: Did you do any research for Sugar Rush? Any good restaurant, candy shop, chocolate museum visits, discovered any new favourite treats? :-)

Rachel: I checked out about a million candy stores and chocolatiers online, as well as a few food competition websites and blogs. I also scanned through a ton of cookbooks and did a lot of dreaming about candy – just like Dulcie!

Stella: I have long loved culinary romances but Sugar Rush seems to be even more unique as it features desserts, my favourite kind of food! Yay! :-D It is clear you have a deep appreciation for delicious treats, what is a favourite meal/dessert of yours?

Rachel: I love sweets! Some of my favorites are Strawberry Shortcake, Butter Tarts, the white Lindt truffles, and of course anything chocolate!

Stella: Do you cook/bake? Any special recipe you could share with us?

Rachel: I do cook a lot and dabble a bit in baking and candy making, though I’m certainly no pastry chef or chocolatier. I mostly just love to dream about sweets and experiment! There is a recipe included for readers in Sugar Rush for the The Spell Book of Sweets Toasted Coconut Brittle!

Azay-le-Rideau by Jean-Christophe Benoist
Stella: Can you share with us one of your most memorable food memories? (I ate the most perfect crème brulée at Azay-le-Rideau, whenever I see a crème brulée, flan or crème caramel on a menu I can’t help but recall that taste orgasm in a little French restaurant overlooking the medieval chateau! :-)

Rachel: Ooh, that’s a tough one. The authentic Baklava in Greece is pretty much to die for, and a little closer to home, well, let’s just say my husband hated cooked apples until he tried my Grandma’s apple pie.

Stella: Is Sugar Rush part of a culinary romance series or a standalone novel? In case it is part of a series, how many more books are you planning on having in this series? *crosses fingers it is part of a series*

Rachel: LOL, thank you for the vote of confidence! At this point there are no immediate plans for additional books with Dulcie and Nick…but never say never!

Stella: What shall we expect from you, what is next on your schedule?

Rachel: Most people would probably be surprised to hear that I am hard at work revising a children’s novel, and as far as for my grown up readers, there might just be something along the lines of a romantic mystery in the works. ;-)

Rachel grew up on a little farm outside a tiny town in the middle of the wide open Canadian prairie, which is good, since when she travels, she gets a little claustrophobic when there’s too much landscape looming over her. She lived with her parents and three sisters; an older, a younger, and a twin, in a house with only one bathroom.

She still lives on the prairie, but now it’s with her husband and two stepsons (and thankfully, two bathrooms), and has constant girl stuff withdrawal.

Rachel has had a lot of jobs, but none quite as interesting as when she waitressed at a bar named after a dog.

She writes light, fun books that she hopes put smiles on reader’s faces.

Connect with Rachel at her website / Blog / Twitter / Facebook.

There’s nothing quite like your first bite.

Dulcie Carter has been running her family’s homemade sweet shop, Candy Land Confections, on her own since her mom passed away. But business is slow and rent is high, so Dulcie knows if she wants to keep her mom’s dream alive, she’ll need a miracle. Winning the annual Assembly of Chocolatiers competition will change everything, if only she can overcome her fears and bring herself to create something new for the first time in a long time.

Then she meets Nick, a molten-hot guy with a sexy smirk and chocolate brown eyes. The attraction is stronger than any sugar rush—until she discovers he’s set to inherit his family’s big-box candy shop in town, which is her strongest competitor for first prize. Nick’s got his own reasons for needing the win, but then being around Dulcie is proving addictive.

As the competition heats up, so do the sparks between them. Can they keep their sights on winning, when love might be the sweetest prize of all?


Entangled Publishing has generously offered an ebook copy of Sugar Rush to a lucky commenter!

All you need to do is leave a comment answering Rachel's question: In a box of mixed chocolates with no flavor guide, what is that one filling you loathe biting into the most?

Giveaway is open wordwide and ends on 19 October 2012!

Good Luck!

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