Saturday, January 11, 2014

Meet Celia Bonaduce, author of 'The Merchant of Venice Beach'

What was the inspiration behind this book?
My sister-in-law, a very practical and pragmatic paralegal had been taking dance lessons for years when she found out her tango instructor had quit the studio without saying goodbye. She was so upset by this betrayal, that she went into therapy. I thought that was just fascinating and kept trying to come up with a scenario that made some sense to me. When I finally had something – I realized I had a pretty cute story to tell – although it had nothing to do with my sister-in-law’s story by that time. I’m sure she’s very grateful for that!
Which character spoke to you the most during the writing process?
I’d say the character of Erinn spoke to me with the clearest voice. Everyone who knows me says the character sounds just like me but she is actually based on my father!
Which scene is your favorite?
I love the scene where Fernando presents his purple bread to Suzanna as a way of letting her know that he is feeling creatively stifled. I’m aggressive-aggressive by nature, so passive-aggressive behavior always interests me.
Will we see these characters again?
The Merchant of Venice Beach is part of a trilogy called The Venice Beach Romances. Some of the characters from every book show up in all the other books, but, just as in life, some move on.
Please tell us about your other books.
The Venice Beach Romances consist of The Merchant of Venice Beach, A Comedy of Erinn and Much Ado About Mother. In A Comedy of Erinn, Suzanna, who is the protagonist of book one, takes a backseat to Erinn, her older-by-a-decade sister, who is a has-been Broadway playwright who is in need of a professional and person make-over. In Much Ado About Mother, the sisters are joined by their mother, Virginia, who comes to Los Angeles for an “extended visit while she decided what she’s going to do with the rest of her life. Of course, she had lots of opinions about what her girls should be doing with THEIR lives! The books aren’t called The Venice Beach Romances for nothing – there is romance swirling around in all three novels!
On what projects are you currently working?
I’m in negotiations on a new book-related project, so I can’t really talk about it yet. And I’m still very busy with my amazing day-job as a traveling field producer on HGTV’s House Hunters.
You have done a lot of work in TV. How did you get involved in these shows?
I always tell people I got my first job in TV because I knew how to sew, not because I knew how to produce. I was interviewing with an entertainment company that produced a show on quilting and they needed someone who could “talk the talk” – I wowed them with my knowledge of “woof, weft and warp” and the rest is history.
What are the pros and cons of writing for TV versus writing a book?
I do “non-scripted” TV, so the work I do in my day job doesn’t require “writing’ in the traditional sense. But everything comes down to story. It doesn’t matter if you’re dong TV or novels, if you don’t have a compelling story, your audience is going to go to sleep.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
My parents were both professional writers, so words were always revered in our house. I can’t think of a time when writing was NOT of interest to me. I happen to know that last sentence has a double negative in it…but it is exactly what I meant!

Contemporary Romance
Date Published:

The Rollicking Bun--Home of the Epic Scone--is the center of Suzanna Wolf's life. Part tea shop, part bookstore, part home, it's everything she's ever wanted right on the Venice Beach boardwalk, including partnership with her two best friends from high school, Eric and Fernando. But with thirty-three just around the corner, suddenly Suzanna wants something more--something strictly her own. Salsa lessons, especially with a gorgeous instructor, seem like a good start--a harmless secret, and just maybe the start of a fling. But before she knows it, Suzanna is learning steps she never imagined--and dancing her way into confusion.

Read an excerpt:
Suzanna was in a panic. After several futile attempts at looking for shoes on-line, it became clear she was never going to have enough alone time to really investigate the subject properly. All the research she did manage just brought about more questions, not less and Suzanna had to admit that she really needed some expert help in finding the right shoes. Now her first salsa lesson was looming, and she had somehow not managed to find the time to go to Dante’s Dancewear. She didn’t know exactly what she wanted, but she knew she couldn’t show up at the studio in the wrong shoes…whatever that meant!

Slipping away from The Bun as soon as the afternoon tea crowd had settled down, Suzanna pointed her Smart Car towards Westwood Boulevard, where Dante’s Dancewear beckoned. Suzanna walked noiselessly into the store, ready to appear confident and assured. After all, she didn’t know everything, but she knew she wanted “character shoes.”

“You don’t want character shoes,” said the stone-faced skeleton behind the counter.

It’s times like these when Suzanna remembered why she never left her comfort zone. When she was managing The Bun or hanging out with Fernando and Eric, curve balls like this were never hurled at her. The little self-doubts pricked at her like tiny toothpicks, but she pulled myself together, arched an eyebrow and breathed… “Oh?”

“A character shoe has a leather sole. You want a suede sole for classes.”

“Oh,” she paused emphatically. And then, because she couldn’t stand not knowing, added, “Why?”

“The suede glides on the wood floor,” she replied, “and a suede soled shoe is lighter and easier to dance in for long periods of time.”

It took Suzanna a moment to let go of her character-shoes-dream, but since her character-shoes-dream was only about a week old, she found she could easily replace it with the new, more dance-centric suede-sole dance-shoes dream. Because, make no mistake, she planned on dancing for long periods of time!

She asked the skeleton to show her some suede-soled dance shoes that would lend themselves to sensuous salsa. “What color?” She asked.

Red? Too showy. White? Too virginal.

“Black!” Suzanna said.

“You don’t want black.”

Suzanna left Dante’s Dancewear a little more unsteady and a lot less sure of herself than when she entered, but she had to congratulate herself. She had bought her dance shoes.

They were beige.

Apparently in the dance world, one referred to “shoes” in the singular. You bought a “shoe” and somehow your other foot magically got shod. According to the skeleton, one did not want a shoe that stood out. One wanted a shoe that blended in. Suzanna argued that the whole point of dance lessons was that she was damn SICK of fitting in. The skeleton replied that she wanted her form and herself to stand out – not her feet.

“Beige hides footwork mistakes,” she said.

So Suzanna bought beige.

Suzanna clicked off the alarm in her Smart Car and hid her clandestine purchase in what was passing for a trunk in the vehicle that was passing for a car. Suzanna wondered briefly if the hot dance instructor would be impressed with her wise choice of a beige shoe. She looked down at her iPhone calendar – she’d find out in less than 4 hours.

Buy links

Also available from eKensington

Find Celia Bonaduce

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