Samantha Hunter joins us today for an interview...and she is giving away a whole set of the Berringer brothers books (print) to one lucky winner (US mailing addresses only).
1. Tell us about your newest release.
The book out now in paperback (e-release Jan 1) is HIS KIND OF TROUBLE, and it’s the third in the Berringer Bodyguard series. Chance Berringer is the youngest of the Berringer brothers (all hot, all bodyguards!), and he’s inclined to all kinds of neck-breaking adventure, but he hasn’t experienced potentially heart-breaking adventure until he meets Ana Perez, a TV show chef whose life is in danger. He follows her to Mexico over the New Year’s holiday, and gets a whole lot more than he bargained for.
2. Can you tell us a little about your favorite scene in the story?
Oh, that’s difficult because I really enjoyed writing this book… there is a first-kiss scene in the courtyard of Ana’s family home in Mexico that I like a lot because I like the setting and the kiss, but I also enjoy the family aspect of this book. All of Ana’s family is around for most of the book, and this scene is when Chance first meets her mother right after kissing the daylights out of her daughter – I had a lot of fun with that. Her mom was a fun character; I really like including family in my Blazes when I can, and this family added a lot of energy to the book.
3. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your story?
Hmmm. I wrote it a while ago, so I have to remember back, but I learned a lot about the Yucatan and Mexico, the jungles and the people, that I never knew before. I had to do a lot of research, since I’ve never been there. I found out a lot about local customs, how they celebrate the New Year (which is so much fun!) and various traditions. I tend to write about places I’ve been, since setting is important to me – I like to offer as much detail as I can and bring settings to life, so I had to do a lot of research to do that with Mexico, and I was surprised, I think, at how well it went. And it really made me want to visit the Yucatan. J
4. What authors or friends influenced you in helping you become a writer?
Oh, there are so many – I’ve been at this for near a decade now, twenty-plus books, and on a personal level, there have writers and friends from all reaches of life and genres who have helped me along the way. Really too many to name, and I wouldn’t want to leave anyone out. But in the way of books or authors who influence how I write (or how I aspire to write) I would say SEP, Robyn Carr, Nora, Carly Phillips, Janet Evanovich, Brenda Novak and several mystery authors, Robert Parker and Cleo Coyle are two that come to mind, actually, since I love mystery and many of my books have some kind of mystery or suspense element, including HIS KIND OF TROUBLE.
5. What does your family think about your career as a published author?
I’m very fortunate in that they have always been 100% supportive and enthusiastic – all of them, in laws and my own family. I love talking books with them, as they’re all readers as well. They read my books and display them in their homes. After all this time, they see it as my work, much in the same way they all have their work, and we all talk about our work. My husband, of course, is my number one supporter and Head Encourager in the house. ;) He keeps me going, especially when things are tough.
6. Besides writing, what other interests do you have?
Oh, so many. LOL. I’m always jumping into some kind of activity or craft, and usually have several projects going at once (my sewing table is stacked up at the moment…). I like to garden, indoors and out, and a big passion of mine is antiquing, though that runs the gamut from roadside junk shops and garage sales, estate sales, to auctions, etc and if I could get into junkyards and spots like American Pickers do, I would. ;) I love cast iron, old furniture, and that leads to more projects, like the renovation of an old library table that I recently did, or the Victorian chairs in the basement waiting to be reupholstered. I’ve always enjoyed cooking, TV, and have been into yoga the last few years. I’m always trying something new. All of this usually feeds back into my writing as well. My characters have varied jobs and interests.
7. Can you tell us about what’s coming up next for you writing wise?
Well, I just finished all of the writing I had slated for 2012, a book with my agent right now, and more Blaze and Samhain proposals in the computer files, getting ready to go, though I’m taking the holiday off. However, I have two new releases coming up with Samhain, my first two with them, and I’m pretty psyched about them: TIGHT QUARTERS (April, 2013), which is part of the Strangers on a Train Anthology with five other amazing authors and BENDING OVER BACKWARDS (July 2013). These are both novellas very much in the tone of my Blazes, so I think anyone who likes my Blaze books will enjoy these.
8. How can readers connect with you online?
I’m online a lot, like most of us, at Twitter and Facebook, and I have a blog at http://authorsamanthahunter.wordpress.com/ and a newsletter readers can sign up for at http://www.samanthahunter.com/. You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and if you check out the books, please drop a note – I love hearing from readers!
Excerpt from His Kind of Trouble:
Chance made the sofa up for something to do, and even laid down on it, though he had no intention of sleeping, even if he could. He’d primed his body and mind for staying awake all night, and if the sugar and caffeine weren’t enough, all he had to do was think about Ana only yards away, in bed.
Still, rest would get him through the next twenty-four to forty-eight hours until he could get Ana safely to Mexico.
Laying back into the soft blankets and pillows, his body remained tense, his mind alert. He closed his eyes, taking some smooth, relaxing breaths, and then opened them again. It was no use.
Sitting back up, he studied the room, and got up to poke around a little. Several book cases were jammed with volumes of fiction, non-fiction – a lot of travel writing – and what had to be hundreds of cookbooks. Including four written by Ana.
Chance loved food almost as much as he loved women. His extreme-sports lifestyle allowed him to eat pretty much anything he wanted, though he rarely cooked for himself. It wasn’t at the top of his skills list, for sure. Spotting a shelf of DVDs, he thought he might find something to watch, and noticed several hand-labeled: Ana’s Kitchen. Ana’s cooking show that she filmed herself. Some early college-age episodes, and some later, from her network show.
Curious, Chance took them and put them in the DVD player, turning the volume down on low. He had to grin at the perky Mexican music that introduced the clearly amateur-filmed episode, but as soon as younger Ana appeared on the screen, he was rapt.
He had no idea what she was cooking, but he was loved watching her do it. She seemed easier then, more relaxed, though just as beautiful. She wore a crisp white shirt, a yellow apron, and had a flower in her hair. Her friends from the dorm would pop into the kitchen and help her, and Ana practically burst with energy and spark as she cooked, and explained step-by-step how to create what she was cooking in her small kitchen.
Chance studied her expressions, her movements, how she laughed freely with her friends. She was so much more open. Happier.
“What are you doing?”
The fact that her question made him jump proved how absorbed he was in his observations. She stood in the doorway, wrapped in the same flannel robe, her arms crossed in front of her. She looked tired, her eyes sleepy, hair mussed. No make-up.
Still sexy as hell.
“Couldn’t sleep. Watching some of your old shows that I found in the bookcase. Is that okay?”
It hadn’t occurred to him that she might not want anyone to see them – it had been a broadcast show, after all.
“It’s fine,” she said with a yawn. “I just heard sounds, and I didn’t know what it was. I forgot you were here for a second. I’m not used to anyone being in the apartment at night. It startled me for a second before I remembered.”
“Sorry about that. I tried to keep it low,” Chance said, watching her as she walked over and sat with him, curling her feet up under her in a feminine way that women did. He’d always liked that, how they could fold themselves up like cats, unfold like flowers.
He blinked at the TV, surprised by his own late-night poetry. Maybe Ana brought it out in him. There was something warm, and intimate, sitting with her like this on a sofa covered in blankets and pillows. He’d kept his jeans and tee-shirt on, but it felt. . .cozy.
“It’s a great show,” he said, following her gaze to the TV. She smiled to herself as she watched. “How many of these did you do?”
“Two years in college, and then one after, before I was picked up by the networks. Sixty-seven episodes in all. We didn’t follow any particular plan. I just cooked a lot, and when my friends were free to film, we did. It was fun.”
“And by the looks of it, you paid them with the results,” he said. Every show ended with the group diving into whatever dish Ana had made.
“Pretty much. It wasn’t about money. We didn’t care about that, though the show gave us all our start, in a way. Alan, the guy who did the video, went on to be a cameraman on several popular TV shows, and Patty – that brunette right there – she’s a writer now. They were the main ones in it with me, and others just joined in spontaneously.”
“You were amazing on camera then, too. A natural,” Chance said, and he meant it.
She shook her head. “I never imagined any of this would happen. I wanted to keep doing the show, and the cookbooks. I’d planned on being a history teacher, actually. I never went to cooking school.”
“That’s unusual,” Chance guessed.
“A generation of cooks before us came up from family restaurants, small kitchens, and they knew food better than they knew anything else. I try to honor that knowledge on the new show, as much as I can. Not everyone needs to have studied at Le Cordon Bleu or the Culinary Institutes. Some of the more creative chefs never have formal training, though it’s not a bad thing to have. I just got very lucky.”
“I’d say instead that you are just very, very good at what you do.”
Ana took her eyes from the TV to meet his. “Thank you. I think I am, though I’m always learning. I think if I spend my whole life doing this, I will never learn all there is to know about food. It’s one of the things I love about it. The challenge. The simplest dish can be the hardest to perfect.”
Chance watched her face warm as she talked about her craft, her profession. She really did love it.
“You miss it,” he said. A statement, not a question. He could see it in her eyes.
She nodded. “Sometimes, yes.”
He forgot reached out to push back a stray curl that had fallen forward into her face. She sucked in a tiny, surprised breath as his fingers drifted over her cheek and the back of her ear – so soft – but she didn’t pull back. It would be so easy to let his fingers slip into that mass of silky hair and pull her close, get tangled in the blankets and sheets together.
Instead, he dropped his hand, smiling slightly.
“Maybe we should try to sleep again,” he said, taking a breath. “I’ll turn this off now.”
She stood, looking as disconcerted as he felt. Because what he’d done was out of line, or because she felt the same tug of desire?
“Yes, of course. Goodnight, again.”
Without another look, Ana padded back to her bedroom, closing the door with a definite click. Chance could imagine a hundred other ways that moment could have ended, but this one was the right way. For now.
But if he had his way, when things were better, he might try to steal that kiss – or more – from Ana, and see what happened. It was a thought that followed him into dreams.