Alexis: Hi Beate. Welcome to Happily Ever After Thoughts. Thank you so much for coming. Your website is entitled “Happy Books.” I’m guessing there is a story behind this. Am I right?
Beate: Absolutely. My first name is of Latin origin and translates as “Happy”, and my last name means “Books” in a northern German dialect. I never even noticed what a fitting name I have until my husband surprised me one day with the information that he had now created a website for me that was called http://www.happybooks.de/
Alexis: Wow, talk about fate. I guess you were meant to write books with happy endings :-) But you live in Germany, so why did you decide to publish with an American publisher?
Beate: I wrote my very first novel in German. That only makes sense, as I'm a native German speaker. However, when I realized that I might need a teeny bit of help to make it perfect and tried to learn more about the craft of writing, I realized that most of the information was available in English only and geared toward the US market. Luckily, I have studied English and felt comfortable writing in that language, so I finally decided to write another novel all in English. I'm glad I made that decision because I would still not be published if I had stuck to German.
But I have yet another other reason why I like to write in English. It's a lot easier to write a love scene in English than in German. I don't know why, but if you express your feelings in English, people are touched. If you express them in German, they will roll their eyes and say “my, aren't we being emotional today.”
Alexis: Oh, that is too funny. I guess there are a few cultural differences to be aware of. So what is A Little Bit of Passion about?
Beate: It's about Karen, a woman who's fiercely independent. She has organized her life in two perfect halves – she's a skiing instructor in winter and sells books in her partially owned bookstore on Long Island in summer. Her best friend Leslie owns the other half of her bookstore, and she writes e-mails to her whenever something exciting happens in her life. That's why the entire book is written in the form of e-mails. But then Karen meets John and realizes that she has to give up some of her independence if she wants to be with him – but she dreads that due to her personal history.
Alexis: I’m sure a lot of readers will be able to relate to Karen’s predicament. Where did you get the idea for this story?
Beate: I went skiing as a child and loved it, and every autumn, as the first snowflakes fall, I yearn for glistening mountains and frosty winter air. That's how it all started – I wanted to transport myself into that world. And then the book took on a life of its own, and suddenly, I was deep inside this struggle and just couldn't stop. It was a bit like a fever – I had to continue with hot cheeks and hot ears, even if it was getting late.
Alexis: I completely understand that place where you just can’t stop writing the story going on in your head. That is so fun! So, what are your favorite character traits of Karen and John?
Beate: I love Karen's humor and the way she describes things. She makes a lot of fun of herself, and I found myself chuckling so often while writing it. About John, I love that he's patient and gives her the freedom she needs.
Alexis: A guy after my own heart ;-) What kind of research did you have to do for this novel?
Beate: I poured over maps of the Teton Mountain Range and looked for hours at ski trails and lifts and that kind of thing. I also checked pictures to get a feeling for the place and had to find the closest airport and hospital to my chosen location.
Alexis: Of course, being over there in Germany, I’m sure you know all about snow, but specific trails and the locations of specific facilities would definitely need research. We tend to think of research as only for historical authors, but contemporary authors must do some too. But this isn’t your first book. What other books have you had published?
Beate: Two other contemporary romances, both with Avalon Books, too. One is called Wings to Fly, and the other Take My Place. Take My Place was nominated for the Golden Quill Award in 2010.
Alexis: Do you have any other romance novels in the works that we can look forward to?
Beate: Yes, I do. Avalon already has two other manuscripts to decide on, and I've started to write a series that mixes mystery and romance. I haven't yet sold this one, but I have endless fun creating it.
Alexis: Thank you so much for visiting Happily Ever After Thoughts. We like talking about romance novels here and learning about the wonderful authors from around the world who write them :-)
Beate: And I love to talk to other authors and readers all over the world! The Internet is a fascinating thing – this would not have been possible twenty years ago. Thank you for inviting me as your guest!
Alexis: For more information on Beate, visit her at http://www.happybooks.de/ Check out this excerpt from Beate's book, A Little Bit of Passion.
Teton Mountain Range
Do you remember the guy who made me think for the first time that I’m too old to teach skiing? I was so glad when he finished his course last year and took his turtle-y head elsewhere.
Well, he’s back.
I greeted my new ten o’clock group this morning, and the instant I finished presenting myself, he sidled out from behind someone else’s back and stared at me with his half closed eyes. A shiver ran down my spine, and I’m sure I looked as if I had discovered a huge spider amongst the Easter eggs. He must have hidden at the guest-house this morning, or I would have been on my guard.
I turned my back on him as soon as I could, but I knew he continued watching me, his head swiveling from left to right like a hundred year old turtle. That image really fits, right down to the wrinkles all over the face and the folds in the neck. You can’t imagine how stiffly I moved all at once, like a wooden doll, waiting for his first filthy comment.
I didn’t have to wait long. Just as I showed them how to swing into an arc, he muttered in that penetrating voice of his, “Show me again how to swing that hip, baby. It’s so inspiring.”
I ignored him with clenched teeth.
But of course he didn’t let go. He lifted his voice and repeated: “Baby, I said show me again how to swing that hip. I’m here to learn, and you’re here to teach.”
The group stared at him.
A woman called Minnie started to giggle.
I fixed the turtle with a stare as hard as I could. “My name is Karen.”
“Oh, my, baby, I’m so sorry. I forgot. I thought you’d given me leave to call you some other names.”
What could I say? The management has made it clear to me that I have to keep the customers happy no matter what. Every time I complain about the turtle or other types, they say I should “endeavor to be a little bit more skilled in the art of flirting”. After all, the other instructors don’t complain, so it must be me, right? Why, oh why, do so many men think the skiing teacher is part of the package tour?
I closed my eyes and tried to remember why I love my job. The purple mountains. The air like chilled white wine. The joy of flying across the snow. Meeting many wonderful people, teaching them how to ski better. And the nasty ones don’t stay long, so it’s easy to bear. Usually.
I knew I had to put a stop to it right away; he would only make it worse if I laid down now. “I can’t remember giving you leave to call me anything but Karen,” I said and swished around to show them the arc once again.
Without giving them time for comment, I made them go through the motions. It’s a mixed group, aged from thirteen to fifty, I would say. I’ll separate them into beginners and advanced tomorrow, but unfortunately, I have promised Steve to take the advanced group this time, and the turtle is advanced, there’s no denying that.
When I asked the turtle to take his turn, he managed to brush by me and yelled, “Oh, my, I’m so sorry, Kare-een, I lost my footing.”
My face burnt so much, it’s a wonder I didn’t melt a hole into the snow, but I clenched my teeth and didn’t comment.
Next came the youngest of the group. He made a very creditable arc, and when he pushed past me on his way back, I said “Well done”.
The youngster cast me a glance and said in a low voice “Don’t mind that jerk.”
Underneath his red cap two gray eyes fixed me earnestly. He has lashes every female will envy, thick and long and straight. But what floored me was the spattering of freckles across his nose.
I swallowed and promised myself to dispatch the turtle somehow, to avoid spoiling that kid’s Easter holiday.
So if you read about the murder of a turtle in the Teton Mountain Range, make sure you get a good attorney, because it’ll be hard to wriggle out of this one.