A Taste of Romance

Is there really a show called "A Taste of Romance?"
No, I made it up!
Is there a "Tortorelli's" Restaurant?
No. The name is a tribute to my friend, Linda Tortorelli ("Tort"), who passed away from cancer in 2004. She was a warm, funny person and a fabulous cook. She taught me some of her cooking secrets.
Do you have any recipes to share?
If you live in the US, write to me through this website, with your address, and I'lll send you a recipe card with the recipe for Nicole's grandmother's lasagna!
Nicole teaches in Green Valley. Isn't that where Valerie teaches (from "Negotiating Love")?
Yes! I made up the name of the town. I placed it in northwest New Jersey, where I live. Valerie, now married to Douglas, appears in one scene of "A Taste of Romance."
Is there a program called "Chef VS. Chef?"
No. I made it up, but it's loosely based on "Iron Chef America."

Salsa With Me

Do you feel comfortable writing about Latino characters?
Yes! My grandmother was born in Argentina and came to the USA when she was 9 years old. She always told me stories about her childhood. When I taught in Dover many of my students were Hispanic, and my children’s books feature many characters who are too. And as a realtor, I work with many Latino customers.
Do you speak Spanish?
Some, although I understand more than I can speak and I have trouble when people speak quickly. I did study Spanish in high school but at the time the written word was emphasized more than conversational Spanish.
How did you become interested in Salsa?
I’ve always loved dancing. Several years ago, at the Rutgers Dance Marathon (which raises money for children with cancer and blood disorders) I was visiting my kids, who were volunteering at the marathon. The Rutgers Salsa Club did a demonstration to entertain the volunteers and visitors, and I was fascinated! The dancing is beautiful and sensual.
Who designs the cover of your books?
Actually, for my last two books—Salsa and Marquis—Avalon took my cover suggestions. I LOVE the cover of Salsa with Me! It’s really eye-catching!
What made you pick the name Marisol Acevedo for your heroine?
I think Marisol is such a pretty, feminine name. Acevedo is a fairly common name in Puerto Rico. One of my favorite students when I was teaching was Henry Acevedo. I named a character in my first published children’s story for Henry years ago. This time I “borrowed” his last name for my heroine! And I’m still in touch with Henry and his family.

Marquis in a Minute

What award did “Marquis in a Minute” win?
“Marquis” won the 2007 Golden Leaf Award for Best Regency Romance! This award is given by New Jersey Romance Writers for excellence in romance fiction. I was so excited to win the award, which is judged by booksellers, librarians and reader’s groups. And added to that, the book is dedicated to my critique partners Karen and Christina. They were right there to see me get the award!

Why did you decide to write a regency romance?

I’ve always loved books set in this time period--it’s so romantic!


Who are your favorite regency authors?

Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer, of course! But I also love books by a lot of today's popular regency authors: Julia Quinn; Eloisa James; Madeline Hunter; April Khilstrom; Jo Beverley; Debra Mullins; and Julie Anne Long. And the late Barbara Cartland!


Will you write any more contemporary novels?

I'm working on a contemporary romance right now. I like the variety of writing different kinds of romances. I'd like to do more regencies too.


How did you get the title for "Marquis in a Minute?"

Actually, I thought up the title before I knew what story would go with it!


Did you have to do a lot of research about this time period?

Yes, I had to do research. But I also read a lot of regencies, which helped me immensely with background--how different peers are addressed, what kind of parties are held, etc. While in London, I also visited the British Museum and took photos of clocks, pocket watches, jewelry, etc. from this time period so I could refer back to them.


Did you make up the characters' titles?

Yes. I tried to choose names that sounded British.


What was the best part of writing a regency?

I love the more formal language and mannerisms used during that time. Also, characters had to depend on their own wits to solve problems and get out of dangerous situations—no cell phones around then!


Negotiating Love

Where did you get the idea for this novel?

A long time ago, when I was a teacher, I was on the negotiations team. Later, I wondered what would happen if two people from opposite sides of the table fell in love.


Your first two books took place in real NJ towns—South Orange and Stanhope. Why did you make up the town of Green Valley?

Green Valley is loosely based on some towns near mine—Long Valley, Hackettstown, and Green Township. I invented Green Valley because, since this novel involved politics and a board of education, I didn’t want to use the name of an actual town.


Do you ever have characters from one book that appear in another?

So far, only one slight instance. Near the end of "Negotiating Love" Valerie is listening to a female DJ on the radio. That’s Grace from "Somebody to Love"! But some former characters may pop up in future books!


You have a scene in "Negotiating Love" where Valerie and Douglas take his niece and nephew pumpkin-picking. Did you ever do that?

Yes! When my children were young we used to go pumpkin picking every October. Most often we would go to Ort Farms in Long Valley, where they had hayrides.


Somebody to Love

Where did you get the idea for "Somebody to Love"?

Two things, actually, got me thinking. One was, my editor wanted me to do a career romance. I knew that the medium of radio was open to women and would be a wonderful place for a music-loving heroine to work. The other was, I always wondered what happened to the babies born at Woodstock! Although I wasn't present at the Woodstock Festival, I could imagine two idealistic people meeting there, falling in love, and what kind of family they would eventually raise. So Grace was born.


Have you ever worked at a radio station?

No, but I've interviewed people from my local radio station for several articles (WRNJ 1510 AM-Hackettstown-Washington, NJ). I've also been on the radio several times. So I did research, visited WRNJ and asked a lot of questions.


Did you have to research info about the music?

No, I know that music well!


What's your favorite kind of music?

Just like Grace, I love classic rock, and the music from the late 60s and early 70s: The Rolling Stones; The Beatles; Santana; Joe Cocker; The Who; The Mamas and The Papas; Jefferson Airplane; Donovan; etc. Plus some lesser-known groups like Strawberry Alarm Clock and Lighthouse. I also enjoy classical music, opera, jazz and Broadway tunes. I was in chorus all through school and I do a lot of singing around the house and in my car!


Lights of Love

Why did you use a background of Hanukkah for Nancy and Mike's story?

I think the holidays are a wonderful time of year, and a wonderful setting for a romance story. Nancy and Mike were characters that had grown in the back of my mind for some time. The brightness of Hanukkah just seemed to be the right background for their story.


Why did you chose South Orange, New Jersey for the location of your novel?

I liked the town with its charming, older homes. I modeled the Gardner house after the 3-story colonial house my aunt and uncle lived in, which was built in the 1920s. It's actually similar to many homes in the town.


Was there a special reason you included the scene where Nancy and Mike help at the soup kitchen?

There were two reasons. The first was I wanted to show something about their characters—that Nancy and Mike both cared about and respected other people. The second is that, since I volunteer at the local soup kitchen, I know how desperately this service is needed, both in terms of food and friendship. I'd like to encourage others to donate their time, or food, to their local soup kitchen and food pantry.


Why did you switch to romance writing after writing juvenile books?

Actually, I've always written romance stories—which I love! I've had dozens of stories published in magazines such as Modern Romances, True Love, True Romance, True Story etc. And I had been trying to sell a romance novel for a number of years.


What are you working on now?

I'm revising a new romance novel.


Who are some of your favorite romance authors?

I have a long list! For a more complete list of some of my current favorites, see the Roni Recommends section. I love books by the classic romantic suspense authors—Phyllis A. Whitney, Mary Stewart, and Victoria Holt. Probably my favorite romance book is The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy. And yes, I have copies of the original movie, the TV special with Jane Seymour (my favorite) and the A&E version. Among today's authors, three of my favorites are Nora Roberts, Heather Graham, and Julia Quinn.


What was the book about the Nancy Drew series that Nancy received as a Hanukkah present?

The Nancy Drew Scrapbook by Karen Plunkett-Powell. If you enjoyed reading the Nancy Drew series when you were growing up, as I did, you'll love this book!


Do you have any favorite TV shows?

Yes. I always liked the shows "Scarecrow and Mrs. King" and "McMillan and Wife"—both romantic mysteries. Now I've been able to find some of the episodes on Ebay!