Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Author Spotlight: Nina Harrington

Today we welcome Harlequin Romance author Nina Harrington into our spotlight. Nina's third book, Tipping the Waitress with Diamonds, is currently available in the US and also in the UK as part of a 2-in-1.

Thank you Nina for taking time out of your writing cave to answer a few minxy questions.

Where were you in your writing career five years ago?

Five years ago I had just given up a high profile business job in the pharmaceutical industry to write full time. My day job was demanding both physically and mentally, and I knew that if I wanted to achieve my goal of being a published writer, then I was going to have to devote the same amount of time and energy and commitment to learning about craft and business of being a writer as I had in my other career.

It was a challenging, scary and totally exciting part of my life.

Where did you get the idea from for this particular book?

Tipping the Waitress with Diamonds is set in an Italian bistro in London, and the theme is very much about second chances. The idea for this particular book started from the characters – and in particular Brett Cameron, a ‘Chef in a Kilt’ as his PR agent likes to call him – and the struggles he has come through to be a celebrity chef. Dyslexia, being written off at school, a hard family upbringing and the passion Brett brings to his work are only some of the facets that makes Brett so special.

I do hope readers love Brett as much as I do!

Where do you hope to be in five years time?

1. Still writing Contemporary Romance books for Mills & Boon, and
2. Published as a mass market Romantic Suspense writer. I love character based crime stories and have so many ideas that I would love to find a home. Some are cosy mysteries, some more serious thrillers, or even young adult science fiction, but all will have the Nina Harrington touch of wit and humour. These are single title books and I have already kicked off a series with a very different amateur detective heroine. Watch this space!

What was the last book you read that you wish you'd written?

Oh that is such a great question! And so hard to answer. I would have to say Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. A keeper.

Was there any particular author or book that made you want to be a writer?

Can I have two? The Science Fiction books of Anne McCaffrey and also the Miles Vorkosigan books of Lois McMaster Bujold. Absolute classics which I still read today.

Do you find writing love scenes giggle-worthy or cringe-worthy - or neither?

I just go with the characters. Readers of Mills & Boon Romances do not expect explicit sex scenes so the challenge is to increase the spark through sexual tension and sensuality - which is seriously hard to do without being a cliché.

What's the most romantic moment of your life so far?

The day my husband agreed that I should stop earning a good salary in my day job and become a hard working but unpaid writer - because it would make me happy.
It does not get better than that.

What do you wish you'd known about being an author before you were published?

  • That publishing is a business and you musty be totally professional to earn your place within that business.
  • That you have to aks yourself some tough questions, such as 'Why should a reader buy my book in preference to the 1000s of other fiction books published that month?'
  • That your book has to be so excellent within its own niche and hence target group of readers, that it will attract the attention of a literary agent and then an editor at a publishing house who will be prepared to make the investment in time and money and YOU as a writer in the long term.
  • That you have to work, then work harder, then work even harder to make the book the very best that it can be before it leaves your desk if you want to earn the right to be published.
  • That Branding is everything. Whether it is the brand associated with the Publisher on the spine of your book, or the name of the author. As a fanatical reader, I buy loads of books every month and I need to know where to find the books I want. Mills & Boon and Harlequin are powerful brands readers trust and recognize. But so many womens' fiction titles get lost on the shelves of bookstores so that readers will never find them unless they know what they are looking for. Writers like James Patterson use their names to brand the books he writes and co-writes to sell to readers who look out for his name.
  • That it is a tough business to be in, and you have to be smart and savvy to make the grade. And it is never about the money. Sorry if that seems hard, but I don't think I truly understood how tough it was until I was published and more aware of the commercial side of creativity.
What's the best writing advice you've ever been given?

That the first draft is always pants, and writing is re-writing.

Tell us about your latest release.

Tipping the Waitress with Diamonds is part of the 'Fun Factor' mini series of the Mills & Boon Romance Line with a definite sparky tone to balance the poignant and more intensely emotional aspects of the book.

And of course, there are delicious meals being served in the traditional Italian Bistro setting and I could not resist focusing on the more sensual aspects of such wonderful food and drink.

Check out these reviews:

Romantic Times Magazine Review (4.5)

CataRomance.com (4.5)

This is what the back cover of the book says:

Take one hot chef...
The world’s finest chef, Brett Cameron, has a tough choice to make. Carry on with his new restaurant or answer a plea for help and return to where it all began...

Add a sweet, stressed waitress...
Sienna Rossi is out of her depth trying to rescue her aunt’s bistro. The dishwasher’s leaking, there’s sauce in her hair and the frying pan’s just caught fire! Through the smoky haze she sees a vision in shimmering chef’s whites: Brett, her teenage crush.

Did the temperature just rise a few degrees?

The Fun Factor
Warm and witty stories of falling in love...

What's next for you?

My fourth book for the Romance Line will be published early 2011 and I have three more books to write this year, so look out for a lot more Nina Harrington titles to come. I do hope that you enjoy them.

You can find out more about Nina at www.NinaHarrington.com or on her blog http://ninaharrington.wordpress.com/


Maya Blake said...

Hi Nina, your book sounds great. Like the sort I'd read on a summer's day with a glass of chilled rosé! Thanks, too, for the wonderful insight into what publishing is like and mega yay to your hubby for helping to make your writing dream come true. I'm sure he's a great inspiration for your books!

Lorraine said...

Thank you for answering our questions Nina, I particularly like the advice about writing being re-writing.
I look forward to seeing/hearing you at the Reading talk this evening :-)

Maisey said...

Great post Nina and Minxes!

Nina, that sounds like a really fun book. And the title is killer! Also, love a hero with a creative side. :-)

Deborah Carr (Debs) said...

I look forward to reading this book and have loved Nina's others.

Sally Clements said...

Hi Nina, great interview. That James Patterson is a clever guy, isn't he? Really looking forward to reading this book, it sounds great and the title is purrrrrfect.
Sally Minx

Jennifer Shirk said...

I'm reading Nina's book now! In ebook! It's great!
Great questions and answers. That's so funny that Nina worked in the pharmaceutical industry. I gave up being a pharmacist to be a SAHM and write.

Tara Pammi said...

Hi Nina,

Now I have to get your latest book. Thanks for such fabulous advice. And how sweet of your hubby to support your dream.

My hubby is like that too and his encouragement just gives me an extra boost of determination to become published.


Snookie said...

Nina, What a great thing for your husband to support your dream to be published. It definitley paid off :) I read your book and loved it. I loved both Brett and Sienna. I really like the way you treated the dyslexia. So many of our kids fall through the cracks, but there are also many heartwarming stories like Brett's where someone has given them a helping hand somewhere along the line and they've managed to cope with their dyslexia and become successful! Good luck with your writing and I will be looking forward to reading them. In fact, think I'll go look for some of your back list, I"m sure I've read one of them, but may just need to find the others :)

Lacey Devlin said...

Such wonderful advice, thanks Nina and Romy!

Nina Harrington said...

Thank you ladies for your very warm welcome - it is lovely to be here. I am thrilled that some of you have already read the book and enjoyed it! Thank you so much for your kind comments and very best wishes to you all.
Now back to the show biz! LOL
love Nina

Suzanne Ross Jones said...

Great anwers, Nina, thank you so much. I particularly like the list of things you wish you'd known before you were published.

Love the book and can't wait for the next one.