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Thursday, April 11, 2013
A British Rose Visiting Me Today.
Today, I have the pleasure of a visit with Stephanie Cage, one of our Roses in the UK. She’s talking about her latest release, a dance romance; PERFECT PARTNERS.
What did you see, hear or dream that inspired your book?
‘Perfect Partners’ was inspired by my experiences of dancing on a university ballroom team, and then being an avid fan of ‘Strictly Come Dancing.’ I loved the idea of writing about the glamorous side of dancing, the sequins and sparkle, but also keeping the story grounded in the real world. For example, Lisa struggles to balance her love of dance with a day job in marketing, and agrees to take part in the ‘Couples’ show because the prize money would help to keep her beloved dance studio open.
I have dearly loved the movies about dancing and romance. I think there is something inherently sensual about dancing. It brings out the sexy in people.
Which one of your main characters came across strongest to you?
Lisa and Redmond both came across very strongly to me, but I probably ‘see’ Redmond more in my mind, and identify more with Lisa. Red’s a bit larger than life, with his Florida tan and his single-minded determination to win, both at the competition and at the game of love.
How long did it take you to fall in love with your Hero/Heroine?
As soon as I saw Lisa standing in the doorway of Elaine’s office, dangling her dance sandals by their straps and fretting about the idea of being part of the TV show, my heart went out to her. It took me longer to warm to Redmond because of the way he treated Lisa when he was young and foolish, but I soon realized that he’d grown up into a strong and generous man.
I think it’s quite interesting how our characters become real people who live and breathe within us until we get them on the page to do the same for our readers.
Did you borrow certain traits for your characters from someone you know personally? Which ones?
I think Red is a combination of every male dancer I’ve ever met, with a good dose of Anton du Beke thrown in. Neither he nor Lisa is based on any one specific person in my life, though – I’ve always found it easier to invent a character than to try to make a real person fit within the scope of the story I want to write.
Is this book a single category or can we expect to see more of your characters in a series?
I’m working on sequels to two books at the moment. ‘A Step in the Right Direction’ is the working title of another dance story, featuring two students from Lisa’s dance school. ‘Desperate Measures’ is the working title for my sequel to ‘Desperate Bid’, my first contemporary romance novella, published by The Wild Rose Press.
Congratulations on being a rose in the garden! It sounds like you have the elusive time I lack to keep writing on series projects. I keep saying “One day,” and it will happen.
What is your most difficult “no-no” when you write? (Show vs. tell, dialogue, plot problems, passive voice, etc.)
I have a bad habit of spending too much time inside my characters’ heads and not enough showing their external world. I’m working really hard on including lots of good physical detail in my current works in progress, and I’ve had very good feedback on them so far, so I guess I’m improving.
That’s the other thing about our love. We always improve. It’s a slow and constant process, but so worth it!
When you take a break from writing, what do you do to allow your brain time to regroup?
I find walking in the beautiful Yorkshire countryside a great way to unwind, and I also love visiting the theatre. I love anything to do with dance, so watching musicals is one of my biggest indulgences, and I also go to Zumba classes to try to counteract the effect of spending so much time at a keyboard.
Would you consider yourself a plotter or a pantser?
I’ve always been more of a pantser but I’m trying to change that a bit so that I don’t spend so much time writing myself into corners.
Yeah, I’m looking into changing that up, too. I’m hoping it will cut time in the revision process if things are planned out a bit more.
In one sentence, tell us what your book is about.
‘Perfect Partners’ is the story of dancer Lisa and her ex-partner and teenage crush Redmond, reunited to take part in a reality TV show with a twist.
What is your one “guilty” pleasure?
Just one? Buying yet more books to add to the TBR pile. If I could have two, it would be books and chocolate!
Oh, yeah! You know you’re a writer when you’re hooked on books and chocolate. Coffee seems to be the other thing, but I prefer tea.
Title: ‘PERFECT PARTNERS’
“What’s he doing back in London after all this time?”
Eight years ago, Lisa Darby’s dancing partner and first love, Redmond Carrington, left London for a fun summer on the cruise ships – and never came back. Lisa’s grown up a bit since then, and she’d like to think she’s prepared for anything, but when Red comes back from America with a proposal for her, she’s not sure she’s ready for what he’s suggesting.
A TV studio is filming a knockout competition of six of the world’s best couples – each of them partners both on and off the dance floor. Redmond wants Lisa to pose as his girlfriend so that they can compete. It’s an unbelievable opportunity for an aspiring professional dancer, and the spectacular prize money would help save Lisa’s beloved dance studio, which is in need of major renovation. Scooping the prize is going to take the performance of a lifetime from Lisa and Redmond, but with the sizzling tension between them, they might just pull it off.
It turns out that putting on an act for the cameras is the least of Lisa’s worries. As time goes on and she rediscovers her feelings for Redmond, she’s left questioning what’s really behind his offer, and where their partnership is heading this time.
Sensuality Level: Sensual
She stood up, dropped her fleece onto the bench, and took his hand, willing herself not to notice the way his strong fingers encircled hers, making her feel safe and protected. Whatever his body told her, it was a lie, she told herself. He’d never been anything but trouble, and he never would be. Their partnership was a convenience, nothing more. But his hand on her back, where her low-cut dress gave way to bare flesh, still felt warm and firm and right. And when he shifted his hold, her body still responded, sending soft shivers down her spine.
He pressed the play button on the CD player as he passed, and after a moment’s pause the music began. Even though they were dancing a rapid jive, skipping and spinning and dipping, she still had time to notice how his eyes were fixed on her with almost frightening intensity. That was something she’d forgotten about him. The way he did everything as if his life, or maybe more than that—the fate of the world—depended on it. It was as if time stretched when they were dancing. In between heartbeats he could move his feet in perfect unison with hers, adjust his routine to avoid other couples on the floor and fit around her occasional slips, and still favor her with a long, lazy smile whenever she followed a particularly tricky move.
Finally, just as Lisa was becoming breathless the track began to slow down. Redmond’s effervescent energy softened to an easy swing, and as the music drifted to a halt, he swung her into a slow, languorous drop.
Thanks so much for visiting with me today, Stephanie! Your book sounds terrific and it was a pleasure getting to know you better.