Monday, August 19, 2013

Ten Days and Counting Until Wing Girl!

Hold on to your hats because I have the hilarious Nic Tatano visiting today, whose answers to my interview are waaaay better than the questions. If you like romantic comedies, you're going to want to MARK YOUR CALENDARS for August 29th, the date Wing Girl releases from HarperImpulse UK! I honestly can't wait to read this book!!!

Welcome to Tattered Pages, Nic. I'm psyched you're here!! Why don't we start by telling the readers how your writing career began.

I'd written for my college newspaper and knew I wanted to write for a living, but I knew you couldn't start a career as an author right out of the gate, so I got a job as a reporter for a local newspaper. I later moved into radio, working as a copywriter (I once wrote a commercial for a funeral home), and eventually got into broadcasting where I spent many years as a television reporter. When I reached my on-air expiration date and moved behind the camera my muse got bored since I didn't get to tell a story everyday, so I started writing fiction.
But my big problem was that I had gotten so used to "writing to the video" in television news that my first novel had no setting. I had always let the video and sound tell that part of the story, since the viewer can already see it. So I had to learn to write differently.
My very first sale was a short story to a Star Trek anthology.

Oh snap! Seriously? I am a HUGE trekkie. I think you just became my new hero! LOL So, I know Wing Girl is a romantic comedy, but do you write in any other genres?

While I also write thrillers and young adult novels, I stick to RomComs when it comes to romance. Probably because I enjoy romantic comedies in the theater and writing humor comes easily to me. The other reason is that I had so many disastrous first dates that I've got a lot to draw on when starting a RomCom. And since I have a great marriage I have no problem writing the happy ending.

Aw, that's awesome! Okay, so Rom-coms can sometimes get spicy. What's you're overall stance on heat level? Should readers expect that bedroom door to be open or closed in Wing Girl?

If it gets any warmer than seventy-four degrees, I'm uncomfortable with both. And the door stays closed to keep the cat out. (I'm sorry, I couldn't resist. The snarky gene is dominant in my case, and the question was a hanging curve ball over the middle of the plate. I had to swing at it.)

LOL! This is exactly why I was so excited to have you here today! You keep me laughing!! Let's talk characters for a second. Of the ones you’ve created, which one is your favorite and why?

That's a tough one, but my main character in Wing Girl, television reporter Belinda Carson, is probably my favorite because I really "got in her head" while I was writing. I actually found myself thinking like her when I would get up and still be half asleep. (When I would fully awaken I would realize I was not a hot thirty year old redhead.) She's the smartass spunky sister I never had, a take-no-prisoners, kick-ass reporter. But off-camera her dating skills need a serious makeover. She's such a disaster with personal relationships (like a certain person I saw in the mirror when I was single) you can't help but root for her to find Mister Right. But the girl needs a social GPS to find him.

Oh my gosh, I LOVE that description! Stupendous! What's your take on the recent influx of writers moving to self-publication. Have you ever considered that route in your writing career?

I've self published a bunch of short stories, a few novels, and some journalism textbooks. This, of course, leads to "check your Amazon sales ten times a day" syndrome, and can actually make your day when you make a thirty five cent commission. You can't put a price on having your work validated by the fact that someone actually spent money to read your work.

And a writer always hopes someone will discover that special work. In my case it's a novel called "The End" which is about a reporter who gets the exclusive of all time: an interview with an angel on Judgment Day.

Ahhh...okay, that sounds completely awesome. I need to go buy that right now. LOL What's your current project? Got anything brewing for the future?

I'm halfway through another RomCom titled "It Girl" in which a television reporter gets a dream network job anchoring a morning show.... and it screws up her personal life so bad she does everything she can to get fired. I know what the ending is but I have no earthly idea how I'll get there. I love working without an outline and winging it because I like to be surprised as much as a reader.

I love that too. My characters always take me places I never knew we were going until we get there. What about in between projects? After finishing a manuscript, do you take some time off or dive right in to the next story?

I take a break. I have to get the characters out of my head before I move on to a new set. And I'm such a "streak writer" (I write very fast when I'm in the zone) that my tendonitis flares up. So I go on a chocolate bender while watching science fiction movies and old episodes of Star Trek. (The original series with Captain Kirk, not The Next Generation. I mean, seriously, if you write romance you can't identify with Captain Picard. The guy had less sex than Spock, who at least fired phasers every seven years.)
ROFLOLOL! Hey, I love Professor X, that is.

I just realized I mentioned Star Trek again, so you probably think I'm a sci-fi geek. Mea culpa. I've been to plenty of Trek conventions but I do not have a Starfleet uniform hanging in my closet.

Um...I do. LOL I seriously do. I also have a tri-corder. You welcome to make as many Star Trek references as you wish, my dear. Okay, ahem, back on point. What’s on your nightstand (or downloaded onto your Kindle) right now?

I don't have a Kindle, so the nightstand is occupied by The Zero Game, a political thriller by Brad Meltzer. Along with a bottle of Tums.
LOL! Right. Who is your favorite author and why?

Stephen King. I love his unique voice and the way he can turn ordinary people into something special. Someone could give you a book, not tell you who wrote it, and if it was a Stephen King novel you'd know immediately simply from the voice. The Stand is my favorite book of all time, though his recent 11/22/63 was pretty darned good as I love time travel stories. I like his early books the best. Reading Pet Sematary when you have a cat will make you go to bed with the lights on.

I have an entire bookcase filled with Stephen King novels. He never disappoints, does he? My favorite is The Dark Tower Series. Epic fantasy. Epic. Got a favorite cocktail?

Rum and whatever. And the glass must contain more of the rum than whatever. Umbrella optional.

Duly noted. *AJ grabs a pen and furiously makes note -- buy rum for Nic.* What about hobbies? What grabs your fancy besides writing?

Cooking. I'm Italian and spent my high school and college years working in my father's delicatessen, so it comes naturally to me. I learned a lot from my grandmother who grew up in the Great Depression; my job was to make the bread crumbs by rolling stale bread with a glass milk bottle. She would never waste food, a trait I still carry today. By the time I was seven I could cook for myself.

None of the recipes are written down as they're all in my head, but I will share one tip; meatballs need to be made with a two-to-one ratio of ground beef to ground pork. Without the pork to provide the flavor to both the meatballs and the sauce, you're eating hamburger and ketchup. Lightly fry the meatballs halfway in olive oil, then let the heat from the sauce cook them the rest of the way. It will pick up the flavor.

That is AWESOME! My daughter and I actually make our own sauce from tomatoes in the garden. We started last year because we had such an abundance of them, I didn't know what else to do. The sauce ended  so delicious, I'm stuck making it again this year.  What about pets? Do you share your living space with any four-legged friends?

I've always been a cat person, and all of my cats have been orphans or strays. They make the best pets. Our current house overlord is a tortoiseshell tabby named Gypsy. I was eating lunch one day and saw her in the window, looking hungry, so I gave her half my sandwich and she's been with us ever since. Turned out she's already fixed, so she either ran away, got lost or was abandoned. She's a very sweet cat, though getting her in the pet carrier to go to the vet requires oven mitts. Gypsy is very much a daredevil, hanging out on the roof... or the chimney... of our two story house.

She also has a bit part in Wing Girl. Most of the cats I've had in the past appear in my work.
Oh, that's cool! I love writing pets into stories. Thanks so much for being here today, Nic! And now for a sneak peek inside Wing Girl!
Wing Girl: [wing-gurl] noun
1. A young, single woman frequenting liquor-serving establishments who attracts then later repels eligible men that are eventually picked up by her friends.
2. The essential accessory for dating in Manhattan.
For years guys have cruised bars using the "wing man" as a divide and conquer weapon designed to liberate a gorgeous woman from her not-so-beautiful friend.
Meet Belinda Carson, Wing Girl.
She's a kick-ass, take-no-prisoners investigative reporter fighting for truth, justice and higher ratings. But while her fame draws in the hotties, it’s unfortunate that you can’t buy a new personality at Bloomingdales!
Because up close and personal these unsuspecting suitors get fried by a snarky attitude that's sharp enough to slice a stale bagel…which leaves her grateful friends to swoop in for the delectable leftovers!
Only enough is enough – isn’t it time for Belinda to stop taking one for the team and land her own Mr. Right?
~ * ~
            "Dating you would be like dating Mike Wallace," said the dark haired hunk who could easily be considered for a certain magazine's Most Beautiful People issue.
            Before you get the wrong idea about that comment, let me say that I do not in any way, shape or form physically resemble the legendary reporter. I'm actually a slender redhead with emerald green eyes, classic high cheekbones with a constellation of freckles, little dimples when I smile, a whiskey voice that sounds like it lives in a smoky bar and channels Demi Moore. Though tonight it's all packaged in a brown paper wrapper consisting of a bulky sweater and pants, while my hair is always up in a tight bun and the eyes peer through Coke-bottle glasses. Gotta maintain the journalistic credibility. If you wanna be taken seriously as a woman in my business, you can't play the glamour card.
But as for the Mike Wallace comment, I am the city's most recognizable and feared investigative reporter who channels the 60 Minutes icon every chance I get.
            So I sorta get what the guy's saying, but then again I don't. Does he mean that he admires my work as much as that of the broadcasting legend? Or that when he kisses me he'll be thinking of an eighty year old guy who's dead?
            So I asked. "I'm not sure how to take that."
            He leaned forward and I felt his knee gently brush mine, sending a bit of electricity through my body. "Oh, it's a compliment," he said with a smile. "I mean, everyone knows you're the best reporter in town."
I tried to hold back a smile but couldn't as I looked at this Greek god with the chiseled jaw line sitting before me in a dark gray windowpane suit. The rest of the bar faded to grayscale as he provided the only color in the room. His deep blue eyes became beacons as I caught a faint whiff of Fendi cologne. A subliminal daydream whipped through my mind and I saw myself being carried to the bedroom by those broad shoulders, my legs wrapped around his slim hips.
However, given enough ointment, there's always a fly.
"But..." he said.
Oh shit, here it comes.
"I just know if I asked you out you'd probably run a background check on me and unearth any skeletons I have in my closet. And I would never be able to lie to you. I mean, no one lies to Belinda Carson and gets away with it."
            Investigative reporter red flag alert. "Does that mean you lie to all the women you date?"
            "I didn't say that—"
            I leaned forward, eyes narrowed a bit. "But you have lied to women before or you wouldn't have brought it up."
            "Why do you think that?"
            "Your previous statement implies that you have been less than truthful with previous girlfriends. What aren't you telling me?"
            He looked to one side, flashed a crooked smile. "Geez, lady, turn it off."
            "Turn off what?"
            "The investigative reporter thing. What's next, hot lights and thumb screws?" He downed the rest of his drink and stood up. "Look, I don't think this is gonna work. It was nice meeting you, Belinda." He shook his head and smiled. "Wait till I tell the guys at the office I got interrogated by the Brass Cupcake."
            Yeah, that's my nickname in the Big Apple, courtesy of those clever headline writers at The Post. Great for journalism, a killer when trying to meet men.
            The colors returned to normal in the trendy watering hole. Half the crowd leaned against the brass rail running the length of the dark oak bar, while the tiffany lamps above the small round tables provided subdued light to the other half. My best friend Ariel Baymont slid her tall, willowy frame into the next chair and quickly noticed the previously occupied seat at our table was now empty. "What happened to the total package who was here five minutes ago?"
            I exhaled, shook my head and looked down into my nearly empty glass.
            "You did it again, didn't you?"
            "Yeah," I muttered, then slugged down the remainder of my rum concoction.
            "Trying to drown your sorrows?"
            "I would, but the little bastards have learned how to swim."
            She wrapped her arm around my shoulders and I leaned my head on hers. "Aw, sweetie, we're going to have to work on your bedside manner."
            "You're assuming a man has been remotely close to my bed."
            She pulled back and gave me a soulful look with her ice blue eyes. "Well, all is not lost. We'll try again this weekend. Anyway, the cute guy who was hitting on me earlier wants to go someplace where we can talk."
            "So you're taking him home."
            She shrugged, then started to twirl her shoulder length straight honey blonde hair with one finger. "We can talk there as well as anyplace."
            I raised one eyebrow. "Talk. Right."
            "You know, I can see why you're such a good reporter. You really are a human lie detector."
            "Yeah, I might as well change my name to Polly Graph."
            "Cute. Anyway, we still on for Saturday night?"
            "Thanks to my aforementioned bedside manner, my dance card is clear."
            She leaned over and kissed me on the side of the head. "Great. I'll see you then. Hang in there, Wing Girl."
            Before we go any farther, I should explain the "Wing Girl" concept and how it applies to me, since that is my current after hours nickname.
            As most women know, a good looking guy will often cruise the bars with a "wing man" at his side, the theory being that men in pairs can separate women in mismatched pairs (one attractive, one not), using a divide and conquer tactic designed to liberate the good looking woman from the skank. This presumes that the hot girl will not take off and leave her unattractive friend to fend for herself. The wing man swoops in like a dog after a pork chop and takes one for the team, chatting up the skank while his friend moves in on said hottie, who no longer feels obligated to keep her homely friend company and is thereby freed to engage in extracurricular activities.
            It's a little different for those without a Y chromosome, and totally opposite in my case. Here's the deal. When it comes to attracting the opposite sex, I am to my friends what a puppy is to a single guy.
Ariel and my circle of friends have dubbed me "Wing Girl" because I end up taking one for the team every time. However, the strategy my friends use is backwards. Since I am a very recognizable member of the media, it's a case of moths, meet flame. I'm not sure if it's the fame thing or the challenge of possibly nailing the Brass Cupcake, but it works, drawing in attractive men who I naturally turn off, leaving my friends with very delectable leftovers. My friends always end up with positive results while I finish the evening without so much as a request for a phone number. My Wing Girl moniker started out as a term of endearment, something fun, but lately it's beginning to wear thin.
            I don't mean to repel men like a Star Trek force field. Really, I don't. But as I approach the big three-oh, I'm beginning to wonder if I'll ever be able to drop my "prosecutor from hell" persona when I'm off the clock. And I really want to. Before that other clock, the biological one that's ticking louder every day, strikes twelve.
            Because, and don't ever tell my boss this, beneath the brass lies a real cupcake looking for her perfect icing.
~ * ~
Find Nic on the web at:
I've always been a writer of some sort, having spent my career working as a reporter, anchor or producer in television news. Fiction is a lot more fun, since you don't have to deal with those pesky things known as facts. I write RomComs for HarperCollins, along with thrillers and young adult novels.
I spent fifteen years as a television news reporter and anchor. My work has taken me from the floors of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions to Ground Zero in New York to Jay Leno's backyard. My stories have been seen on NBC, ABC and CNN. I still work as a freelance network field producer for FOX, NBC, CBS and ABC.
I grew up in the New York City metropolitan area and now live on the Gulf Coast where I will never shovel snow again. I'm happily married to a math teacher and we share our wonderful home with our tortoiseshell tabby cat, Gypsy.



Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Awesome interview, ladies. I'm a new author at RI. So new the contract hasn't been signed yet. I've enjoyed getting to know some of the RI authors. What an interesting and talented group of writers. Much luck to you, Nic. I loved reading your excerpt.

Unknown said...

I'm looking so forward to this read! :) Great post, Nic and AJ!

AJ Nuest said...

I know. I can't wait for this one either!! It's gonna be AWESOME! Thanks for being my guest today, Nic!