Monday, July 02, 2007

Interview with Allie Pleiter

Captain’s Log, Stardate 07.02.2007

Today I have an interview with chick lit author Allie Pleiter talking about her latest novel, The Perfect Blend.

Opening a Christian coffeehouse in Seattle—that was my dream. I wanted to call it Maggie Black's Higher Grounds.

So when banker William Grey III denied my loan, I was crushed. But then Mr. Grey (who's a tea drinker—figures!) explained that if I took his small-business course, the bank might reconsider my application. It would take the help of some of my fab coffee, but I was sure I could stay awake long enough to learn something. Besides, despite Grey's stuffy facade, his velvety British accent could make even financial analysis sound interesting.

Read an excerpt.


And now, here’s me and Allie!

How'd you come up with the idea for THE PERFECT BLEND?

I don’t know how I come up with any of my books. They show up in bits and pieces in a way I can’t really explain. BLEND started out with the concept of an “impossible dream”—one where the odds are so clearly against you. Like opening up a coffeehouse in a city already jam-packed with coffeehouses. That, and the fact that I was looking for an excuse to visit Seattle, coffee capital of the USA. I loved the idea of God planting a daunting idea in a risk-taker’s head, and her having to convince risk-averse people in order to make that idea happen. Will Grey is one of those characters that started out just as a banker, then grew into this wonderfully complex guy—and when he grew into a tea lover, (which of course made him British), then it all began to take on the fun quality of opposites attracting. Stir in my passion for good coffee, and you’ve got a book I had a grand time writing (or should I say brewing?).

What's your favorite scene from THE PERFECT BLEND?

Hands down, it’s the scene where Maggie explains and demonstrates the different types of coffee drinks to Will. That one made me laugh every time I worked on it, and I could see it so clearly in my head. Followed, as a close second, by Will’s tea rebuttal, which was a delightful research surprise. If I give away any more than that, I’ll ruin it—but I will tell you that lots of people have asked me about that tea scene, so it must be resonating with readers as well.

If Maggie were an ice cream flavor, what would she be and why? (And no cheating and saying coffee-flavored.)

But she EATS coffee ice cream in the book, so that’s not really cheating. Okay, I’ll play along here and come up with another flavor---I’d have to say butter pecan, because that feels artistic and vintage to me, and that’s one of Maggie’s characteristics. But she might also go for the textures of Rocky Road, too. She’s a complex gal. I’ll jump in here and put in a plug for my favorite flavor, Graeters Mint Chocolate Chip, found only at the astounding Graeter’s Ice Cream in Cincinnati Ohio. (They ship, you know…).

Do you drink coffee or tea, and what's your favorite way to take it?

I don’t just drink coffee, it’s a food group for me. I take my coffee VERY seriously and in large quantities. Daily coffee means a hazelnut blend with cream and sugar, drunk within minutes of my gaining consciousness. My “coffeebar” drink is the largest available size of Mocha Latte with skim milk (so I can load on the whip cream and not feel guilty). Readers might want to know that the whip cream trick in Chapter 14 really happened to me—so how could I not put something so delightful into a book! Now, aren’t you intrigued?

Curious readers want to know: What novel are you reading right now and how do you like it do far?

I just finished Isabelle Allende’s Zorro, because I’m working on a dual identity historical novel for my next book MASKED BY MOONLIGHT, coming out from Steeple Hill in June 2008. I loved Allende’s sense of the epic, and how human she made a figure familiar to all of us. She took a character we think we know all about and created a rich, authentic, and revealing backstory. She has a lyrical, lush narrative style I could never hope to duplicate.

You're off the hotseat! Any parting words?

“Go buy my book”—how’s that? Actually, I might broaden it out to “support your local author and your local bookseller” with a touch of “support your local coffeeseller, too!” God bless and thanks!

Camy here: Thanks, Allie!

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