I love romance with a sense of humor, so I was immediately attracted to Cynthia and her debut novel, The Whole Package. Meeting authors like her is why I love to go to book festivals. Her work is funny, witty, charming, and leaves you with a smile on your face. Introducing Cynthia Ellingsen!
First, tell us a bit about yourself. Where you’re from? Past jobs, awards, the usual bio stuff.
A Michigan girl, I’ve also lived in Chicago, Los Angeles and currently, Lexington KY. I have a marketing background and have done some hilarious promotion jobs. I’ve been the Bloomingdale’s Brown Bag, a beer girl – which is bizarre; I must have filled their nerdy/hot quota – and even worked auto show. My true love has always been writing and I started doing it professionally in Los Angeles, when one of my screenplays was optioned. When that happened, I thought, “Oh, okay. These novels I’ve been writing in secret… well, maybe I could show them around.”
What do you write?
A commercial women’s fiction author, I write stories for women, about women. My first novel, The Whole Package, is about three best friends who lose everything and open a business together to bounce back. They do this by opening a restaurant staffed by scantily clad men. A reader said to me, “I have a tagline for The Whole Package.” I said, “Okay, let’s hear it.” She said, “If you have friends, you have to read this book.” And… she’s right.
What books do you have coming out? When? Give us a little preview.
I’m currently working away at my second novel, Marriage Matters. This will also be from Penguin-Berkley. I believe it’s coming out fall of next year.
Who has been the most difficult character for you to write?
Doris, in The Whole Package! Writing an underdog is tricky because there’s a fine line between being a lovable underdog and a Debbie-downer. Getting Doris to the lovable underdog stage took some work.
What characters are lying on your “office floor”? Why didn’t they come to life on the page and do you think they ever will? Or why not?
People I know. Even though I have some wild, wacky friends that I could certainly write volumes about, it’s much more interesting to build a character from scratch.
How much time does it usually take you to write a book?
Roughly a full season of Millionaire Matchmaker. I’ve missed ’em all this round.
Any funny “researching your book stories” to share with readers?
Ha! I would love to say that research for The Whole Package took me into a male review or something, but that’s not true. I do love to write about food. Eating a lot of chocolate as a form of research can be very important to the integrity of a story.
What do you find is the hardest part of writing?
Turning it off. When I’m writing, I’m in my head for months and everything else goes by the wayside. The other day, I went to a birthday brunch for my friend… at the wrong restaurant.
If you could be one of your characters for a day which character would it be? Why?
Jackie, in The Whole Package. She’s that enigmatic, fabulous woman who’s fabulous, worldly and always exciting.
Who is your favorite hero that you’ve written? Why?
Cheryl, in The Whole Package. She’s that smart, sassy woman who knows what she wants and is not afraid to go out and get it. Pairing her up with the sexy hero Andy was so much fun. I loved the banter and mutual respect of their relationship.
Who is your favorite fiction hero written by someone else? Why?
Dagny Taggart, Atlas Shrugged or Dominique Francon, The Fountainhead. Both of these characters are strong, smart, sexy females. I read both of these books when I was younger and it was probably my first introduction to strong women in literature.
What do you think makes a good hero?
A character that readers can relate and aspire to.
If you could have dinner with any writer living or dead, who would it be and why?
Maeve Binchy. I adore the technique of her storytelling and would hope she’d share some secrets.
What authors do you always read?
Authors in my genre. I love Maeve Binchy, Chelsea Handler, Wendy Wax and Julie James… the list could go on forever.
Do you have a secret talent readers would be surprised by?
I know all the words to Ice-Ice Baby. But really, who doesn’t?
What is the one question you never get ask at interviews, but wish you did?
I wish someone would ask, “What’s the worst thing you’ve ever written?” Answer: Poetry. Oh, my gosh. That is an art form I have yet to understand.
Will you do book clubs?
Yes, absolutely. I love to meet with book clubs in person or via Skype. Since The Whole Package is a girl’s night out type of book, I’ve also been a guest speaker at women’s luncheons and plan to continue doing that. I love any opportunity to connect with readers.
Another way to connect is virtually, of course. Readers can find me online at www.cynthiaellingsen.com, on Twitter as @CynEllingsen http://twitter.com/#!/CynEllingsen and on Facebook at Cynthia Ellingsen – Author Page. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cynthia-Ellingsen-Author-Page/118744574816550 Grab a copy of The Whole Package and come tell me what you think!
Thank you, Cynthia!