Today, I’m welcoming fellow Tule Author Denise Wheatley to the blog. Denise is a lover of happily-ever-afters and the art of storytelling. She has written (and ghostwritten) numerous novels and novellas that run the romance gamut, from contemporary to paranormal, sweet to steamy. Denise strives to pen entertaining stories that embody matters of the heart, while creating strong characters who are colorful and relatable. She is an RWA member and received a B.A. in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago, the city where she was born and raised. When Denise isn’t sitting behind a computer, you can find her at home reading a great romance novel, on a tennis court, watching true crime television or chatting on social media. Thanks so much for chatting with me today, Denise…
N: Have you always wanted to be a writer?
D: Absolutely. I have loved books for as long as I can remember, and began writing little stories and poems at a young age. As I got older those stories expanded, and I wrote my first novel shortly after graduating college.
N: What inspired you to start writing?
D: I was inspired to write books after reading Terry McMillan’s novel, Disappearing Acts. I saw parts of myself in the heroine and was so moved by her relationship with the hero. It motivated me to merge my own voice with my love of storytelling.
N: What comes first—the plot or the characters?
D: The plot usually comes first for me. Once I know what a story is going to be about, I’m able to tailor the characters and their personalities, looks, traits, etc. around the storyline.
N: You’ve written many books across several genres—chick lit, contemporary romance, romantic suspense—what is the most surprising thing you discovered about yourself while writing your books?
D: I’ve discovered that I possess a love of researching that I didn’t know was there. I’ve written characters who are attorneys, forensic scientists, master chefs, environmental specialists, etc. They’ve lived in places that I’m completely unfamiliar with. So writing those stories was an enjoyable challenge that required me to do extensive research in an effort to tell the most authentic story possible.
N: Can you share with us something about Love at the Icicle Cafe that isn’t in the blurb?
D: My main character Mina has an amazing coworker/best friend named Karen who acts as her support system throughout the novel. Mina experiences some pretty rough moments with the fellow attorneys at her law firm. She’s also in need of a listening ear when it comes to her love life. Karen’s that spunky, honest yet loveable sidekick who helps Mina navigate the ups and downs of life throughout the book.
N: Your setting for Love at the Icicle Café is a small town in Germany—is it a place you’ve been?
D: Gosberg, Germany is actually a snowy little fictious town that I created. My father was stationed in Germany when he served in the U.S. Army, and the town is based on things he shared with me while living there.
N: What do you hope your readers take away from Love at the Icicle Cafe?
D: I hope that readers will take away the value of family and friends, and the importance of loyalty. Following dreams and pursuing passions are also big themes in the book. Ultimately, I hope readers will be encouraged to listen to their hearts and take chances in life.
N: If you had to describe each of your characters, Mina and Scott, in only three words, what would those three words be?
D: I would describe Mina as being intelligent, determined, and compassionate. And I would describe Scott as being strong, loyal and passionate.
N: What were the key challenges you faced when writing Love at the Icicle Café?
D: I think my biggest challenge was creating a town located in another country. I did a lot of research and fact-checking to make sure that Gosberg’s attributes were realistic and not too far off from the customs of other similar towns in Germany.
N: Do you write listening to music? If so, what music inspired or accompanied Love at the Icicle Cafe?
D: I do enjoy listening to music when I write. I listened to a lot of Christmas jazz when writing Love at the Icicle Café. Lindsey Stirling’s “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” became one of my favorite songs while I was writing.
N: Are you working on anything at the present you would like to share with your readers about?
D: I’m currently editing my holiday novel for 2021. The book is called Christmas in Full Bloom, and it’s about a Chicago-based floral designer who returns home to Maple Valley, Michigan for her sister’s holiday wedding. While there, she unexpectedly reconnects with an old college crush as well as her hometown in ways that she didn’t see coming.
N: What do you like to do when you are not writing?
D: Covid-19 has really changed the things that I do when I’m not writing. I still enjoy reading a good book or catching up on television shows (I just binged Ratchet and The Haunting of Bly Manor on Netflix). Quick runs to Starbuck’s for iced coffee are still on the agenda, and I spend time with close family members and friends whenever I can.
N: What did you want to be when you grew up?
D: I’ve had many careers in my mind over the years that never came to fruition lol. As a kid I wanted to be a teacher, cheerleader, and makeup artist. As a teenager I wanted to be an entertainment attorney. And during my freshman year of college I decided that I wanted to be a professional writer. I stuck with that, and here I am.
N: Favorite book when you were a kid?
D: I loved anything by Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary, and was obsessed with Francine Pascal’s Sweet Valley High series.
N: If you could choose three people to invite for a dinner party, who would they be and why?
D: Michelle Obama, because she is so dynamic and intelligent. I’d love to hear more about her personal experiences after living in the White House for eight years. Terry McMillan, because she is one of my favorite authors and her books inspired me to begin writing novels. I’d love to hear all about her writing process. And lastly, Martin Scorsese. He has written and directed some of my favorite movies. Considering I am slightly obsessed with Hollywood (and by slightly, I mean very! lol), I would love to learn about his creative process and hear some juicy behind-the-scenes stories about things he’s witnessed over the years.
You can find Denise on her website as well as on social media:
Can an icicle-themed festival thaw the most unlikely hearts?
California lawyer Mina Richards spent her childhood helping her mom bake at their winter-themed café in the snowy village of Gosberg, Germany. When her retired parents want to sell The Icicle Café, Mina returns to facilitate the sale. She needs this to go right—she’ll fly in, finalize the deal and fly out to rescue her once high-powered career. But faced with Scott, her childhood friend and crush who doesn’t want to sell, Mina’s plan quickly falls apart.
Rising chef Scott Dawson has turned The Icicle Café into a destination restaurant. His parents and their partners want to sell the café to a hotel chain, and Scott can’t meet their price. When Mina arrives—more beautiful and determined than ever—he sees the possibility of a new future for the business and the town he loves. He just needs to change her mind…about more than selling the café.
When Scott asks Mina to help with the café’s annual Icicle Fest, their icy relationship warms. Can these former friends find a future together in the snowy village of their past?