- Today we’ve got Rita Oberlies and her book, The Catcher and the Lie. Buy it here!
1. How did you get starte with your writing?
I started writing back in late 2005 as an outlet for stress. My boys were very young at the time, about three and eigtheen months, when my husband began experiencing some unexpected health problems. Things felt out of control (which, as a Virgo, was unacceptable) an writing a story with a happy ending was my way of hanging on to my sanity.
2. What/who is your biggest muse?
I’m not sure I could pin down a single person or thing as my biggest source of inspiration. Some of my story ideas have come from a single song lyric or a throwaway comment by an announcer during a baseball game. For me it’s usually something very small that sparks an unexpected chord and then I’ll let that idea roll around my head until it develops into characters and conflict.
3. Is there a character in one of your books you connect with the most?
I think there is a little bit of me in almost every character I’ve written. Abby, from The Catcher and the Lie, is a baseball addict with a sharp tongue. In real life I’m a huge Red Sox fan born with a sarcastic gene that never quits.
4. What do you like to do in your free time other than write?
My family tends to gravitate toward activities that center around animals. We hang out at the zoo and our local Humane Society (where we acquired two of our three dogs). Like many writers, I’m also an insatiable reader. My house has books tucked away in every corner and my Kindle is rapidly nearing download capacity. Oh, and since spring is here I have to add cutting the grass on my lawn tractor. There’s something very cool about throwing on a hat, jeans and boots every week to drive around the backyard on a John Deere.
5. What are some of your favorite books?
Any genre or author. My list of favorites goes on forever, so I’ll just pick a few:
J.R. Ward – Black Dagger Brotherhood series, especially Lover Awakened
Kristan Higgins – Catch of the Day
Judith McNaught – Paradise
Malachi Martin – Windswept House
6. Where is your writing sanctuary?
Although I’ve tried different spots I always gravitate back to my bedroom. It’s bright (white plantation shutters, ocean themed pictures, shiny oak floors), close to my kid’s playroom, and let’s me hang out next to my husband, who has a work station right next to mine.
7. How did you celebrate “selling” your first book?
It’s a little bit of a blur…although I remember a rather large bottle of Bailey’s. As soon as I received a copy of my book cover my husband went to Office Max and had it blown up movie poster size and then professionally framed. It’s hanging on the wall in my hallway where it definitely draws a reaction from visitors.
8. What is your favorite thing about Samhain?
Samhain takes risks that traditional publishers wouldn’t dream of. Deidre Knight’s recent release, Butterfly Tattoo, is a perfect example. This story is flat out amazing. The storyline is non-traditional, taboo really, and yet Samhain gave it a home. Based on every review I’ve read and on my own experience as a reader this book will be one of the most talked about of 2009.
9. Is there something you would like to see more of in RomanceLandia?
As both a reader and a writer I’m not sure I would change anything. Trends come and go. Although I would like to write a story that would fit some of the current hot genres, I know that my voice doesn’t stretch in those directions and that’s okay.
10. Tell us about your editor.
Yikes. I’m not loving this question! Seriously, this is tough. Hmm — I’m just going to throw out the first adjectives that pop into my head when I think of Tera. Direct. Motivated. Professional. Efficient. No-nonsense. Patient. Very patient!!!
A twinge of conscience hit Abby hard. Fortunately it had the grace to disappear before she coughed up an apology. After all she wasn’t the one who spewed dessert all over an overpriced pair of Italian loafers. The fact that she had dissolved into laughter at the sight of Boston’s latest prince of the paparazzi drenched in buttercream frosting was hardly a punishable crime.
Biting back a smile, she tried to redeem herself. “I did my best. I couldn’t force Gracie to give back the piece of cake.”
A pretty shade of pink spread across her cousin’s cheeks. “Okay, did you ever think about just telling Nick that my daughter has trouble holding down certain foods?”
“Well,” Abby said, “sometimes there is more value in learning difficult lessons through experience.”
Finally a full smile cracked Bridget’s face. “Cripes, you can be a pill sometimes. Poor Nick looked like he was going to bust a blood vessel.”
Abby bent down and wiped up the remaining evidence of the earlier mishap. “No doubt his anger was addressed at me and not Gracie.”
“Of course,” Bridget said, dragging a trash can across the tiled floor. “He’s not stupid.”
“That’s open to debate.”
“Ouch. That’s a pretty strong statement about someone you barely know.”
Hoping to avoid eye contact, Abby squeezed another round of 409 on the already spotless floor. Moving her hand in a slow circular motion, she focused on the tile and not her cousin’s curious expression. The fact was, she didn’t know Nick Valente well. On the few occasions that their paths crossed only a sprinkling of words were exchanged. Just enough to reinforce Abby’s belief that the Bisons’ newest catcher was a walking billboard for all that was wrong with professional sports. It hadn’t helped that he had pegged her as the nanny during their initial encounter at the ball park. Her jeans and mustard-stained T-shirt were not a sufficient excuse to dismiss her as hired help.
Abby stood, pivoted and dropped a wad of wet paper towels in the trash can. “Well, you always claim I have radar when it comes to losers. I hate to say it, but he takes the cake. No pun intended.”
Bridget ran her hands down the front of her silk sundress. “Let’s go face the music. Drop the evil smirk and play nice with my guests.”
Abby rolled her eyes, took a peek at her now-wrinkled skirt, and groaned. “Remind me to skip your next party. Unless the guests are all under four feet tall I’m staying home.”
Bridget tugged on Abby’s arm, practically dragging her up the stairs. “No can do, my friend. Your satirical commentary and questionable fashion sense make you an A-list guest. Besides I need all the moral support I can get to survive these functions.”
“Please, you live for these nights. Don’t think I missed your posing for that photographer from the Daily News.”
A small patch of pink returned to Bridget’s cheeks. “Better to pose than to get caught unprepared. I had to include them tonight or they would have crashed. Everyone wants a picture of the division leading boys. People think this is finally going to be the year.”
“Heck they could end world poverty with the money they’re throwing at Nick.”
“Bite your tongue. Kevin is pulling in almost as much, so I can’t exactly complain.”
Instead of following her cousin’s lead, Abby pivoted away from the patio doors. “I’m going to grab some juice. Maybe check on Gracie.”
Bridget stopped in her tracks. “Five minutes. If you’re not out here pretending to be an adult I’ll send Kevin in to track you down.”
Abby raised her fingers to her forehead in a mock salute. Ignoring her cousin’s warning, she enjoyed the last twenty minutes of Dora the Explorer with her favorite four-year-old before returning to the kitchen. Sifting through a stash of beer and soda, she finally snagged a juice box. Popping in the tiny, sharp straw, she never noticed the approach of footsteps just inches behind her.
“Too much sugar will rot your teeth.”
The voice was one she recognized. One she had hoped to avoid for the remainder of the night. Pushing the refrigerator door closed, Abby turned slowly. Almond-shaped eyes, crinkled in the corners from too much sunshine, openly mocked her.
“Thanks for the reminder. Makes me wonder what a healthy dose of regurgitated sugar is going to do to your flashy shoes.”
Nick laughed. The deep, rich sound took her by surprise. “Don’t fret, blossom. I’ve got more shoes than Imelda. I’m afraid you’ve only been blessed with one pair of those razor-sharp teeth.”
Abby slid away from the counter in an effort to gain distance. “Call me a risk taker. I need something to keep me awake for a few more hours.”
Instead of allowing her space, Nick took two large steps in her direction. “Bored by the company? Most chicks would sacrifice their offspring for a chance to mingle with this crowd.”
It was impossible to ignore the sarcasm. Clearly he was amused by the notion that cavorting with a bunch of overgrown, oversexed athletes was not exactly her idea of a dream evening. Although she wanted to take three steps back, Abby pushed herself closer.
“Actually, this gal was looking forward to tonight until Mark showed up with Miss Silicone Valley. Do you think it would be tacky if I asked for the name of her plastic surgeon?”
For a moment Nick looked stunned. He was nothing if not predictable. Mark Dufour was a thirty-five-year-old pitching coach. Blessed with personality. Cursed with rapidly retreating hair follicles. Abby thought he could give Bruce Willis a darn good run for his money. For three years they had enjoyed a special friendship which revolved mostly around her efforts to find the perfect woman for him. He deserved the best and she was determined to deliver the goods. The half-dressed honey on his arm tonight was a definite step in the wrong direction.
“You really are an odd duck,” Nick said, taking a long pull on his bottle of Coors. His gaze dipped from her face all the way down to her lilac-painted toenails.
Abby shrugged. “Don’t lose sleep worrying about your egregious lack of manners. Years of therapy have taught me to embrace my fowl nature.”
“Whoa, didn’t mean to ruffle your feathers, Daffy. Should I put in a good word for you with Mark? Maybe tell him that the bitchiness is just an adverse reaction to too much medication.”
Line crossed. Abby had been called many things in her life but never bitchy. She worked hard at tempering her smart mouth. An occasional slip, especially with someone as deserving as Nick, shouldn’t count against her. As she mentally counted to twenty in an effort to curb her visceral need to lash back, Abby silently critiqued the man in front of her. Black designer slacks. Grey silk shirt that left too much of his thick arms exposed. Dark eyes probably a perfect match for his soul. Only his hair escaped her mental hatchet. Messy cocoa-colored spikes were just damn sexy in her book.
“Hard offer to pass up,” Abby purred, laying it on like molasses. “But unfortunately Mark is not your typical jock.”
Nick’s brows rose in confusion. “Meaning?”
“His brain exceeds the size of his strap. Convincing him I’m not a shrew might be a really tough sell.”
“I never said you were a…”
Before he could finish backpedaling, Abby cut in. “And while you might fancy yourself as being smooth as a Georgia peach, your powers of persuasion might falter with those who know that the term ERA is not some baseball conspiracy trying to attract feminists.”
The click of heels snapping on tile brought an abrupt halt to their exchange. Tossing her half-empty juice box into a trash bin under the sink, Abby lowered her voice. “Besides I’ve got a plan that involves a big bottle of Jack Daniels and a tiny black thong. Wish me luck!”