Interview with Violet Duke, New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Author
Happy Holidays, Muffin readers! Sweet Holiday treat today: an interview with Violet Duke, New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Author.
New York Times & USA Today bestselling author Violet Duke is a former professor of English Education who is ecstatic to now be on the other side of the page writing wickedly fun contemporary romance novels. When she’s not arguing with her story characters or feeding her book-a-day reading addiction, she enjoys tackling reno projects with her power tools while trying pretty much anything without reading the directions first and cooking ‘special edition’ dishes that laugh in the face of recipes. Violet lives in Hawai’I with her two cute kids and similarly adorable husband. (Find out more at http://www.violetduke.com )
WOW: New York Times and USA Today Best Selling Author? That’s SO Exciting!! So spill it – who was your biggest cheerleader or influence through the years and what is their response to your success?
Violet: It was beyond exciting! I was over the moon when it happened this summer. One of my author friends actually told me I made the list and she and I shed a few emotional tears in that phone call. Definitely a cherished memory for the scrapbooks.
Besides the many author friends I’ve made via Twitter and Facebook, I’d say my biggest cheerleader is my husband. He believed in my becoming an author from the very beginning, had faith in my books before there was even anything physical to have faith in. His response has been awed appreciation for my fans and colleagues, along with doting I-knew-you-could-do-its for me.
WOW: (laughing) Are you sure you aren’t just buttering up your hubby because it’s so close to Christmas? Seriously: How do you come up with such great titles and storylines?
I’m super excited to read Love, Chocolate, and Beer – where did that idea come from in particular?
Violet: My titles generally come quickly after the series has formulated into a conjoined collection of stories in my head. The entire thing is a very spontaneously organic process. Usually some little kernel of inspiration will come (usually while I’m driving for some reason) and I’ll scramble to get my notes down onto a scrap paper, napkin, gum wrapper, anything. From there, it marinates. The characters line up and start introducing themselves to me (and my muse). Since I write very character-based stories (as opposed to event-based), I usually get to know the characters as friends *before* I learn all their interesting little secrets. As I get to know the characters more, their storylines start thickening, developing, and eventually becoming inherently event-based as well, in a spiderweb that has (by this point) grown to encompass three to five stories. That’s when I start outlining, storyboarding, and coming up with my titles.
Love, Chocolate, and Beer is actually a story that I wrote about two years ago, while I was pregnant with my second child, a year before the characters in the Nice Girl/Nice Guy books unapologetically cut in line. The story actually started with my wanting to write about Valentine’s Day and a coordinating holiday in Japan called White Day (March 14th). You’ll learn more about that holiday in the book when it releases in January but basically, it has to do with chocolate and love…in the most un-red-heart-box way I could come up with. *chuckles* I like to be different. So I guess in the grand question of who came first, the chocolatier or the brew master, the answer would be the chocolatier. And since I’ve *always* wanted to write a story about a brewmaster (I do love my beer), it was the perfect combination. When I introduced the two characters to each other, sparks flew. And the story was born.
WOW: I had no idea you liked beer; you are so intriguing. I have however heard you lived in a cabin in the woods for an entire year – with no hot water and only an outhouse, did you find you were more creative with your writing?
Tell us one of your favorite things about the year in the cabin and/or which books were written during that time?
Violet: LOL! That was actually nearly a decade ago--in the third year of my PhD degree (toward the end of the six-year hiatus I took from writing fiction to complete my graduate studies in English). I was just starting to work on my dissertation when I came across an ad for a cabin in the woods. I drove over to the area—about a half hour from Tempe—and just fell in love with the “town” on the spot. It was totally hidden. Population in the dozens. Surprising with all its greenery and creeks that actually complimented the desert landscape quite gorgeously. No street lights or sounds, it was heavenly. Yes, I do think I was more productive—I got a lot of my articles and dissertation writing done. But more than that, I was able to get in touch with my surroundings again, in a way I used to be in Hawai‘i but lost a little of when I moved to the different cities I lived in on the mainland. And that rekindled love affair with the unique, rustic varieties of nature quickly manifested in a deep appreciation for the rough beauty of Arizona, which is most certainly represented in my novels (the first three series are all in Arizona).
My favorite thing about living there was probably just being able to hang out with my dog, exploring the creeks, hiking along the lush desert greenery with all its earthy colors (a dazzling paradox I’m still in love with to this day).
WOW: That lifestyle certainly isn’t for everyone; I admire you for even giving it a try.
You drew up the plans for your own house? What would you change now that you’ve lived in the house? What wouldn’t you change?
Violet: I’d put a door on my office! LOL. I wanted it to be slightly open-concept so instead of a door, there’s just a floor to ceiling open walk-through. It looks great but more often than not, when I’m smack-dab in the middle of an emotional scene, Murphy’s Law dictates that one or more of my kids will sneak in with a (albeit adorable), “Hi mommy!” LOL. I wouldn’t change anything else. I handpicked every single element—from the cabinets to the fixtures to the paint—and installed a lot of it (flooring, tiling, etc.). My favorite part would have to be my office desk, shelves, and built-ins. My husband and I made every aspect of my office ourselves (I adore my power tools). *beams*
WOW: What else can you tell readers about what the future has in store for Violet Duke? What about Nina Nakayama?
Violet: My upcoming series is the Cactus Creek series which is based on that fantastic, quirky little town in Arizona my muse and I created years ago (which is a thousand percent inspired by the area my cabin was in). There are three novels and two novellas in that one. The first novel is about chocolate and beer, the second about antique weapons and martial arts, and the third is all about football. An eclectic mix of storylines that are (as my friends and beta readers tell me) all very “Violet Duke” books. And because all the characters from my Nice Girl / Nice Guy books met and befriended the Cactus Creek crew, there will be cameos of all those characters as well. Basically, it’s a controlled chaos-type party. LOL. After that, I have a few different series coming up. They’re all very hush-hush right now but they’re so different from what I’ve written up until now (edgier with even *more* unique topics) so I’m really eager to get started on them.
Nina Nakayama (my alter ego) is still hard at work being a mom to a six-year old and one-year old…and a thirty-ahem year old Mr. Violet Duke (sometimes, he’s their ringleader!). My colleagues and former students back at the university where I once worked as a professor have asked if I’m ever going to come back. I do love and miss teaching terribly so a few guest lectures may get written into my future as well. *grin* Beyond that, I’m just loving and living my day-to-day life. It’s honestly beyond my wildest, most imaginative dreams. I don’t want to miss a second of it.
Thanks so much for the interview and having me over! I had fun!
WOW: I should be thanking you and I certainly agree, this was a lot of fun! Thank you so much!
Interview by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto
Finding the Right Girl
(A Nice GUY to Love Spin-Off Novel)
Brian & Tessa’s Story
From the New York Times bestselling author who brought you the Nice Girl trilogy, comes a Nice GUY to Love spin-off…
Brian Sullivan has been in love twice in his lifetime. He lost his first love to early-onset Huntington’s, and he lost the other more recently…to his brother. And somehow, his heart has managed to heal itself after both. Amazingly, without therapy. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t gotten more wary along the way, however. In fact, he’s been thinking lately that maybe his brother’s now retired nothing-but-flings rule isn’t such a bad idea. Unfortunately, being the nice guy poster boy and all, Brian isn’t exactly versed in the fine art of flings. So he looks to the outrageously ‘unique,’ provokingly button-pushing Tessa Daniels for a crash course.
There’s absolutely no way he’s falling in love with this one…right?
Tessa has no idea what she was thinking telling Brian that she was some sort of fling expert. She’s never been flung before and she sure as heck doesn’t know where or how to begin flinging a guy like Brian. It was a temporary lapse in sanity, really—no doubt because of the can’t-help-but-fall-for-him brain fuzz that hits her whenever he’s around. Not only does the man have her being more herself than she’s ever been in her life, but he’s the only person she knows who seems to have as many demons and skeletons in the closet as she does. What’s more, he’s got her thinking of the one thing she stopped letting herself even hope for years ago.
A happily ever after.