Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Character Interview: Perfectly Matched

Title: Perfectly Matched...and the rest of the Matchmaking Chef Books
Author: Maddie James
Publisher: Turquoise Morning Press
Release Date: February 10, 2014
Pages: 478
Buy Link: Amazon


When Suzie Matthews (Bed, Breakfast & You) accidentally cooks up a scene that causes her sister to get back together with her high school boyfriend (Home for the Holidays), she wonders if she can help other singletons living in the small mountain town of Legend, Tennessee find the loves of their lives.

Being a matchmaker isn’t really on her list of things to do—after all, she has a bed & breakfast to run, cookbooks to write, and a television show on the Food Channel to keep up with. But baking is her thing, and perhaps matchmaking can be her thing, too. After all, there is a song going through her head that goes something like this…

Matchbaker, Matchbaker, bake me a match? No wait. Make me a match. Nevermind! You get the picture, right?

Welcome to Legend, Tennessee. And welcome to the matchbaking, er, matchmaking world of Chef Suzie Matthews.

Includes the 8 novellas: Perfectly Matched, Dates Du Jour, Hot Crossed Buns, Side Dish, Mate To Order, Romancing The Scone, Better Than Chocolate, and Hard Candy Kisses, @ 133,000

Novellas also available separately.


Perfectly Matched, Book One
Suzie Matthews is hard at work on her new cookbook, Perfectly Matched, when she asks the local “wallflower” to help her with a project. Mary Lou Picketts dreams of falling in love with country music star, Nash Rhodes, but is ready to settle for Thurman Phillips down the street. But she doesn’t want to. Not really. When Nash comes to Legend for a music benefit and stays at the lodge, Suzie wonders if she can perfectly match this miss-matched couple.

Hot Crossed Buns, Book Two
Wild Katie Long, she’ll never settle down. But Chris Marks has had his eye on her for a long time. When Chris hires Suzie to set him up with a romantic dinner for two, Suzie does all she can to set the mood. Thing is, Katie isn’t about to be wooed and she’s hotter than hot crossed buns when she figures out what Chris is up to. Then Suzie turns the tables by supplying Chris with a couple of items that just might tame Katie after all—handcuffs and a leather riding crop.

Dates Du Jour, Book Three
Speed dating? Speed eating is more like it. When Suzie sets up lunch date after lunch date for Lyssa Larkin, Legend’s homegrown homecoming queen of 1992, she knows she’s bit off more than she can chew. Lyssa rejects dates in two bites and sends them on their way. Suzie wonders if she really wants to date or just eat two lunches, and worries that soon Lyssa’s hips won’t fit on her dainty chairs. That is, until Suzie takes a risk with a man that Lyssa knows, but doesn’t, and who is falling for her hard and fast.

Side Dish, Book Four
Becca North doesn’t want a boyfriend but her best friend Nora certainly does. Becca is soooo off men. But when Nora, owner of Nora’s Novel Niche, meets Suzie the Matchmaking Chef, during a booksigning at her store, she pays the matchmaker to arrange a romantic picnic date lunch for her—a blind date, no less. Nora drags Becca along all the way from Pigeon Forge for moral support and to check out her date. Thing is, Nora’s date would rather check out Becca, instead.

Mate to Order, Book Five
When Suzie’s success as a matchmaker hits the national scene about the same time as her debut cooking show on the Food Channel, her new producer comes to her with a list of requirements—not for Suzie’s job, but for a husband. Patricia Plum has a specific list and if Suzie really wants to make it big in New York City, she’ll make every attempt to deliver, Patricia’s “Mate to Order.”

Romancing the Scone, Book Six
High tea or sweet tea? As long as there are scones, it doesn’t matter. In fact, Sydney Schul, owner of Sydney’s Sugar Coffee Stop and Bakery, makes the best damned scones east of the Mississippi, and there was an article written about her in Southern’s Best magazine to prove it. All is well and life in Legend is good, until a mysterious male stranger comes to town, stalking her scones and coercing Legendarians to nab her recipe.

Better than Chocolate, Book Seven
When Scott Matthews escapes to Legend to visit his brother, Brad and his wife Suzie, he has only one request—he doesn’t want to talk, smell, or taste chocolate. Nor does he want to discuss getting fired as chocolate taster from world-renowned Bianchi Chocolates. What Jillian Bass needs is to make it in Legend. This Manhattan transplant knows nothing about small town living other than she wants to make it big here real bad. Forget New York, she’s trying to set up her small chocolate shop and impress the locals. And all is fine until she smacks straight into Scott.

Hard Candy Kisses, Book Eight
New Year’s Eve is just around the corner and Legend Elementary teacher Patti Jo Baker has tried every trick in the book to land a date for the annual New Year’s Eve Bash at The Lodge. This includes setting up a kissing booth at the Legend Elementary Winter Carnival—a booth which Principal Jim Hamilton promptly shuts down. Because if Patty Jo Baker is passing out kisses, any kind of kisses, he wants to be both first, and last, in line—and he definitely doesn’t want to sample them in front of the student body.

Character Interview

Maddie James Interviews Brad and Suzie Matthews
The Matchmaking Chef

Authors can debate until the cows come home whether a plot- or character-driven story is a more satisfying read. I'm also concerned with whether the story is a satisfying "write" for me. If I enjoy the unfolding of the story, I'm hoping that my readers will connect as well. I'll not deny that plot is important. It is. If there is no plot, there truly isn't a story. I prefer, however, to have my characters drive that plot.
So about those characters. In order for them to drive the plot, you truly have to know them, correct? And one way some authors do that is to interview their characters. I thought I'd share an interview with some of the people in my head.
This was a tough one. I mean, how do you properly interview a figment of your imagination? Of course, most days, I’d rather be a figment of my imagination. So, I gave myself some advice. I said, Maddie, interview your characters like they are real people. Wait. They are real people. Okay. This shouldn’t be difficult then, right?

So here goes. What follows is an interview of two characters who live inside my head and call themselves Brad and Suzie Matthews. They reside in a little town plotted just south of the western hemisphere of my brain, left at that small chunk of gray matter, and down a twisty path toward a narrow crater that reminds me of a sinkhole, snuggled next to my spinal column. There. That is where Legend, TN lives in my imagination, and where Brad and Suzie first duked it out over some locally famous mountain….

MJ:  So Brad, I hear you came back to Legend to find Suzie. What was that all about?
Brad:  Well, um, yeah. I did. I came back because, well, I missed her.
MJ:  Hm. But wasn’t there really another reason? Something about blowing up a mountain…
Brad:  Ahem, sure, that’s partly true. I mean, I didn’t come back with that intent. I came back for Suzie, plain and simple, but I also found this piece of land that was a dream. I was looking to fulfill all my dreams. And I had a plan. Right there in Legend.
MJ:  But I hear that backfired a bit.
Brad:  Who told you that?
MJ:  A little birdie. Hey, who is doing the interview here? I ask the questions.
Brad:  Well, stay off the mountain subject, okay? I’m here to talk about how I got Suzie back.
Suzie:  Um…helllloooo? I’m here, too, y’all. Don’t sit there and talk about me like I’m not here.
MJ:  Suzie? Oh, so sorry. I didn’t see you come in. What do you have to say about all this? Did Brad coming back into your life upset your apple cart a little?
Suzie:  Whoa, you said it. He came thundering in on that Harley and ripped my quiet little bed and breakfast life all to shreds. I mean, I was totally thrown for a loop. I never thought I’d see him again after… well…you know… But I’m not talking about that.
MJ:  Okay, now it’s getting juicy. Go on, Suzie.
Brad:  Ahem, Suzie…
Suzie:  Don’t worry Brad. I’m not going to tell her anything. She thinks she knows so much already.
MJ:  Excuse me Mr. and Ms. Characters, but I invented you. I do indeed know you and all of your funny little Love Slave games and all that…
Suzie:  Maddie, stop right there.
MJ:  Suzie, lest I remind you that you were quite a little tart several months earlier when you left your husband and…
Brad and Suzie:  Maddie!
Brad:  Shut up.
Suzie:  This interview is over.
*virtual stomping off deep into gray matter land*
MJ:  Sorry folks. It appears my characters have minds of their own.
And often our characters do. I find that so amazing. Sometimes we need to rein them in. Other times, it's wise to let them go and do their thing. I'm more of a panzer rather than a plotter. I believe in my characters and trust their instincts. Knowing them well is the key.

Writing tip of the day: When my plot is stalling and I'm not sure where to turn next, I turn to my characters. Do I know them well? Have I fully defined them? Are they well-rounded enough for me to know which turn they will take next? Am I fully in their head and in character? Next time you are at a stand-still, consider whether it is time to take a break and have a conversation with the people in your head.
Bed, Breakfast and You is Brad and Suzie's story. Suzie, a character I could just not let go of, is also The Matchmaking Chef, in a series all of her own.


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  1. Many thanks to READING ON THE WILD SIDE for today's blog stop host. And thanks for asking about my characters. Suzie is so "real" to me I often do refer to her as though she's a real person, living and breathing. I hope your readers enjoy the interview and better yet, the entire collection! Grab it now while it is on super deep discount! Have a great day!

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