January 31, 2012

Spotlight On...Claire Croxton

Today I have fellow Wild Rose Press author Claire Croxton with me At the Keyboard. Welcome Claire, please share a little about yourself, your genres, any other pen names you use. 

Hi there, I write contemporary romance under the penname Claire Croxton. I also write erotica as Luna Zega. I love a good heartwrenching story laced with humor and snark. Laughter through tears is a beautiful emotion. My main characters are strong, no nonsense women with hearts of gold and a quick wit. The heroes are muscle-bound, hunks with tender hearts and big . . .smiles *grin* I’ve fallen in love with everyone of them.

Tell us a little about your latest or upcoming release.

Redneck Ex was released on January 20th by The Wild Rose Press. It’s a contemporary romance set in Alaska, Arkansas and Germany. The main character, Summer Leigh Johnson, is minding her own business, working her dream job in Barrow, Alaska when out of nowhere, she’s notified that her husband has been injured in a car bombing in Iraq. Only problem? She doesn’t have a husband. Turns out, her banjo-picking, bull-riding, coon-hunting, redneck of an ex-husband, Dwight Sullivan, has her listed as next-of-kin. She hasn’t talked to him in the eleven years since he left her crying in the rain. She wants to turn her back on him, but when his elderly parents ask for her help, she’s burdened by the WWMD —what would Mama do?—curse. She goes to his aid. In the years since their divorce, she’s blocked out all the good things about Dwight. As a result, she’s completely blindsided when she finds the sweet, loving man she fell in love with all those years ago.

Wow, Redneck Ex sounds like a great read! What was the hardest thing for you about writing this story?

I read this story to my critique group. The hardest part was convincing people that it wasn’t autobiographical. There are a lot of similarities between Summer Leigh and myself, but I was writing about places I know. I thought it was fun having a story based in Barrow, Alaska. I lived there for fourteen years and it’s a unique and exotic setting. Yes, I have a redneck ex-husband, but so do half the girls I went to high school with. There’s one scene in the book where Summer Leigh falls asleep in the sun. When I finished reading the excerpt, the man who runs the critique group asked, “So, how bad did you get burned?”

What do you find easiest and hardest to write?

Dialogue is pretty easy for me to write. I want my characters to sound realistic. I find that when I’m writing, I can combine two or three people’s voices in my head and come up with a unique voice. To me, it’s important for each character to have his own voice. I want the reader to be able to discern who’s talking without needing dialogue tags.

For me transition scenes are impossible. My critique partner is always telling me that I get bogged down in details when I’m trying to move to the next major event in the story. Fortunately, he’s brutal and slashes and burns those bits and I’m able to scale it back. As a result of his constant nagging, I’m learning the importance of pacing.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

My preference would be to wake up in the morning, grab a cup of coffee, sit at my desk and start writing. Reality doesn’t allow that to happen. Life gets in the way. I have several hobbies. I love to cook. Absolutely love it! I specialize in decadent desserts such as chocolate soufflĂ©, baked Alaska, cherries jubilee and the best homemade ice cream ever. I also enjoy cooking meals for my family and friends. When I lived in a remote village in northern Alaska with no stores or road access, I realized I needed a new hobby. Getting fresh ingredients was impossible and besides it doesn’t take too many batches of cookies to make one’s parka too snug. So, I started quilting. In the two years I was in the village, I made 50 quilts. Now, that I’m back in the Ozarks, I also garden.

I wish I loved to cook! It would make things so much easier! Okay, you get stranded on a desert island, but get to bring one item of your choosing. What would it be?

Oh man that’s a tough question. How do I decide? Orlando Bloom? Johnny Depp? Oh, my, what about Gerard Butler? Colin Firth? Sam Eliot? No wait . . . rum. Nope. That won’t do. A laptop with an internet connection. That’s it. I can visit all the pretty boys online, download my favorite books and shop for shoes all while getting the perfect tan.

Fantastic! What’s next for you.

I have another contemporary romance, Santorini Sunset, being released May 18, 2012 by The Wild Rose Press. It’s a snark-filled romp through Greece. Caroline Clayton’s fiancĂ© dumped her for her supermodel sister. Then, the sister had the cajones to ask Caroline to be maid of honor. Caroline agrees, but she’s not attending that blasted wedding by herself. She recruits her sexy, Peruvian co-worker, Raul Sobrevilla, as her wedding date. When the family converges on their vineyard in Santorini, the games begin and of course, Caroline emerges the winner.

Where can we find you on the web?

Website:  www.clairecroxton.com
Blog:  http://clairecroxtonromanceauthor.wordpress.com/

Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?

Yes, I have a couple of questions.
  1. What is the most endearing/important trait of a romance hero?
  2. Is there a characteristic of a romance heroine that will make you slam the book shut? If so, what is it? 
Great questions! Thanks for spending the day with me, Claire!

With one twang of a banjo string, Summer Leigh Johnson's tidy, organized life in Barrow, Alaska is jolted back to the Ozarks when her coon-hunting, tobacco-chewing, bull-riding, redneck ex-husband asks for her help. She has two options: turn her back on him like he did to her eleven years ago, or help. Burdened with the curse of every southern woman--What Would Mama Do?--she goes to his aid. And what does she find? The man she fell in love with all those years ago and a second chance at love and family. The last time she gave her heart to Dwight, he flicked it aside like an empty can of Skoal. This time he's cradling it as gently as he would a speckled pup. It will take a lot more than Dwight's southern charm and good looks to convince Summer to stay.


“You’re going to Germany?”

“Yeah.” I stepped into the bathroom and grabbed some Tylenol before taking my original seat. The pills stuck in my throat and I washed them down with lukewarm coffee.

“Why the hell would you go see your ex-husband?” Her red face clearly indicated her anger.

“His parents were always good to me,” I tried to explain. “Generous and kind. Always made me feel like a part of the family.”

“Screw that!” Janice interjected herself into the conversation in her usual gentle manner. “Any debt to them was paid when their ass-of-a-son left you.”

“We didn’t even know you’d been married.” Bernice sounded tentative and worried. “How much can this man mean to you if your best friends don’t even know about him?” She took my hands, rubbed them softly and asked, “Why would you go to him? Especially after all these years?”

“For God’s sake. I’d never go see my ex!” Janice exclaimed.

“We all know you wouldn’t piss on your ex if he were on fire...” Stephanie said.

“I would if I peed gasoline!”

We laughed.

“Not everyone abhors their ex,” I said.

“You might not detest your ex, but God knows you don’t like the guy,” Janice said. “Never. Once. In the eight years I’ve known you have you even mentioned him. Never! How can you go to him now?”

“Because if I refuse to go and something happened to him, I’d never be able to forgive myself.”

Stephanie and Candy nodded in understanding, but I could tell, Janice and Bernice needed more convincing.

“Look at it this way, how can I be a martyr if I don’t go?” I joked.


Carol Henry said...

This sounds like an excellent read, Claire. I have got to go get me that Nook notebook today! Very snappy sounding, and fast paced. I even like the 'friends' humor already.

Madison Woods said...

I love the settings of your book and your dialogue is wonderful. And I love all the unexpected humor you weave throughout.

The heroine that would make me close the book is one that only cares about her image, unless she manages to grow out of that. And the trait that endears me most to the hero is his desire to protect and care for the woman he loves and yet isn't over-jealous or too protective. A nearly impossible combination!

Anonymous said...

Love that cover. Great excerpt.

Sumac said...

What a fun interview! As for the questions, hmmm, let's see. For me, the romance heroine must be a woman who is in charge of the relationship. She meets the man on her own terms. She responds to him in a manner that is comfortable for her. If she's weak willed or needy, or promiscuous rather than having healthy relationships, forget it. As far as the hero, well, she needs a man who will allow her to grow and to be the woman SHE wants to be. If he wants her, he must work for it.. Keep writing!

Anonymous said...

One of the best interviews yet on Ms. Croxton. Thank you!

Claire said...

@Carol, So glad you like the 'friends' humor. I can tell you'd like hanging out with my friends. They're all a bit ... different.

@Madison,I so agree with your issues with heroines. Vanity just annoys, except when it's me, of course. As for the male lead, you're right, an impossible combination.

@Casey,I'm glad you like the cover. I think it's pretty steamy and wouldn't mind meeting the Wild Rose Dwight.

@Sumac, I so agree. A needy, wimpy heroine makes me shut a book quicker than anything. Heroes that let the women be who they want to be are always romantic, aren't they?

@MGMiller, You say the nicest things!

Claire said...

Sarah, thank you for having me on your blog. Your support of your fellow Wild Rose authors is amazing and very much appreciated.

Pamela Foster said...

First of all, I love Redneck Ex. Summer Leigh is a terrific character.
As for your questions. I think the romantic hero has to be honest and he must, must, love and accept every little thing about the heroine.
The heroine has to be vulnerable.

Claire said...

Pamela, I'm so glad you enjoyed Redneck Ex. I like your definition of a hero. He must accept the heroine for all she is. Really good point. I like vulnerable heroines as well. I think it makes them more believable.

Linda Joyce said...

Loving Redneck Ex. Startting from the title!

As for the questions: What is the most endearing/important trait of a romance hero?
Tenderness. It doesn't matter how Alpha or Metrosexual or ??? - he's got to show tenderness at the right time.

Is there a characteristic of a romance heroine that will make you slam the book shut? If so, what is it? I've never closed a romance because of a characteristic. Never. The times when I've stopped reading was when the writing didn't flow. I'm a reader willing to suspend judgement for at least the first three chapters, then, if I'm struggling, will close the book.