LET’S WELCOME PEGGY JAEGER AUTHOR OF: CHRISTMAS & CANNOLIS
Rad-Reader: Who was your inspiration behind Regina if there was anyone?
Peggy: There wasn’t any one particular person, but when the idea to write Sonny’s family came into my head, I knew his daughter would have to be someone who worked hard, had a good sense of family, and who tried to be independent – about as independent as she could with her crazy family, anyway.
Rad-Reader: You had the big Italian family down, reminded me of when I visited New York with my father to see his side of the family. Did you grow up around or in an Italian family?
Peggy: Yes. My step-father was Italian/American and his family was big, loud, and at times too much!!
Rad-Reader: Was there a reason you picked Regina to be a baker? Though I loved the character.
Peggy: I, personally, love to bake. I’m always making things, trying new recipes, and I love love love to cook and bake for the holidays. My friends and family are thrilled when they get new flavor profiles to try and no one ever goes home from my house without a home-baked treat. My husband loves sweet and savory things, so he is my number one taste tester.
Rad-Reader: When you have Regina meet Connor Gilhooly, just in that short time there is a lot of emotional feelings. Were you expecting that when you were writing that scene or did it just work out that way?
Peggy: I wrote it that way for a reason. I knew this book was going to be a shorter one than I usually write because it was a holiday book. Bigger than a novella but not as long as my usual 100,000-word books. In order for the story and the romance to progress, there had to be an immediate connection between the two. And it had to be so strong that Regina’s long-dormant heart would start to have some life again! I didn’t have 100 pages, in the beginning, to build up their connection.
Rad-Reader: Did you actually know someone like Regina’s father? Because we had an uncle that no one knew what he did. But he always wore suits and drove a Cadillac and knew everyone’s business also.
Peggy: I actually knew several someones who were like Sonny when I was growing up. The Italian side of my stepfamily had several uncles, a few of whom were in the retail and commercial food business – or so we all thought. They had some “friends” who were a little shady and whom no one ever said much about, but we all knew they skirted the law on several points.
Rad-Reader: I don’t know who you based Regina’s pop on but his attitude when meeting Connor was perfect. “Irish, I know Keegan Gilhooly part of the Beantown bunch doing a 12 to 20 on a bank job that went to crap.” And him saying, “No.” That right there is priceless and you really captured the father did you have someone you know go through that themselves?
Peggy: Like I said, I had a few uncles of dubious career choices and backgrounds. I grew up in NYC so the cadence of speech, the accent, even the way words and phrases were said, all came naturally to my writing ear and I was able to make Sonny and the rest of the San Valentino clan sound authentic. You can actually picture Sonny standing there, his hands in his pockets, rocking back and forth on his heels as he assesses Connor through his suspicious eyes. I love that!
Rad-Reader: How did you come up with the idea for the sayings to open each chapter?
Peggy: In my previous San Valentino holiday book, A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS, the heroine, GIA, was always trying to figure out how to survive in her crazy family. Since Regina is her cousin, and in the same generation, I thought she must have her own ideas for navigating through a family that’s so interconnected, nosy, and overbearing ( at times). GIA’s rules were on how to be a GOOD ITALIAN. Reggie’s tips are on how to survive in a big family.
Rad-Reader: When you begin a story do you have an idea for most of the characters or do you add any as you get into the story?
Peggy: No, before I ever begin to tell me a story I write what’s called a book bible. It details the family tree(s) of the characters that will be in the book so I know who is connected to who, where they fall in birth order, and who they were named for. I’ve never added a character after the Bible is completed. In that way, I plot out my books as well so I always know the full story before I write it down. I see it in my head like I’m watching a movie unfold.
Rad-Reader: Without giving too much away from the story Regina’s grief and working on overcoming that felt real. Do you find it difficult to write about?
Peggy: Not as much as I thought I would. I knew her loss had to be a profound one because it defines her entire life before the story begins. Any loss of a loved one is hard. I wanted to ensure, though, that the readers understand how Regina was able to move through her grief with her parents’ help. That was important for me to get right because it explains a lot of the reasons Regina allows her family to treat her the way they do and why she accepts it. I didn’t want people to think she was a doormat with no backbone. There’s a legitimate reason she ignores most of their overbearing ways.
Rad-Reader: What was your inspiration behind Connor, he had parts of him that I could relate with?
Peggy: I’ve always loved Richard Gere – that whole premature gray thing he had going on years ago was such a turn on, so when I picture Connor in my head, Gere’s younger self came to mind. Now, PINTEREST is fabulous because I was able to pull so many pictures of him up so I could get Connor’s features, expressions, even the way he smiles, down perfectly on the page in the description.
Rad-Reader: Was it always your plan to use little phrases like malocchio (Stink Eye) and others throughout the book?
Peggy: Of course. This is a family that loves loves loves their heritage and old-world roots. They are not going to become completely Americanized. By using so many of the words and colloquialisms common in everyday speech in the Italian language, it gives the family an air of authenticity. Plus, can’t you just HEAR them talking to one another? I can.
Rad-Reader: When you begin writing the story did you already have a certain amount of dinner scenes at the family house or did you just put them in as the story went along?
Peggy: Again, because it’s a shorter story than I usually write I knew I needed to get the family dynamics across in a quick and easy way. The families I knew growing up all had big Sunday dinners where everyone stopped, came together, and reconnected as a family unit. Plus, this book covers the time from Thanksgiving to Christmas, and I knew this family more than any other would be gathered around the family table during those times.
Rad-Reader: Your line about when the red sauce began to simmer the kitchen smelled like heaven on earth was a great line. Took me back to those moments cooking and family was that your idea?
Peggy: Yup. And thanks for saying that – it makes me know I did my job as a writer!! I wanted to evoke the smells, aromas, and feelings you got/get when you’re cooking with family. I simply adore walking to someone’s house for dinner and being engulfed in the fabulous aromas of spices, sauces, and meats all melding together. When you can practically taste the foods that are being cooked just by lifting your nose to the air, that’s a meal worth having!
Rad-Reader: Do you get to pick the stories you want to write or are you under any contract to write certain ones?
Peggy: I get to pick the stories I want to write and then submit them to my editor and publishing house. IF they like them, yay!! And I’ve never had a story idea turned away, which is fabulous.
Rad-Reader: Did you do anything special for yourself when you received your first royalty check?
Peggy: Well, I’d like to say I booked a plane to Europe and traveled for a week, but the first check barely bought me a meal at McDonald's! Hee Hee. Despite what the general public thinks, authors are not paid like rock stars!! Not even roadies ( Heehee!)
Rad-Reader: If your book was made into a movie who would you want to play…
Regina: Megan Fox
Connor Gilhooly: Giulio Berruti
Regina: Mila Kunis
Connor Gilhooly: Richard Gere ( Young version) Check out my Pinterest board: Baked with Love –
Regina and Connor: https://www.pinterest.com/peggyjaeger/baked-with-loved-regina-and-connor/
Rad-Reader: What song or songs best describes your two characters or your book as a whole?
“Gone too Soon – Daughtry”
Regina’s loss of her child.
“Yours If You Want It – Rascal Flatts”
“Return to Me – Dean Martin”
After Regina’s father broke her and Connor up.
"I will Survive: Gloria Gaynor"
"Connor: At Last – Etta James"
Rad-Reader: What is your favorite type of food and dessert?
Peggy: Oh, my God, there’s too many to decide!!! Well, for food, I like American home cooking: Fried chicken, corn on the cob, hamburgers. For dessert, I have two: Death by Chocolate trifle and chocolate mousse pie.
Rad-Reader: What is your favorite genre of music?
Peggy: Rock from the ’50s, 60, and ’80s. ( Somehow, the 70’s music just doesn’t do it for me!)
Rad-Reader: What is your favorite genre of books to read?
Peggy: Easy peasy: Romance, contemporary romance first, and Romantic Comedies ( RomComs) most of all.
Rad-Reader: Where is your favorite place to do your writing? Where do you get your best ideas for writing?
Peggy: I’m actually lucky enough to have my own office in my house. I live in a four-story home where the attic is finished and has 2 rooms. One of those rooms in my office and it’s the place I do 99.99% of my writing, at my desk. I live in the woods and my desk overlooks the property. I can watch the seasons change and I’m always fascinated when the wild turkeys, deer, and other woodland animals are romping around in my backyard. As far as the best place for my ideas, well, that’s in my dreams. I have a very vivid dream-factory, for lack of a better word. I usually see the entire book unfold like a movie in my head while I’m asleep. The next morning, before I forget it all, I write what I dreamed about down and then go from there with a plotline and characters.
Rad-Reader: What is your next project and when is it coming out?
Peggy: I am currently working on book 2 in my MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN series. Book 1, DEARLY BELOVED, released a few weeks before CHRISTMAS & CANNOLIS did, so I’m working on getting book 2 done so I can send it to my editor. Hopefully, it will be released in late fall 2019.
Rad-Reader: Where can our reader buy your books? Links
Wild Rose Press:
Book Gorilla :
Rad-Reader: Where can our readers find you on the Web? Links
I don't know how you did it but you captured the home and the Aunts (women) of my father's family when I visited them in New York. My father left New York to the west coast but was still his quiet self ( ha-ha! ) four rows of people ahead of us in church and no he didn't even need to have a speaker they could hear him just fine.
In my family, he learned to cook because he was the oldest and he passed it on to me. We would spend hours in the kitchen cooking heaven on earth. Your book also touched home to me because I was adopted. More than that my wife & I had a miscarriage when we were younger, then we buried a granddaughter and lost a daughter. So, you touched me on all levels. I was just expecting to read a funny story.
Thank you so much for a wonderful book,
CHRISTMAS & CANNOLIS
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