Super thrilled to have back with us the wonderfully talented
Barbara Valentin with an interview all about her book, Key Change !!
It’s All About the Book…
Please tell us about your current or upcoming release.
o Title: Key Change, book #3 in my Assignment: Romance series
o Blurb: The first thing Sara Cleff, a hard-edged, shower-singing rock music critic, wants to do after following a band on tour is crawl into her nice comfy bed in her well-appointed, optimally located vintage apartment. But before making it home, she learns her roommate-slash-boyfriend has apparently broken up with her while she was away on assignment and sublet their apartment out from underneath her. Ouch! When her key no longer fits in the lock, the last person she expects to find on the other side of the door is Andrew Benet, a wickedly gorgeous music director from a nearby church. Something about the brash music critic strikes a chord with Andrew, and he offers her the chance to stay on one condition—she has to join the choir at his church. While Andrew may hold the lease on Sara’s apartment, does he have the key to unlock her heart?
What is this book’s genre? Is this the genre you usually write in? Are there any genre’s you haven’t written that you’d like to try?
o The genre is romantic comedy and, yes, this is what I normally write. I would like to try writing a romantic suspense and have done non-fiction (not nearly as fun).
What inspired you to write this book?
o The hero and heroine are loosely based on individuals I know, both of whom deserve a happy ending or two. While they don’t know each other, I envisioned what they’d be like together and created their story.
How did you pick its title? Did it come first or did you have to write the story first?
o The title just came to me while I was still in the early planning stages. Once I had it, the story just flowed.
How did you create your characters? Did you use any real life people in their making?
o As I said above, the hero and heroine are loosely based on two very different individuals I know, both of whom I’m very fond of. After coming up with a high-level plot outline, I interviewed each of them to get the facts I needed to keep it real and then let my imagination take over.
Who is your favorite character of this book and why?
o My favorite character is Sara because of the emotional growth she experiences from beginning to end. She’s scarred and scared, but she’s also tough and very brave.
What is your favorite part of this book? Can you share an excerpt from that part?
o My favorite part of the book is when Sara comes home and finds Andrew asleep, and burning up, on the couch.
In the soft light coming from the kitchen, his face looked red. As in flushed.
Crouching down, she touched the back of her hand against his cheek and pulled it back almost instantly.
He didn't feel warm. He felt hot.
Getting up, she went into the bathroom. She used to keep a big bottle of Tylenol on the bottom shelf of the medicine cabinet.
She opened it slowly and found a different bottle but the same brand.
Shaking two into her hand, she went to the kitchen and filled a glass with water.
She set the glass on the trunk and crouched before him again. Giving his shoulder a jiggle, she whispered his name.
Next, she smoothed some thick soft hair off his forehead and stroked her fingers through it a couple of times.
I could do this all night long.
Speaking a little more loudly, she called him by name and added, "Wake up. You need some medicine."
At this, his eyes squinted open. With a wince and a groan, he turned on his back. "What time is it?"
"5:30. Come on now. Can you sit up?"
When it was clear he couldn't manage it on his own, Sara pushed him vertical just enough to wedge herself between his back and the arm of the couch against which his head had just been laying.
Propping him up in a sitting position, sort of, she shifted around so his back was leaning against her chest. That way she was able to reach over and grab the glass of water waiting on the trunk. Working from behind him, she raised the two tablets to his mouth with her right hand as his head rested against her shoulder.
God, you smell good.
"OK, here. Take these. They'll get your fever down."
When she felt his mouth open, she pushed them in and raised the glass of water to his lips. Holding his head upright with her left hand, she held the glass in her right,
Watching over his shoulder so she wouldn't spill it all over him. "Come on now, babe. Drink up."
At that, he raised his left hand, tilted the glass up and swallowed.
Switching the glass to her left hand meant letting go of his head, but since she had to return the glass to the trunk, it was a risk she was willing to take. As she leaned forward and did just that, he turned his body toward her as if aggravated with the interruption, forcing her back against the couch as he snuggled into her like she was a pillow. His pillow.
At least the glass was where it belonged.
What was the hardest part of this book to write? Can you share an excerpt from that part?
o The hardest part was writing the scene when Sara’s boyfriend-slash-roommate broke up with her via voicemail messages.
Jer's accent was unmistakable. The first message was brief. "Tell me you remembered to leave a rent check before you left. Give me a ring, love, and let me know where you hid it."
She listened to the time stamp.
Nine days ago? How am I just getting this now?
The second message, left a day later, was nowhere near as cheerful.
"Oh, great. Another flippin' recording. Jesus. Look. You know I can barely cover my own bills, love. I'm not coverin' for you this time. I mean it. If you want out, just say the word, but I'm not playing this game with you. You don't want to get married. You don't want kids. I get it. Message received. Not another word. That's what you want, yeah? That's what this is all about, ain't it? Look. Just. Just call me back, aw right?"
Sara didn't notice that her hands had started shaking. What she did notice was that the world around her seemed to suddenly shift into slow motion.
The next three messages were hang-ups.
The anger in his voice was palpable in the last one. "God, what kind of journalist doesn't check her bloody messages? I've been trying to call you all week, for Christ's sake. I'm assuming you're not dead or murdered or... Listen, I'm done. Leaving the States for good this time." After a pause, he softened his tone and added, "Nothing personal, but this just ain't workin' out for us, is it?"
Static cackled over the line, and the rest of the message came in fragments. "Know...afford...my key...bloke...Tuesday." Click.
The message was going on six days old.
Did you have any special rhythm or quirks while writing this?
o Music plays a significant part in this story. To be in the moment with the characters, I constantly played the music I thought they’d be listening to – everything from Pink Floyd to Sheryl Crow to Bach to Led Zeppelin. If they ever make a movie out of this book, the sound track would be enormous.
Is this a stand-alone book or is it part of a series? If so, we want to hear about it and what’s next in the series. If not a series, what comes next to be released?
o Yes, this is book #3 in my Assignment: Romance series (Gemma Halliday). Next up is Flight Risk, due out next summer.
(Assignment: Romance #3)
Romantic Comedy, 236 pgs
Something about the brash music critic strikes a chord with Andrew, and he offers her the chance to stay on one condition—she has to join the choir at his church. While Andrew may hold the lease on Sara's apartment, does he have the key to unlock her heart?
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Up as usual at the crack of dawn, Andrew trudged to the bathroom, almost forgetting to close the door behind him before he spotted Sara's bangles on the counter next to the sink. Reaching over, he shut the door and locked it.
Fifteen minutes later, he was showered, clean-shaven, and ready to go, except he didn't have to be at the church until four-thirty that afternoon. Unplugging his phone from an outlet in his room, he brought it with him into the kitchen, transferred Sara's clothes that she had washed the night before into the dryer and poured himself some coffee. He sat on a barstool, debated throwing a sweatshirt on over his plain, blue, short-sleeved T- shirt to ward off the chill, but started scrolling through his email instead.
His eyes, however, kept drifting over to Sara, out like a light on the sofa sleeper.
While most of her was wrapped in the blankets like a human burrito, with the sun starting to break through the bare branches of the ancient oak tree blocking the expansive bay window, he could see her face quite plainly.
Without all that the heavy dark makeup, he noted, she looked younger.
And kinda sweet, actually.
But then again, she wasn't talking.
Still, he was glad he invited her to stay the night before.
But what about tonight? And tomorrow night? And the night after that?
While he mulled the possibilities, she rolled over and stretched, arching her back and groaning as she did. Resuming her curled-up burrito pose, she opened her eyes and mumbled, "How long have you been sitting there?"
Looking at his watch, he admitted, "About a minute. Or five. Maybe ten." His cheeks suddenly felt a lot warmer.
With a loud yawn, she sat up. "I slept so good." Patting the thin mattress with her hand, she added, "So comfy."
The words hung in the air between them.
Sarcasm before coffee. Great.
Still, the sight of her in his pajama top seemed to lobotomize him. All he could do by way of a reply was nod.
With a shrug, she added, "Seriously, on a sleeper sofa—who knew?"
Snap out of it.
With no small amount of effort, he turned and glanced at the dryer. "Your clothes should be ready in about twenty minutes."
At that, Sara took a deep breath and yanked the covers back, revealing two impossibly long bare legs as she flung her feet to the floor.
Knowing full well that the sudden blast of heat he felt was not delivered by way of the gilded vents along the floorboards, Andrew got up to check the thermostat on the wall next to the upright piano anyway, mumbling, "Gotta love old buildings."
About the Author:
Barbara is an award-winning novelist and second-generation journalist. After spending a decade in maternity clothes, she has five boys to show for it and much fodder for her column, The Plate Spinner Chronicles, a long-running feature in the Chicago Tribune. A member of RWA's Windy City chapter, she still dreams of the day when her to-do list includes "Send NY Times book critic thank you note" and "Accept Godiva's request to be a taste-tester."
Contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Giveaway: $25 Amazon gift card