Rad-Reader:  What if any was the inspiration behind having three brothers owning a garage?  I do know there is a fourth.

Laura:  My husband is a car fanatic and I’ve been forced to watch more car shows than I can count. I got the idea while watching Fast ‘n Loud, a reality show about a restoration business. Brothers running the shop was a no-brainer once I had the idea. I wasn’t planning on giving brother #4 (Ford) a book, but I’m getting lots of requests from readers to redeem him, so you never know!

Rad-Reader:  How did you come up with the town being in part Mississippi and part of Louisiana?

Laura:  My editor came to me and asked me to write a “summer” series of small-town books. I grabbed an old-school atlas and started flipping through it. I saw the east-west border between Louisiana and Mississippi and the idea of competing summer festivals just hit me like a lightning bolt. That storyline was Cottonbloom 1-3.

Rad-Reader:  From all of the books I have read I really liked the Aunts:  Hazel and Hyacinth.  First, Hyacinth, how did you come up with the names?  I have never heard of it before.  Second, not really, having aunts how or whom did you base these women on?  (Other than Greek mythology).

Laura:  Hyacinth is an old Southern name. I actually asked my Facebook reader group for names and Hyacinth and Hazel were born! That reader got a shout-out in the acknowledgments for Leave the Night On. I love to keep my Facebook reader group abreast of what I’m working on and even get their input from time to time. Anyone is welcome to come hang out… 

Rad-Reader:  I knew that there would be a woman for Mack and his “Oh so charming personality” which I can relate to. :^)  How did you come up with Ella’s character?

Laura:  Ella made an appearance in Leave the Night On, but I didn’t have her story fleshed out until I started writing Set the Night on Fire.

Rad-Reader:  I have to ask because I liked her character from the last book, did you base Willa on anyone or did you just come up with her because her and Jackson’s story was fantastic?

Laura:  Willa was 100% a product of my imagination. Although it doesn’t take long for characters to become “real” to me. Sometimes they do stuff on the page that surprises even me! She was probably the most vulnerable character I’ve ever written, but I loved her inner strength. She and Jackson were perfect for one another.

Rad-Reader:  Is it difficult for you write in the different characters such as Jackson, Willa, the Dog River, and others as you are doing the story or has it just become second nature by now?

Laua:  Characters sometimes have a way of just waltzing onto the page and taking over without me even planning for them to! The best example of that is Clayton Preston, the brother of Thaddeus Preston, the Cottonbloom, MS, police chief and hero of Light Up the Night (a free Cottonbloom novella!) As soon as he was introduced, he captivated me. I worked him into the Abbott Brothers series and set up his heroine at the end of the bonus wedding epilogue in Set the Night On Fire.

Rad-Reader:  Wish Mack’s attitude about Ella and her money, only thinking she got it from the divorce, would have changed.  For the stereotype that some men have towards women once they divorce.  Why did Mack have such a bad one minded attitude about her getting her money from her divorce?  Had something happened in Mack's past that made him think that women always get an easy buck getting married and then divorce for a payday?

Laura:  Mack was dead-set against Ella buying a quarter of the garage and wanted to believe the worst of her. He assumed her interest was all about making a quick buck. To Mack, the garage was his passion and burden and was almost a memorial to his dad. 

Rad-Reader:  The scene where Mack is being his charming self after she changed the oil and her shoe flew off and hit him, was that a scene you came up with before you wrote the story or while you were writing?

Laura:  While I was writing it. I don’t pre-plot to that level of detail. It was fun to write their early interactions!

Rad-Reader:  Was having Megan, Trevor Ella’s ex and his new wife who left him, moving in with Ella always part of your original story?  Or did you add that to make a little more confrontation?

Laura:  I really felt that Ella needed to make peace with her past (just like Mack had to) before she could move on and have a healthy relationship with Mack. The storyline with Ella and Megan actually becoming friends crept up on me and was a surprise!

Rad-Reader:  I figured you would have Ford in this book but I was not expecting the other surprise, was that one of your goals for this book?

Laura:  My goal was to have a satisfying resolution to the turmoil that had beset the Abbott brothers at their father’s death and mother’s reappearance in their lives. I hope I accomplished that!

Rad-Reader:  How in your stories about these boys did you know when to insert one or both of the aunts to show up at the garage, without disrupting the flow of the story?

Laura:  The aunts showed up when one of the boys needed a grounding force and some wisdom. 

Rad-Reader:  When did you come up with the character Ella, just when you were getting ready to write this story or did you start from the last book?

Laura:  Ella actually makes a brief appearance in Leave the Night On (Book 4) and again at the end of When the Stars Come Out (Book 5) when it’s revealed she is the mysterious buyer. So, her character had been percolating in the background for some time.

Rad-Reader:  Did you grow-up around cars because you always have nice ones in your books?

Laura:  I included lots of my husband’s favorite cars in the book! He was my technical expert:)

Rad-Reader:  I noticed you had more references to Rufus’s barbeque than before was that planned?  Because it made me hungry while I was reading. LOL!

Laura:  Ha! I didn’t notice, but I do love me some good pork barbeque!

Rad-Reader:  When you were writing Sutton’s and Wyatt did you always plan their wedding to be in a later book?

Laura:  I had originally thought it would be the epilogue to Set the Night On Fire, but I realized Mack and Ella deserved their own epilogue. That’s when I pitched the idea of a “bonus” epilogue to my editor and she was excited about it. Plus, their wedding needed to be in their voices. 

Rad-Reader:  Having Mack calling the Aunts for a ride was a nice touch.  Was that something you were always planning at some time?

Laura:  I think the common theme in my answers is that I don’t seem to plan anything! Lol. This was no exception, but having them call the aunts made me snicker as I was writing it.

Rad-Reader:  I like to think some of the happenings of the wedding you either heard about or maybe were in and not ones you came up with because those were all something else.  Which was it?

Laura:  I hate to disappoint you, but it was all my imagination. 

Rad-Reader:  Are you able to write books/stories that you want too or are you under some kind of contract to write what someone else wants?

Laura:  Sometimes it involves some compromise. For example, when I first pitched the Cottonbloom Abbott brothers’ trilogy, they were actually going to be stars, in a new, hot reality show (like the Fast ‘n Loud show.) And the first heroine was going to be my female mechanic, Willa. The higher-ups at the publishing house didn’t like the reality show angle but liked the concept of the brothers owning a garage. They also weren’t sure about how readers would relate to a female mechanic. I had to rework the concept. I fought hard to keep Willa in the series but agreed to not make her the heroine of the first book. So, there is some compromise, but the ideas are ultimately mine.

I also write historical romance and publish those myself. With those, I can write whatever I want!   

Rad-Reader:  Do you like to use an outline or are those outdated?

Laura:  It probably obvious based on my answers so far, I do not use an outline! Lol. However, they are not out of date at all. I have lots of writer friends who plot every chapter before they start to write anything. I’ve actually tried to pre-plot many times. It can be scary-intimidating-exhilarating to start a book and have no idea where it’s going or if you are going to get stuck along the way! But pre-plotting doesn’t work for me. While it might keep my hair from turning gray, it also takes the joy of discovery and surprises out of writing which is the fun part for me. 

Rad-Reader:  Do you remember what you did with your first royalty check for yourself?

Laura:  It got put into savings for my son’s college fund! Super exciting, I know.

Rad-Reader:  I liked how at the beginning of the book you had Jackson saying “sure you can.”  To his (Mack) saying he could be charming.   Then later when he was changing both brothers thought Aliens had taken over his body, had you been wanting to write something like that about Mack.
So, was it hard for Mack to be Charming at the end? 

Laura:  Mack always had it in him, but he’d had to be serious and the leader of the garage for so long, he’d forgotten how to have fun.

Rad-Reader:  If your book was made into a movie who would you want to play…?

Laura:  I’m going, to be honest, and say, I don’t celebrity cast my characters. I like who you’ve picked though!

Rad-Reader:  What song or songs best describes your couple or your book as a whole?

“I’m In Love with My Car – Queen”

“Hooked – Dylan Scott”

Laura:  Now, you’re talking my language. I do use music as a huge inspiration. Here are some of the Abbott brothers’ songs:

“Confession – Florida Georgia Line”

“Highway Don’t Care – Tim McGraw”

“Love You Like That – Canaan Smith”

Rad-Reader:  How long once you started writing your first book seriously did take you to get published?

Laura:  I started writing in January 2012 (I had never even tried to write a book until this point.) I signed with a literary agent in the summer of 2013. I sold five books to two different publishers in the summer of 2014. The first came out in March 2015. So, a bit over three years from putting my first words on the page to seeing my book hit the shelves.

Rad-Reader:  What was your first book and did you like it or was it just your first book?  Or was it your baby?

Laura:  The first book I wrote is a historical romance called An Indecent Invitation. I learned to write by rewriting that book many, many times. I still love that book! It’s the first book in my Spies and Lovers series which is continuing on…

Rad-Reader:  When did your first book come out?

Lauren:  The first book I wrote is a historical romance called An Indecent Invitation. I learned to write by rewriting that book many, many times. I still love that book! It’s the first book in my Spies and Lovers series which is continuing on…

Rad-Reader:  What is your next project and when is it coming out?

Laura:  My next release is a romantic women’s fiction book called A Military Wife, releasing in February 2019. I’m also planning to release Book 4 in my Spies and Lovers historical romance series, A Sinful Surrender. And, last but not least, I’m getting ready to write the first book in a new Southern set romantic comedy series set in Georgia called Highland Fling, releasing fall/winter 2019! Lots of fun stuff coming up!

Rad-Reader:  Where can our readers buy your books?  Links

Laura:  Social Media Links
Or join my reader group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1733284316920632/
Sign up for my newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bwbOkD

Follow me on Bookbub for new release or sale announcements: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/laura-trentham

Rad-Reader:  Where can our readers find you on the Web? Links

So glad you could be with us.  I had a great time reading your book and working on these questions.  I know my wife working with you and making sure all was ready to post this interview.  Thanks for taking your time away from your writing to do it.  Come back when your next book is coming out and use our "Shout Out: An Author's Place" page to post all about it.  Like Char says you are now a 1 Rad-Reader Misfit and always welcome.
Pat & Char

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