Hello, this is L.M. David. Today I am interviewing Tina Leonard, author of Hotter Than Texas series set in a small town of Pecan Creek. Tina, welcome to my little nook in the attic. I thank you for bringing the photos of the hottie women from your books. We plastered them on the wall downstairs and security says Preston, our resident vampire nuisance, hasn’t left the room since they were posted. Nice.
Okay, let’s get this interview started.
Q. Tell me a bit about yourself.
A. Writing is what I love to do! It’s never a chore for me, and I’m fortunate that I stumbled into my true calling. I say stumbled but I was writing when I was a child—I just didn’t know I’d ever be published, though I certainly tried from the time I was a teenager! Besides writing, I love growing organic food, and I consider myself a novice fern collector.
Q. I read the synopsis of Hotter Than Texas. It sounds like an really interesting read. Is Pecan Creek a place you made up or does it exist?
A. Pecan Creek is a fictitious town, but I actually saw a pecan farm in a far away place I’m not sure I’d ever be able to find again, which I used as my inspiration for the location.
Q. What is the town, Pecan Creek, and the townspeople, like in your version of this town?
A. Secretly sexy on the downlow—but the Most Honest Town in Texas as far as tourists know!
Q. The main female character is Sugar Cassevechia, love that name. Tell me a little about her character.
A. Sugar is protective and strong. She’s been through a lot, and worries about her family. There’s nothing she won’t do for them. When Jake Bentley comes into her life, Sugar’s not sure she’s ready for a god-bodied hunk with seduction on his mind, especially this hunk with a domineering mother and a circus of wild-eyed friends.
Q. Jake Bentley is the male antagonist in Hotter Than Texas. Tell me something about him.
A. Jake’s brave, he was an excellent officer. Now that he’s served his country, he’s pledged to his pool table and fishing. Until Sugar and her family roll into town. Then his priorities change quickly from relaxation to redheads.
Q. When doing research on romance novels, Texas seems to be where most writers center their stories. What is it about that state that draws so much attention?
A. I’m in the middle of writing a 13-book series set in New Mexico, but Texas called to me naturally for the Pecan Creek series. Texas has a reputation for being larger than life. As a military brat, I’ve been fortunate to see a lot of places—I try to incorporate that in my books.
Q. What inspired you to write Hotter Than Texas?
A. The women. I loved the family of three women who pick up their lives and move from Florida to Texas, I lived with them for a long time. It took me four or five years to write the book, and I can honestly say it’s my favorite of all my books to date. I just so related to Sugar, her mother Maggie, and tough little sis Lucy. The Cassavechias have a lot of baggage, and I definitely hoped they’d succeed on their journey.
Q. When writing a romance novel, what is the hardest part to write about and why?
A. I couldn’t say what’s hard about writing. I actually love doing it, so I never conceptualized that something about it might be hard. Although once a long time ago I was asked to write a book about a child who had leukemia. That was tough. I won’t do that again. The research alone was heart-breaking. I would put my head down on my kitchen table and sob sometimes reading about what those kids live with. It’s a pretty helpless feeling.
Q. You are a USA Today best-selling author, selling 2.6 million books. What book gained you this honor and how did you feel when you learned about it?
A. I really don’t know which book put me in this category. Those are only Harlequin’s figures, and I work with other publishers as well. I suppose it would be clearer to say I’ve sold 2.6 million Harlequin novels.
Q. I am in awe of you. Will there be other books in the Hotter Than Texas series and if so, please share some titles.
A. The sequel to Hotter Than Texas is Hotter than a Summer’s Day. It’s due out March 2014 if all goes according to plan!
Q. Romance stories are hot, the steamier the writing, the better. What about Pecan Creek would attract readers the most?
A. There’s a lot of hot in Pecan Creek! But I think what would attract a reader most to Pecan Creek is how everyone in the town is concerned with their reputations—they’re steeped in southern mores. One doesn’t talk about sex, but there’s an awful lot of sexy going on.
Q. If Hotter Than Texas were being made into a movie, who would you want to play the lead characters Sugar and Jake?
A. I see Sugar played by a younger Sandra Bullock. Jennifer Lawrence would be awesome. Bradley Cooper for Jake! Yummy stuff!
Q. What are you working on now?
A. I have several projects in development. I’m finishing up a long-term series set in New Mexico centered around the Callahan family. Then I’ll begin a Bridesmaids Creek series, which will be four books about baby matches. I’ll be doing Hotter than a Summer’s Day for Samhain, and then I start a Hell’s Outlaws series for Random House Loveswept.
Q. What advice do you have for writers working on romance stories and looking to get published?
A. What helped me most was two things: a support group of writers who were all trying to get to the same place, and reading books on writing. My friends and family were entirely instrumental in getting me the final boost of confidence I needed to persevere, and reading about other writers’ journeys is a beacon on the dark days. Beyond that, my best advice is just do it—if you love to write, then write. I’ve got stacks and stacks of poems and ms’s and proposals that will never see the light of day. When my dad recently moved, he called and asked me what I wanted done with all the books and projects I’d left behind from my younger years. I had him throw them all away. There’s no reason to look back. Just write.
L.M. David: Well that’s it for this interview. Thank you for coming by Tina.
Tina Leonard: Thank you for having me—I’m thrilled to be invited to your blog!
Hotter Than Texas Blurb:
Perfection takes time, but desire waits for no man. Or woman…
Pecan Creek, Book 1
With more than one skeleton rattling in her closet, Sugar Cassevechia hopes “The Most Honest Town in Texas” will be the perfect place to start an online business. As soon as her mother remembers the family recipe that’ll get hotterthanhellnuts.com off the ground.
In the meantime, no way is Sugar letting their new landlord get away with renting them a run-down house that’s decorated like a rich widow’s orgasm. Even if he’s the biggest hunk of hot she’s ever laid eyes on.
Jake Bentley would love to do nothing but sit back and be amused as the Cassevechia women unwittingly stir up trouble in his uptight town. But something about them thaws out his frozen rescue complex. Especially Sugar’s long, chestnut hair and sassy mouth.
Right about the time Sugar figures one steamy night in Jake’s bed won’t hurt, another skeleton joins the party in the form of a dead body in the “Belle Watling” room. And Sugar must decide if her family’s reputation—and her own heart—are safe with Jake.
**Warning: No sex in this book. Nope. None. Nada. Honest. Now, if you believe that, the author has an iceberg in Texas to sell you. Better hurry before there’s none left to cool the fevered dreams generated by this book.