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Ask Ava

It seems as if I’ve been penning stories for fun forever. Like most writers, I had a spiral notebook in grade school and wrote whatever came to me.  In high school, I wrote my first few chapters of a romance novel and got hooked. One of my best high school gifts was a Plot Journal from a former English teacher, which I still write in.  It wasn’t until my characters wouldn’t get off my back that I finally finished a full manuscript. It wasn’t easy–especially with a full-time job-but after that I couldn’t stop.

Yes. I spent my childhood in two small Midwestern communities and then my summers in the same town as our family newspaper. I cherish those times.  Having people simply stop by for coffee or to drop off a meal if someone has a crisis or a new baby arrives.  Walking into people’s houses because the doors aren’t locked. Talking about the various events in town, how people are related and, of course, any mischief that’s going on. Since much of our big family also lived in Colorado, where Dare Valley is located, we also spent a lot of time there.  Additionally, I lived in a small university town in Utah for grad school.  Dare is an amalgamation of these experiences, and a place I would love to live.

My sister, Michelle, is my Nora girl. Her experience of having her ex-husband blame their divorce on her reading Nora Roberts’ novels eventually crystallized into a story idea for me, the one that became Nora Roberts Land. But there was no way I’d write it without her okay. She wholeheartedly agreed, wanting to inspire people to believe in second chances and happily ever after since she’s found her own.

Well, besides my sister’s ex blaming their divorce on Nora’s books, my sisters and I have always wanted to live in a Nora novel (minus the killers and such). The “world” she creates with every story (and it’s over two hundred now) is simply unparalleled when it comes to steamy heroes and heroic heroines.

Yes, my great-great grandfather came out West to make something of himself. He was quite a character and one of the top people I want to meet in heaven. He won one of our family papers in a poker game, and then went on to fight vigilantes, expose a corrupt judge, and bring the town embezzler to justice. He’s such a legend in my family that it only seemed right to model Arthur Hale after him. I know they would be the best of friends. Men who crusade for justice, believe in free speech, love their families, and support the small town they live in. Real men.

My grandmother taught me how to cook on summers spent in their small town. It became a passion for me, and as the oldest of six kids, I cooked a lot of meals growing up when my mom was ushering other siblings to after-school events. Then I received the opportunity to work as an apprentice chef in a northern Italian restaurant popular with politicos, celebrities, and journalists. It was a great time, and from there, I was lucky enough to become a private chef for someone while I was in graduate school. The food aspects of French Roast are close to my heart, especially since I have a passion for all things French, and have even taken a cooking class in Provence. Count on more food-related books.

Writing dialogue, I am literally in the audience, watching my characters, typing down what they’re saying. Their voices are even unique. I can hear the cadence, their inflections—the whole nine yards. Daniel Day Lewis said he experiences the same thing when acting. When I heard that (since I think he’s an acting god), I almost swooned. If he wasn’t older and happily married, we could have had something.

Regarding tips, I would say listen. Don’t make something happen. Let it bubble up. That’s when the magic comes.

Did I mention Nora Roberts? I also adore Susan Elizabeth Phillips. She has the perfect combination of potent wit, strong characters, powerful emotion, and intricate plotting. She’s a genius. I always read Rachel Gibson for her athletes (I have some stories involving sports I hope to have out in the future, too).

I also love Diana Gabaldon and Sherry Thomas. Again, strong characters, lots of conflict, consuming emotion, and a love you just know will last. I was a huge fan of LaVyrle Spencer’s and was devastated when she retired; same goes for Judith McNaught; and Iris Johansen’s historicals are the ones I pull out at 11 pm when I want a pick-me-up that I can skim until 2 am and still sigh over.

Well there’s my site, which will has all my book info, appearances and background info.  And I’m on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube. Come find me!

Absolutely! As someone who used to work overseas and speaks more than one language, translation is really important to me. Check your individual retailers in your country to see which ones are available. We continue to add new books all the time.