Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Fishing for Love

This week we are featuring Leigh Duncan, and her new Harlequin American Romance, The Daddy Catch.  I first met Leigh several years ago while visiting a friend in Florida.  I have to say she is one of the nicest, sweetest people I've ever met.  Even though it was our first introduction, I immediately thought "this is the kind of woman I would hang out with if I lived in Florida."  She is down to earth and considerate of others.  Yet she walks with quiet confidence.  I only wished I wasn't clear across the country where I rarely get a chance to see her in person.

Even with all these great personal qualities, the real reason you should read Leigh's books is because they are just darn good. Her books are charming, heartwarming, and uplifting.  Most of all they are romances that make you feel good. When I finish one of her books I just want to curl up and say Thank You.

Here's the blurb for The Daddy Catch.

More than hooks and lines are in the lesson plans when an upcoming fishing trip with his new business partners forces a hunky thoracic surgeon to hire a feisty fly fishing guide.  Dan Hamilton is a foster care success story whose wildest dreams are within reach when he’s asked to join in building a medical center on Florida’s east coast.  Widowed Jessica Cofer wants little more than to help her young son grow into an honest man and preserve the natural beauty of Phelps Cove. Their temperatures rise faster than mercury on a summer day...until she learns the handsome doctor has his eye on more than her curves—he plans to steal the land from under her feet.

Maggie,  thanks so much for inviting me to Behind the Book.  I’m thrilled to be here today.  Before we get started, though, congratulations on your just-released book, Eternity, and the upcoming release of Expendable.  They both sound like winners!

Well thanks, Leigh.  I certainly hope the readers see it that way too. :)  So, let's get on with this interview. After all, this week is all about you and your wonderful Harlequin American Romances.

So, what was the initial spark that put this story in your head?

THE DADDY CATCH actually started out as an entry in a short story contest.  My husband had stumbled across an ad for the Robert Traver award in one of his fly fishing magazines.  This contest offered an amazing thousand-dollar prize for a story about fly fishing.  Hubby challenged me to enter—more as a dare than anything else, since I’d been writing, writing, writing and not selling, not selling, not selling.   Over the next couple of months, I wrote a mistaken identity story that revolved around a doctor who spies a fly fisher on his way to work.  Her grace and beauty inspire him to take up fly fishing, but he’s a smug sort who’s certain he’ll master the sport without help.  When he visits a fly fishing shop, he quickly realizes three things—the owner is the lovely woman he saw in the river; he needs her help in learning how to cast; and, by the end of their first lesson, that he’s made his “catch of a lifetime.” 

Unfortunately, I missed the deadline for submission that year.  And by the time the contest rolled around again, the judging committee had switched gears.  Instead of fiction, they wanted essays about fly fishing. 

So, that short story collected dust in my desk drawer until after I sold my first book (THE OFFICER'S GIRL, April 2010).  When my editor asked, “What else do you have?” I pulled that short story out and took a hard look at what parts of it would work for Harlequin American.  There wasn’t much, except for the germ of the idea—a woman fly fishing guide and a doctor.    

I loved The Officer's Girl!  I'm so glad you had another idea and could develop it.  I must admit, I've never read a romance before where fly fishing is a key element. Congrats!

It seems that most authors use something from their own lives, or the lives of people they know as an integral part of the story.  Is there anything in this story like that?  If so, what?

Several years ago, I took a Voice class from Barbara Samuel O’Neal.  Up until that time, I’d tried very hard to weed my personal experiences out of my manuscripts.  But in that class, Barbara taught us to use our experiences, to incorporate them in our writing.  What a valuable lesson that was!

Hubby and I both love to fish, although we approach it differently.  I’m one of those throw-out-a-hook-kick-back-and read-a-book types.  He’s an avid fly fisher.  We’ve both caught our share of fish and love the exhilaration of something huge on the other end of the line.  And we both practice catch-and-release, returning our fish to the water so they can brag to all their friends about the big one they got away from. 

I pulled from all of those experiences in writing THE DADDY CATCH.  When Jess takes her little boy to Phelps Cove where she hopes he’ll catch his first red fish, I called upon my own memories of fishing for reds.  Those fish are notoriously skittish so, of course, our hero Dan, startled the school, costing Jess’s son Adam his catch-of-a-lifetime and setting up the conflict for the rest of the story. 

Is there a particular scene in this book that you really loved when you finished it? Which one and why?

The very last one.  This scene wasn’t part of the manuscript when I submitted THE DADDY CATCH.   But my editor thought the book needed a more romantic, more emotional ending.  She was right!  Now, I can’t read that last chapter without getting all teary-eyed.  And I wonder how I could ever have thought the book was finished without it. 

You seem to have found a home with Harlequin American Romance.  What is it about this line that fits what you want to write?

 Each of the Harlequin lines has its own focus, its own heat level.  Harlequin American romances are set against the backdrop of home, family and community.  That means children and small towns are almost always features of our stories, both of which I love to write.  These books are a little shorter than some of the other lines and because of that, we don’t have a lot of subplots or extra characters that could distract from the primary focus, the romance.  I love that about Harlequin American Romance.

What's next for you?  Can you tell us about any upcoming releases?  Will you be traveling in the next few months where readers can find you?

Right now, my editor is looking at my next two proposals for Harlequin American.  The first one is a reunion/second chance at love story with a heroine I absolutely love.  Mandy grew up on the professional rodeo circuit, but walked away from that life to go to school and become a lawyer.  Sparks fly when her client sues Mandy’s first love for custody of his daughter.  I’m not sure which story I like better.  That one, or the one that takes place during an old-fashioned cattle drive across the heart of Florida.  Both sound like the perfect fit for Harlequin American, don’t they? 

Yes, they both sound perfect.  If your editor is smart, she'll take both of them!

As for travel, other than a quick appearance at the Florida Panhandle RWA chapter and a book signing next weekend (June 18th), I’ll be sticking close to home this summer while I work on those next two projects.  On July 24th, though, you can catch me at Fish Tales and Cocktails, a fund-raiser for Casting for Recovery, a group that sends breast cancer survivors on fly fishing retreats.  I also have a full slate of blog appearances.  You can read about those on the News Page of my website at www.leighduncan.com

As always, you amaze me, Leigh!  Great stories and now a great charity as well.
You can get Leigh Duncan's book, The Daddy Catch, at any of these fine retailers.  Add it to your summer reading list.  You will be truly happy you did!

Books a Million


Diana Quincy said...

I love your title and how it plays on the whole fishing angle of the story! Good luck with THE DADDY CATCH. I look forward to reading it.

roxanne said...

Oh, one of my favorite authors at one of my favorite blogs! Great interview, Leigh. I read THE DADDY CATCH this weekend, and I have to say it is romantic, heartwarming, adorable, and a pure pleasure to read. You nailed the single mom and gave both characters such deep and compelling motivations and PERFECT conflict. And you made Florida absolutely dreamy! (Which it is, mostly.) Congrats on this awesome new release!


Judy said...

I've got the Daddy Catch on top of my pile as a reward for getting some work done on my own stuff. Leigh, I had to laugh when you said you use personal experiences in your story and went on to talk about a cattle drive across Central Florida. Can't wait for that one to come out!! LOL Good luck with all you're writing! Everyone loves it!!

Leigh Duncan said...

Diana, it's so nice to be here on Behind the Book this morning. I appreciate your stopping by and hope you enjoy The Daddy Catch.

Leigh Duncan said...

Roxanne, this IS a fabulous blog, isn't it? I've just discovered it and I wonder why I didn't know about it before. I'll be stopping by here on a regular basis from now on, that's for sure.

I'm so, so glad you enjoyed The Daddy Catch. Coming from such a terrific writer, author of what? 26 books (each better than the last!), that's very high, very humbling praise.

Leigh Duncan said...

Judy, a cattle drive isn't quite as far-fetched as it sounds. As a kid, I spent practically every summer on my grandmother's farm in southern Alabama. No, we didn't have horses or go on cattle drives, but we sure herded a lot of cows from one pasture to the next. For specific details about cattle drives though, I'll be calling on my cousins who own cattle ranches in S. Florida. :)

Lyn said...

I loved THE DADDY CATCH. It is a wonderful story with great characters, and really conveys your love for fishing and the need to preserve our native habitat. You can't help but feel wonderful after you've read this story. I love your writing Leigh. I always feel happy when I'm done. :) I can't wait for your next books.

June said...

Leigh, I loved The Daddy Catch. I could recommend a better book to curl up with in the air conditioning. -- June

Kristen Painter said...

The Daddy Catch is an awesome book! And Leigh's an awesome writer. Some smart publisher should sign her up for some single titles. ;o)

Love the blog, Maggie!

Kara said...

Leigh, fabulous interview! I have The Daddy Catch waiting and begging to be read! I can't wait to start it, as I know I won't be able to put it down (just like The Officer's Girl :) ) Your stories are so touching and make-you-feel-good reads. Looking forward to more and more!

Leigh Duncan said...

Lyn, what wonderful compliments. I probably should say, "Oh, stop," but seriously? I enjoy hearing that readers love my books!

(And I appologize for the delay in getting back to you. My computer turned stubborn and uncooperative this afternoon. But fear not, another one is on order!)

Leigh Duncan said...

June, And if the weather on the Gulf side of the state is anything like it is here on the east coast, we need all the air conditioning we can get. Stay cool. Keep reading.

Leigh Duncan said...

Does everyone know about Kristen's fantastic urban fantasy series, Blood Rights? I had the great, great priviledge of reading an early draft of the first book, and I was totally blown away. Awesome doesn't even begin to describe it. How will we ever wait till October?

Leigh Duncan said...

Kara, thanks so much for swinging by. You'll have to make Maggie's Behind the Book blog a regular stop. I know I have!

Maria Geraci said...

The Florida Panhandle chapter is so looking forward to seeing you again this weekend! I can't wait to read The Daddy Catch :)

Leigh Duncan said...

Maria, I don't know which of us is more excited about this weekend. We're going to have a great time in Tallahassee this weekend!

Leigh Duncan said...

To everyone who stopped by today, to everyone who commented, and most of all, to our wonderful hostess here at Behind the Book, many thanks! Your kind words and warm thoughts have made this day special.

Cynthia D'Alba said...

Late to party.

Leigh is a wonderful, gracious person who I am thrilled to call friend. Her writing is always family-friendly and emotionally satisfying.

I agree with you. Her editor should snap up her next two books pronto

Paty Jager said...

I enjoy meeting authors through this blog. Great interview.

Maggie Jaimeson said...

Wow, Leigh, I think you've had the most posts of any author yet. Congratulations! I must say, I just finished reading this book and it is everything the others have mentioned and more. I was particularly touched by the foster care angle. My grandmother and my aunt took in foster children all of my growing up years (helping more than 40 foster children between them). In my early adult life, I took in foster girls who had "aged out" of the system at 16, 17, and 18. So, this theme really touched me. Great job!