Welcome to An Indie Adventure, Dana Ross. Tell us, what inspired you to write your book: Full Girlfriend Experience.
Hi, Leslie Ann. Thank you so much for hosting me today. Here’s the backstory that inspired this novel. After a 20 year marriage, I entered the dating world. I made new friends along the way, one in particular whom I said I’d never date but felt an instant admiration for. He was kind-hearted, pure and innocent, the proverbial Prince Charming, but real. He also lived 1,000 miles away. I immediately wanted to create a character based around him. But stories need balance, so I created my protagonist, a villainess who’d be the polar opposite of Prince Charming, by extracting real-life conversations from my best friend, a proverbial “bad boy.” I wanted the story to take place in D.C. (my hometown,) and bring readers into the magic of the city.
Sidebar: After a year of friendship with “Prince Charming,” I broke down and agreed to traipse into a long-distance romantic relationship. We’ve been dating for the past four years.
How do you use setting to further your story?
I remember reading “Wuthering Heights” and how Emily Bronte manipulated the reader’s emotions using the gloomy Moors of England to set the tone. There are so many magical, eclectic parts of Washington, D.C., and I wanted to share both the “beauty and the beast,” of my hometown, so I used real-life settings--sometimes fictionalized to set the mood. For instance, a now-defunct bridge that I’d crossed in my youth whilst filming a PSA, is the backdrop for a pivotal scene in the book. The scene’s theme was “take a leap of Faith,” which is also a play on words with my heroine’s name. The garden in Dumbarton Oaks was a favorite haunt of mine, so I used it to set a romantic tone for Faith and Finn. I used the zippy music and spicy smells from a famous Cuban rum bar to spotlight “Faith and Finn’s” first date, and the gloom of springtime rain to set the dreariness my heroine felt at certain points in the story.
Tell us something about yourself we might not expect!
I grew up in the jewelry industry, worked in the family biz for a decade, and later taught gemology (the study of gems) at The Gemological Institute of America. Fun Fact: My “secret talent” is being able to go outside and accurately predict the weather to within two degrees, by feel. Weird, but true.
To you what makes a great romance hero or heroine?
I love multi-dimensional characters, people that surprise you. Readers get bored with predictability, and I love authors that are able to create character arcs that don’t follow the norm. I researched unforgettable villainesses in 19th Century-present day fiction for my MFA thesis, and I loved Thackery’s Becky in “Vanity Fair,” Gregory Maguire’s Elphaba from the “Wicked” novel, Daphne du Maurier’s “Rebecca,” and the unforgettable Emma Bovary in Gustave Flaubert’s “Madame Bovary.”
What is the first thing you do when you begin a new book?
Answer: The first thing I do is start working on a detailed character worksheet for my protagonist and a few key players. The more I flesh out their traits, the more I envision the story. Then I try to outline--even if its a few index card or a one-page synopsis. I didn’t outline when I first started writing and I found myself getting “stuck” midway through. Next, I start a music playlist named after the working title of the book, and I feed the list with songs from each chapter.
If you were not a writer, what vocation would you pursue?
Answer: I jokingly refer to myself as an ersatz deejay because I am utterly obsessed with music and have dated a few deejays in the past. Music is my second passion, and once I can save up for a mixing board/find time to mix and practice, I’ll set down my pen and fantasize about spinning in a club one day.
Give us a brief summary ofFull Girlfriend Experience:
When DC Madam Faith Crawley receives a call from former client, Senator William Drummond, it's the answer to her prayers. The money the dirty politician offers her to smear his rival Finn Billings will save Faith's business, her lifestyle, and her girls.
Raised in the shadow of a political magnate, Finn Billings has the credentials to get the job done, but he lacks confidence and wonders if politics is truly the life he desires.
Using the façade of her front business, a PR firm, Faith turns Finn into a political powerhouse while obtaining the evidence Drummond needs to destroy Finn's political chances. But Faith didn't plan on falling in love with her mark.
Now she has the toughest decision ever—give the sleazy senator incriminating photos of Finn to save her business or give up everything for the sake of love.
Bio: Former gemology teacher Caryn DeVincenti, who writes under the pen name Dana Ross, left all things shiny to become a full-time novelist. She is the regional director of the Florida Writers’ Association, Palm Beach County and is an active member of the Women Fiction Writers Association and the Florida Writers Association. Caryn earned her M.F.A. in creative writing from Wilkes University and loves mentoring budding novelists. Her articles on love, divorce, and relationships have appeared on DivorcedMoms.com and The Good Men Project. When not writing, Caryn enjoys dancing to loud 80s music, obsessing over social media, and playing with her insane Cairn terrier. Her first novel: Full Girlfriend Experience, a contemporary romance, will be released through The Wild Rose Press on February 18, 2019.