Friday, August 24, 2018

Interview with romance author Lynnette Austin

Author Lynnette Austin joins me today to talk about her new contemporary romance, Must Love Babies.

Lynnette Austin loves long rides with the top down and the music cranked up, the Gulf of Mexico when a storm is brewing, and sitting in her local coffee shop reading and enjoying an iced coffee. She divides her time between Southwest Florida's beaches and Georgia's Blue Ridge Mountains. Having grown up in a small town, that's where her heart takes her—to those quirky small towns where everybody knows everybody...and all their business, for better or worse. Writing for Grand Central and Sourcebooks, she’s published thirteen novels.

Welcome, Lynnette. Please tell us about your current release.
Who can resist a big, strong man holding a small baby—and the baby's not the only one in need of a cuddle... Brant Wylder has planned for every eventuality. However, becoming a father—even temporarily— wasn’t on his list.

Brant Wylder is a bachelor and loving it! He's in Misty Bottoms, Georgia, property-hunting for his vintage car repair shop when he gets the call. His sister's been in an accident, and Brant has to drop everything to take care of his seven-month-old nephew. That's the end of the bachelor lifestyle. Bridal boutique owner Molly Stiles is all business all the time, until she sees that Brant's in trouble. In this Southern town, nobody ever has to go it alone. And besides, how can she resist that beautiful baby in the arms of a beautiful man...?

What inspired you to write this book?
My last series, Magnolia Brides, took place in fictional Misty Bottoms, Georgia, and revolved around three friends who start up a destination wedding. This new series stays there with Molly, the heroine, opening a bridal boutique to provide that special dress for the Magnolia brides. It’s somewhat of a continuation of the previous series.

It centers on the Wylder brothers who move to town to expand their vintage car and motorcycle restoration business. The series and first book is titled Must Love Babies.

I love reading stories where my hero or heroine is like a fish out of water. Nothing accomplishes that better than handing someone a baby—someone who hasn’t a clue what to do with the tiny human. In this series, that’s what I wanted to do. But I’ve put a little different twist on each story. None of the bachelor’s babies are the “whoops, I got her pregnant and didn’t know” kind. They’re not secret babies.

Excerpt from Must Love Babies:
Molly stood beneath a magnolia tree, her face tipped to catch the moonlight. The breath caught in his throat, and for one fanciful second, Brant imagined a mythical princess or fairy.
He shook his head. The woman was real, and he wanted a dance, wanted to hold her in his arms. A little flirting? Harmless.
Stepping out of the shadows, he made his way to her.
“Beautiful night, huh?”
“Perfect.” Slowly, she turned, a smile on her face.
“How about a dance?”
She hesitated.
“I’m not asking for a lifelong commitment, sugar. Just a single dance under the stars. The night’s made for dancing.”
“It is, isn’t it?”
He caught her hand in his, amazed at its softness against his work-roughened one. “In the interest of full disclosure, I’m not the world’s greatest dancer, but you shouldn’t lose any toes.” He glanced at her sequined stilettos, showcased by her cocktail-length dress. “Don’t know how you even walk in those, let alone put on the miles you do, but I have to say that all mankind is grateful.”
Smiling, Molly peeked at her shoes. “They’re awesome, aren’t they?”
He nodded. “You can dance in them?”
“I could run a marathon in these.”
“Okay, then.” The moon shone through Spanish moss that dripped from the live oaks, forming a lacy pattern on the dewy grass.
Kelly Clarkson’s “A Moment Like This” played over the sound system. Reaching the dance floor, Brant slid an arm around her waist and drew her in, breathed in her scent. He swung her out and brought her back in one smooth motion, felt her quick laugh in the pit of his stomach. The music slowed when the band segued into John Legend’s “All of Me,” and he drew her close.
Molly fit perfectly in his arms. She lived in Georgia and he in Tennessee, and that made her safe. And if the plans he and his brothers were working on panned out? Still nothing to worry about since she lived in Savannah. When she rested her head against his chest, he wondered if she could hear the rapid thump of his heart. Ms. Molly was hot, hot, hot.
His hand slid a little lower, and without missing a beat, she relocated it to her waist.
Molly smelled of a midnight garden with just a touch of naughty. His body responded, and he willed himself to think about something else. “How’s the city?”
“Savannah?” She shrugged. “I live in Misty Bottoms now. I opened a bridal boutique. Today’s bride was my first.” She grinned, dimples creasing her cheeks.
The dance ended, and he reluctantly released Molly. “I’m driving back to Tennessee tomorrow.”
“Speaking of driving, thanks for taxiing the last of the rehearsal dinner’s partiers home last night. I heard they celebrated pretty hard at Duffy’s.”
“No problem.”
“I need to stop at my car before I go back inside. I left the little silver heart I attach to the bridal gown’s garment bag in my glove box.”
Brant walked beside her in the soft night air, a hand at her elbow, while the band played Blake Shelton’s “God Gave Me You.”
He lowered his head. “Before we call it a night, I’d love to see the rose garden our friend Cole salvaged.”
The scent of roses surrounding them, they strolled through the yard. In the silver light of the moon, the flowers glowed and took on an almost magical, fairy-tale illusion. The house shimmered and welcomed, like the true Southern lady she was. Interlacing his fingers with Molly’s, peace enveloped Brant.
They wandered across the expanse of lawn and through the blooms in comfortable silence.
From the parking area, he heard the sound of engines starting, of tires crunching on the long drive. “Looks like it’s about time for lights-out. We’d better head back so you can finish up.”
A slight breeze caused Molly to shiver, and happy for the excuse, Brant wrapped an arm around her and pulled her a little closer, surprised when she didn’t pull away.
Reaching her yellow-and-white Mini Countryman, he made to open her door, then changed his mind, leaned in and gave her a quick kiss, one that should have been impersonal. Friendly. Instead, fire shot through him.
He pulled back, unsure whether he should be relieved or horrified that the expression on her face mirrored his own stampeding feelings. Clearing his throat, he said, “I’m taking care of a few loose ends in the morning, then heading back to Tennessee. And I already said that, didn’t I?”
“Yes, you did. The kiss was nice, thanks, but you don’t need to worry. I won’t show up naked at your hotel door.”
His breath caught.
She grinned, and he understood she knew exactly the effect she was having on him.
“I—” His phone vibrated. “Whoops. Sorry, but I’d better take this. My brothers probably forgot something. Organization isn’t their strong suit. If you’ll excuse me.”
“Hello? Dad?” As he spoke, he made his way to a gnarly old oak. His father’s voice was gruff, almost as if he’d been crying. Panic grabbed Brant by the throat.

What exciting story are you working on next?
Next comes Tucker Wylder’s story, I’ve Got You, Babe, and it’s truly been a fun write. I love Tucker, three-year-old Daisy, and her mama, Elisa. The book is filled with interesting characters and laugh-out-loud to cry in your tissue situations.

When he heads into work, a hot cup of coffee in hand and a weekend fishing trip on his mind, Tucker has no idea that his life is about to take a major detour. After college, he did a stint with the Marines. Now, reentering the civilian world, he’s become partners with his brothers at Wylder Rides, their vintage car and motorcycle renovations business, even though it means moving to small town Misty Bottoms, Georgia.

The oldest of the Wylder brothers and more than a little OCD, he’s all business. He likes to be able to come and go, to do his own thing without answering to anyone. Unlike his brothers, he’s reserved. He doesn’t want to compromise, and he loves being single.

Elisa Danvers and her beautiful three-year-old daughter need a fresh start and head for Charleston. Nearly there, both she and her car are unwell. Spotting the Wylder Rides sign, she pulls in.

At the sound of high-heels on the garage’s concrete floor, Tucker slides from beneath the ‘55 Chevy. The most incredible pair of legs he’s ever seen greets him. His gaze travels up, up, over a body that matches. He makes it to his feet just in time to catch Elisa as she passes out. While he calls for the EMTs, a young child inside the car begins to cry…and Tuck’s life is forever changed.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I first put pen to paper. While being published is a fantastic dream-come-true, you don’t need to be published to be 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?
I taught middle school language arts forever and ever and absolutely loved it! But I wanted to write—not just in the evening and on weekends and holidays. Not just at 4:30 in the morning—which is when I’d wake so I could sneak in an hour or two of writing before getting ready for school. I wanted to write full-time. All these characters run around in my head and the only way to keep them quiet is to tell their stories, so I finally gave in. I’m writing full-time now, and, I have to say, it really is a dream come true.

I have a designated writing spot and when my butt hits that chair, I write. I don’t wait for my muse to show up because she can be very lazy and find lots of other things to do. My favorite writing time is early morning and late nights, but when I’m on deadline I often put in ten or twelve-hour days. I drink lots of coffee and love to eat Cheetos while I write—thus the orange keyboard.

I’m a plotter, so I do lots of preplanning before writing. I have an organized notebook (really necessary when you’re writing a series so you can keep everything consistent from one book to the next) and a storyboard. That doesn’t mean I don’t take detours when the story or characters demand it, but my GPS (aka storyboard) helps me find my route again.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I love to write in the shower! The ideas flow right along with the water. So…I have lots of water-stained notes!

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Teaching always called to me, and I had a wonderful career teaching elementary and middle school. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. Working with young people is so rewarding. But always nipping around the edges was the desire to write.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
A lot of times I’m asked why, with all the genres to choose from, I write romance. Actually, there are several very simple reasons. First, I love to read romances. They’re my go-to books when I need a pick-me-up or a break from the real world with all its problems or just a few hours of entertainment. Second, I write romance because, in them, my female characters can be every bit as strong as the men in my books. And I write romance because the reader can feel safe to invest their emotions in the hero and heroine knowing I’ll deliver, no matter how high the odds against it, a happy-ever-after ending. It’s a romance. That happy ending is guaranteed. In my books, two people will fight nearly insurmountable odds to find love. To make that deep and lasting connection with one another. And they’ll win.

Romance books are often thought of as a heroine’s search for the man of her dreams. For Mr. Right. And at some point in time, that might have been true. Today’s romance, though, is that heroine searching for herself, to make herself complete, not for someone else. She’s searching to overcome an internal conflict buried deep inside, to reach a goal she’s set—knowingly or unknowingly.

Romances are love stories, yes. They’re books about relationships and happily-ever-afters.

But that doesn’t mean my characters, the people who live in my head and in my heart, have an easy time of it. I love to put them through the wringer, to squeeze out every drop of emotion. To make them laugh, cry, sigh. Then to make my readers laugh, cry, and sigh.

I absolutely love to write!!


Thanks for being here today!

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