BBB: What inspired you to become an author?
CRG: For me, there wasn't a single catalytic event that inspired me to write. Ever since I was a child I've been fascinated with stories, and as soon as I was capable of writing my own, I did. I found it fun to sit in my room and make up stories, or poems, or sometimes even comic strips. Writing and creating brought me a lot of joy as a kid, and that hasn't changed. Even while I was in college, I loved being alone and writing. (Yeah, I'm a good time!) Two things have been instrumental in me actually becoming an author: a realistic approach and a network of supportive people. I've always known I wanted to write, simply because I love to do it, not because I'm trying to be rich or famous. Even though it's something I do for fun, I take my writing process seriously. It requires dedication and many hours of hard work. The goal is to keep improving, and as long as I continue to love writing, I don't picture myself stopping. My family (especially my husband) is very supportive, which is important, because there is a level of sacrifice involved. Like, for instance, if I'm on deadline we may be ordering more pizza than usual. In my eyes, having pizza isn't the worst sacrifice in the world, but still.
BBB: How did you come up with the idea for your book?
CRG: When I set out to write Tess in Boots, I wanted to create a high-stakes love story that would keep readers turning the pages to find out what happens next. I knew I wanted to bring my main character to an uncomfortable place, because I believe people are given the opportunity to be most genuine when they step out of their comfort zone. That is to say, sometimes we can become committed to playing a given role in our daily lives, and before long we're locked into certain expectations. Perhaps they come in the form of social pressures, financial obligations, or time commitments. Plucking my character out of what she knew allowed her to take a hard look at herself and her priorities, which makes for good internal conflict. And lastly, I knew I wanted to set the story on a vineyard. I grew up with grapevines in my backyard, and my family went through a homemade winemaking phase at one point. So I wanted to incorporate this part of my background into the book. And besides, a vineyard makes for a beautiful setting! Perfect for a love story. From there, it all came together and the characters truly took on lives of their own. There were times while writing when even I was surprised by where the story turned, and that was a really cool experience.
BBB: Tell us about your main character.
CRG: Tess is a very driven, type-A personality. She has every detail of her life planned out, but lately her life hasn't gone as planned. Her world unravels in one day, and for the first time she has no idea what to do next. She gets the opportunity to join her lackadaisical brother on a remote vineyard for a working vacation, and she takes it. Packing her bags and leaving on a whim isn't like Tess at all. She finds herself in need of a sensible pair of shoes, and that's how she ends up with the boots. When Tess slips into the boots, she’s sort of trying a new life on for size. On the vineyard, she has the space and freedom to reevaluate who she is and where her life is heading. She also has the chance to fall in love - only it's not as simple as it sounds. There are a lot of humorous and heartwarming moments during the time Tess spends on the vineyard. And there are some gut-wrenching ones, too. I think readers will relate well to Tess.
What are you currently working on?
I've been focusing heavily on publicity for Tess in Boots, and I'm also the mother of a two-year-old. To make things more interesting, we have another little one on the way in January. So right now things are pretty busy! But I do have two stories outlined and started, and I hope to work on them both in the New Year. Without giving too much away, one is about a group of new mothers brought together by chance, and another is a destination-based spinoff of Tess in Boots, which introduces a few new characters while allowing readers to reconnect with their old favorites. It's tough to say which one I'll work on first, because I'm really excited about them both!
BBB: How can readers discover more about you and your work?
CRG: The easiest way to find me is to head to my blog: www.courtneyricegager.com. From there, you can follow me on Twitter, find my Facebook fan page, and get links to my books. I adore hearing from my readers and meeting other writers. Please say hi – you’ll make my day!
Tess Dougherty plans every aspect of her life right down to the last detail. But she doesn’t plan on running her boyfriend off by bringing up the topic of marriage before he’s ready. And she doesn’t plan to lose her job on the day she’s set to receive a huge promotion. So when her perfect world unravels, Tess makes a new plan: disappear.
Tess packs her bags and leaves her city apartment for a remote vineyard in North Carolina. At first, she’s put off by the slow pace of small-town life in the South. She’s especially irritated by Thatcher, the vineyard’s smart-mouth, dimple-faced farmhand. But she soon begins to appreciate the area’s charm, and Thatcher’s charm, too. She even swaps her trademark heels for a pair of cowboy boots. As Tess spends more time getting to know Thatcher, she finds herself loosening her grip on her old life little by little. Unfortunately, things on the vineyard aren’t as simple as they seem. There’s a secret here, and when the truth comes to light, Tess is forced to reconsider every plan she’s ever made.
Anaiah Press: http://www.anaiahpress.com/Tess.html
Tess in Boots is a charming romantic tale that takes readers on a journey of self discovery, second chances, and ultimately love.
Tess likes the security of her life. Everything seems to be falling into place, everything that is except getting her boyfriend of seven years to propose. After giving her boyfriend an ultimatum, Tess leaves the city and heads to the backwoods of North Carolina to spend time with her brother, Jake. Arriving at the small town vineyard her brother and his wife inherited, Tess decides she'll just stay long enough for Logan, her boyfriend, to come graveling back. In the meantime she busies herself around the vineyard and gets to know the occupants in the town. One in particular has caught her attention and he seems to have a way of getting under her skin. At the same time there's something about him she finds appealing, but the more she learns about him the more questions she has and if the townspeople know anything they aren't talking. Tess begins to rethink the path her life has taken and just when she thinks she has it all figured out something unexpected happens.
Tess In Boots is an enchanting story about the importance of never losing who you truly are, even for love. The author does a wonderful job of creating enjoyable and colorful characters. I especially liked the townspeople and how everyone knows everyone's business. I spent many summers in a small town and the author couldn't have been more accurate in her description. I liked that this wasn't a sappy love story, more of a pilgrimage of sorts to rediscover ones true self with the bonus of love thrown in. Beautifully written, Tess in Boots will pull at your heartstrings and make your heart smile.
I highly recommend picking up a copy.