Wendy Warren loves to write about ordinary people who find extraordinary love. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with human and nonhuman critters that make her laugh and feel loved. Her latest book, Moonlight, Menorahs and Mistletoe is out now!
Q) Can you describe your writing process? Our readers would love to hear about it!
A) Well, I’m incredibly glamorous, so I hope this isn’t intimating or anything. First, I leap out of bed in always-mismatched pajamas to help my elderly Shepherd outside. At some point as I’m holding onto her, I realize that our little rescue mix (who has no clue what “housebroken” means) is still wearing his diaper, so I do the splits to hold onto her while un-diapering him. Back in the house, I get the animals situated, make sure my kids are (relatively) on track, blow a kiss to my husband as he eats his Reese’s Puffs and promise myself I will overhaul his diet as soon as I have time (i.e. never).
Then, on most days, I head to the day job, where I pull out a lined notebook to write every time I have a break (and sometimes when I don’t, and I hope my employers are not reading this). I wrote my first book mostly on gum wrappers, napkins and the occasional paper placemat. I wish I was kidding about this. That’s the day-to-dayness of the “process.” The creative part is a bit more organized.
Always, always I begin by exploring my protagonists’ dreams of the perfect life. I try to get into it until I have a physical reaction or yearning of my own. Then I make sure they don’t have what they want…not yet, anyway…and make them fight for it despite the obstacles life keeps throwing in their paths. So basically, I try to make myself care enough about these people that I have to keep returning to their story. I have to keep writing…despite the obstacles life throws in my path!
Q) Your latest Harlequin Special Edition, Moonlight, Menorahs and Mistletoe, is out now! Can you tell us a bit about this book and what inspired you to write it?
A) Sure! MM&M is about finding our bashert, the meant-to-be love that reminds us we’re whole and loved exactly as we are. I mean, that’s an inside job, isn’t it, but finding someone who will be the loving witness to our lives and being the witness for theirs—that’s a gift. Eden and Gideon have been on their own separate journeys toward wholeness, and it hasn’t been going so well. When they meet, it’s near-instant annoyance until they break down each other’s defenses and realize how alike they truly are. And, how very much they need each other to laugh with, to love and to lean on.
As far as the inspiration, my long-time beloved editors, Susan Litman and Gail Chasen, wanted a book appropriate for Hanukkah. Not to put words in their mouths, but Harlequin Special Edition is committed to romances that reflect the world we live in—diverse, joyful, heartbreaking and hilarious. Jewish holidays reflect that. Hanukkah isn’t only about a container of oil lasting eight days; it’s about the refusal to bow down to fear and the courage to be ourselves, no matter what. I couldn’t resist writing about that in the context of a romance!
Q) This is a small-town romance about opposites attract and enemies to lovers—and it all takes place during the holiday season! What’s your favorite thing about these tropes and about writing holiday romance?
A) The book is set in Holliday (spelling deliberate), Oregon, a town that acts as if there’s a holiday every day of the year. Scents of cinnamon, butter and sugar waft through the streets courtesy of the Holliday Fruit and Nut Company; lights twinkle year-round. The characters live in today’s world with today’s concerns, but they’re surrounded by community and constant reminders of hope. As for opposites attract and enemies to lovers, the opportunities for humor and conflict are endless—a writer’s playground.
Q) What have you read or watched recently that you enjoyed?
A) My eighteen-year-old daughter and I have Netflix nights after everyone else is asleep. We have a gazillion shows on “Continue Watching…” because we keep going back to The Gilmore Girls. Cuddling with her on the couch, laughing and arguing about the cutest guy on the show is about the best thing ever.
Q) What are you working on next for Harlequin?
A) Book Two in the Holliday, OR series. No official title yet, but it features Nikki, Eden’s bff from MM&M.
Q) What advice do you have for romance writers?
A) Same advice I give myself and my daughters: Be YOU. Be authentic. You are more than enough, so write from your heart and follow your unique path. Above all, be resilient. Obstacles will come—that’s life—but dreams can be achieved bit by bit. You got this.
Q) Do you have a holiday tradition you love and would like to share with us?
A) My family is a blend of ethnicities and religious traditions. We celebrate Hanukkah and Christmas. For Hanukkah, we light candles, eat latkes, play dreidel and acknowledge the miracles in our lives. Towards the end of Hanukkah, I give my family gingerbread houses—mixing my metaphors 😊, but decorating them moves us into the Christmas season with a lot of mess and laughter!