Hi there, book lovers! I am happy to welcome back to BLI romance author Barbara Wallace, whose previous novel Weekend Agreement you might remember that I loved! Barbara stops by today to answer my questions and tell you about her latest release The Billionaire’s Fair Lady, a modern Cinderella/My Fair Lady romance, doesn’t it sound wonderful? So read on, you could even win a copy! ;-)
Stella: Hi Barbara, welcome back to Book Lovers Inc! Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
Barbara: Not much to tell. I think my characters live far more exciting lives. I live in New England with my romantic hero – my husband of 23 years. We have one son. He’s currently a freshman studying Criminal Justice and Nutrition at the University of Rhode Island (Go Rhody Rams.) He recently also announced he’s signing up for ROTC, and committing himself to a stint as an officer in the National Guard. As a mother, I’m both nervous and proud.
With our son away at school, I’d like to say we’re empty nesters except we still have two very spoiled cats and one spoiled dog. My husband likes to call our house the Wallace Spa for Misfit Animals because all of them are rescue animals with some sort of strange quirk. One cat has only one eye, one cat suffered brain damage as the result of an infection, and the dog has anxiety issues.
When I’m not writing, I’m usually reading or puttering around the house while listening to sports radio. This summer, I’ll also be doing a lot of sailing as my husband is launching his sailboat after five years of remodelling.
Stella: Are you a planner or pantser? Can you tell us a bit about your writing process? How do your novels come to life?
Barbara: Funny you should ask about process. Interestingly enough, after eight novels, I’m still trying to figure out what my process is. I used to be very much a pantser. Lately, however, I’ve evolved into more of a “planner” – that is a hybrid of the two. I have an end point that I want to get to, but I let the characters take me there. I find that, for me, the most important part is understanding the characters’ back stories. Unless I truly know who they were prior to page one, I’m stuck floundering. As it is, I usually end up rewriting chapter 1 over and over because the characters have held back information.
Stella: What do you think is the difference between a reader and a real Book Lover?
Barbara: A true booklover is someone who doesn’t simply read – but lives the story. They are a person who, after the book is done, can’t help wondering what those characters are doing. If you’re like me, a really powerful story will haunt you for days or weeks, almost to the point of distraction.
Stella: Your latest novel, The Billionaire’s Fair Lady was published on 3 January 2013, congratulations! Can you tell our readers what they can expect of it?
Barbara: Sure! I’d love to. The Billionaire’s Fair Lady is the story of hot shot lawyer Mike Templeton and cocktail waitress Roxy O’Brien. Mike is just about down on his luck when Roxy shows up with a very dubious claim – she may or may not be the illegitimate daughter of late billionaire Wentworth Sinclair. If she is, the case could be the answer to saving his practice. If she isn’t…Well, maybe he can still wrangle a settlement. Unfortunately, for Mike, the more he gets to know Roxy, the more he starts to fall for her. Then what starts as strictly a means to an end because a personal quest.
As for a teaser…. How about this, from the opening chapter?
You have his eyes…
The memory rolled through. Four words. Fourteen letters. And they’d changed her life. One minute she was Roxanne O’Brien, daughter of Fiona and Connor O’Brien, the next she was…who? The daughter of some man she’d never met. A lover her mother never –ever – mentioned. That’s why she came to Mike Templeton. To find answers.
Because if her mother’s last words were true, her life would never be the same again.
You have his eyes….
Speaking of eyes, Mike Templeton’s were studying her. She’d been stared at before. In her line of work, customers figured ogling the cocktail waitress came with the bar tab. Something about Templeton’s stare though made her want to squirm. Maybe it was because he’d removed his reading glasses so his eyes were no longer shuttered, but she felt like he wasn’t looking at her so much as trying to see inside her. Read her mind, maybe. Gauge her intentions. A self-conscious flutter found its way to her stomach. She crossed her legs, wishing her skirt wasn’t so damn short and forced herself to keep her eyes on him. A visual Mexican standoff.
To her relief, he broke off first, sitting back in his chair. Roxy felt her own gaze drawn to the black lacquered pen he twirled in his long, elegant fingers.
Everything about him was elegant. His fingers, his features, his “bearing” as her high school drama teacher would say. Made her wonder if he was born wearing a suit and tie. Simply sitting across from him made her feel every inch the downtown girl.
Except, if what her mother said was truth, she wasn’t so downtown after all.
Stella: Could you introduce the hero and heroine of The Billionaire’s Fair Lady to us?
Barbara: I’m not going to lie. Mike Templeton is exactly what you’d picture an uptown lawyer to look like. Designer suits, $100 hair cut, gold-rimmed reading glasses. He’s long, lean and elegant. Roxy is the opposite. She’s got a mound of strawberry blonde hair and wears her clothes too tight. Her short cocktail waitress skirt is particularly unnerving to Mike because it shows off way too much leg and way too much of her bottom.
Stella: If The Billionaire’s Fair Lady were to be made into a movie, who would be your perfect cast?
Barbara: This was actually the first time I cast my characters so casting the movie would be easy. Michael Weatherly and Poppy Montgomery (The red-headed version)
Stella: How did the idea for the story come to you? Any specific moment/event that sparked the inspiration for it that you could share with us?
Barbara: Actually, the book is a companion piece to my September Harlequin release, Mr. Right, Next Door. When writing that book, my hero, Grant Templeton, needed a brother – someone who represented the Templeton model of success. As I created Mike, I thought – wouldn’t it be interesting if his “success” were only an illusion and that he was as messed up as his younger brother. Thus he got his own story.
That said, you don’t have to read Mr. Right, Next Door to enjoy this book. However, if readers are so inclined to find out Grant’s story….
Stella: Now can you tell us 3 reasons why people should read The Billionaire’s Fair Lady?
Barbara: First, Roxy. She’s a feisty Eliza Doolittle style character. On one hand, she wants to be an heiress; on the other hand, she wants simply to be loved for herself.
Second, Mike. He starts out stuffy and learns his own lessons about success. I’d like to think readers will sympathize with his back story and the pressure he’s lived under to be the successful Templeton namesake.
Third, the story itself. Do not be scared off by the fact it’s a Harlequin romance. This is a character-driven story about the true definition of success and about being loved for who you are on the inside If you like emotional, sweetly romantic stories, or if you’ve enjoyed books like Weekend Agreement, then Billionaire’s Fair Lady is right up your alley.
Stella: Could you please summarize The Billionaire’s Fair Lady for us Twitter-style (in 140 characters or less)?
Barbara: Is cocktail waitress Roxy O’Brien really a long-lost heiress who can save Mike Templeton’s practice? Or will she simply steal his heart?
Stella: In your backlist I see that both Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast both make an appearance either in titles alluding to them or featuring similar tropes. Which fairy tale is your favourite? And why did you think classic fairy tales make good bases for romance novels?
Barbara: Wow, you ask tough questions. I think Cinderella is absolutely my favourite fairy tale. I think I tend to visit the rags to riches theme over and over again because it’s so very romantic.
As for why fairy tales make such great tropes for romance novels? I think if you examine fairy tales in general, you’ll find they all seem to touch on that core desire to find true love. At the end, it’s not so much finding your prince as it is finding that one person that makes you complete. Love helps The Beast finds his inner goodness. Rapunzel is saved from a life of loneliness in the tower. Love brings Snow White and Sleeping Beauty back from the brink of death. Even Cinderella isn’t so much about going from being poor to rich; it’s about being saved from a world where she’s unloved and unappreciated.
Stella: What is next on your schedule? Any future plans you’d like to share with us?
Barbara: At the moment, I’m putting the finishing touches on another Harlequin. This one involves a heroine who has recently escaped an abusive relationship and the hero who reluctantly ends up helping her. They are both so determined to keep the world at arm’s length, but fall in love despite themselves.
I’m also working on an anthology for Entangled Publishing with three other authors: Shirley Jump, Jackie Braun and Susan Meier. I can’t give too many details, but let’s say it involves a travelling Jack Russell terrier. I’m very lucky to be able to work with both publishers again in 2013.
Stella: Could you share with us something, a trivia that not many people know about you?
Barbara: Mmm, let’s see. How about the fact I am a huge Boston Red Sox fan? So much so, that for my birthday last year my husband gifted me with front row tickets.
Now that I think about it, my Sox fanaticism might not be such a secret to people who read my Twitter feed. However, I bet people don’t realize I’ve been a baseball fan since I was twelve years old. My first summer job in high school was scoring softball games and writing summaries for the local paper. Of course, like many fans, I can’t play the game to save my life.
Barbara Wallace has been a life-long romantic and daydreamer so it’s not surprising she decided to become a writer at age eight. However, it wasn’t until a co-worker handed her a romance novel that she knew where her stories belonged. For years she limited her dreams to nights, weekends and commuter train trips while working as a communications specialist, PR freelancer and full-time mom. At the urging of her family, she finally chucked the day job to pursue writing full time and couldn’t be happier.
A life-long Yankee, Barbara lives in New England with her husband, their teenage son, and three very spoiled pets.
For hotshot lawyer Mike Templeton, success is nonnegotiable. So when actress-turned-waitress Roxy O’Brien rocks his Manhattan office with a scandalous inheritance claim that could save his new legal practice, he can’t refuse the challenge. But first he has to “smooth out the rough edges.”One uptown makeover later, Roxy feels every inch the beautiful New York heiress—and, judging by the heat in Mike’s eyes, he agrees! But when their professional relationship becomes a little too personal, suddenly it’s not just her future at stake—it’s her heart .
All you have to do is leave a meaningful comment to Barbara or tell us: do you like modern retellings of classic fairy tales? Got any favourites?
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This giveaway is open to all!
Giveaway ends on Saturday, 19 January 2013; we will announce the winner on Sunday.