So, Anna, where did you get the idea for this novel?
Luke Saxon popped into my head one day. Well, maybe not him exactly (he went through a couple of name changes before we settled on what he should be called), but his situation. More importantly, his past. I'm always looking for a strong conflict between my heroes and heroines, and I liked the idea of Luke having done something seemingly unforgivable that would be a pretty big hurdle for him and Holly to overcome on their way to their happily ever after.
I also wanted to write series of books set in one of my favorite places on earth, the Monterey, California area. After a road trip with some girlfriends for "research", the story sort of came together. Not that Luke and Holly didn't fight me along the way. They did, but they ended up where they needed to be: together.
In looking at the cover, if you could add a caption or captions, what would they say?
How long did it take you to write?
About two months. It was actually one of the easiest books I've written. Once I got into the zone and figured out where each of the characters needed to progress to, the story flowed. There were times I had to reign in a couple of the secondary characters (why do they always want to butt in?!), but whenever Holly and Luke got on the page together there was a magic that happened.
What is your favorite scene?
I'm calling it the "blackberry pie" scene. Toward the middle of the book, Holly brings Luke a blackberry pie. It's a peace offering of sorts, and it's a significant step forward in their friendship. She's spent so long being angry with him, she's only recently discovered the details of what happened the night of the accident that nearly killed her father. It's a tough thing to swallow, to know you've misjudged someone so badly and she wants to make amends. It's also when I discovered something Luke did to always remind himself of the mistake he made. I didn't have a clue about until I wrote it. It was a nice surprise (sorry, no spoilers!).
Who is your favorite character and why?
Oh, that's going to be a tough one! I know I should say Holly or Luke, since they're the main characters, or even Simon, Holly's 8-year old son (who's a few crimes away from becoming a super villain). Honestly, I think I have to say Charlie Cooper, who arrives in town with her mom early in the story. Charlie is 7 and ends up as Simon's conscience a'la Jiminy Cricket. Another one of those nice surprises who walked in the diner door. I had a little more fun with her in the second book in the series (RECIPE FOR REDEMPTION, 6/16).
Tell us one thing you learned during research.
Okay, this was one of those "alert the online spies this only research" kind of things. Luke is a former bomb technician (he was trained in the Navy and then headed up the bomb squad in Chicago). Given a thread that runs through the story, I needed to research weaponry/guns and pipe bombs and explosives. Do you know how easy it is to build a bomb? It really shouldn't have been as much fun as it was. It was a little scary, though, some of the sites that popped up on my Internet search. *shudders*
What music would match the mood of this novel?
Oh, boy. I'm not that much of a music girl. If it isn't Bon Jovi, Adele, or Broadway shows I'm pretty clueless, but there's a calmness about Butterfly Harbor that speaks of those surreal, fantastical melodies from The Lord of the Rings or maybe Enya. Except where those explosives come into play, of course.
This is your first book for Harlequin. Exactly what does that mean to you?
Just a few days ago I realized it's been 30 years since I read my first romance. 30 years since I knew that's what I wanted to do: write romance. The release of this book is life-affirming and a dream come true. Literally. I always wanted to be a Harlequin author and now look! I am! Believe me, there's much celebrating going on in my neck of the woods. Might even need to take another trip to Monterey. For research, of course.
What do you plan to work on next?
I recently turned in the second book in the Butterfly Harbor series. This will be Abby Manning's story. I'm hoping (*fingers crossed*) to have some more stories to tell. There are a lot of characters demanding their own books, believe me. I'm also dipping my toe in the suspense arena with Harlequin next year so that'll be new, but I have to tell you, I'm chomping at the bit to get back to Butterfly Harbor. I love my sweet romances!
What are you reading for pleasure right now?
I've got three books on my TBR pile: AN EMBER IN THE ASHES by Sabaa Tahir, THE SECRET LIFE OF WONDER WOMAN by Jill Lepore (about the man who created Wonder Woman, my favorite super hero), and STARS OF FORTUNE by Nora Roberts because her books are why I fell in love with romance 30 years ago.
USA Today and national bestselling author Anna J. Stewart can't remember a time she didn't have a book in her hands or a story in her head. Early obsessions with Star Wars, Star Trek and Wonder Woman set her on the path to creating fun, funny, and family-centric romances with happily ever afters for the independent heroines she writes. Anna lives in Northern California where she deals with a serious Supernatural & Sherlock addiction, surrounds herself with friends and family and tolerates an overly affectionate cat named Snickers (or perhaps it's Snickers who tolerates her). Visit her online at www.authorannastewart.com