Friday, 30 November 2012

Interview with Natale Stenzel + Giveaway

Today I bring you Natale Stenzel, who stops by to tell you about her latest contemporary romance novel Wedding Dress for Sale, which besides a dreamy hero and a runaway bride features memorable secondary characters and plenty of wedding gown tulle! ;-) Please give Natale a warm welcome and you could even win a copy of Wedding Dress for Sale!

Stella: Hi Natale, can you please tell us a bit about yourself?

Natale: Hi, Stella, and thanks for having me. As for introducing myself…I’m a wife, mom, dog lover, St. Louis native, contented Virginia resident, reader, writer, and lover of trivia and research (i.e., not-so-closet geek).

Stella: Your latest novel Wedding Dress for Sale was released just recently by Entangled Publishing in their Bliss line, congratulations! Can you tell readers what they can expect of it?

Natale: Thanks! I’m hoping they can expect some smiles, laughs, and the occasional warm fuzzy. I write to entertain the reader; I hope I succeed.

Stella: Do you still remember what inspired the story, was there a specific moment/event/film/song that sparked the idea or how did it all start?

Natale: I can’t remember what led me to the website, but I was searching for something online and, one tangent leading to another, ended up on a bridal website, where people were talking about buying wedding gowns. Not so exciting, right? Actually, I was fascinated, not so much by what was said but by the details that went unsaid--the questions that left me guessing. An example: One woman admitted that she’d purchased two wedding dresses because she couldn’t make herself choose one or the other. Even better? She wasn’t even engaged or in a relationship when she bought the dresses. I skimmed further, and people were discussing various thrifty options, including consignment shops, where you could buy used dresses, meaning they were usually worn only once--or maybe not at all. You can’t help but wonder about the stories behind the dresses, right? And, suddenly, I had a story idea (or twelve). It was hard to start with just one.

Stella: The premise of Wedding Dress for Sale sounds like the perfect romantic comedy film, who would play the characters if you could have your dream cast?

Natale: For Jack, I picture a cross between young Chris Noth, (Big on Sex and the City), and Robert Downey, Jr. For Sydney, I picture a cross between Keira Knightley and Courtney Cox.

Chris Noth as Jack
Stella: And now let’s have Couple’s Therapy: Sydney, Jack, if you had to introduce each other, what 3 words would you use to describe the other?

Sydney of Jack: persistent, overwhelming, disarming

Jack of Sydney: vulnerable, formidable, captivating

Stella: What is the quality that you like the most in the other and the one that drives you up the wall?

Sydney of Jack: Can they be the same? His persistence, absolutely. I mean, seriously, who can resist a guy who won’t give up on her? At the same time...come on! He followed me halfway across the state, moved his life and his business interests over here and...that sounds stalkerish, doesn’t it? And it would be creepy if I didn’t want him here even though I really shouldn’t. Plus, he’s so careful. The anti-stalker was such a doofus idea and yet, well, sweet. He’s worried about me after everything that happened. That comes through loud and clear.

Jack of Sydney: See that right there? All of the above is my answer to your question: She’s always confusing me--contradicts herself all over the place--but she’s ruthlessly, adorably honest about it. She fights like a tiger for the underdog, but she makes no excuses for herself. She admits she’s confusing even herself, and then she looks at me like-- Yeah, like that, actually. What’s a guy to do? Stalk, right? Hey, stop that. I’m wearing the shirt. Did I ask you out? Did I? No. I did not. I said I wouldn’t, so I didn’t. I’m being good. Would you like some coffee?

Keira Knightley as Sydney
Stella: When was that specific moment you realized “wow, I just love that person!”?

Sydney of Jack: That’s tricky.

[Jack: It always is.]

Sydney: Well, it is, and you know it. My heart fell in love with you a long time ago. It just took a while for my stubborn, potentially...leery...brain to acknowledge it.

Jack: And then fall for me, too.

Sydney: Yeah--and how. So your turn for the tough question. When did you first realize you fell in love with me?

Jack of Sydney: That’s not tough at all. You said hello. I guess that’s all it took. Does that make me easy?

Robert Downey Jr. as Jack
Stella: Jack, was there a moment when you thought about giving up on pursuing Sydney?

Jack: Well...yes and no.

[Sydney: What?! You did not.]

Jack: Sure, I considered it. Not because I wanted to. I had to. I was afraid I might make things worse for you if I wasn’t careful. You had every reason to want some space after the stalking and threats in St. Louis (you see why stalking’s a big subject for us, right?). At the same time, why in the world would I leave you alone now? Sure, the guy’s in jail, but he made threats against you. I admit I was grateful for the excuse to stay close, though.

Stella: Natale, Wedding Dress for Sale is full of funny and quirky secondary characters who despite being part of the supporting cast still get their fair share of “screen time”, did you have a favourite one, or one that you particularly enjoyed writing about?

Natale: I have to pick just one? I had fun with my secondary characters in this book. Ginnie, the wedding dress boutique owner with just a touch too much intuition, added a magical sparkle to the story for me. I also loved the shamelessness and quirky sentiment of the Hoffmeiers, married for seventy years and only now seeking out a divorce they don’t really want (although they have a lot of fun pursuing the idea and each other).
Courtney Cox as Sydney
Stella: Can you tell us any behind the scenes secret related to Wedding Dress for Sale? (either to the writing process, or some tidbit about the characters, a scene that didn’t end up in the final version, etc.)

Natale: I knew Sydney immediately. She was just there for me, in the way characters sometimes form. Her hero, however, was more of a mystery, so I recast him a few times until Jack presented himself in full color. In one of the early drafts, though, the hero was Liam. A careful reader might be able to tell I have a lingering soft spot for the character.

Stella: Can you summarize Wedding Dress for Sale for us Twitter-style (140 characters or less)?

Natale: I’m going to cheat on this one, but it’s for a good reason. I love the tagline on this book; my editor and I worked on it together and it suits the story so well. Here it is:

The bride’s chasing her fairy tale. And he’s chasing the bride…

Stella: You have published several romances previously, both contemporary and paranormal romances, which subgenre do you prefer? Or which one comes most naturally to you?

Natale: I really couldn’t have one without the other for long, either as a writer or a reader. I like each of them best at different times for different reasons. I like contemporaries because I find them so relatable; these stories could be about you or me or a friend or a sister. It’s easy to sink into that. Meanwhile, the paranormals offer total escapism, from the world as we know it, from the rules, the science, the norms, all of it. It’s a totally different appeal.

Stella: I've seen on Goodreads that Wedding Dress for Sale is marked as Book #1 in the Second-Story Brides series, how many books are you planning and will they all be set in the same small town? Will the point of connection be the bridal shop or something else?

Natale: I don’t like to step too far ahead, so let’s just say book two is coming in early 2013. Yes, it’s in the same town, and we get to revisit some of the characters and places, including the bridal shop, which will definitely come into play again. Drusilla, Sydney’s best friend, is originally from Smizer Mill, the town where the books are set, but she has a past she’s trying to put behind her. She’s totally remade herself into a woman she likes, and returning to any part of that past--much less the town where everything in her life went wrong--is the last thing she wants to do. So, naturally, returning is exactly what she must do. There are secrets, old and new, and of course, her first love, who’s even more appealing as a grown man than he was as a teenager.

Stella: Can you share with us some little secret trivia, something that not many people know about you?

Natale: In another dimension, I’m a world-class spy. You know, Mata Hari style. Aw, man. I’m outed now...

And now I’m going to turn the tables and ask a question of my own. If you could totally remake yourself into anyone or anything--an actual person or a career or position or personality type--what or who would you be?

Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Natale endured an average childhood with two brothers to annoy and parents to baffle. She planted her nose in a book very early in life and has yet to come up for air. The writing addiction began early as well. Natale was active on her school newspapers and literary magazines, then later she attended the University of Missouri-Columbia, earning bachelor’s degrees in English literature and magazine journalism.

She moved to Louisiana, did some technical writing and editing, married, reproduced a couple of times – and then had a real epiphany: Wouldn't it be fun to make up the stories instead of just reporting them?

She sold her first book in July 2002; it was later called FORGET PRINCE CHARMING, published by Harlequin for its Flipside line in November 2003. She published three other romantic comedies for the same line. Her fifth book, PANDORA’S BOX, was the first in a series of funny paranormal romances now distributed by Amazon's Montlake publishing arm. Books two and three of the series are titled THE DRUID MADE ME DO IT and BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HEART PLACE. Scheduled for release in the fall of 2012 are two romantic comedies she's contracted to write for Entangled Publishing.

Currently, Natale resides in lovely central Virginia with her husband, two children and a pair of misbehaving hound dogs.

Connect with Natale at her website - Facebook - Goodreads

Book #1 in the Second-Story Brides series

Not even the bride could deny a certain punch-line quality to her current situation: hard-nosed divorce attorney dumps her fiancé and her career to take a job selling wedding gowns.

Sydney Garfield has always approached relationships rationally—none of this emotional head-over-heels or opposites-attract business. Marrying Jack Kaiser is the smart thing to do—after all, he’ll be the “perfect” husband. But after a life-changing shake-up at work, Sydney abandons logic—and her fiancé—to chase the fairy tale.

Real-estate mogul Jack can’t believe the woman he’s head-over-heels for is ditching her hard-won success—and him—to work as a small-town shop clerk. That’s her idea of a fairy tale? Hoping she's merely in need of time, Jack follows Sydney to Smizer Mill, where he invests in the quaint coffee shop next door. Now, he’s got a few new challenges: make a failing coffee shop a success and convince Sydney that theirs is a romance worthy of a true happily ever after.

Buy at Amazon - B&N


Entangled Publishing has generously offered an ebook copy of Wedding Dress for Sale to a lucky commenter!

To be entered just answer Natale's question: If you could totally remake yourself into anyone or anything--an actual person or a career or position or personality type--what or who would you be?

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 12 December 2012!

Good luck!

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