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Calling all travelers! If you’d love to visit New Zealand (even if it’s just through a great story), have I got a book for you! 😉 Today we have the privilege of visiting with Kara Isaac about her new novel, Close to You, which is set in New Zealand! Before we begin, here’s a quick look at the story.
Allison Shire (yes, like where the Hobbits live) is a disgraced academic who is done with love. Her belief in “happily ever after” ended the day she discovered her husband was still married to a wife she knew nothing about. She finally finds a use for her English degree by guiding tours through the famous sites featured in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. By living life on the road and traveling New Zealand as a luxury tour guide, Allison manages to outrun the pain of her past she can’t face.
Jackson Gregory was on the cusp of making it big. Then suddenly his girlfriend left him—for his biggest business competitor—and took his most guarded commercial secrets with her. To make matters worse, the Iowa farm that has been in his family for generations is facing foreclosure. Determined to save his parents from financial ruin, he’ll do whatever it takes to convince his wealthy great-uncle to invest in his next scheme, which means accompanying him to the bottom of the world to spend three weeks pretending to be a die-hard Lord of the Rings fan, even though he knows nothing about the stories. The one thing that stands between him and his goal is a know-it-all tour guide who can’t stand him and pegged him as a fake the moment he walked off the plane.
When Allison leads the group through the famous sites of the Tolkien movies, she and Jackson start to see each other differently, and as they keep getting thrown together on the tour, they find themselves drawn to each other. Neither expected to fall in love again, but can they find a way beyond their regrets to take a chance on the one thing they’re not looking for?
Welcome, Kara! What inspired you to write this novel?
I wish I could claim the credit but the initial idea actually came from an editor that I met at a writers’ conference in late 2013. She asked me if I’d ever thought about writing a story set in New Zealand around the Lord of the Rings movies locations and I thought it was one of the craziest things I’d ever heard! Ever since I started writing, in late 2005/early 2006, I’d been told that if I wanted to break into the American market then I needed to write stories set in the US as American readers weren’t big fans of international settings. But then Jackson and Allie showed up in my head and wouldn’t leave me alone so six weeks later I started writing what would become Close To You.
Well, as an American reader, I would love to read a book set in New Zealand written by someone who actually lives there and knows what they’re writing! 😉 Who is your favorite secondary character in this story, and do you think you’ll include that character in a future story?
My favorite secondary character is Allie’s best friend, Kat (Katriona). She’s a no-holds-barred straight-shooter who challenges Allie not to allow her past mistakes to define the rest of her life. Kat is always fun to put in the page because I’m never quite sure what she’s going to say! She also makes a cameo appearance in Can’t Help Falling, my October release, and I’m in the process of brainstorming her story 🙂
How fun! She sounds like a great character. What is your favorite dessert? Would you be interested in sharing the recipe (if appropriate)?
Oreo parfait is one of my favorites and it’s SO easy to make (which is also a bad thing!)
3x Double Stuff Oreos chopped (or you can use 4x normal but I don’t think it’s as good!)
½ cup berry coulis (I take half a cup of frozen mixed berries, sprinkle over a little sugar and microwave until defrosted and warm)
1 cup Greek or Vanilla yoghurt
Sprinkle half of Oreos in base of short glass, layer with yoghurt, then drizzle over coulis and repeat again. Sprinkle any remaining crumbs on top and enjoy!
I could see where an easy dessert like this could be problematic… LOL What are you reading right now?
I’m one of those people who always has multiple books on the go 🙂 At the moment I’m reading The Isaac Project by Sarah Monzon, You’re The One That I Want by Susan May Warren and The Alliance by Jolina Petersheim. I’m also reading a manuscript by one of my critique partners, Laurie Tomlinson, that will hopefully find a publishing home soon!
Two of those are already on my TBR list, too. With all that reading, plus your own writing, how do you juggle all of the demands on your time, so that you can maintain your sanity?
Very imperfectly. I’m a mum (or mom) with two pre-schoolers, our third due at the end of the year, a day job and a husband in ministry. The addition of having two books coming out in 2016 has definitely made for the very full year but I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Very soon after I went back to work after having our second child the great news came in that Howard Books were going to offer me a publishing contract. Since I’m not superwoman, there was no way there was going to be enough hours in the day to fit everything in so my husband and I sat down and worked out what was going to have to give to make the important stuff fit. Our saving grace is an angelic woman who we pay to come in for three hours a week and clean our house. A domestic goddess I am not, as evidence by the fact that the first time she came, when we got home my four year-old spun around in a slow circle and exclaimed with huge eyes, “Mum! While we were away Jesus came and amazed our house!”
I love it!! How precious!
The other thing that has been a God-send is that my lead editor also has young children so gives me as much notice as she can on when book deadlines going to fall. That way, I know in advance when I’m going to be up to my neck in edits, and to limit other commitments those weeks. My husband is an extrovert so I also let him know when I’m going into editing hibernation so he can make plans that don’t include me. He’s been to see a lot of movies this year with the guys!
That’s awesome, to be able to work together to get everything covered. Can you give any hints about what you’re working on now?
As well as brainstorming Kat’s story I’m also working on polishing a manuscript that I wrote back in 2012. At the time, it did well in contests and had a good response from editors when my agent pitched it but ultimately it wasn’t the right time for it to find a publishing home. I’m hoping it’s time may have come but I’m trusting God with whatever the next step is in my writing journey.
We’ll have to keep our eyes open. It sounds like you’ve got several great stories to come! Thanks so much for taking the time to visit with us today, Kara!
Your turn! How many books are you reading right now? Do you savor one at a time, or do you read several at once? Share in the comments below!
Kara Isaac lives in Wellington, New Zealand. Her debut romantic comedy, Close To You, is about a disillusioned academic-turned-tour-guide and an entrepreneur who knows nothing about Tolkien who fall in love on a Tolkien themed tour of New Zealand and just released from Howard Books. When she’s not working her day job as a public servant, chasing around a ninja preschooler and his feisty toddler sister, she spends her time writing horribly bad first drafts and wishing you could get Double Stuf Oreos in New Zealand. She loves to connect on her website, on Facebook at Kara Isaac – Writer and Twitter @KaraIsaac
‘Close to You’ Giveaway:
Kara has generously offered to give away a paperback copy of Close to You. Giveaways are subject to the Giveaway Policy. If you are unfamiliar with Rafflecopter or have trouble entering, you can find help here: How to Enter a Rafflecopter Giveaway.
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