Monday, December 7, 2009

Author Interview: Penny Watson! With fun insights and a chocolate prize!

I'm getting in the Christmas spirit this year, first with the Klingon Christmas Carol (this Sunday!) and now, reading Penny Watson's delightful paranormal, Sweet Inspiration, (FTC: given to me by Penny!) the first in a series about Santa's five hunky sons finding love in the world of Sudlanders (that's what the North Pole people call us).

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.
The blurb:


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
Contest!
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!~

28 comments:

Lea said...

Hi Carolyn and Penny!

Your book sounds very unique and fun!! And I love the cover, a fellow such as that can serve me chocolate sweets any time. :)

I really enjoyed your interview and happy holidays to you both.

Best
L

Chris said...

This book sounds like a lot of fun. Alas, the prize doesn't sound as if it's gluten free (most Rice Krispie cereals have barley malt), so no need to enter me.

Carolyn Crane said...

Lea: Yes, bring on the chocolate sweets dude!

Chris: Awww. No treats for you. You'll have to settle for the hunky baker.

Mandi said...

I want Gregor in his suit in a sleigh with me. Naughty things will follow.

Sweet Inspiration is cute and I am looking forward to the next one!

Kati said...

Hi Penny - Wow, your book sounds like fun! I'd have to say I'm a fan of a GQ kind of guy so Gregor sounds right up my alley.

Congrats on the new release!

Sharon said...

Since Oskar is the exact opposite of my type, I'd like to go on a sleigh ride with him to see what would happen. ;-)

Erotic Horizon said...

Penny it's hilarious your description of the brothers...

Tree hugger, do gooder, GQ dresser, green air punk - who can resist...

E.H>

joder said...

I would definitely want to have Gregor as my present. Not only is he a coffee-aholic like me, but he's good with money. I would love a hottie financial guru to give me advice.

joderjo402 AT gmail DOT com

Penelope said...

I'm sort of shocked how many gals like Gregor! I guess there is something very appealing about a hot Wall Street guy in a stylin' suit. :)

Hilcia said...

That was fun! Great interview and a wonderful concept. :)

Okay, I'll take SVen. He has to have rough hands from all that wood work... plus he's a tree-hugger and so am I. So SVen...SVVVVen!

Happy Holidays, Penny. Thanks CJ!

Christine said...

What a cute idea for a Christmas romance series. It sounds like fun.

But ... but ... what do you mean Santa is a myth?!?

NOOoOoooOoo!!!

*cries* ;-)

Carolyn Crane said...

Ooo, good picks everyone! I never picked! And oddly, for me, it's between Gregor and Sven.Though actually, if it's just the sleigh ride, I'd go with Sven.

Penelope said...

Just so you know, when I was writing Sweet Inspiration, I was totally picturing Eric Bana in the movie Troy. He's my Nicholas. Yowzah!

lisabea said...

Hi Penny and CJ--I'd have to pick Gregor--you had me at COFFEE. Yup.

lustyreader said...

i knew, i just KNEW before clicking open the comments section that i would be one of many picking Gregor. now if only i got a prize for winning a bet with *myself*

yes im the romance reader who prefers dukes and tycoons, sigh.

sula said...

gotta go with Wolfgang. As a former Peace Corps volunteer and globetrotter, I am a sucker for the do-gooders. This sounds like a really cute story. I love to bake...does the book come with recipes? heh.

Chris said...

Mmmm... hunky baker, wet from showering off all that pesky gluten...

Donna B said...

Wow - what a hunk! And I love the story! I can't wait for the next one! (And what do you mean I have to wait for one a year???) I love Christmas romances and this one definitely ranks up there with my favorites. Nice job, Penny.

And a great interview too!

Renee said...

Sounds like a hoot! :-)

Can't make my mind up between Sven and Wolfgang. Though I bet a tree hugging kind of guy would be best out in nature! ;-)

Penelope said...

Yay! Finally got some votes for Sven and Wolfgang. No votes for Oskar! He has been the most popular at my Penelope site. He's pretty much a wise-ass bad boy.

Ladytink_534 said...

Oh how cute! I really like the idea of this one. Nicholas and Oskar sound like the best ones :)

Ladytink_534(at)yahoo(dot)com

Katiebabs a.k.a KB said...

I would love to have a Gregor in my life. GQ wearing coffee loving drinker? Sexy!

Patti said...

This book sounds so cute!! The brothers all seem so different, I'm interested to read how they all get along! I think I'd like a sleigh ride with Sven - he sounds like fun!

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

What a great interview! I'll chime in with my vote for Gregor!

ikkinlala said...

I'd pick Sven (and hope he wasn't too much of a hippy for me).

LSUReader said...

Sounds like a great idea for a series. I'd like a sleigh ride with Nicholas, please.

orannia said...

HI Penny & CJ :) Thank you so much for the great interview and apologies for being so late - insane week :(

Do I have to pick just one? *grin*

writtenwyrdd said...

This sounds like a fun book! As for the brothers, I have to say the birkenstock-wearing hippie Sven is more my style.