Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Pinch of Ooh La La, plus jazz and some yummy baked goods


I'm delighted to welcome author Renee Swindle to my blog today. Her new novel, A Pinch of Ooh La La, is described as a story about non-traditional jazz and the ever-embarrassing quest to find true and perfect love in our thirties. Abbey Ross and her fun and jazzy multicultural family of 13 siblings and step siblings, along with 5 ex-wives and one current wife, all get along and everyone has an opinion of Abbey's love-life. After getting publicly cheated on and dumped by a world famous artist, Abbey leans on her family and best friend, Bendrix, and immerses herself in her career as a pastry chef and bakery owner. While Abbey bakes up beautiful wedding cakes for quirky lovers, she daydreams a life of love and jazz musicians past and present. Then Abbey agrees to try her hand at online dating, but never expects to meet a handsome, single, 30-something lawyer...

Knowing Renee was going to visit my blog, I tried to find out a few things about her online, and learned she loves animals even more than I do. So grab a coffee, sit down, and we hope you'll enjoy our conversation.


Sheila: I read that you have lots of pets, not all of them alike, so... silly question; did your animal family influence the creation of Abbey's multicultural family in A Pinch of Ooh La La?
Renee: Ha ha!  Not at all.  Fun question, though.  The only way my dogs influence me, besides making me smile, is insuring that I get my exercise.  I walk them three times a day. Besides helping me keep my weight down, walking is great for helping me to clear my head or daydream about story ideas.
Sheila: How much of you is there in Abbey? Do you love cooking? Do you love jazz? Do you love peach and goat cheese tarts (I learned of them on your website and they sound delicious!)?

Renee: I will gladly and freely admit that like Abbey I love jazz and I also love to bake.  I also pretty much enjoy any baked item, including peach and goat cheese tarts.  Good thing I walk my dogs a lot, right?!

Sheila: Your book covers are gorgeous. Can you tell us something about how they were created?

Renee: Thanks so much.  I wish I could take credit.  The art department at Penguin/NAL comes up with the covers.  They do such a good job I usually only have to ask that certain things are tweaked here and there.

Sheila: Your titles are very enticing too. Does the title come before or after the book is written?

Renee: Ideas for titles come to mind while I’m working on the novel. So far, I’ve used song titles or titles linked to songs.  For instance, A Pinch Of Ooh La La is a play off of the Blossom Dearie jazz standard, “Give Him The Ooh La La.”

Sheila: What's your favorite part of writing a new book?

Renee: I’ve managed to trick myself into loving all parts of the writing process.  When I first start off, I give myself lots of room to “play.”  This is a time to let ideas flow and write messy scenes without an ounce of judgment.  I enjoy the editing process because the foundation is there. At this point I know my characters well enough that it’s time to get out of the way and work toward honest scenes.

Sheila: Is there a question you've always wished someone would ask and they never have? 

Renee: I would love for a film producer to ask me for the rights to Shake Down The Stars and A Pinch Of Ooh La La!

Sheila: Oh, I like that answer! Thank you so much, Renee. I really enjoyed this interview. And I hope you find your film producer!

About the Author:
Renee Swindle is a California native. She grew up in Vallejo and Lynwood and then went on to earn her BA in English from University of California, Irvine and her MFA in Creative Writing from San Diego State University. 
She is the author of several novels including Please Please Please (Random House/The Dial Press, 1999) which was an Essence Magazine/Blackboard Bestseller; and also Shake Down The Stars (NAL-Penguin Random House/August 6, 2013).
Renee has been featured in Essence Magazine and has also been interviewed on KPFA, Blog Talk Radio and various local radio shows and local cable shows. Her writing group, The Finish Party, was featured in O Magazine. Renee’s work has also been published in Germany and Japan. 
Renee currently works as a professor of English at Diablo Valley College at the San Ramon Campus and also at Solano Community College. For the last fourteen years she has lived in Oakland with her dogs and loves it. 


Follow her on Twitter @renee_swindle

Check out the latest and greatest on her website http://www.reneeswindlebooks.com/

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