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Welcome NYT Bestseller Virginia Kantra!

VirginiaI’m thrilled to welcome bestselling author Virginia Kantra to the blog today!  Virginia’s new contemporary romance, Carolina Girl, has just been released and she’s excited to tell us about it!  Additionally, one lucky reader will be chosen from the comments to receive a copy of Carolina Girl!

 Tell us about Carolina Girl

 Carolina Girl is a reunion story, about first times – first crush, first sex, first big, big mistake – and second chances.

 It’s about Harvard-educated, New York PR executive Meg Fletcher, who thinks she has everything she’s ever wanted until she loses it all. She comes home to Dare Island to help out at her parents’ bed-and-breakfast and runs smack into sexy builder, Sam Grady, her big brother’s best friend in high school, who wants…Meg.

 The book also picks up the story of Meg’s ten-year-old niece, Taylor, which began in Carolina Home and will continue in Carolina Man (March 2014). And of course the rest of the wonderful, warm, messy Fletcher clan is all there, too.

 I’m a sucker for swoon-worthy heroes and you are a pro at writing them.  Why will readers fall in love with Sam?

He’s my fantasy boyfriend. (Based on you, honey, if you’re reading this.) He gets Meg. He sees her. He wants to make her happy. If there’s anything more swoon-worthy than that, I don’t know it is.

 You made the switch from writing paranormal romance to contemporary.  What prompted the change?

Actually, when I pitched the Dare Island series to my editor, I told her I just wanted to write a book that didn’t have a demon in it. These are tough times. I wanted to write about the ways we help each other through, neighbor to neighbor, families pulling together.

Other than the demon thing, it wasn’t as big a shift as you might think. My focus has always been on the relationships, on the romance. My stories, including the Children of the Sea, have always been grounded in the world I know, which means that neither love nor magic can solve all problems. (Though they sure can help!)  If I’m going to ask my readers to believe in a happily-ever-after for my characters, I need to show the steps leading up to that ending: the characters’ growth, the physical sizzle, the slow build of trust, the communication. And that’s always been my favorite stuff to write!

There’s also a sense in which I’m “coming home” to contemporary. I also recently released some of  my backlist titles: The Reforming of Matthew Dunn, the MacNeill brothers’ books—Patrick, Conn, and Seanand Mad Dog and Annie.  I’m really proud of these early books. Three of the five were my Golden Heart finalists; three finaled in Romance Writers of America’s RITA Awards. They are similar in tone to my new Dare Island series, with deeply emotional storylines and a strong family at the center, so it seemed like a good time to make them available again.

Carolina Girl How has the setting played an important role in the Dare Island series?

 Whether the characters are coming home or striking out for someplace new, contemporary romance is about finding your place in the world.

 Dare Island (named for Virginia Dare, the first child born to English parents in North America) is a fictional island in North Carolina’s Outer Banks. But its inspiration is everywhere up and down the Carolina coast. I loved doing the research, talking to people about their lives: the girl behind the counter in the gift shop, the couple running their own bed and breakfast, the teacher in the parking lot, the fisherman coming in with his catch at the end of the day. These are the stories not only of the Fletcher family but also about the changing tides sweeping these tight-knit communities.

 And those trips to the beach? Research! At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

 In your opinion, what’s the hardest part about writing romance?  The easiest? 

 Giving each element of the story—his story, her story, their romance, the family subplots—the right emotional weight, the correct number of pages, is always a challenge.

The easiest—or at least my favorite part—is the happy endings. Yes, there’s pain and danger and struggle in romance, because life is like that. But there’s also growth and happiness, because life is like that, too

 Do you have any quirky routines you go through before,during or after you start writing?

I usually start the day’s writing with a clipboard and a mechanical pencil to lull my left brain into shutting up. Once I start typing, the writing becomes real and slightly intimidating.

 Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?  Pearls of wisdom? Warnings?

Tell the truth. Take the time to be authentic. After that, don’t accept too much advice.  There’s no “right” and “wrong” in writing fiction; there’s only “works” and “does not work,” and each writer has to discover what works for her.

 What’s the best part of this job?

The hours. It’s also the worst, depending on how close I am to deadline and how far behind I am. At the moment, I’m close. And I’m always behind.

 Now we’re going to take a page from James Lipton who hosted Inside the Actor’s Studio.  I need quick responses to the following hot seat questions:

Where do you write?

At my desk or in bed.

Anything you have to have with you when you sit down to work?

Mechanical pencil. Coffee in the morning, water or tea in the afternoon.

 Laptop or desktop?

Desktop

 Favorite romance plot device?

I don’t have one. As long as the writing is good and the couple connects on some level as equals, I’m a happy girl.

 Least favorite romance plot device?

I’m really not a fan of the worldly, wealthy, sexually experienced guy debauching the spunky virgin. Maybe when I was a spunky virgin…I liked Heyer’s These Old Shades. But he was quite determined not to debauch her.

What’s the hardest part of the writing process?

Not knowing what’s going to happen.

Favorite writing music?

My husband aka Italian Guy makes me soundtracks for every book, and there’s always one song that exactly encapsulates the couple’s relationship. Meg and Sam’s song is “Falling Back to You” by The Strange Familiar. For Luke and Kate’s book (Carolina Man, March 2014, the story I’m working on now) it’s “Beneath Your Beautiful” by Labrinth.

What trait in a man do you find most sexy?

Kindness.

 The least sexy?

Cruelty.

You’re book is going to be made into a movie.  Who plays the lead roles?

Henry Cavill and Maggie Gyllenhaal

Where can readers connect with you?

I love to hear from readers. Connect with me through my website www.virginiakantra.com

On Facebook https://www.facebook.com/VirginiaKantraBooks

On Twitter @VirginiaKantra

If you’d like to receive Virginia’s newsletter, sign up here: Newsletter

To be eligible for the giveaway you just leave a comment and you must live in the United States. (Sorry!) The contest closes on June 9th at 6pm ET.

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