Today's guest is romance author, Barbara Valentin. We're chatting about the newest in her romantic comedy series, Key Change, an Assignment: Romance novel.
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Author of the bestselling Assignment: Romance series, Barbara is an award-winning novelist and second-generation journalist. A member of RWA's Windy City chapter, she's looking forward to the day when her to-do list includes "Send NY Times book critic thank you note" and "Accept Godiva's request to be a taste-tester."
Welcome, Barbara. Please tell us about your current release.
It’s a romantic comedy about what happens when Sara, a hard-edged, shower-singing rock music critic crosses paths with Andrew, a wickedly gorgeous music director from a nearby church who is nursing his broken heart. When Sara finds herself locked out of her apartment, Andrew offers her the chance to stay on one condition – she has to join the choir at his church. While Andrew may hold the lease on Sara’s apartment, does he have the key to unlock her heart?
What inspired you to write this book?
I got the idea during choir rehearsal at my own church, interviewed the director and let my imagination take it from there.
Excerpt from Key Change:
Up as usual at the crack of dawn, Andrew trudged to the bathroom, almost forgetting to close the door behind him before he spotted Sara's bangles on the counter next to the sink. Reaching over, he shut the door and locked it.
Fifteen minutes later, he was showered, clean-shaven, and ready to go, except he didn't have to be at the church until four-thirty that afternoon. Unplugging his phone from an outlet in his room, he brought it with him into the kitchen, transferred Sara's clothes that she had washed the night before into the dryer and poured himself some coffee. He sat on a barstool, debated throwing a sweatshirt on over his plain, blue, short-sleeved T- shirt to ward off the chill, but started scrolling through his email instead.
His eyes, however, kept drifting over to Sara, out like a light on the sofa sleeper.
While most of her was wrapped in the blankets like a human burrito, with the sun starting to break through the bare branches of the ancient oak tree blocking the expansive bay window, he could see her face quite plainly.
Without all that the heavy dark makeup, he noted, she looked younger.
And kinda sweet, actually.
But then again, she wasn't talking.
Still, he was glad he invited her to stay the night before.
But what about tonight? And tomorrow night? And the night after that?
While he mulled the possibilities, she rolled over and stretched, arching her back and groaning as she did. Resuming her curled-up burrito pose, she opened her eyes and mumbled, "How long have you been sitting there?"
Looking at his watch, he admitted, "About a minute. Or five. Maybe ten." His cheeks suddenly felt a lot warmer.
With a loud yawn, she sat up. "I slept so good." Patting the thin mattress with her hand, she added, "So comfy."
The words hung in the air between them.
Sarcasm before coffee. Great.
Still, the sight of her in his pajama top seemed to lobotomize him. All he could do by way of a reply was nod.
With a shrug, she added, "Seriously, on a sleeper sofa—who knew?"
Snap out of it.
With no small amount of effort, he turned and glanced at the dryer. "Your clothes should be ready in about twenty minutes."
At that, Sara took a deep breath and yanked the covers back, revealing two impossibly long bare legs as she flung her feet to the floor.
Knowing full well that the sudden blast of heat he felt was not delivered by way of the gilded vents along the floorboards, Andrew got up to check the thermostat on the wall next to the upright piano anyway, mumbling, "Gotta love old buildings."
What exciting story are you working on next?
The next book in the series is Flight Risk, due out early next summer. I won’t say too much about it except that it centers on a certain phobic travel writer at the Gazette.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
In the 7th grade when my teacher returned a persuasive paper I had written. I don’t remember if I got an “A” on it, but when he told me how much he liked it, I just knew it was what I wanted to do when I grew up. I didn’t write fiction until I took some creative writing classes in college and didn’t make any money doing the kind of writing I wanted to do until years later when I started writing a humorous parenting column for the Chicago Tribune – The Plate Spinner Chronicles. Long story, short – I can’t imagine being anything other than a writer!
Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
My day job has always been about writing – everything from user manuals to reference guides to procedures. Pretty boring stuff, but it pays the bills. I write my books during my train ride to and from work, in the evenings and on the weekends. It’s true – time does fly when you’re having fun.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I like the challenge of creating characters and scenes that are incredibly sexy without having anyone actually having sex. But that’s just me.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I’ve only ever wanted to be a writer!
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
After waiting for so long to become published, I still can’t believe I’ve got four books out there. I’m so very grateful that my dream’s come true. For anyone out there with the same aspirations, never, ever give up on yourself!
Thank you, Barbara!
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