Guest Author Interview – Amie Denman and May Williams

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This Valentine’s Day, spice up your reading life and fall in love with a love story!

Title: Valentines at the Grand Hotel (White Pine Island Stories Book 5)

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Holidays

Synopsis: Hazel and Ian – Love requires just the right recipe.

When Hazel Weaver lands a dream internship as a pastry chef at the famous Grand Hotel on White Pine Island, she pours her heart into sweet desserts and stunning wedding cakes. Icing and confections fall under her spell, but the reclusive head chef at the hotel keeps her at a bittersweet distance.

Ian Dodd learned a painful lesson when a kitchen romance turned to disaster, and he vowed never to fall for someone in the restaurant business again. Especially, not a beautiful and sweet baker assigned to his kitchen as part of her training. He resists her as long as he can, believing he’s protecting both of them until a Valentine’s Day Ball provides some magic and a secret ingredient.

Francie and Christopher – Can two hearts heal in time for Valentine’s Day?

Francie Donati loves making fine wines in her family business on White Pine Island. Along with her brother and grandfather, she carries on the tradition even after a tragic sailing death takes the life of her father. A year after his loss, she can’t get her mind off the heroic Coast Guard Commander who tried to save him. Although, he seems unapproachable, Francie knows there is plenty of heart bubbling beneath his surface.

Lieutenant Commander Chris Sparks believes in honor and service at his island Coast Guard Station. Saving lives and keeping the ocean safe are beliefs that run through his veins. When a beautiful vintner tempts him with her sweetness, he relives his regret of the night he failed to save her father. More than that, Francie Donati believes in the power of family so strongly that she won’t look the other way when Chris gives up on his own parents. Is Francie’s love strong enough to make Chris stop bottling up his feelings and risk his heart?

Amie Denman, Author

May Williams, Author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CH: Today’s Guest Authors are co-authors Amie Denman and May Williams. They write the popular Grand Hotel series. Welcome to my blog, Amie and May.

CH: Amie, can you tell us why we should read the story of Hazel and Ian?

AD: If you like beautiful hotels, amazing desserts, and falling in love, I hope you’ll enjoy this story. I think I gained five pounds writing it because talking about cakes and desserts made me want to bake and eat! Write about cake, bake a cake, eat the cake, and repeat.

CH: So, how did you come up with the premise for this story?

AD: May and I work together to create the characters for each book in our Grand Hotel series. We try to realistically think about who would be visiting or working at an island resort hotel, and that’s how we came up with a renowned chef and an apprentice pastry chef. The next step was to imagine what would keep them from falling in love with each other and then challenging that idea.

CH: Was it hard to intertwine the two stories into one book?

AD: May and I work together almost daily on our books, so intertwining them is an organic process. Lots of wine and conversation!

CH: Where did you get the idea for the series?

AD: This is my favorite question! May and I took the Amtrak from Ohio to Chicago (about a 5-hour trip) to attend BookCon in May, 2016. On the train on the way back, there was a crying baby in our car, so we escaped to the dining car and stayed up all night with our notebooks planning our White Pine Island series. When we got on the train, we knew we wanted to do a series of connected novellas together, and when we got off the train, we had our idea for a Grand Hotel on an island off the coast of Georgia. I’ll never forget that night on the train!

CH: Which character was your favorite to write?

AD: I loved writing about Hazel because she’s sweet, but she’s not a push-over. And, wow, is she a fabulous baker!

CH: Which character was hardest to develop?

AD: Ian was a little tougher to write because he’s an emotionally reclusive executive chef. So many chefs on television seem rude and callous, but I didn’t want to go with that stereotype for Ian. He has a good reason for guarding his heart, and that touch of vulnerability is what Hazel loves about him.

CH: Was a Valentine’s Ball imperative for the Grand Hotel series?

AD: A ball with beautiful gowns, delicious desserts, and the promise of romance is imperative for everything! But, yes, a resort hotel should host at least one formal ball a year—more if possible!

CH: What is your favorite romance book? And why?

AD: Pride and Prejudice is my favorite romance, and I enjoy reading it over and over again. It’s the model for a great romance with memorable characters who give their hearts away, but not until they’ve put up a fight.

CH: Can you tell us a little about your writing journey?

AD: I have always loved reading and dreamed of being a writer. My first book was published in 2011 by a small press, and I have written over 20 books since then. I have seven books published by Harlequin, and many self-published or co-authored. There were times it seemed my dream would never come true, but I’m so glad I never gave up and kept working until I found my voice.

CH: What is your next writing project?

AD: May and I are hard at work on Weekend at the Grand Hotel (our next White Pine Island book), and our next book in the Coastal Cruise Line stories which takes place on a luxury cruise ship called the Grand Islander. I’m also working on a fun summer novel, The Mayfly Summer Resort, and a series set on the coast of Maine called Kenyon Cove. I think/hope/believe I will have 12 books released in 2018!

CH: May, please tell us in one sentence, why we should read the story of Francie and Christopher?

MW: Francie Donati has every reason not to fall in love with Coast Guard Officer Christopher Sparks so, of course, she does.

CH: So, how did you come up with the premise for this story?

MW: In Autumn at the Grand Hotel, Francie’s brother finds love in a second chance romance. When Amie and I decided to continue the series with Valentine’s Day, Francie was a natural choice. Readers had already been introduced to Christopher, the Coast Guard Officer. Francie and Christopher had a little history and plenty of reasons why they shouldn’t get together, which made them perfect for a Valentine’s couple.

CH: When you wrote the first book in the series, did you realize it would be a series then?

MW: Amie and I planned the first four books (one for each season) on an Amtrak train between Chicago and our homes in northern Ohio. We sat in the club car and created the concepts of the Grand Hotel and the family who owned it. As the books gained a following, we decided to continue the series. And we love writing them. Readers get to escape to the Grand Hotel when reading the books, but Amie and I escape when writing them, as well. And who doesn’t want to visit the Grand Hotel?

CH: Are there any authors that provide inspiration for your writing?

MW: In terms of dedication to the craft and the business of writing, there’s no greater influence than Marie Force. I love her books and her attitude about making her own success.

CH: Which character was your favorite to write?

MW: Francie was my favorite from this book. On the surface, she’s lighthearted and caring, but underneath she’s struggling with her own problems. I think, she’s a true representation of many women’s experiences.

CH: Was a Valentine’s Ball imperative for the Grand Hotel series?

MW: Absolutely. Guests at the Grand Hotel love to celebrate and what better celebration is there than Valentine’s Day? Especially, when characters are looking for love.

CH: What is your favorite romance book? And why?

MW: I love Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton Family series. I’ve read them all several times. The novels appeal to me because each is different in character and tone, giving them so many layers to enjoy.

CH: Can you tell us a little about your writing journey?

MW: I started writing historical romances, because I enjoyed reading them. I wrote WWII era and Victorian novels to start. Amie convinced me to try writing contemporary romance, and I love it. It’s freeing when I don’t have to worry about historical accuracy of clothing or houses or anything else. I published my first contemporary trilogy, Animal Prints, Snow Prints, and Finger Prints, in 2015. I plan to remain a contemporary romance writer.

CH: What is your next writing project?

MW: Amie and I will continue to write the Grand Hotel series. We’ve started a connected series set aboard a luxury ship that cruises the southern waters from Charleston to Key West. We’ve published One Christmas aboard the Grand Islander and Two Weeks aboard the Grand Islander so far, with more to come in 2018.

CH: How to Find Amie Denman and May Williams:

CH: Any closing remarks?

AD: Thank you for hosting Valentines at the Grand Hotel and promoting romance books in general. Reading and writing romance is good for the heart, and I’m so grateful I get to visit beautiful places like the Grand Hotel and the Grand Islander with my best friend and writing partner May Williams. I wish everyone a wonderful Valentine’s Day, no matter how you celebrate!

CH: Thank you so much, Amie Denman and May Williams, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers.  It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience.  And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book.  I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience. 

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet, Amie Denman, May Williams and Cheryl Holloway.

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