Thursday is so insanely close to Friday you just can’t help but party, and today we have an absolutely *delicious* book to pass around the appetizer table. My guest is Camryn Rhys, and her book OFF THE RECORD is a sexy foodie romance that’s to DIE for! Even better, one reader will get a personal taste because Camryn has been generous enough to offer an ebook copy up for grabs. (**CONTEST CLOSED** Congratulations to Melissa / welachild(at)etc on your win!) Details follow her interview, so wipe the chocolate sauce off your chin and try not to spill your wine. This is FABULOUS stuff!
Welcome, Camryn, and thanks for bringing along a copy of your new release! OFF THE RECORD is a mega-hot foodie romance, which will come as no surprise considering you have a ton of experience in the restaurant industry as well as advanced degrees in writing. So—pardon the chicken or the egg reference—which came first? Food or romance?
I ask myself that *all* the time. And the best answer I’ve come up with yet is: it depends. I hate to cop out like that, but it depends on the story. In my last book, the food definitely came first. But I think for Emily and Kit, the romance came first. Of course, they were in the grocery store when they fell in lust, and Kit was holding $300 of cheese in her hands. But still, I think the romance came first.
I am now wondering if I’ve ever seen $300 worth of cheese, let alone held it. (Who knew I had a cheese fetish? Hey–you in the back—hush!) As a major plot point, OFF THE RECORD features a burning review from a food critic. Have you ever dealt with such criticism during your time in the restaurant business? How did this experience (or lack thereof) shape the way you wrote the scenario for your characters?
Oh definitely. And while this particular situation didn’t happen to me (I won’t ruin it… but Emily didn’t actually write the scathing review of Kit’s restaurant), I’ve had my share of people who didn’t love my food. It’s a strange experience, as an artist, when someone’s arbitrary taste has so much of an effect on the way your product is received. It’s not unlike writing, actually, where a book blogger or book reviewer might have that kind of power over my writing product.
But I think the way it shaped how I wrote Emily and Kit was based on one of my good friends’ real-life experiences. She opened a restaurant in a very small town and one critic’s harsh review devastated her opening, because of who the critic was in the community. Having experienced the fear and conflict with her, it gave me a lot of insight into Kit’s character. I hope it made her more authentic.
That’s harsh enough to think about in a fictional capacity. For your friend … just, ouch. I hope she went on to enjoy a lot of success with her restaurant! According to your bio, you split time between the Rocky Mountain regions on either side of the American/Canadian border. Do you find there’s much of a difference between the two areas, or are they very much alike? Does the cuisine differ when you cross the border? And speaking of food, what are the dining faves of the region?
Personally, I feel like the areas are very similar. Of course, there are cultural differences, but I think that someone from Calgary will have more in common with someone from Spokane than they will with someone from New Brunswick. That may be because I’ve lived in both places, but I really think they’re quite similar.
The dining faves of the region. Great question. While there are vibrant vegetarian restaurants everywhere, the west is definitely known for its high quality beef. And the Grade A Angus beef around here, especially when it’s fresh, is unbelievable. My family used to buy a cow every year to have our meat for the year, and having that first fresh steak is just unreal.
I’ll vouch for the fresh meat! ‘Round here, we grow our own critters . . . and now I want steak, LOL! If a reader is unfamiliar with your work, which of your books would you suggest he or she read first? Why?
Well, I only have one other book out right now. In a couple of months, I’ll have two more in addition to Off the Record, and potentially three more. Both books are foodie romance, so that’s the element I like to focus on. However, The Barn Dance doesn’t take place in a professional kitchen, so there’s a homey element to it, which I like.
How much do I love having a go-to author for foodie romance? (Very much! LOL.) Love the homey element, girl! Have you ever made big changes in your story because someone – your crit partner, a friend, or beta reader – really didn’t like it? Are you glad you did (or didn’t)?
Oh, definitely. One of my cps really hated the opening of Off the Record. So much that she didn’t finish reading the book. I went back and looked at the beginning, rewrote pieces of it, cut pieces of it, sent both versions to two other cps and asked them their opinions. They both liked the original version better, which is the version that got published. Both my editors loved the book, so I have to hope I made the right decision. It’s always hard to go against the advice of someone you trust, so it’s always an adventure, no matter what decision you make. But in general, I still trust that cp’s advice, and still send her my stuff. I think it was just not her style. Like I said, time will tell. J
Wow. I bet that was a difficult decision for you, but it sounds like you’ve got a fantastic story out there as a result! And speaking of what’s out there, what can readers look for next?
I’m currently working on a series of Westerns, in a project with a few other Decadent Press authors. We’ve been confabbing about them for awhile, and we’re all just about done. So we’re really excited about the series. If you follow my blog, you’ll get a chance to see more of it.
Confabbing. How much do I freaking LOVE that word? And Westerns. I love westerns, and cowboys (well, mine), and horses. Sign me the heck UP! And while I’m wiping the drool off my chin, let’s give readers a closer look at OFF THE RECORD. Y’all don’t forget to comment for a chance to win it!
OFF THE RECORD | Camryn Rhys
Lust strikes as their eyes meet over a basket of overpriced Roquefort.
Surprised to meet chef Kit Parker at the grocery store, Emily goes undercover to Kit’s restaurant that very night, only to crave more than her cooking. As a food critic, Emily finds it hard to resist the delectable cuisine or the busty, punky chef who created it.
Kit believes she’s met the woman of her dreams, but her new lover is hiding something. When a scathing review hits right before grand opening, all blame points to Emily. Will their relationship fizzle before it sizzles?
What’s your favorite foodie indulgence? Leave a comment with a valid email address for a chance to win an e-copy of OFF THE RECORD.