Thursday, March 10, 2011
My stories aren’t autobiographical, but there’s always a touch of me in each character. I grew up in an Air Force family, and we moved a lot. Sometimes it was difficult because I had to pick up and move right when I started getting close to people. Paula in Sweet Baklava has always wanted to establish roots, so after she graduates from college, she moves back to Tarpon Springs, starts a business, and buys a house. The hero lived in Tarpon Springs all his life, so when he’s able to, he joins the Air Force so he can travel.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I’ve always done quirky things, so to me quirky is normal. But there is one thing that used to baffle other people who didn’t understand my lack of fear of unfamiliar surroundings. Before I got married, I’d drive to an area, get lost (intentionally), and find my way back using a map and asking for directions. That was back before GPS.
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I won a couple of writing contests in college, but I didn’t think much about being a “real” writer until after I had children. When my first daughter came along, I had to do a lot of research to be a mom. I didn’t know anything about babies, so I spent hours studying books on baby care and trying to figure out what I’d gotten myself into. One of my neighbors laughed about how much research I’d done, and she recommended writing articles for other clueless moms. I considered that a challenge and I wrote my first article about going from being a career woman to staying home with the baby. Over the next several years, I wrote about 100 articles. Someone else challenged me to write a book, so I did. That book will never get published, but it opened the door to the longing to become a published author.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
My first love after the Bible is a heart-melting romance, but I also enjoy a variety of women’s fiction and cozy mysteries, particularly first person stories. I like the classics as long as I can relate to at least one of the characters. Some nonfiction appeals to me, too, such as fashion, cooking, decorating, and skin care.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I go for long walks and enjoy the wildlife near my neighborhood in Florida. There are a couple of ponds near my house, and they’re filled with alligators, turtles, jumping fish, and dorky looking Florida birds that aren’t smart enough to stay away from the alligators.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
I keep running lists of names I like. When it’s time to start a new book, I ponder all the names and think about how the character’s personality matches different names. For a romance, I try out the hero and heroine’s names together. One funny thing happened with Sweet Baklava, though. I liked how Nick and Paula sounded together, but I forgot to think about how her name would sound if she married Nick Papadopoulos. Paula Papadopoulos—what a mouthful!
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Now that my children are grown, I’m proud of what amazing adults they have become. Although I know I can't take credit for how wonderful they are, I like to think I had something to do with it. Both of my daughters are Christian girls with good values, and they treat my husband Wally and me with respect and love.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
All depends on what I’m doing. When I have a ton of work to do, and I don’t have time to rest, I glance over at my cat Misty and think about how good her life is. She eats and naps then jumps into my lap when she needs a rub. When I can’t reach something on a top shelf, I think it would be cool to be a giraffe that never has to ask someone to reach something for him.
Another “all depends” answer. I love almost anything Greek, Mexican, Italian, Indian, Thai, French, or Spanish. With Sweet Baklava coming out soon, I’ll have to go with Greek—specifically baklava.
I love baklava, but I only let myself eat it occasionally. One time my husband came home with a whole package of baklava. I was terribly tempted to eat more than I should. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
I loved researching this book because it involved pounds and pounds of Greek food. I just had to sit down and not think about how much I craved spanakopita, Greek stew, or baklava. Fortunately, I got to play in the kitchen and make some of the recipes that readers will find in the book. Yum!
Tell us about the featured book.
The product of a split home, Paula Andrews is conflicted about the only guy she’s ever loved, Nick Papadopoulos, who is coming home on leave from the military. Years earlier, Nick grew impatient and abandoned his family’s sponge diving and restaurant businesses in the Greek community of Tarpon Springs, Florida. When the two of them see each other after years of being separated, the awkwardness is replaced by pounding hearts and memories sweeter than the baklava in Nick’s aunt’s bakery.
Nick’s dad begs Nick to leave the military and join the family to keep the sponge business alive. Paula’s candle and soap shop on the sponge docks is thriving—mostly from her mail order business. They quickly find that the flicker of attraction is stronger than ever. However, Nick loves being in the military, but he’s willing to put it aside to be with Paula, while she doesn’t want to do anything that will make him resent her.
Paula experiences all sorts of emotional tugs—from Nick going back to his base in Texas to her mother coming to her for emotional support. Nick’s cousins are relentless in their scheming to keep the flame burning between Nick and Paula.Years later, and after their lives that have grown apart, is it possible for these two people to rekindle what they once had?
I can't wait to read it. Please give us the first page of the book.
Nothing like the aroma of authentic Greek food to stir a woman's injured soul. Paula Andrews had to walk around toys scattered on the front porch. She inhaled deeply and knocked on the door of the large, two-story, wood-frame house. Nestled among other old Tarpon Springs, Florida, mansions, the Papadopoulos family home overlooked the Anclote River's Spring Bayou. She heard the bustling and scurrying inside the house as she stood and waited. A wave of nostalgia blended with the smells coming from the house and flooded her senses. The only thing that trumped chicken fried steak on her taste buds was Greek food cooked by one of the Papadopoulos women.
"Don't knock!" someone yelled. "Just come on in!"
Tentatively at first, she pushed open the door a few inches. When she was certain there wasn't a small child smashed up against the other side, she shoved harder, making the heavy wooden door squeak. As she entered the grand, two-story foyer, she spotted a familiar petite figure standing on the top rung of a ladder, her arms stretched to their maximum, fussing with the end of a piece of crepe paper.
"Hey, girl," Paula called up to her best friend. "What can I do to help?"
"Hand me that streamer." Steph Papadopoulos pointed to the table beneath the ladder.
I know I can't wait to read it. How can readers find you on the Internet?
I'm currently posting quick and easy recipes called "deadline dinners" for busy women who have to throw a nutritious meal on the table after working all day. I'll start adding some Greek recipes on my blog after the first of the year.
Occasionally, but not often, someone asks what baklava is when I tell them about this book. This is what I tell them:
According to Dictionary.com, baklava is a dessert made of paper-thin layers of pastry, chopped nuts, and honey. Oh, but it’s so much more than that. One bite of baklava can send a dessert connoisseur into sugar orbit.
This delightfully sweet dessert with questionable origins has been claimed by many, including the Greeks, who have made it a staple in some of the best bakeries in the world. Really, who cares if it started in Assyria, Turkey, or Greece? It’s the perfect finale to a meal of spanakopita and lentil soup or Greek style beef stew. Or for the health conscious, start with a Greek salad and avgolemono soup, and erase the guilt of finishing off with a triangle or square of baklava.
You are making me hungry for some, Debby. Thanks for dropping by.
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