Penny's North Pole is an imaginative world full of elves with attitude, workplace issues and powerful magic where Christmas is a serious family business. It's also quite hot. Translation: This sexy re-thinking of the whole Santa myth will likely NOT be made into a claymation cartoon for the entire family.
What if the legend of Santa Claus and the North Pole is in fact, true? What if Santa has five big strapping sons who help him run his empire? Five single, sexy sons looking for romance...
Nicholas Klaus is a master pastry chef, a strict disciplinarian, and the eldest son of the legendary Santa Claus. One look at café owner Lucy Brewster sends him into an unexpected tailspin of lusty desires. When Lucy is injured, Nicholas makes a decision that catapults both of their lives into turmoil...
Lucy Brewster, the free-spirited proprietor of Sweet Inspiration, has a flair for concocting sugary confections but no time for adventure. She gets more than she bargained for when she awakens in the North Pole...rambunctious elves, a fitness-obsessed Santa, and the man of her dreams. Does she have what it takes to become the next Mrs. Klaus?
Carolyn Crane: So Penny, one of the things I love about Sweet Inspiration is the way the baking styles characterize these two main players. Both Nicholas and Lucy are master bakers/chefs, but Nicholas follows recipes to the letter, whereas Lucy doesn't measure things, and lets inspiration take her if she feels like adding different ingredients. In fact, there's a delightful scene where Nicholas is horrified to see her winging it in the kitchen. Fess up: do YOU follow recipes to the letter? Are you more of a Nicholas or a Lucy in the kitchen?
Penny Watson: I am totally a Lucy! In fact, it's a serious bone of contention in our household, because my husband (who was a Chemistry major in college!) is adamant about following recipes exactly. (He gets nervous when I start pouring ingredients into the bowl without measuring...hee hee....guess where I got my "inspiration" for Nicholas?).
Carolyn: I read somewhere that you're more of a pantser as a novelist than a plotter (somebody who writes what comes to mind instead of creating and following an outline). So, no following recipes, no following outlines. Do you think there's a correlation here? Do you think writing is a little like baking? With the pantser approach to writing and baking, don't you ever worry, what if it doesn't come out right?
Penny: This is a great question, Carolyn. There is definitely a correlation! I am a pantser, and that's one of the things I loved about writing Sweet Inspiration. I never knew what was going to happen in my story until I started writing it. Every chapter was a new adventure. Unfortunately, the risk of "messing up the recipe" is also very real. I tried to write a werewolf romance novel several years back, and I basically wrote myself into a corner. Now, I have a vague idea about the story (scenes that pop up in my head!), and I write a simple outline before each scene, so I remember what I need to accomplish. It's way too easy to start writing about those naughty elves and forget the main storyline!
And yes, I think writing is a lot like baking. You throw together certain ingredients, but you're never sure what the end result is going to be!
Carolyn: I love that this is considered a paranormal, but it's not about werewolves or vampires or whatever, it's about the North Pole, and that realm of magic. In more standard paranormals, you end up having some of the vampires and werewolves turning out to be good, as if authors are trying to bring a light and good side to scary monsters. You've done the reverse - you've taken the North Pole, which most people see as a lot of happy elves, and added a bit a complexity and strife to the magic associated with it--and the personalities, too. Have you always been interested in this myth? Can you talk about how your ideas of it evolved?
Penny: I love taking a myth and giving it a new twist. That's one of the reasons I enjoy "light" paranormal...I think adding humor into a legend that is considered dark and dangerous is a fresh new way to approach the genre. (I LOVE the film Shaun of the Dead...it is brilliant! A hilarious take on the classic zombie tale). As soon as I started writing about the North Pole, I knew I had to give it a fresh spin. Everyone expects a plump, jolly Santa and a bunch of perky elves. Creating a new vision of the North Pole added something new and exciting into the story. I actually researched the legend of St. Nicholas, which varies from country to country, but in the end, I just decided to make up my own!
Carolyn: Maybe this is too much of a shop question, but I always think it's ballsy to write Christmas books, because they have such a short shelf life. At least in my mind, I'd think, oh, nobody reads Christmas books in January. But then again, it's super topical - most people are thinking about some sort of holiday, at least in the West, during December. Did you worry about writing a Christmas book?
Penny: Here's the thing. I had a story in my head, and I wrote it down. I wasn't thinking about the fact that December is the worst month for romance sales, that holiday stories have a short shelf-life, that 55,000-word manuscripts are too short for traditional publishers. Sweet Inspiration was totally story-driven, not market-driven. I got my butt kicked at a pitch session, where I was lectured by an agent about why this story was basically un-publishable. I was not deterred. I really liked the concept for the story, and I personally love holiday romance novels, so I just kept querying until I found the right home for this book. Because it's turning into a series about the five brothers, it will actually have a bit more longevity than a typical holiday romance. However, I am a firm believer in a writer being true to herself, and not writing to "please" the market.
Carolyn: Will you have a book about each Klaus brother come out every year for the next five years? And who's up next?
Penny: Yep, all five brothers (Nicholas, Sven, Gregor, Wolfgang, and Oskar Klaus) will have a book. Next up is Oskar, the youngest brother, who is a punky, carefree snowboarder. His story is Sweet Magik -- I'm hoping it will be out for Christmas of 2010. I'm aiming to make this book a bit longer so I have more room for character development, as well as a secondary story line about this awesome elf named Ingo!
Look! Penny has provided us with a handy key to the hunky Santa sons:
- Nicholas Klaus- highly disciplined master pastry chef and owner of Klaus Kuche, specialty Christmas cookies; loves to travel the world sampling culinary delights
- Sven Klaus--tree-hugging, birkenstock-wearing hippy/environmentalist and lead toy designer and wood-worker in the North Pole
- Gregor- GQ-dressing, gourmet-coffee drinking financial guru of Klaus Enterprises, lives in Manhattan
- Wolfgang-- head of charitable donations for Klaus Enterprises and general do-gooder; spends a lot of time in pediatric hospitals and 3rd world countries
- Oskar--green-haired punk snowboarding youngest brother; Bad-Boy; Director of Elfin Resources
In honor of our sweets-loving hero and heroine, Penny is giving away a Santa bag of chocolate covered Rice Krispie treats! To be eligible to win, let us know in the comments which of Santa's sons you'd most like to take a sleigh ride with - by 6pm CST Thursday the 10th. And be sure to leave your email address if it's not attainable from your profile.
Penny: Thanks so much for having me today, Carolyn. I hope you have a great holiday!
Carolyn: You too, Penny, and thanks so much for stopping by!
More info about Sweet Inspiration and an excerpt here.
Buy the ebook from Wild Rose Press.
~ Kitty Rumble results tomorrow!~
~ Kitty Rumble results tomorrow!~