"Dancing Naked in Dixie"- interview with Lauren Clark

Dancing Naked in Dixie  Lauren Clark

1) Can you give us a brief overview of DANCING NAKED IN DIXIE?

In essence, it's a story about finding happiness in the most unlikely of places. When the story begins, New York City travel writer Julia Sullivan is sent to Eufaula, Alabama to cover the annual Pilgrimage and she's not happy about it! When she arrives, though, she's soon charmed by the quaint area -- only to discover that a developer is planning to raze the city's historic landmarks.

2) What's your favorite quality about your hero/heroine?

Julia is smart, resourceful, and energetic--she always has the best of intentions--but often acts before she thinks. That impulsiveness gets her into a LOT of trouble!!

3) What made you want to write this book?

I lived near Eufaula, Alabama for several years and always enjoyed attending the annual historic Pilgrimage, which is a weekend-long tour of antebellum homes and gorgeous landmarks. It's a magical time of year--everything's in bloom--the weather is great! I always thought that the city would make a wonderful setting for a novel. In fact, the movie, "Sweet Home Alabama," (Reese Witherspoon) used shots of Eufaula's historic district!

4) What are you working on now?

I am researching for my next novel, Pie Girls, which will follow a girl who's gone off to a big city (like Atlanta or New York) and vows NEVER to come home. She's forced to return to Greensboro, though, when her romantic relationship falls apart. Since she's burned a lot of bridges, it will be interesting to see how she makes amends.

5) What comes first for you -- character idea, plot idea?

It's always an idea ... or a 'What if' question. For example, Stay Tuned was a "What if two anchors got into a fistfight on live television...what would happen next?" Dancing Naked in Dixie was a "What if a big city travel writer was forced to go on assignment to the Deep South or lose her job?"

6) How do you think of titles?

Stay Tuned came from being in the television business for a long time. I wanted something catchy, short, and easy to remember. Dancing Naked in Dixie jumped into my head one day when I was thinking about a novel about a travel writer who comes to Eufaula. My first idea was to have the protagonist discover some fabulous "dessert" or treat that was so good it made everyone want to dance naked! The more I thought about it, though, I felt it would be straying too much from the plotline that needed to be Julia's journey--a physical journey from New York to Eufaula, Alabama, but also a personal journey of growth and discovery about herself and her own family.

7) What are your thoughts on love scenes in books?  Do you prefer to read/write sweet/romantic encounters between your hero and heroine or spicy ones?

After just finishing Book 2 in the Shades of Gray series, I'm definitely in the prude camp! I had a racy strip-tease seduction scene in Stay Tuned, but I don't want to write anything that would make my mother blush or my grandmother come back from the grave to wash my mouth out with soap!

8) Who are the authors who inspire you?

Love Sophie Kinsella...she's so funny! I adore Jennifer Weiner and Emily Giffin, as well as Lisa See, Abraham Verghese, and Michelle Richmond. I think Stephen King is brilliant, though I'm not a horror fan. The Green Mile is so moving, as is the short story he wrote which was made into "The Shawshank Redemption" movie. His book, On Writing, is witty and truthful!

9) What genres do you like to read?  Do you stick to one or are you eclectic in your reading tastes?   I vary my reading--mostly between Chick Lit and Thrillers. I've been on a Lisa Gardner kick lately. I'm desperately waiting for Juliette Sobanet's third in the Paris series. I tore through Stieg Larsson's series, as well as Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games (loved her trilogy for the strong heroine).

10) What was the last book you read that really WOW'd yo

I was impressed by James Patterson's Guilty Wives. It's not his usual serial killer repartee and I was captivated by the story. Alice Hoffman's The Dovekeepers was also amazing, detailed, and very moving.

Smart, Sassy Fiction with a Southern Twist

Lauren Clark is the author of Stay Tuned and Dancing Naked in Dixie. She writes contemporary novels set in the Deep South; stories sprinkled with sunshine, suspense, and secrets.

A former TV news anchor, Lauren adores flavored coffee, local book stores, and anywhere she can stick her toes in the sand. Her big loves are her family, paying it forward, and true-blue friends. Check out her website at www.laurenclarkbooks.com.