DARLENE PANZERA is the author of “sweet, fun-loving romance”. Her latest release, SPRINKLED WITH KISSES, is the fifth in her Cupcake Diaries series. Born in New Jersey, she is a resident of the Pacific Northwest where her stories take place.
Q: Tell us about your new release.
THE CUPCAKE DIARIES: SPRINKLED WITH KISSES is a sweet, fun-loving beach read. Stacey McIntyre is a cousin to the original three women who started Creative Cupcakes. As she manages a mobile cupcake stand in Cannon Beach, Oregon, she dreams of sunshine, warm sand, and a safe place to stay. Instead, she fearfully learns the area was once flooded by a tsunami, her cupcakes are attacked by a flock of seagulls, and she becomes rivals with Dave Wright, the handsome owner of an ice cream truck bent on stealing away her sales. Now…not only does she have to help Creative Cupcakes win the state cupcake competition, but she has to find a way to convince Mr. Wright that working together can lead to sweeter rewards.
Q: With so many books on the market, many of them involving food, what makes yours stand out?
My books are not the typical “foodie.” They are not a baking ‘How-To.’ Each novella in the series includes a cupcake recipe in the back pages, but these stories focus on the characters and what they have to overcome to reach their dreams. They are humorous, light-hearted, and fluffy, but underneath there is a deeper layer of real emotion and a focus on core family values.
Q: Do you read the same genre you write?
I read a wide variety of genres, but I do keep coming back to romances that feature fun witty banter between the hero and heroine. I love to see how each of them will respond next and how they will fall in love.
Q: What books have most influenced your life?
The Bible for my life values, the Trixie Beldon young adult mysteries for fun and hooks, Judith McNaught novels for deep emotion and witty banter, Debbie Macomber series for small town family relationships, and all how-to-write books by Donald Maass. I try to incorporate all of these into my own writing.
Q: Have you had an interesting experience in the research of one of your books?
In SPRINKLED WITH KISSES (Book 5), my heroine, Stacey, carries an emergency backpack because she is a tornado survivor and fears natural disasters. I didn’t know when I placed the setting in Cannon Beach that they’d once had an earthquake triggered tsunami in 1964 with 27 ft. waves that took out the main bridge north of town and flooded the area. This happened to be perfect for the storyline. During research, I found that the town has a tsunami warning system broadcast over the town – one that sounds like an obnoxiously loud, tormented cow mooing. You can listen at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E52UHuPsytY
This is the test sound, if the tsunami threat were real this would be replaced with a loud siren. I thought – what fun? What if my heroine did not know this? I quickly wrote the unique mooing cow noise into the story and I think it is one of the funniest scenes.
Q: What is the one question you wish an interviewer would ask you?
I’d like to be asked, ‘How did you come up with your sub-titles for Sweet on You, Recipe for Love, Taste of Romance, Spoonful of Christmas, and Sprinkled with Kisses? So I can tell my readers a secret: each sub-title consists of three words, the first having to do with baking such as ‘Sweet,’ ‘Recipe,’ ‘Taste,’ ‘Spoonful,’ and ‘Sprinkled.’ But if you put the last word of the first three titles of the series together it spells: You Love Romance!
Q: Which character would you like to be friends with in RL?
I would like to be friends with all of the main characters in THE CUPCAKE DIARIES. Although each one is unique, I think I can connect with each of them in some way, they each contain a small piece of me. And one of the main themes of the stories is friendship. They all have different personalities, strengths, and hang-ups like the rest of us, but it is their unfailing bond that invites me in story after story and makes me wish I could sit down in their kitchen and eat cupcakes with them.