I’m thrilled to welcome bestselling author, Kristan Higgins *cues band* *throws Hershey Nuggets* to the blog today! Kristan’s new contemporary romance, The Perfect Match, has just been released and I can’t wait to hear about it!
Say hi to Kristan, gang!
Tell us about The Perfect Match?
Oh…hang on…sorry, I was catching those Hershey Nuggets. Yes, The Perfect Match is out today! It’s my modern-day take on an arranged marriage or marriage of convenience—a little of both, I guess. Honor Holland is 35, has just been told that she should think about having kids before age becomes an issue and has been thrown over for her best friend by the guy she’s loved for years. Not a good month, in other words. Her grandmother fixes her up with Tom Barlow, the grand-nephew of a friend. Tom is a British ex-pat, and he’s a little desperate to stay in the U.S. to be close to the boy who was once almost his stepson. And so Honor and Tom make a deal. Hey. How bad can it be?
I was very excited to write a story that shows a different way of falling in love. A lot of us (myself most definitely included) love to write about that thunderbolt moment when our hero sees the heroine and kablammy! They’re in lurve, baby! You know all those good phrases…I just knew, or It was love at first sight. But while Tom and Honor are definitely attracted to each other, theirs is not that bada-bing moment. It’s a little slower and more complicated, and I won’t lie—it was a lot of fun to write.
I’m a sucker for swoon-worthy heroes and you are a pro at writing them. Why will readers fall in love with Tom?
Am I allowed to say it’s his abs? No? Okay, well, that’s just gravy. Tom is completely irreverent, but he’s also a little lost. He came to America on vacation, fell in love with a woman who ended up leaving him and found himself crazy about her little boy. When Melissa died, Tom stayed in the U.S. to be near Charlie, putting the rest of his life on hold. He’s such a sucker for that kid, despite Charlie’s bad adolescent attitude and anger at Tom. Tom is one of those guys who has no idea how decent he is, and there’s something so appealing about that time. Also, he has a blue-collar British accent. And a Union Jack tattoo. And he boxes; hence the rippling abs. (I’m shallow that way.)
The Blue Heron novels are your first series. What prompted the change and how is it going?
It was my readers, actually. (Waves and flashes chocolatey grin). They let me know for years that they fell in love with the families and settings of my books, so I figured I’d give it a try. It has a lot of benefits—I know the area, the restaurants and businesses, and because I write big-cast books, there are a lot of secondary characters I can use again and again. The downside is that once you’ve said something in one book, you’re stuck with it. You can’t say, “What if Jack was an only child instead?” if you’ve given the guy three sisters. Not without a lot of carnage, anyway.
How has the setting played an important role in the Blue Heron novels?
The setting is huge for the books that involve the Hollands (both THE BEST MAN and THE PERFECT MATCH are about two of them). For Faith, it’s a returning home kind of story, and she has to see what’s still in Manningsport, NY for her three years after she was left at the altar. For Honor, well…her whole life and identity is tied up with the family vineyard, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
The Finger Lakes are a beautiful part of the US; they’re home to some of the best American vineyards out there, but it’s a humble place, too. Most of the winemakers are farmers, and most of the vineyards are small and family-owned. The towns are pretty small, and the communities are close-knit, but they’re real, too. That’s one thing that’s important to me as a writer; I don’t want to idealize life in a small town, because where’s the fun in white-washing life, you know? Still, if I had to live somewhere other than my own little Connecticut town, I’d head for the Finger Lakes, pronto.
In your opinion, what’s the hardest part about writing romance? The easiest?
The hardest part for me is creating enough conflict so that I can sustain some tension for 400 pages. Since I write contemporary, it’s difficult to find new ways to keep these two consenting, single adults apart long enough. I want them to belong together, but I also want them to become better people during the story. They have to do some serious soul-searching before they get that happy ending. They have to earn it.
Do you have any quirky routines you go through before – during or after – you start writing?
I water my plants, make the dog do her tricks, make coffee, pray to St. Steve of Jobs that my laptop doesn’t act up, then get my butt in that big goofy chair.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors? Pearls of wisdom? Warnings?
Take your work seriously. Strive to be better. Learn from the authors you love. Read. Relax. Enjoy. Don’t use your teeth as tools (the best advice my mom ever gave me).
What’s the best part of this job?
Falling in love twice a year while still being happily married to McIrish, my sainted husband. And hearing from readers.
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?
In my sunny little apartment office, which is above my neighbor’s garage and where I can pretend to be single.
Anything you have to have with you when you sit down to work?
Willow, our little mutt. Also, Hershey Nuggets with almonds.
Laptop or desktop?
Favorite romance plot device?
I’d have to go with first love.
Least favorite romance plot device?
What’s the hardest part of the writing process?
The first draft. I’m a great outliner and a master at revisions, but the first draft just kills me.
Favorite writing music?
Coldplay and U2. Sometimes Pearl Jam.
What trait in a man do you find most sexy?
The least sexy?
You’re book is going to be made into a movie. Who play the lead roles?
Tom Hardy, who is my pretend (and eternal) boyfriend, and Laura Linney.
I’m going to be giving away one copy of The Perfect Match to a lucky commenter. Tell us where would you set a book if you could? The contest is limited to those 18 and over in the continental United States. Comments must be posted by Friday, November 1st, 2013 at 6pm ET.
Thanks so much for being with us, Kristan!
Kristan Higgins is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of 11 romantic comedies. Her works have received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Library Journal, Booklist and Romantic Times, among others, but her favorite reviews come in the form of reader letters. Kristan loves baseball, dessert, dogs, children and firefighters…and, of course, books! Find her at www.kristanhiggins.com or on Facebook.