Today we welcome Mary Frances Gualandri as she celebrates the release of her debut novel, Hell in Heels. So, let’s give her a warm welcome as she shares with us her Top 5 Writing Influences.
- Judith McNaught- She wrote two of my favorite romance novels, Paradise and Perfect. In both of them, she made me laugh and brought me to tears. She made me want to do the same for my readers.
- Jackie Collins- She’s a woman never afraid to write anything, which is what makes her books so fun to read. She inspired me to be bold and write what I want, not what others want me too.
- Nora Roberts- How can you be a modern romance writer without citing Nora Roberts as one of your influences? She’s maintained such longevity and only gotten better with time. She’s inspired me that romance authors can keep readers entertained for decades.
- Julie James- She writes romances set in Chicago (like mine) and they are always hilarious. I want readers to have fun reading my books and yet feel the heat of the chemistry between the hero and heroine.
- Judy Blume- The first author I really took notice of. She writes so frankly about situations that most teens and adolescents encounter. That has influenced me to write about situations that could happen in ways that people can understand.
Mary Frances Gualandri has been writing since she was eight years old. She dabbled in fan fiction and young adult before she ventured into her favorite genre to read, romance. Hell in Heels is her first novel. She lives in North Central Illinois with her family.
And here’s a short excerpt from Hell in Heels to whet your appetite:
One meeting. That’s all I have to make it through. If I can do that, I hopefully won’t have to deal with Esmeralda again for a while.
Nathan Sinclair downed his second shot of whiskey, engaging in a love/hate relationship with the beverage burning down his throat. He wasn’t looking forward to the next several days, both personally and professionally. Everything stressful always seemed to happen all at once, and sometimes whiskey was one way to loosen the knot forming in the back of his neck.
Nathan rested his chin on his palm and looked at the mirror facing him, reflecting the other people in the bar, Lucky’s. He frequented it a couple of times a month for a drink or two. His uncle, Jonathan Sinclair, was the owner. He’d started the bar several years ago after getting out of the military. Nathan had actually given him a loan because he’d known it was a dream of his uncle’s. Jonathan tried to pay him back on a number of occasions, but Nathan wouldn’t hear of it. As long as his uncle was happy, Nathan didn’t care. The bar was dead, aside from a group of middle-aged guys playing cards, an older gentleman sitting at the end of the bar like he probably did every night, and a young woman sitting about three stools away. He hadn’t noticed her earlier, but now he couldn’t take his eyes off her. The same could be said for her.
Embarrassed when his gaze had met hers, Nathan turned away and ordered another tumbler of whiskey on the rocks. God, she’s pretty, he thought as the bartender poured him another round. The addition of the whiskey made the ice clink against the sides of the glass. However, that sound soon turned into the clicking of a pair of stiletto heels beside him.
Nathan turned to see the young woman standing next to him. She was even more beautiful up close. Long, golden hair tumbled past her shoulders in soft curls. His fingers itched to run through the silky mane, so to kill the urge, he curled his hands into fists. The hand holding the glass gripped it so hard he was sure it would shatter. Her ocean-colored eyes penetrated his own cerulean ones, and it was almost as though she could see right through him. Her lips were the color of cotton candy, making him wonder if they were as sweet. Soft lines around her mouth hinted at the dimples that appeared when she smiled. And that was just above her neck.
Although Nathan knew looking lower was a mistake, he gave in to the temptation anyway. The smooth, slender column of her neck sat between small shoulders. Her breasts were high and full, making his hands twitch once again. Her waist tapered in just enough to make her voluptuous, and she widened again at the hips. Long legs peeked out from under her knee-length skirt. Her small feet looked sexy in a pair of strappy black stilettoes. She was classy but sexy, a combination many men desired, including him.
The blonde folded her arms across her chest. Her eyes didn’t stay focused on him. They kept switching back to the floor. He wondered why she seemed so nervous. “Rough day?” she asked.
Nathan chuckled and lifted the newly-filled tumbler to his lips, “Not particularly. Just anticipating the stress the next few days will bring.”
She smiled slightly. “Would you like to talk about it?”
Nathan hesitated for a second, but then shrugged. “Sure. Have a seat.”