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Click image to uncover the thrilling story behind Imari Jade's STRANGE PACKAGING.

Welcome to Friday! We’re kicking off the weekend with a truly original, fresh plot from my fellow Noble author Imari Jade. Her romance STRANGE PACKAGING is an attention-grabbing story with an important theme from which we can all learn, but it’s so much more. Take a peek inside this engaging tale . . . I bet you’ll like what you see.

Welcome, Imari! While reading your bio, I was struck by one point. You wrote your first holiday novel in TEN DAYS? That’s amazing! How in the world did you do that? How many hours a day did you put into writing to finish so quickly?

I don’t think I slept during that time.  Normally I write my books in long hand and then type them, but if I remember correctly I was on a short deadline so I had to type the book directly into the program. Lucky for me, at the time I typed about 100wpm, and before I knew it I had written and edited the book. Looking back at it now I think I must have had fewer disturbances in my life.

I am so impressed. I seriously wish I could write (know what I want to write, that is) as quickly as I can type. I think you’re my hero! You’re here to promote STRANGE PACKAGING. Can you introduce our readers to the story?

Strange Packaging is my first Young Adult novel. It’s about a half American/half Korean singer by the name of Micha West who has been recruited by a Korean entertainment manager and brought to Korea to be a part of an up and coming pop group, Revolution.  Despite what manager Hyun-Gi Rahn says, the current leader of the group,  arrogant and spoiled Ran-Hanuel doesn’t think his group needs a fourth male singer, since Hyun-Gi originally went to America to recruit a female lead. Micha is about the right height and has the perfect look for the group, but if Revolution was going to take on a new member it had to be a girl so they could compete against the rival band Sensei, who was rocking the crowd with their female lead singer Sun-Jae Na. And he doesn’t really know if Micha can even sing. Micha finally gets a chance to audition for Revolution and knocks the three male members off their feet with his deep sultry voice.

This is such a fresh, original story idea—I love it! What might readers be surprised to learn about the plot or characters of STRANGE PACKAGING?

Big spoiler.  After a bit of inspection, the members of Revolution discover that Micha West is actually a young lady named Michaella West who likes to dress like a boy. Hyun-Gi gets the last laugh and didn’t tell Ran-Hanuel that Micha was a girl just to see if he could tell the difference. The theme of the story is be comfortable in your own skin. Micha likes to wear jeans, sports jerseys and boots because she is comfortable in it. It isn’t a problem in the beginning until Ran-Hanuel takes Micha shopping in a big mall in Seoul and the fans think he’s out on a date with a guy. It doesn’t make matters any easier that Micha doesn’t try to clear up the misunderstanding.  So, besides trying to win a million dollar singing competition against Sensei, Ran-Hanuel must try to clear up his image and keep the other two male members of the group, Shin-Chang and Lee-Chul from dating Micha. Hyun-Gi transforms Micha into a beautiful Diva for her debut. Everyone likes her new look, except for Micha.

I love the theme and how it ties in with her not liking her new Diva look. Very clever! Let’s have some fun with STRANGE PACKAGING. What’s the first sentence?

“This better be worth it,” Hyun-Gi Rahn, manager of Elegance Entertainment said to the talent scout, Narm Seung as she followed him up the stairs to seats in a local high school auditorium in Los Angeles.

Great set up! That line immediately draws in your reader (says a reader, LOL.) What’s your favorite line in the book?

Hyun-Gi has just discovered that Micha is a girl. And as a manager she’s always looking for a new fresh face and a way to make money.

A gender-bender, Hyun Gi thought as she sat back down and tried to hide her smile. This is positively fantastic.

LOL! That sounds right on the money, too. ;c) How about an excerpt … three sentences long! Yep, that’s it. Three!

He chuckled and hiked the towel back up around his waist. “Why are you blushing? It’s just a little pubic hair, and it’s not like we’re not wearing the same equipment.”

Oh my gosh! I laughed out loud! Which scene of STRANGE PACKAGING was most difficult for you to write? Why?

The beginning scene was the most difficult to write because I had to try not to use words like, he or she, because I didn’t want the sex of Micha revealed until a pivotal point in the scene. I wanted Hyun-Gi to like Micha for her voice, and not because she was a female singer. The first time Hyun-Gi saw Micha she couldn’t really tell because Micha wore men clothing, had long chin-length hair that covered most of her face and had a deep voice.

That would be an incredibly tricky thing to write, and I’m impressed you managed to do it so well. ;c) Which scene of STRANGE PACKAGING would you most like to experience for yourself? From whose POV?

There is a scene where Ran-Hanuel first discovers that he might be in love with Micha and the confusion he feels when he discovers that he might love Micha in her dude persona rather than the girly Michaella. It is written in Micha’s POV, but I’d love to be Ran-Hanuel at this moment.

Girls bolted to the stage and tried to get at her. Someone grabbed her hand and pulled her toward the stage left exit just as the crowd of women stormed the stage.

“You are so grounded when you get home, girly-boy.”

It’s Ran-Hanuel. What is he doing here?

“How many times have I told you not to dress like a boy?”

Micha didn’t have time to argue since the stampeding girls were close on their heels and taking pictures of them in their flight. “What are you doing here?” Micha asked as he dragged her toward the side exit.

“Checking out the competition and saving your ass,” he replied. He opened the door, pushed her through and then came out of the door behind her. “What the hell are you doing here?”

“In-Soo invited me,” she said trying to catch her breath as she ran with him toward his black sports car.

The crowd broke through the exit door as soon as they were safely inside the car. Camera flashes went off in their faces.

“It’s Ran-Hanuel from Revolution,” someone shouted. The announcement made the girls go wilder.

“Is that his boyfriend?” Another someone asked.

Ran-Hanuel started the engine and drove the car out of the spot before someone foolishly tried to hop on or block their way. “Hyun-Gi is going to kill both of us once those pictures hit the Internet,” he told her angrily. “And just when I thought I had everything straightened out.”

He referred to the pictures of him and Sun-Jae circulating around the Net and the local entertainment rags.

“I’m sorry,” Micha said, really meaning it. She didn’t plan to have him ostracized by the media again.

“Sorry is not going to help,” Ran-Hanuel said as they drove toward the Interstate. She’d never seen him this angry before.

Her cell phone rang. Micha reached into her pocket and pulled it out. It was In-Soo. “Yes, I’m all-right. I’m on my way home. Okay, bye.” She disconnected the call.

“Can I see your phone?” Ran-Hanuel asked.

Micha handed it to him.

Ran-Hanuel opened his window and tossed her cell phone out. “I don’t ever want you talking to him again.”

“Are you crazy? That phone cost me a fortune.”

“Tough,” he said as he continued to drive. “I want you to stay away from him.”

“But…”

“But nothing. Look what he’s done. Did the two of you plan this little disaster?”

“No.”

“Then he planned it on his own, knowing what kind of chaos it would incite.”

True. It had caused a royal mess and In-Soo had been responsible. “Why do you think he would do such a thing?” Micha asked.

“Maybe he’s pissed off at me,” Ran-Hanuel said.

“You were quite rude to him the other night when he brought me home.”

“He knew I was in the audience and maybe he wanted to get back at me for that.”

“Maybe,” Micha said, half knowing it was true and half hoping it wasn’t.

“From now on I don’t want you see you in this type of get up again. You are a girl and you will dress like a girl.” He eyed her again. “I think you take delight in torturing me.”

“I do not,” Micha argued. “I told you I’m more comfortable dressing this way.”

“Well, I would prefer you naked than like this.”

Micha gawked. What did he mean by that?

“Those jeans are riding so low on your hips I can actually see the swells of your behind. I am not gay and I don’t appreciate being publically humiliated by a confused gender bender.”

His words cut deeply. “I am not confused. I know I’m a girl but I don’t think I need to show tit to prove it.”

Ran-Hanuel pulled the car over on the dark deserted highway and got out. He walked around to the passenger side, pulled her out of the car and shoved her against it roughly.

“Ouch,” Micha cried out. “What is wrong with you?”

“I’m mad,” Ran-Hanuel said as he pushed his body up against hers. He swept the cap from her head and buried his fingers into her tresses. “Why does the sight of you all dressed up like one of the fellows turn me on?” He lowered his head and began kissing her passionately.

Micha melted into his arms as he pressed his body into hers. Heat rose up from his pores and traveled into hers as his mouth and tongue assaulted her lips. The feelings that surged through her were strange and not necessarily welcomed. Her head grew light and airy. Was she about to faint? Oh God don’t let me faint.

Ran-Hanuel stopped kissing her and angrily pushed her aside. “Get back into the damn car before I do something I will be sorry for.” He left her, walked around to the driver’s side and climbed back in.

Micha got back into the car quickly and fastened her seat belt.

Ran-Hanuel didn’t say anything else to her as they drove home, which Micha was thankful for.

You bring forth such an interesting dynamic here. I love how he’s attracted to this “guy” side of her—it adds such dimension! What are you currently working on? 

I’m currently working on Book 2 of the series. The story starts up with Revolution about to go on tour. And I’m juggling two new Young Adult manuscripts. One is a paranormal about vampires and the other is more an adventure manuscript about  teens being trained as assassins.

I’m also working on a romantic manuscript set in a New York in the Garment District. It’s a love story about two fashion designers who after having a one-night stand discover that they’re expecting. Major problems…she doesn’t have any maternal skills, and he’s a notorious womanizer.

I’m also doing a follow up book to my Christmas release, “Snowy Carolina,” entitled “The Heart of a Mountain Man.”

My current upcoming release isn’t a Young Adult book. It’s Book 4 in my Asian Pretty Boy series, entitled, “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You.” Sorry, it’s adults only. Book 5 has also been written, but I’m editing it at the moment.

Wow, Imari, you are incredibly busy! I can’t wait to see what the future holds for your career. ;c) Let’s take a closer look at STRANGE PACKAGING.

STRANGE PACKAGING | blurb & links

Eighteen year old Micha West’s life suddenly takes a turn for the best when she wins a high school talent show. With less than two weeks left before she’d be on her own with no job and a place to stay because she’d be too old for foster care, Micha signs a recording contract with Hyun-Gi Rahn, a Korean talent manager. Maybe she should have read the fine print more closely, and then she would have known she’d have to pack up her life and move to Seoul, Korea. What’s an American born Korean to do in such a strange place?

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IMARI JADE | bio & links

Romance writer Imari Jade lives in Marrero, Louisiana where she works as a financial analyst. Her hobbies are reading and watching Japanese anime, dramas and manga. She doesn’t drive, she’s afraid to fly, and gets most of her writing done on public transit to and from work. The New Orleans born Virgo is single and loving it.  She loves Korean Pop music, especially the groups JYJ, B2ST, MBLAQ and TVXQ. Her dream is to one day travel to South Korea and meet her idols.

Imari currently writes for several publishers, to include Sugar and Spice Press, Phaze, Eternal Press, Siren-Bookstand, Melange Books, Total E-Bound, Passion in Print and Wild Horse Press. “Strange Packaging,” is her first young adult book with Noble Romance Publishing and she looks forward to a happy and harmonious relationship with them. She is currently working on the second book in this delightful humorous romantic series.

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Imari, this is such a fascinating story and I’m so pleased to be able to present it to my readers today. I’d like to thank you for being here with us. Readers, my thanks extends to you as well, and I hope you enjoyed this visit with Imari. Please say hello before you head off into your wild (or restful, lol) weekend. Have a good one!