Interview with Minette Lauren
How has Texas influenced your writing?
Moving to Texas in 2003, I felt like I was coming home. I was raised in Louisiana, but I left the state in my early twenties. I lived in Alaska a few years before moving to Wisconsin, where I finished my degree, then packed up and moved to San Francisco for a few years. I’ve traveled a lot in my life, and I love seeing new places, but there is nothing like coming home to Texas. The people are super friendly here and I like that Texans don’t take any smack. When I visited Paris a few years ago, I was surprised to see the historical Embassy of the Republic of Texas. It was just down the street from our hotel. Before becoming a state, Texas held its own in the world. I like to think the people here are a unique blend of many cultures and welcome new beginnings, change and acceptance. These are the things I embrace in my life and that’s why I feel so at home in the Lone Star State.
What do you think most characterizes your writing?
I write from my own experiences. I waited tables to help pay the bills when I was in college. I could write an entire series just about that! The Cupcake Diner and Dive in the Hot in Magnolia Series is a real place in my mind and the characters who work there, visit there, or fall in love there are just as real to me too. I like to blend my real experiences into my books, and I think that makes them more authentic.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Gingerbread Kisses intertwines two separate romances in one book. It was hard to keep the word count down, without leaving out important details. Every book in the Hot in Magnolia Series is a stand-alone romance. They have a lot of the same favorite characters, but the books can be read out of order.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
My fur and feather babies are a daily inspiration to me, so I love including them in my books. Rollo, the rescue pit bull in Gingerbread Kisses, was inspired by Julius, my real-life pit rescue. I admit, I’ve never had an iguana before, but when I thought about Ginger’s character in Gingerbread Kisses, I knew her life before meeting Roland, wasn’t conducive to owning a cat or dog. But she was an animal lover and so I came up with Igor the iguana. There is a hilarious scene when a sleeping Roland is “woken up” by Igor. And in Lexi’s story there are plenty of animals on her farm. Anne Margret is a Houdini pet rat that appears in the prequel but had some explaining to do in book 4. Readers will appreciate finding out how this beloved pet makes it home safe and sound.
Who are some of the authors you feel were influential in your work?
I haven’t read a lot of romances like the Hot in Magnolia Series that are also comedies, but when I discovered Janet Evanovich, I couldn’t put her Stephanie Plum books down. Jana DeLeon, writes several very entertaining series that keeps me laughing out loud. I love women’s fiction and I’m open to reading any genre.
How important are names to you in your books? How do you choose names?
The names pop in my head just like the characters themselves. Ginger Lynn was supposed to sound like an exotic dancer name. Amber Lynn or Cherry Lynn would have worked too, but her hair was Ginger colored, and it went well with the gingerbread cookie theme during the holiday season.
Did you first experience rejections when submitting this manuscript for publication?
My first script ever was rejected twice, and I gave up writing for a decade. My second manuscript was rejected as well, but I shouldn’t have taken it so personally. I wish I hadn’t given up so soon. Those rejections were pointing me in the right direction, but I didn’t listen. My ego got in the way. I should have tried again and written stronger characters with better conflicts. I think I was so close back then. But the third time is a charm. My third submission that I sent out in my 40s was the one that got accepted by a small press. I’ve written steadily ever since. At fifty, I have ten books published, three of which were co-written. There are five more scripts that I haven’t had time to edit and publish yet. My advice to any aspiring writer is, never give up!
Do you now or have you ever considered writing under a pen name? Why or why not?
I write under two pen names. Minette Lauren is my given name backwards (almost) and Zari Reede is my shared pen name with my friend and co-author Zoe Tasia. I thought it would be odd using my real name for signing books. Why show everyone your bank signature, right? But I really love my middle name, Minette, and wanted to use it since I first dreamed of becoming a writer. My mom said she named me after Charles II’s sister, who was known for her diplomatic nature and the letters of correspondence between her and the king.
What projects are you working on at the present?
Hurricane Kisses is in the works. Psst! There’s a sneak peek for it at the end of Gingerbread Kisses.
What’s something interesting, fun, or funny that most people don’t know about you?
I love riding my Harley on a nice day. I never finished high school but completed my GED and went on to university when I was sixteen. I was a model on the cover of a car magazine. And I never leave my bedroom without putting on lipliner in the morning.
What is your favorite quote?
“Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” ~ Oscar Wilde.
GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!
First place: Signed copies
of the Hot in Magnolia series books (prequel included)
+ $25 Amazon gift card
Second place: Signed copies of all four books in the series
Third place: Signed copy of Gingerbread Kisses
(Continental US residents only. Ends midnight, CDT, June 4, 2021)