This month, Rita-winning author Karen Templeton kicks of the latest Harlequin Special Edition series: THE FORTUNES OF TEXAS…WHIRLWIND ROMANCE. Her book, FORTUNE’S CINDERELLA, is the first of six books in the continuing saga of one of the compelling Fortune family.
* So glad you could join us today, Karen, where did you get the idea for FORTUNE’S CINDERELLA?
From Harlequin’s editorial department, actually. <g> Since FC is part of the ongoing Fortunes of Texas continuity series for Special Edition, I was given a brief overview of the storyline, as well as the character types, which I then expanded on to make them “mine.” Kind of like an actor getting a script (only I then had to write the script, too!).
* Tell us about the hero of the book? Why will we fall in love with him?
Interestingly, I tend to write mostly blue-collar or “everyday” heroes, so writing a rich dude is a stretch. A fun stretch, but a stretch. Scott Fortune was originally supposed to be on the alpha side, too…but that’s even more of a stretch for me than the wealthy thing! It’s the betas that make my knees weak! However, there’s a lot to be said for the alpha protective streak, too…and boy, is Scott protective. To the point where he’s willing to put his posterior on the line with his family in order to take care of the heroine – and how can you not fall in love with someone who does that? But what makes him even more swoon-worthy is that, for all he’s used to manipulating people and events to make things go his way, he quickly learns that the business of love doesn’t work that way…and that sometimes you have to let things unfold however they’re going to. You know, let the other person call the shots some times? A good man, that Scott.
* Tell us about the heroine? Why is she the perfect woman for the hero?
Christina Hastings really is a modern-day Cinderella, a snack bar waitress living in a seedy apartment complex (with her trusty sidekick, Gumbo, a hound who lives to love) while she’s struggling to finish up her college degree before she turns eighty. But although she has little in the way of material things, she’s got enough spirit for ten people…as well as an unshakeable conviction that if you don’t go after what you really want in life, what’s the point of living? Which makes Scott – who’s spent way too many years doing what’s been expected of him, not necessarily what’s best for him – reassess a thing or six. And fall in love in the process.
* What life lessons do your H/H have to learn before they can find their happily-ever-after?
This story is all about letting go of preconceived notions, of who we are and what we think we deserve…or not. That you can’t talk the talk about life being too short to go after your dreams, and then be afraid to take a chance on what could be the biggest blessing you’ll ever know.
* Is there any particular significance in the setting?
Since the entire series has been set in and around fictional Red Rock, Texas, I didn’t get to make up that part. J However, I did find a whole lot of symbolism in those wide open spaces, especially for big-city boy Scott – who decides to trade all those imposed expectations for what, in comparison, feels like infinite possibilities.
* If this is part of a continuity, tell us about your experience working on connected stories with other authors.
In my case, working with the other authors – Marie Ferrarella, Judy Duarte, Nancy Robards Thompson, Susan Crosby and Allison Leigh – was an absolute delight. We have a great time brainstorming plot points and character details with each other, and in my mind at least, this is going to be the Best. Series. Ever. LOL!
* What was the most difficult scene for you to write?
Oh, man – the first three chapters? Take an entire family, add a huge supporting cast, toss in a tornado and an aftermath hospital scene with literally three dozen speaking parts…oy. I *never* write opening scenes with that many people, but in this case, because I was setting up the whole series, I had no choice. All I could do was try to visualize it from a cinematic standpoint, then write it all out as succinctly as possible. Early feedback has been very positive, but shoot me if I ever willing do something like that again! <g>
* Can you share if there were any real-life inspirations for a particular scene or character in the book?
Gumbo! We have our own little hound mix – named Petey – who looks like somebody stuck a beagle head on a corgi body. And he’s every bit as nuts – and as lovestruck – as Gumbo. And the Art Department even put a dog who looks like him on the back cover. Score!
* What do you feel are some of your strengths as a writer and how did those show up in this particular book?
I realized early on I have a pretty good ear for speech patterns/syntax, which make it easier to “hear” my characters – and once I do, they pretty much tell their own stories. It took no time at all to hear Christina, although Scott took a bit more work. But once I did, their dialogue – especially in their first big scene together, when they’re trapped in the rubble after the tornado – just flowed. Very fun scene to write.
* Any interesting tidbits of information you discovered while researching this book?
Yeah. That San Antonio – the general area where the book is set – rarely gets tornadoes. Oops. So we all had to work that fact into the overall storyline to make it plausible!
* Why will readers enjoy this book?
Because Scott is yummy and Christina is adorable and Gumbo is a hoot and a half. <g>
Since 1998, two-time RITA award winner Karen Templeton has written more than 35 heart-tugging, family-centric romances for Harlequin. An east coast native, she’s called New Mexico home for more than 25 years, where she lives with an ever-changing number of her five sons, two dogs, two cats, and the world’s oldest Beta fish.