Welcome author Christine Feldman for today’s 12 Days of Christmas post.
What inspired this story?
I’ve always enjoyed unlikely romantic pairings, and I thought a woman and the guy who used to pick on her in grade school certainly fit the bill! Naturally he’s changed since then, but our heroine doesn’t know that when he crosses her path years later… This storyline also gave me the chance to throw in a mistaken identity, some humor, and a little redemption—which isn’t a bad thing at Christmastime.
Do you have a favorite scene or character from the book?
I like the scene in which Trish intends to tell Ian off the way she wanted to as a kid and then things take a very different turn. There’s humor but also an unexpected twist that makes the scene a little more poignant.
How did it compare to writing your other books?
My previous books were longer; this was the first time I’d done a novella. I knew it would be challenging to have the same kind of character depth in a shorter work as you might find in a full-length novel, but I’ve gotten a wonderful response from reviewers, so I think it turned out pretty well.
Which character is most like you or unlike you?
I identify the most with Trish because she can certainly have her awkward moments, and I feel like I have a fair amount of those myself.
Any chance of a sequel or a spin-off with one of the other characters?
Actually, the second novella in the series came out December 1st, and it features Trish’s friend Nadia. The third novella should be out in January, and it features a character we meet in the second novella. I enjoyed the camaraderie in these stories so much that I’m glad I didn’t limit myself to just one. J
Do you have any writing rituals?
I eat lots of ice cream and chocolate when I’m writing. Does that count?
What would your dream writing space look like?
How about a vine-covered pergola on a rural Italian hillside that overlooks a vineyard? That would work nicely. I’m not picky, though. A secluded beach in Hawaii or private mountain lodge would work just as well. J
What would readers be surprised to know about you?
I like to bellydance. But only in private. (I said I liked to bellydance; I didn’t say I was good at it…)
*What’s next for you
I’m wrapping up the last novella in this series, and then I plan to turn one of my screenplays into a novel before tackling an idea I have for another romance. So many ideas, so little time…
Thanks for having me on your site today!
Novella 1: Pastels and Jingle Bells
Trish Ackerly never expected to cross paths with Ian Rafferty again, but when she spots the former bully of her childhood years through her bakery window, she thinks she may just have been given the best Christmas gift ever: the opportunity to finally give Ian the comeuppance he deserves.
But clearly she does not have a knack for this whole revenge thing, because before she can make good on her plans, Trish gets inadvertently drawn into Ian’s life in an unexpected way that lets her see just how different the man is from the boy he used to be. In fact, much to her astonishment, she actually starts to like the guy.
Trouble is, Ian doesn’t know who she really is, and explaining it to him is going to be a little difficult now—which is bad news, because Trish is starting to realize that all she really wants for Christmas this year…is Ian.
Pastels and Jingle Bells: Heavenly Bites Novella #1
It was probably inviting the worst kind of karma to be contemplating murder during the holiday season of all times, but that didn’t phase Trish Ackerly in the slightest as she stared through her bakery’s storefront window in shock.
It was him. Ian Rafferty, bane of her junior high school existence. She’d know that face anywhere, despite the changes in it. Sure, he was a couple of feet taller now and certainly broader shouldered, but as he glanced away from the winter scene she had painted on the window only yesterday and at a passing car that whizzed by much too fast on the busy city street, the profile he presented to her confirmed it. Yes, it was him. That same nose, the odd little scar above his eye, the familiar way he quirked his lips…
Her eyes narrowed. Ian Rafferty. That miserable, mean-spirited little—
Then he turned his face back to the window, and Trish gasped and dropped to the floor before he could spot her staring at him.
“What on earth are you doing?” came Nadia’s voice from behind the counter.
Trish huddled behind a tall metal trash can and glanced up through her dark bangs at her startled friend and business partner only to remember belatedly that they had company in the shop, namely wizened little Mrs. Beasley, whose startled eyes blinked at her from behind enormous tortoise-shell spectacles.
Well, there was little help for it now. “That guy,” Trish hissed, jerking one thumb in the direction of the window. “I know him!”
Both Nadia and Mrs. Beasley peered intently through the glass. “Mmm,” said Nadia appreciatively a moment later. “Lucky you, girlfriend.”
“No, not lucky me! That guy made my life a living hell in junior high. He’s a jerk, he’s a bully—“
“He’s coming in here, dear,” Mrs. Beasley interrupted her, with obvious interest in her voice.
With a squeak of alarm, Trish shuffled hastily behind the counter on her hands and knees and hunched into as small and inconspicuous a ball as she could.
Nadia blinked. “Trish, are you out of your—“
“Oh, you did not just shush me—“
“SHH!” Trish insisted again, knowing full well that she’d pay for it later, and then she pulled her head down into her shoulders as much as her anatomy would allow.
The bell on the door jangled cheerfully then, and a gust of cold air heralded Ian Rafferty’s arrival.
“Hi, there,” Nadia greeted him brightly, surreptitiously giving Trish’s foot a little dig with one of her own. “Welcome to Heavenly Bites. What can I get for you?”
“Cup of coffee would be great for starters,” came a voice that was deep but soft, and far less reptilian than Trish expected. She cocked her head slightly to better catch his words and heard the unmistakable sound of him blowing on his hands and rubbing them together to warm them. “Cream, no sugar.”
“Sure thing, honey.”
“Your window art,” his voice continued, and Trish straightened ever so slightly at the mention of her work. “It’s fantastic. Can I ask who painted it?”
“Absolutely,” Nadia returned, turning her attention to getting the coffee he requested. “My business partner, Trish.”
“Is she around, by any chance?”
Nadia glanced down at where Trish sat scrunched up and did what Trish thought was a very poor job of suppressing a smirk. “She’s, um, indisposed at the moment. Why do you ask?”
“I’ve got a couple of windows that could use a little holiday cheer. Think she might be interested in the job?”
Nadia gave Trish another brief sideways glance.
Trish shook her head frantically.
“Tell you what. Leave me your number, and we’ll find out.” Nadia stepped out of reach before Trish could smack her leg.
“Great, thanks. Here’s my card.”
“I’ll see that she gets it, Mr.—“ Nadia glanced at the card. “—Rafferty. Here’s your coffee, and you, sir, have a very nice day.”
The bell on the door jingled again, and Trish cautiously poked her head up long enough to verify that Ian was indeed gone. She then ignored the fascinated look Mrs. Beasley was giving her and fixed an icy stare on Nadia. “I’m going to kill you. How could you do that?”
Nadia tossed her dark braids over her shoulder. “Hmph. Shush me in my own shop…”
“I don’t want to talk to that guy! I don’t want to have anything to do with him.”
“He seemed nice enough to me,” her friend returned, shrugging unapologetically. “And easy on the eyes, too.”
“And single,” put in Mrs. Beasley eagerly, one wrinkled hand fluttering over her heart. “No wedding ring.”
“Of course there’s no ring! No woman wants to marry the devil!” Trish sank back down onto the floor and leaned back heavily against the shelves behind her.
“He used to be the devil,” Nadia corrected her, examining the business card he had handed to her. “Now he’s ‘Ian Rafferty, Landscape Architect’. And he’s a paying customer, Trish. Face it, you could use the money.”
“Forget it. I’m not so hard up that I’d go crawling to Ian Rafferty for a job.” Trish scowled and folded her arms across her chest. “I have my dignity, you know.”
“Yeah? Why don’t you get up off the floor and tell me all about your dignity.”
“Oh, shut up,” Trish muttered, getting to her feet and snatching the card from Nadia’s hand. Wadding it up, she tossed it in the direction of the trashcan and stalked into the bakery’s kitchen.
Bio: Christine S. Feldman writes both novels and feature-length screenplays, and, to her great delight, she has placed in screenwriting competitions on both coasts—and has even won a couple of them. In 2012 one of her screenplays was featured as a staged reading in New York City at the Gotham Screen International Film Festival (http://www.gsiff.com/content/staged-screenplay-reading-1), and later that same year she signed her first publishing contract. When she is not writing, she is teaching kindergarten, puttering around in her garden, ballroom dancing with her husband, or doing research for her next project. Please visit her at her website http://christinesfeldman.com, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ChristineSFeldman, or follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/FeldmanCS.