Please give a warm welcome to this morning’s special guest. Christine S Feldman is here to chat about her recent release The Bargain.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.
[Christine] I’m a neurotic introvert who likes to read, write, draw, and dance. I’m married to a wonderful man, I love beagles, and I’m addicted to ice cream. And M&Ms.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Bargain?
[Christine] It’s a contemporary romance, more sweet than spicy. (I think I might spontaneously combust if I ever tried to write a love scene, and my health insurance doesn’t cover that, so…) It’s sort of an ugly duckling meets beautiful swan story, and in this case, the ugly duckling is the heroine, Shannon Mahoney. She’s a socially awkward plain Jane who has been secretly pining for her boss, Drew, since they were in high school. But Drew isn’t the love interest in this story; his older brother Michael is. Michael is everything Shannon isn’t: a gorgeous heartthrob who exudes confidence. He’s also, however, deeply troubled. At first the two butt heads over Drew, but then they become unlikely allies…and then friends…and then they start to turn into something more. It’s a romance, but it’s also a story about transformation—inner more than outer.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?
[Christine] I knew I wanted to write a story about an unlikely romance heroine, and I wanted to pair her up with someone who was her complete opposite in many ways. I prefer flawed characters to perfect ones because I think their struggles to overcome their flaws make for great stories. And quite frankly, I just thought it would be a lot of fun to have the former high school wallflower grow up to sweep the former high school heartthrob off his feet—and not because she suddenly turned gorgeous overnight, but because these two characters bring out the best in each other.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Shannon?
[Christine] Awkward, tenacious tomboy.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Michael had a theme song, what would it be?
[Christine] Hmm…maybe “Carry On Wayward Son” by Kansas? He is very much the wayward son, and there is something inside him that’s weary and longing for a place to rest his head—or, actually, his heart. He just doesn’t realize it at first.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Shannon is never without.
[Christine] Swiss army knife. You know, the kind with 50 little different gadgets on it from screwdrivers to bottle openers to who knows what else. Hey, she is a tomboy, and she’s awfully good with tools.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find on Michael’s bedroom?
[Christine] Stuffed animals, anything pink, and John Tesh’s Greatest Hits.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Shannon’s greatest regret?
[Christine] That she’s let her shyness hold her back.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?
[Christine] Jennifer Crusie, LaVyrle Spencer, Neil Gaiman, Nevada Barr, Stephen King, Barbara Michaels, J.R.R. Tolkein… Authors whose stories and characters just pull you in right from the start. Whether they do it through humor or emotion or suspense, they all have a quality about their writing that just keeps me turning pages until there aren’t any left to turn. And then I go look for their next book.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?
[Christine] My laptop, my couch, and my notes and outlines. And although it’s not absolutely necessary, it’s also nice to have my dog curled up next to me.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What was your biggest distraction while working on The Bargain?
[Christine] The biggest distraction for me whenever I write is probably the television. It’s a huge time sucker. When I’m stuck on something in a scene, it’s incredibly tempting to take a break for a while and turn on the TV, and then before I know it, a couple of hours have gone by without me having written anything. Sometimes I have to stick the remote control on the other side of the room to remove me from temptation’s path.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?
[Christine] I just finished reading Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and I enjoyed that one a lot. It had been a while since I read a book that I didn’t want to put down until I was finished, but this one had that effect on me. I love how he gives you hints of the otherworldly without coming right out and explaining every detail to you until any mystical quality about it just disappears. Plus he had me biting my nails over the safety of the narrator, and it’s not every writer that can get you so invested in a character’s well-being like that. I actually thought there were some aspects of this particular book that reminded me of the menace I always seem to feel when reading a Stephen King book, and I don’t remember feeling that way about other Gaiman books I’ve read. Anyway, I thought it was very effective.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?
[Christine] Just one? That’s hard. My parents read to me as a child, so if I had to go back and try to pick one of my earliest favorites, I think it would be an old illustrated treasury of children’s literature. It was full of fairy tales and classic adventures, and I loved every page. When I was old enough to read things to myself, I know I loved the Narnia books a lot. Those might very well have been my favorites.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
[Christine] Read, of course. And I like to go out dancing with my husband occasionally. I used to take bellydance lessons, but I’m too shy to do any of it in front of anyone except my dog. I like to dabble in lots of things, actually. I even took a fencing class for one semester—but I had too much respect for the sport to continue. Turns out I’m not so graceful with swords. Well, fencing foils, anyway. Who knows, though? Maybe I’d be a natural with a broadsword and I just don’t know it yet. Renaissance fairs, here I come…
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?
[Christine] Author website – http://christinesfeldman.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ChristineSFeldman
Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6934883.Christine_S_Feldman
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!
About the book:
Tomboy Shannon Mahoney has always been a lot more comfortable with power tools than high heels or lipstick, and she wishes she could reinvent herself and finally tell her perfect boss, Drew Kingston, she has had a crush on him since high school. But she is just as tongue-tied and awkward around him now as she ever was, and long-familiar patterns are hard things from which to break free…
Ladies’ man Michael is a former bad boy looking for redemption. He is desperate to atone for past mistakes that he made with his family, but younger brother Drew has cut him out of his life and refuses to even speak to him. Which means Michael needs help getting to Drew.
And so he approaches Shannon with a proposition: If she will get Drew to agree to hear him out, Michael will mentor Shannon in how to win his brother’s heart. Suspicious of Michael’s motives, Shannon initially enters into the bargain just to make sure Michael isn’t actually in town to cause trouble for Drew, but the two unlikely allies are surprised to discover they enjoy each other’s company far more than either expected.
Shannon starts to realize that maybe love isn’t about reinventing yourself after all. It’s about finding your perfect match.
About the author:
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 for her debut novel, Coming Home, with her second one, The Bargain, out this summer. 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 or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ChristineSFeldman.