A Swan’s Sweet Song: A Contemporary Romance from The Wild Rose Press The instant Sherry Valentine and Carston Hewlett meet, there’s desire and fascination in the air…but they’re complete opposites. Smart-talking Sherry fought her way up from poverty to stardom as a country music singer. Now, she’s ever in the limelight, ever surrounded by clamoring fans, male admirers and paparazzi, and her spangled cowboy boots carry her all across the country, from one brightly lit stage to the next. A renowned but reclusive playwright, Carston cherishes his freedom, the silence of his home in the woods and his solitary country walks. Any long-term commitment is obviously out of the question: how about a quick and passionate fling? But when their names are linked in the scandal press, Sherry’s plans to become an actress are revealed. Is their budding relationship doomed?
please tell us a little bit about your current projects?
Thanks for inviting me, Dottie. My new book, A Swan’s Sweet Song, was just released by The Wild Rose Press on January 23 and I have another book, Felicity’s Power, coming out in a month or two, also with Wild Rose. Both books have heroes and heroines that are older — I think there are a lot of romance readers who are looking for this. Also, I like writing about older heroines: they have more experience and are therefore richer characters. They can also laugh at themselves more easily.
Who gave you the one piece of writing advice that sticks with you to this day?
Henry Miller told future writers to just write and write and write. And then, when a manuscript was finished, to cut, and cut, and cut some more. He was absolutely right — although he didn’t follow the advice himself; he did run on terribly in his own books.
Describe the “perfect” hero. What about the “perfect” hero for you?
For me, the perfect hero is very intelligent, kind, an animal lover, a lover of nature and funny. I don’t care if he’s pot bellied, bald or silly-looking, because you don’t even notice such things when you’re in love (and I do tend to fall in love with my heroes.)
What are some of your favorite pastimes? Do you have any hobbies or collections? I’m a passionate musician. I play several instruments — oboe, oboe d’amore, English horn — and I’ve just acquired a baroque oboe. Baroque music is my great love.
What has been your biggest adventure to date?
I’ve crossed much of France, Germany, England and Romania on foot and slept in the fields at night. I’ve also been a belly dancer and translator in Turkey. I’ve spent a lot of time in the Sahara. But, quite frankly, writing stories, inventing characters or working on a narrative non-fiction project is just as adventurous. And playing an orchestral solo can also be terrifying.
If your fairy godmother waved her wand and whisked you away to the location of your choice, which place would you choose, and why?
I’m perfectly happy where I am, thanks.
When it comes to food, are you the adventurous type who will try anything once, or do you prefer to stick to tried and true foods and recipes? I love food and eating. I love new flavours and spices and I’ll try anything — but it has to be vegetarian. Animals are my friends.
What is this romance writer’s idea of the “ideal romantic evening”?
A dimly-lit, quiet locale (no background music, please) a wonderful meal with lovely wine and brilliant conversation with someone I’m absolutely mad about. I can’t think of anything more romantic than that.
How do you describe yourself? How would your family and friends describe you? Anachronistic
What is your favorite comfort food?
Believe it or not, carrots, celery, oranges, salty home-roasted pumpkin seeds, a glass of wine, a good beer, toast and butter. What is the one modern convenience that you cannot do without?
Clean drinking water. I can live without running water; I’m not afraid to wash my clothes and sheets by hand, and I’ve had to do that often enough. Outhouses are fine. I don’t need central heating — I don’t even have it in my house and I like wood-burning stoves. I hate air conditioning; I’ve never owned a television; I dislike telephones; cooking over a fire is fun and I love the light given off by petrol lamps. But not having clean drinking water would be a disaster — and yet, we in the “civilized world” just take it for granted.
About the Author
Born in New York, raised in Toronto, J. Arlene Culiner has spent most of her life in England, Germany, Turkey, Greece, Hungary and the Sahara. She now resides in a 400-year-old former inn in a French village of no real interest. Much to everyone’s dismay, she protects all living creatures — especially spiders and snakes — and her wild (or wildlife) garden is a classified butterfly and bird reserve.