Welcome Author Christi Barth!
I had the pleasure of sitting down with fellow Tule Publishing author, Christi Barth not long ago to talk about writing and books and her newest release, The Accidental Fiancé. A USA TODAY bestselling author Christi earned a Masters degree in vocal performance and embarked upon a career on the stage. A love of romance then drew her to wedding planning. Ultimately, she succumbed to her lifelong love of books and now writes award-winning contemporary romance, including the Naked Men and Aisle Bound series. Christi can always be found either whipping up gourmet meals (for fun, honest!) or with her nose in a book. She lives in Maryland with the best husband in the world.
N: Welcome to the blog, Christi. I’m so delighted to have you with us today. So, what inspired you to start writing?
A: Utter boredom during summer vacation in the tenth grade (plus, it was cool in the office where the typewriter lived). Happily, I quickly realized writing was soooo much fun and I never stopped.
N: What comes first—the plot or the characters?
A: Hmmmm – I’m running back through all 36 books in my head. I think I get a kernel of a plot idea first – like one sentence. An average woman discovers she’s really a princess. Mobsters have to create new lives in witness protection. Four friends win an unusual lottery prize of a ramshackle historic inn. But then I immediately have to identify the main characters before I go any further.
N: The Accidental Fiancé is the first book in a new series for you—what is the most surprising thing you discovered about yourself while starting the A Love Lottery series?
A: How much home rehab bores me…oh, wait, I’ve known that for years, LOL. Sometimes you’re forced to research things that will make an interesting book that just don’t interest you – like how long it takes to sand the floors of a ballroom, or what order you’d need to tackle all the to-dos in a rehab. I guess what I discovered is that even if it doesn’t interest me, I can see how it would interest the characters, so I’m hooked regardless!
N: The Accidental Fiancé just released yesterday. Can you share with us something about this new story that isn’t in the blurb?
A: I love to give away hints about couples in the rest of the series. Because as a reader, I adore looking for what may be brewing. So…carefully watch how Teague and Amelia interact in this book. They’re, you know, just friends for their whole lives. Teague’s the best friend of Amelia’s brother. And now they’re partners in this inn. But read between the lines and you’ll see that maybe they are both thinking/wishing/hoping for things that can’t be…but just may happen in book 3, Wrong For Him.
N: I love the setting of the new book—was there an old inn you saw that inspired your setting and the story?
A: I went to the Kent Manor Inn on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Had a lovely brunch, snuck around taking photos while the maids turned the rooms. And then this idea sat in a drawer while I wrote 3 other series. When it came time to write it, I took a real research trip to the town I was setting the story in, and stayed at The Brampton Inn. Everything switched. It is 100% the model for my Three Oaks Inn, including the physical layout. And their afternoon teas have unbelievable pastries!
N: If you had to describe your heroine, Sydney, in only three words, what would those three words be?
A: Driven. Self-sufficient. One of the boys.
N: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
A: Start sooner. I thought being an author was an unachievable goal, so I messed around writing a chapter and then doing nothing for 3 months at a time. Finally, I told myself to either finish the book or quit forever. If I’d done that 5 or 10 years earlier, I wonder what else I could’ve written by now?
N: Are you working on anything at the present you would like to tell your readers about?
A: I just started a new paranormal series. I’ve wanted to dive into this sub-genre of romance forever, so I’m beyond excited. But…that’s all I can say until 2022!
N: What do you like to do when you are not writing?
A: I love to cook – the more lengthy and elaborate the recipe, the better. With my hubby; he’s a great sous chef. And we’re both former performers, so we do the theater and symphony a lot. At least, we hope to get back to that, probably also in 2022.
N: What did you want to be when you grew up?
A: 1) A doctor. And a lawyer. But I quickly decided I was too lazy for that. 2) An English teacher, so I’d have an excuse to read all the time. Then I realized I hate teaching, and can read all the time without any excuses. 3) A singer – which I did, in operas and musical theatre, for years.
N: Favorite book when you were a kid?
A: The Immortal Queen, a very fictionalized account of the life of Mary, Queen of Scots.
N: If you could choose three people, living or dead, to invite to a dinner party, who would they be and why?
A: 1) someone with high enough clearance in the NSA to tell me all about Area 51, and who killed Kennedy and what happened to Amelia Earhart and who killed Jon-Benet Ramsey; 2) Broadway legend Mandy Patinkin (hoping he’d not only tell great stories, but get drunk and sing with me); and 3) my BFF Casey who I haven’t seen in person probably 17 years and miss very much.
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The Accidental Fiancé
Is it the chance of a lifetime or his biggest mistake?
When former hotel manager Alex Kirkland, his sister and their best friends pooled their money for an unusual lottery prize—a historic, dilapidated inn on the Maryland shore—as a last-ditch attempt to escape rotten circumstances, they never expected to win. But they’re all looking for a fresh start and a second chance, so Alex convinces everyone to move in and repair the building in time for the spring wedding season.
Sydney Darrow never planned to return to her hometown. But her family needs her and Sydney can endure anything for 90 days—including making sandwiches and serving coffee with a smile until she returns to her jet-setter career. When her grandma mistakes a handsome customer for the “fiancé” Sydney created when she thought her grandma was on death’s door, well…Sydney will do anything to keep her spirits up during treatment. She can persuade him to keep up the charade for a few months, right?
But when Alex agrees to play along, will they both fall for their own fiction?
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Alex’s expression morphed into straight-up solemnity, like he’d slipped on a mask. “The four of us have no incoming income until we get this inn running. Damn straight I’m all about the bottom line.”
“I guess I can add practical to your list of traits.” Which Sydney appreciated. It was the people who pretended not to care about money but pinched every penny in secret that were difficult. Hiding things—anything, big or small—never turned out well.
In a tone drier than Death Valley, Alex said, “That is just what every man longs to hear during a proposal. That practicality came in ahead of good looks and sex appeal.”
“I didn’t say that.” Did he truly not know that he smoldered with sex appeal? That he could be the man in a cologne/watch/champagne ad? It was actually endearing that he needed a bit of an ego stroke. “Alex, you’re suavely handsome. Your smiles are rare, and all the more potent because of it.”
Those icy eyes widened in…disbelief? Appreciation? Hard to tell. But then he dipped his chin. “Nice to hear. Was that so hard?”
“I didn’t realize you needed a bit of flirting to consider this favor. It seemed…forward to lead off with cataloging your physical traits.”
“Forward?” A huge belly laugh rolled out of him. It was warm and contagious, even though Sydney knew it was aimed at her. “You just proposed after a grand total of ten minutes of conversation, over two days.”
Men had a tendency to be so darned literal. “I’m not proposing for real. I’m asking for your help. You will, in no way, be obligated to follow through into a fake marriage.”
“Then where does the line get drawn?” Alex braced a hand on the back of the couch and leaned forward. He leaned in so close that his breath warmed her ear. “How interesting does this get?”
For a moment—okay, three—Sydney let herself enjoy the closeness. The heat pumping off him through the waffle-weave shirt onto her chest. The brush of his biceps against the back of her head. How their knees pressed together. It was all intimate and on the edge of…something. She just wasn’t sure what.