Monday, April 30, 2018

Author Interview: Alison Packard

Today I've got Alison Packard on the blog again and this time we're talking about her newest contemporary romance, Playing for Keeps (out tomorrow!). Enjoy!

TBQ: Welcome back to the blog, Alison! Since Kame and I have previously done a couple interviews with you, I’m going to try not to go over the same things again today. So unless there’s something new you want to share with readers about you/your life, shall we just jump right into talking about your newest release?

Alison Packard: Thanks so much for having me back on the blog. Let’s jump right in!

TBQ: Perfect!

Your newest release, PLAYING FOR KEEPS, comes out tomorrow – congrats! Can you tell us a little bit about it and why readers are going to love it?

AP: Thank you! I think readers that love characters who’ve been through adversity in their lives and have a chance to find love again will enjoy Playing for Keeps. The story is about Rick Taylor and Amy Vaughn. Rick is trying to rebuild his life and career after a tragic loss and single mom Amy is trying to put her past mistakes behind her and build a good life for her and her son. Neither is looking for love but, of course, they find it.

TBQ: Oh yeah, that's definitely some strong reader catnip right there! 

So what was the inspiration for Playing for Keeps? Did you start with the plot/story idea or with the characters? Something else entirely?

AP: Although I didn’t know it at the time, the inspiration for Playing for Keeps began in Love in the Afternoon, the first book in the series. Over the course of the series I’ve put Rick through all kinds of hell. He could have been just a plot device and never mentioned again, but I felt so bad for the poor guy that I had to make it up to him. He’s lost a lot and now he’s finally getting a happy ending.

TBQ: Well I'm glad that you didn't just torture him for no reason! We all love a good tortured hero finally getting his HEA. :) 

While you were writing PfK, was there any scene that really stood out for you – maybe a really fun scene or an emotional one or one that was just really easy to write? And if it involves spoilers, you can be vague.

AP: There’s a scene in the book when Rick returns to Texas for Thanksgiving that turned out to be pretty emotional. I don’t normally tear up when I’m writing, but I have to admit my eyes welled up a bit during this scene. 

TBQ: *makes note to grab tissues around that part, just in case* 

Do you have a favorite writing story to share? As in, a story about something that happened – good or bad – while you were writing PfK? Or, really, while writing any of your previous books, for that matter.

AP: My favorite writing story is how I sold my first book, Love in the Afternoon. Several years ago, my local Romance Writers of America (RWA) chapter announced that Angela James, executive editor of Carina Press, was to be a speaker at an upcoming meeting, and in addition to her presentation she would be doing a Kamikaze cold read. A what, you ask? Well, I asked the same thing and when I was told that the first five pages of manuscripts submitted by the members of my chapter would be read aloud in front of the group, and that Angela would stop the reader exactly where she would stop reading if the manuscript had been submitted directly to her and then give an honest critique, my immediate reaction was…oh hell no. I’d never had my work read aloud to anyone and I was petrified that everyone in the room, including Angela, would think it was total crap.

As the submission deadline approached, I agonized over whether or not to participate. But then I realized that if I was serious about this writing thing then I needed to hear what a respected editor thought of my work. So, still scared to death, I plunged ahead and sent in my five pages.
On the day of the meeting I was as nervous as I’ve ever been. Throughout Angela’s presentation all I could think about was the cold read coming up. Finally it arrived. One of my chapter mates started reading the submissions aloud. As Angela gave her feedback, I was sweating and my stomach was in knots as I pondered the fate of my five pages. After six of my peers’ pages were read to the group, it was time for mine. My knees shook as my work was read aloud. I kept waiting for Angela to stop the reader so she could critique the words I’d written, but she allowed the reader to finish all five pages. I was in shock. Did that mean she liked it? I wasn’t sure.

I’d like to tell you I remember everything she said after it was over, but the only thing that stands out in my mind were these words: “I’d like to see more of this.”

TBQ: Okay, that's an awesome story! But damn, I would be so anxious about doing that, too. But, like you said, if you can't take the heat of the critique, then maybe being an author isn't going to be your calling after all. I'm sure I speak for many of your readers when I say I'm so glad that Angela wanted more of your story! Now look where you are!

Speaking of starting out in this career: I know many readers, some of whom are aspiring writers themselves, are always curious about an author’s writing process. So can you tell us a little bit about yours? And don’t feel like you have to give us the Instagram Perfection version of it – don’t be afraid to share the ugly realities as well as the good times!

AP: The actual process of writing has always been the same for me. I write a book one chapter at a time, in order, and I don’t move on to the next chapter until I’m satisfied with the current one. That process results in a pretty clean draft and, for the most part, minimal revisions. The hardest part of writing for me is the pre-planning. Coming up with believable conflict for the hero and heroine is something I constantly struggle with, and it’s why it takes me a while to write a book.  

TBQ: Hey, there's no rush anyway! Great things take time. :)

Switching gears a bit now, to visit the other side of the industry. Most authors are readers first. What have you been reading lately? What was the last romance you read that checked all your happy-reader boxes?

AP: I just finished Bad Bachelor by Stefanie London. A feisty librarian, a cocky (and super sexy) PR genius, plus a dating app that rates bachelors like Yelp? There was no way I wasn’t reading that. Now for your second question: one of my favorite tropes is enemies to lovers. The last romance that checked all my happy-reader boxes was The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. It ranks right up there with Practice Makes Perfect by Julie James. I’ve re-read both several times. 

TBQ: Okay, well, you sold me with "feisty librarian"! And I absolutely looooved The Hating Game! Enemies to lovers (or rivals to lovers) is one of my favorites, too.

Considering everything going on in romancelandia lately, and how AOC (authors of color) are treated and excluded from much of the community, I’ve been working on sharing more books by AOC. At the same time, I’ve been encouraging other readers to do the same. My question is: Do you have a favorite AOC that you feel no one talks about?

AP: This is such an important issue and I’m so glad you and other bloggers are recommending books by AOC. I’ve been reading Reese Ryan’s books for a few years now. I got to know Reese’s work when she and I were first published at Carina Press. She went on to write for Harlequin’s soon-to-be-defunct Kimani line, and is now writing for the Desire line. Her latest is Savannah’s Secret, the first in a new series, and I really enjoyed it. Also, I’ve just discovered Naima Simone. Her WAGS series is on fire! And the covers? Smoking hot.

TBQ: I am ashamed to say I have not yet read any of Ryan's books but I've had my eye on many, especially Savannah's Secret! *bumps them up the list* I have read both of the WAGs books from Simone and they are sooo hot and fun, definitely recommend as well!

As readers, we’re always talking about the upcoming releases that we’re most excited about. What about you? What book are you dying to get your hands on?

AP: In addition to romance, I also love mysteries. I’ve pre-ordered and can’t wait for A Steep Price, the latest in the Tracy Crosswhite series by Robert Dugoni. And of course, whenever Julie James has a new release I’ll be first in line to get my hands on it. 

TBQ: You're definitely not alone there; I know many romance readers who are also mystery and thriller fans, too.

And speaking of upcoming releases – can you tell us anything about your current WIP or future releases?

AP: Right now I’m in the middle of plotting the next book in the series and hope to start writing it soon.

TBQ: Good luck! Can't wait to see what it's going to be!

Speed Round:

Favorite pizza topping: Pepperoni and black olives

Weapon of choice in the zombie apocalypse: Chainsaw

Something you hate that everyone else and their dog loves: Sweet potatoes and/or yams

Quick: Name one favorite romance author! Julie James

If you could be friends with any character (from any book/movie), who would it be? Kinsey Milhone from Sue Grafton’s alphabet series. Although she’s such a loner, I’m not sure she’d allow me to be her friend. 

If you could be friends with any of YOUR characters, who would it be? Kelly Maxwell from The Winning Season. She’s feisty, swears like a sailor, is good at her job and doesn’t take any guff from the hero, Matt Scanlon.

Dog person or cat lover? Dog!

What’s one food that you can’t imagine living without? Chocolate

If you could go anywhere tomorrow – nothing’s holding you back! – Where would you go? London.

And finally, since a lot of your books involve baseball players: do you have a favorite IRL baseball player? (Bonus if he’s hot. Just kidding. No, but seriously though, eye candy is always appreciated. 😉)

My favorite player is Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants.  

TBQ: Thank you so much for stopping by today, Alison! I can’t wait to read PLAYING FOR KEEPS, it sounds great, and that cover is so lovely!

AP: Thank you again for hosting me on the blog. It’s always a treat to stop by and you’re such a wonderful hostess. And I love the cover too. I think it’s my favorite of all of my covers.

Playing for Keeps by Alison Packard
Publisher: Alison Packard (May 1, 2018)
Series: Feeling the Heat, 6
Genre: Contemporary Romance

He’s riding the bench. She’s living a lie. The game of love is won in extra innings.

Following a terrible tragedy, Rick Taylor is making his comeback to the major leagues… and the dating scene. But years off the roster have left the veteran catcher a little rusty. It’ll take a special woman to heal the heartache of losing his family. But the perfect contender refuses to let him try out…

Single mom Amy Vaughn leads a double life. Between her daytime job and her nightclub gig, she can’t afford to date a famous baseball player… especially when the publicity could bring her dark secret to light. But the handsome catcher’s charms prove too strong to resist.

When old memories and new notoriety threaten to tear them apart, Rick and Amy must learn to drop their defenses, or they’ll miss out on their second chance at love.

Where to Buy*:
More Info:

Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Alison now lives in Southern Nevada where she’s finally used to the blistering summers, but still finds the slot machines inside most grocery stores and gas stations a bit odd. 

When not working at the day job that pays the bills, keeps a roof over her head, and supports her book and chocolate habits, Alison spends most of her free time writing. But when she takes a break, she enjoys reading, watching movies, and spending time with her family and friends.

Where to Find Alison:

Thanks for stopping by, Alison! May you have an endless supply of  chocolate while writing ALL THE BOOKS and one day get to see London! :) 

What about you? Do you have a favorite baseball player? Or really any sports player. Eye candy always appreciated. ;)

Want to find out what happens with Rick and Amy? Pick up PLAYING FOR KEEPS tomorrow!


Until Next Time,

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