Meow my guest today is auithor Rebecca Adler, who also writes as Gina Lee Nelson!
Rebecca Adler grew up on the sugar beaches of the Florida Gulf Coast. Drawn to the Big Apple by the sweet smell of wishful thinking, she studied acting on Broadway until a dark-eyed cowboy flung her over his saddle and hightailed it down to the Southwest.
Prior to writing, Rebecca always found a way to add a touch of the dramatic to her life: dinner theatre in Mississippi, children’s theatre in Jacksonville, can-can club in Florida, flower shop in Germany, acting school on Broadway, sweatshirt boutique on Madison Avenue, waitress at an all-night dive on the Lower East Side, video series in Jersey, giant Furskin in Manhattan, and plays and musicals in the Southwest.
She’s currently content to pour her melodramatic tendencies into writing cozy mysteries and sweet romance with a Southern-fried flavor.
Welcome Rebecca. Tell us a little about your background:
Thanks ROCCO. Prior to writing, I always found a way to add a touch of the dramatic to my life: dinner theatre in Mississippi, acting school on Broadway, waitress at an all-night dive on the Lower East Side, video series in Jersey, and a giant Furskin at the New York Toy Fair, plus the occasional play and musical. I grew up on the sugar beaches of the Florida Gulf Coast, studied acting in New York, and raised three boys in Texas before embarking on a career in education, teaching theatre arts. I started writing as a creative outlet when my sons were younger.
Tell us a bit about your latest book , HERE TODAY GONE TAMALE. Where did that idea for Tex-Mex come from?
One of my editors on this book is a native Texan. She was the one who had the yummy idea of Josie Callahan's Latino family running a Tex-Mex restaurant. Josie is a bit down on her luck. She's returned home to Broken Boot after losing her job and her fiancé. I loved the idea of the restaurant and her abuela’s tamales being both a comfort and a temptation. Josie and I share that trait. Even before I moved to Texas several years ago, Tex-Mex was my favorite food group. No kidding. I eat Tex-Mex at least twice a week.
Tell us about other books you’ve written.
My first novel, Play It Loud, was a sweet romance for The Wild Rose Press under the name Gina Lee Nelson set in my former stomping ground of New York City. It was actually similar to this series in that the heroine was also an aspiring reporter; but in Claire's case, she saves the life of a popular singer, infiltrates his band, and earns her happily ever after admitting her selfish intentions.
Under the name Gina Lee Nelson, I've also written short stories in two Texas romance anthologies: Love Texas Style and Deep in the Hearts of Texas.
How do you “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?
Getting to know my characters is a process. I have a general idea of the main character, her inner struggles, and outer conflicts before the story begins. I surround her with a few supporting characters and then begin to write. It's not until I write those first few chapters that I begin to discover more about those characters. As I'm not a seat of the pants writer, I'll usually stop at that point and figure out the personality traits of the characters and their strengths and weaknesses.
How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
I do both! I'll come up with three turning points, a black moment, and a resolution and then start to write. If I get stuck, I'll outline. In my second draft, I'll add and cut scenes as needed to hone subplots and relationships.
Which do you consider more important, plot or character?
That's a tricky question because both are so important! If I had to pick one, I'd say character. Readers, myself included, fall in love with characters.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?
I work long hours at my day job as a theatre teacher, which makes time management my biggest challenge. I'm inspired to keep writing because I enjoy the challenge of bringing characters to life in my own style and voice.
Do you have an “How I got my agent” story you want to share?
My agent is the fabulous Kim Lionetti with Bookends. My agent story is dear to my heart. I had just decided to take a break from writing romance and was even considering taking an extended break from writing and submitting, when an author friend represented by Bookends told me Kim was looking for a certain kind of mystery. I sent her a proposal and the rest, as they say, is history.
What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
I'm currently working on the final draft of my second book in the Taste of Texas series, The Good, the Bad, and the Guacamole. My future writing plans are creating more books set in Broken Boot, Texas--a place that's starting to feel a lot like home.
What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?
I write long hours over school vacations, holidays and weekends. When I'm on deadline I write a couple of hours a night on two or three weeknights, plus the weekend.
If you could take only three books with you for a year-long writing retreat in a gorgeous setting with no library, which three would you take?
Uh, that's tough! That means I'd have to be willing to read them over and over. The Bible, spirituality, history, romance, and prophecy rolled into one; Touch not the Cat by Mary Stewart, one of my childhood favorites; and To the Hilt by Dick Francis, Alexander Kinloch is my favorite Francis sleuth.
What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?
Don't write in a vacuum. Join writers groups like Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America, or your local writers group. Find someone to hold you accountable for writing, finishing, and submitting. It truly has made all the difference in my writing career.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
Hmm. In my early twenties I attended acting school in NYC and worked late hours at a dive restaurant/bar. Looking back, riding the subway home at 2:30 in the morning from the Lower Eastside to Queens was probably taking my life in my hands.
What’s one thing your readers would be surprised to find out about you?
I write my books while listening to Zydeco and Bluegrass. The driving rhythms and the twang of the guitars keeps me focused on Broken Boot, Texas.
What question do you wish interviewers would ask? (And what’s the answer?)
Who's your favorite mystery writer? Dick Francis was the king. I long to write with his wit and efficiency. During his lifetime, he had two very different but successful careers. I figure if he can do it. Why not me?
Where can we learn more about you and your books?
Just for Fun:
Night or Day? Day
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully) In spite of my cover…both!
Beach or Pool? Beach -- born and raised in Florida
Steak or salad? Both--just saying.
Favorite Drink? Sangria
Favorite Book? Touch Not the Cat
Favorite TV Series? Sherlock
Favorite Movie? Last of the Mohicans
Favorite Actor: Matt Damon
Favorite Actress: Ann Hathaway
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? Sangria
Hawaii or Alaska? Alaska
Finish this sentence: If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be ___Jane Austin________________
If I had just one wish, it would be_to have one more conversation with my father who died this year.________________________________________
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be __Emma Thompson_____
Rebecca will give away a copy of Here Today, Gone Tamale to one lucky person who leaves a comment below!
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Winner will be chosen at random using random.org. Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your comment. Good luck!Contest ends midnight, December 19!