Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Test Drive & Q&A with author Marie Harte

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
The short and sweet—I’m a coffee addict, romance reader and writer, mother of two ever-growing boys, and author of over 100 romance books. I’m a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who is constantly amazed I can do what I love—surround myself with terrific romance fiction.

If you could have coffee or tea with any author, who would it be and what would you ask them? And what would you have?
The real important issue here—my drink of choice. *grin* I’d order a hazelnut latte, then I’d sit down across from Snorri Sturluson, a deceased Icelandic chieftain and Nordic scholar (who passed away in 1241). He’s responsible for the Poetic Edda, a book of Norse mythology and spiritual verse, from which much of our knowledge of Norse myth comes. I’m a sucker for mythology, and I’d love to hear Snorri tell me some of his favorite stories, especially those that didn’t get in the book or have been lost in translation.

How do you think people perceive authors?
That’s a great question. I think before indie publishing became a popular venue, people idealized anyone who wrote as having an estate worth millions, eating bonbons by the pool while she/he waited for the muse to strike again. Now, I think most people view authors as just another gal/guy who decided to write a book. The mystique is gone.

How do you feel about self-publishing?
Both good and bad. I’m torn. Good, because I love the fact that the more traditional gatekeepers—editors and agents—now no longer stand between a good story and an audience of readers who can get what they want. Self-publishing also puts the control into the author’s hands, with a higher royalty return. I’ve published several of my own books.

Bad, because there’s so much fiction out there now, and a lot of it, frankly, has never seen an editor. There’s a glut—especially in the romance market—to wade through, which makes finding a quality read harder than ever. Many readers are sticking to their tried and true authors, not taking a chance on new stuff. Success in publishing is as much about discoverability as it is about a good book, which is too bad, because there are a bunch of self-published authors with terrific books, but not many have heard of them.

What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?
Procrastination. “Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now.” It’s a Demovitator quote from It’s snarky and funny and totally riffs on all those motivational posters. I love this site. It’s my kind of humor.

What is your favorite genre to read? To write?
I’m a mood reader, and I go through genres. I love romance books, period. Lately, I’ve been really sinking my teeth into paranormal romance, probably because I’m writing contemporary. (I’m a big fan of Thea Harrison and Nalini Singh.) I don’t like to concurrently write and read in the same genre, because I worry about picking up too much from another author’s style. I love writing contemporary romance, especially right now. But I’m itching to write a sci-fi romance again.

Are there any new (or new to you) authors that have grasped your interest recently and why?
I’ve recently been struck by the Urban Fantasy bug. Crazy I’ve never read much of it before. I was bored over Christmas and decided to see what Patricia Briggs was all about. Now, I’m happy to say I’m a huge Patricia Briggs, Ilona Andrews, and Anne Bishop fan. If any of them have a book out, I’m all over it.

Why do you think romance readers love reading about mechanics and rough and tumble men so much?
There’s something about a tough guy with a hidden vulnerability that tugs at the woman (or man) in all of us, I think. I love a strong hero, both inside and out, who can soften for that special someone. Mechanics are stereotypically gruff, swearing, manly men. Making them deal with a strong heroine is like lighting fireworks and standing back to watch the sparks flare.

How did you begin writing? Was there a single catalyst or a series of events?
I’d always toyed with writing, or wrote for myself. But it wasn’t until I married and found a job in a cubicle where I realized that if I wanted to write professionally, I couldn’t just talk about it. I had to do it. So I’d write through every lunch. Then I realized it wasn’t enough. My then-husband and I had always wanted one of us to stay home and raise our children, when the time came. So I quit my job and wrote for close to a year. Nothing but writing from the time my stepchildren went to school until five or six at night. It was amazing. Nothing that got published, but those first nine books taught me so much! (I’m a really fast writer. Not saying it’s all good, but it’s fast.) Then I got pregnant with my first and devoted myself to writing fulltime. A lot has changed in the years since—the move out West, no more husband, two growing boys—but I’m still writing. And I still love it.

Do you have any writing rituals that you follow? What is your go-to snack while writing?
My ritual is making coffee, going through emails, then getting started by editing what I’d written the day before. After that, I write for a few hours until I need a break. I try to wrap up by 4, when my kids are home. My go-to snack—caffeine. Coffee or chocolate. I’m not picky.

Do you prefer to write in a small town or big city setting? Why?
It depends on the story. Small towns are nice, intimate, but limiting. Big cities are more freeing, because so many more characters and settings come into play. But you have to work to build a cozy feel.

Can you tell us about your latest release and what inspired you to write it?
My latest release is Test Drive, the first in the Body Shop Bad Boys series. It follows a mechanic named Johnny who’s had a thing for Lara since he first saw her years ago. But Lara doesn’t date the type of guys who frequent the bar where she bartends. She’s trying to get out of her neighborhood, attending nursing classes while working hard at the bar to pay the bills. But one night Johnny comes to Lara’s rescue, and she sees that there’s so much more to him than a playboy mechanic with dirty hands—and a dirty mind.

I needed a new series after the McCauley Brothers ended, and I had some trouble with my proposal for the Donnigans series (also releasing this year). So my editor helped me develop the mechanics of Webster’s Garage, the same guys who work for my heroine from my McCauley Brothers final book. There’s a lot of crossover in my series for Sourcebooks, and it’s so much fun to see my characters growing.

What is your favorite part or scene in the novel?
There are a lot of favorite scenes for me. I love these characters! But one that really comes to mind is when Johnny shows up to take Lara to dinner. He’s met at her door by a precocious eight year old and a laughing streaker covered in bubbles being chased by Lara. Lara totally forgot about her date because she’s babysitting for her sister. Johnny charms not only Lara’s nieces, but her as well. And then the girls go to sleep…

Can you tell us a bit about the process that went behind the cover artwork for this novel?
I gave the publisher an idea of what the story is about and what I’d like to see. Then they took it from there. Authors only have so much control over the artwork, but Sourcebooks likes to work with us. I was at a writer’s conference in Seattle, where my editor was also in attendance, when the cover came in. She showed me the model and the car, and I was in love. Sourcebooks does such a great job, and their art department is stellar!

What is your process for choosing character names?
I try to use different names for each story, but with over a hundred titles, I can repeat myself. Years ago, I kept using Sara/h. She was either a main character or a secondary character, and I’m not sure why. LOL I have a baby name book, and I look online if I want a character to have a certain ancestry. It’s actually a lot of fun picking names.

What characters did you find yourself especially drawn to and why?
Two come to mind from the series, not counting Johnny and Lara. Sam, whose story comes out in book three, Zero to Sixty. Sam’s a bruiser who doesn’t smile much. He had a troubled childhood, but he’s such a sweetheart. He totally loves animals, and he’s tender at heart. His story I couldn’t wait to write. (My editor has it now.)

And Cyn, the heroine from book two, Roadside Assistance. Cyn is a bigger girl, and I love that she’s not a stereotype. She also has mother issues, which contradict her self-assured attitude. Her vulnerabilities lie deeper, and she’s a terrific character. She also won’t let Foley get away with much.

What are you working on next?
I’m hard at work on Gavin’s story, the second in the Donnigans series for Sourcebooks, the first of which releases in November of this year. (The Donnigans are cousins to the McCauleys, the heroes of my McCauley Brothers series.) Then I’m back to my Body Shop Bad Boys to write the fourth book, then back to finish off the Donnigans. I’m busy into 2017 for sure.

Do you have any conferences/book signings/events coming up?
I’ll be signing in Bend, Oregon in June. And in July I’ll be in San Diego at the RWA conference presenting a workshop and signing at RWA’s Readers for Life literacy autographing event.

If you could give aspiring authors one piece of advice, what would it be?
To be patient about publishing. Get to really know your story, the craft, the editing process. Make your story the best it can be before trying to get published or publishing yourself.

Thanks for having me!

About Marie Harte:
Caffeine addict, boy referee, and romance aficionado, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author MARIE HARTE is a confessed bibliophile and devotee of action movies. Whether hiking or biking around town, or hanging at the local tea shop, she’s constantly plotting to give everyone a happily ever after. She lives in in Central Oregon.

Title:  Test Drive
Series:  Body Shop Bad Boys #1
Author:  Marie Harte
Publication Date:   June 7/16 by Sourcebooks Casablanca
Length:  352pgs
Genre:  contemporary romance
Shelf:  review
My Rating: ★★★★
Book Links: GoodreadsAmazon(US)Amazon(CA) - B&N - Kobo - Indigo - Google Play

Back Cover Blurb:

Johnny, Foley, Sam, and Lou are the rough and tumble mechanics of Webster's Garage. These reformed bad boys are used to living fast, but it's the women in their lives who take them from zero to sixty in a heartbeat.

Johnny Devlin's a charmer with a checkered past. He's has had his eye on scorching-hot bartender Lara Valley for ages, but she's rejected him more than once. That doesn't mean he won't come to her aid when some dirtbag mauls her. When she asks him on a date as a no-strings-attached thank you, he can't say no. And then he's saying nothing but hell, yes.

My Review:

Harte has created a novel full of romance and real friendships amidst the lives of hard characters with true loyalty. Suspense and chemistry make their appearance throughout as we get to know these fantastic characters. I liked the way that the author builds an actual relationship between the main characters. It’s not all chemistry, even though that is definitely there.

There was a great deal of character development at the beginning of this novel, so it took me a bit to really get into the story. That said, it is also the 1st novel in the series and we meet characters who will be prevalent throughout. I loved the different personalities that we meet throughout this varied cast of characters. Some were fun, others were difficult, and yet others were absolutely drool worthy.

All in all, this was a great tart to a promising new series. I will admit that Harte did leave me curious as to what mess Foley’s going to get himself into in the next novel of the series.

And 1 lucky reader will win a print copy of Test Drive by Marie Harte (Canada & US only)
Contest is open internationally, where applicable by law.
Entries close at 11:59pm May 28/16.
Winners will be drawn May 29/16.
Winners will be notified via email to the email provided to the giveaway and will have 72h to claim their prize or another winner will be drawn.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Replies
    1. Why do bad boys make the best heros? Well let me count the ways... lol number one is: Everyone doesn't love a bad boy, says No One Ever!!! number two is: We love the excitement of not know what they may do next. I could go on and on...

  2. Bad boys are the best heros because they do what they want no matter what anyone else thinks about it. Gotta love their confidence. But they always have a weak spot for the woman they love.

  3. "I've been a bad bad boy..." Isn't there a song with that phrase in it? Hmm...

  4. Bad Boys do everything we wish we had the guts to a free spirit

  5. You said it who doesn't love a bad boy.. Swoon

  6. Good question! I think everyone enjoys a bad boy hero because it feels so good. Thank you

  7. Bad Boys make the best heroes is because they have nothing to prove to the world. They know who and what they are. They don't need to meet other people's expectations. They are the own person and make up their own rules as they go.

  8. well it depend on the boy it can be the one who the fire man who save live the millatry who serve and some cops

  9. It really depend on what type of bad boy we are talking about. Because there are good/bad boy who will go out of there way to protect the girl(or woman)from people that are after to do them wrong.

  10. Because they are so sexy and exciting that they hold our attention promising all kinds of great things.

  11. Thank you so much for the chance! I think that bad boys make the best heroes because they are so passionate about their views (even if it is to be bad), and what girl does NOT love the Bad Boy and want to be The One to tame them?! They are just so HOT!!!! *fans self* :)

  12. looks like a good book for sure :)would love to read it.

  13. Hi Pure Jonel!

    How's it going?

    Who won? Who won? WHOOOO WOOONNN??? My fingers are cramping, but I don't want to uncross them until I find out the winner! I REALLY want to win Test Drive by Marie Harte!!!!

    THANK YOU!!!!

    Cheers! xoxoxo