(CC) Hazel Hughes is a contemporary romance writer and former urban nomad. Born in London, Hazel has lived all over the globe, from the wilds of Northern Ontario and the cornfields of Iowa to the concrete jungles of Seoul and Abu Dhabi. Currently, she is linving in Western New York, writing from wherever there is strong coffee and funky beats. When she’s not laying down steamy scenes on the page, you can find her whipping up hot and spicy concoctions in the kitchen or dancing to the beat of her own drummer. Dance with me is her first foray into romantic suspense.
Hazel, welcome to the show and thanks for being here.
(HH) Thanks for having me.
(CC) Now I have a question. We’re going to start off on, you’ve lived all over the globe and you put Dance with Me in New York City. Why?
(HH) Oh, well of all the cities that I’ve visited New York City holds the most romance for me. There is so much potential and each nook of the city has it’s own personality. And I wanted it to be about this professional dancer, and in the United States, the biggest dance companies, well the two biggest, are in New York City.
(CC) Dance with Me was your first foray into the romantic suspense genre. How was writing this novel different from writing one of your other novels?
(HH) How is it different? I guess bring nig in the suspense element. YHou have to plot a little bit more. You have to provide hints and clues and diversions along the way. Where as when I’m writing romance I tend to plot less.
(CC) You used the word plot. Are you a plotter or a pantser?
(HH) I really am a pantser. But I’m learning how to plot and still keep things exciting for me along the way.
(CC) I agree. The first novel I did, I’d plotted it all out and followed it up until about the third page and then something happened and the character did something and went a different direction.
(HH) And that does happen. Even when I carefully plot something they do go off on their own direction don’t’ they, those characters.
(CC) And that’s what makes the book fun. When the character takes on a life of their own and does their own thing and surprises you.
(CC) What kind of research did you do preparing to write Dance with Me?
(HH) To be honest, the way I write is that I do my first draft with very little reseach and something interests me I’ll go onto google and do a little. But during the second draft, that’s where I’ll do more research. I read dancer’s biographies and I did a little bit of reaseach inot the war on crime. Maybe I could have gone a little deeper into that.
(CC) So you write the book first and figure out what you need to research and catch up on what you need?
(HH) Yeah. That’s right.
(CC) It’s an interesting way to do that.
(HH) Yeah. Well I mean for me, otherwise I lose the momentum. And I also knew that I only had a short period that I could write full time and so I felt that I had to go all out and then go back and do the research. It can cause problems definitely. If you know, facts don’t match up with your imagination. So I had to make some last minute changes.
(CC) Okay. So you made sure that all the changes went into actual reality rather than fantasy.
(CC) Your previous works have all been in the area of contemporary romance. Are you working on another contemporary romance now or another romantic suspense? Is there a sequel to Dance with Me?
(HH) No. Well I don’t see a sequel to Dance with me coming out. I feel like the story between Sherry and Alexi is finished as far as it goes. I would like to work more in suspense, you know in romantic suspense because both of those elements interest me. Mystery and romance. But currently I’m writing the follow up to my first novel which is an erotic romance, Please, and I have a trilogy planned for that and I’m currently working on finishing up the first draft of the second novel.
(CC) And when will that be out, approximately?
(HH) I’m hoping it will be out before December, ah fingers crossed. but we’ll see how it goes.
(CC) Best laid plans, right?
(CC) From your biography, you’ve been all over the world. Did you always want to be a writer, or is it something that came later in life?
(HH) It is something that I came into later in life. Although, I always was a writer for fun and enjoyment and I always got positive feedback in school. I did have a negative experience in my last year of high school where I was basically discourage from going into writing, so I took a different path. But then, when I was staying at home with my children when they were younger I had a bit of time and I just fell into it again. And I’ve been doing it since then.
(CC) What else? Oh, how about a favorite author?
(HH) Hmm, I don’t know where to start. I read pretty widely. I don’t read exclusively romance. In fact I probably read more in other genres, but all with a love element in them. I really like Emily Giffin. Do you know here work?
(CC) I do not. I’ll have to look her up. That’s part of what we’re doing here is finding new authors.
(HH) She has been described as a modern day Jane Austen. I believe she’s been categorized as women’s fiction but there is always a very strong love story. It’s about relationship, not necessarily love relationships. But relationships with friends and siblings. I’m really an admirer of her and I’m an admirer of Jillian Flynn, Gone Girl. I really like how she’s able to take deeply unsympathetic characters, like terribly flawed people and make you root for them.
(CC) If you had to pick one book on your bookshelf, what’s your favorite book to read?
(HH) Ah, my favorite book to read? Well I can tell you the book that I’ve read the most times. And that’s Umberto Echo’s book The Name of the Rose. Which is I guess it could be categorized as a historical fiction and it is also a mystery. It contains element of religion and philosophy. And it’s a fascinating read and I always discover something new. I also always forget who done it. So that’s always new to me. Oh, yeah, it’s that guy. The one you don’t suspect.
(CC) Isn’t that the way it always is? It’s always the one you don’t suspect who’s causing all the problems.
So, what’s next on your docket? I mean you’re working on your trilogy there when you finish that, where do you go from there?
(HH) Well I have a bunch of..I have many different ideas that I want to pursue for series.
(CC) Now Dance with Me is out through Evernight Publishing. And where is it available?
(HH) it is available on most major e-tailers like, Amazon, it’s on All Romance E books and it’s on the Evernight Publishing website. And it will soon be available on the smaller distributors like Kobo and Nook.
(CC) Very good. Do you have a website you’d like to share with everybody?
(HH) Sure. My website is Hazelhughesromance.com and I have a blog there. I post there every Wednesday a new blog post and I post ther sporadically there as well. They’re just my basic random ramblings on writing, on romance, on sex, on love and on life in general and there are occasionally recipes on there as well because I’m a big foodie.
(CC) Since you say in your bio that you spend a lot of time in the kitchen creating stuff, that makes sense!
(HH) I do.
(CC) Okay. Is there anything else that you’d like to add today?
(HH) Oh, I would jut like to say thank you for this opportunity. Oh, I would also like to mention that I was recently selected as a finalist in the Las Vegas Romance Writers “I heart Indie” contest for my novel, my self published novel, Please. So, I’m a little bit proud of that. That’s my first mini-win.
(CC) Congratulations! Getting that first one is a big thing.
(HH) yes. And that’s it. Thanks for having me on. I really enjoyed it.
(CC) Thank you. I enjoyed having you on. Take care.
(HH) You, too.
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Title: Dance With Me
Author: Hazel Hughes
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Release Date: July 24, 2016
Investigative reporter, Sherry Wilson-Wong, is forced to work what she considers the “art” beat and do an interview with the ballet company’s new lead dancer, Alexi Davydenko.
Davydenko doesn’t think the effort in talking to a report is worth it. The two find a unique way to compromise- a drinking game where the price for each answer is a shot of vodka and a kiss.
Sherry knows that she is crossing the line to get the interview, but Alexi is too tempting. But there is a dark side she discovers. The further she goes into the article for the ballet company, the more she is certain that there is something nefarious going on behind the scenes.
Now she has to watch her moves as she dances along the thin line of ethics and responsibility as she delves further into what’s happening while avoiding the henchmen who have already warned her off. Is Sherry adept enough at dancing to the beat of her own drum to get to the bottom of the story and keep her new dance partner?
My Personal Opinion
I enjoyed the characters of Sherry and Alexi. Each had a personality that Hughes shows us through their action. It may be the way they interact with their colleagues or their family members. It may come through how they relate with each other or justify their own actions. While some of their actions may seem over the top, nothing that happens is too far out of the realm of believable.
At first, there is a sense of distrust between Sherry and Alexi. It is only after their drinking game that they realize that there is something between them. As their relationship grows, Sherry must deal with her growing concern that Alexi is involved with the organization she believes is causing the trouble for the ballet company. She also must find the balance between how much she tells her editor, so she is dancing on that line regarding personal and professional relationships.
Sherry’s character is so complex that she keeps you entertained. She’s on edge at being given what she considers a flouncy story to cover and then almost immediately appalled by her reaction to Alexi. She likes working with one of her colleagues, but has deep resentment for the other. It keeps the story moving at a quick pace.
In some ways, I can relate to both of the characters. Sherry finds something she wants, but it causes her to weigh her decision about how much she is may be forced to give up to keep Alexi. I imagine that all of us at one time or another have found ourselves in a similar situation of making those hard decisions. It may be between responsibility or desire, right vs. wrong, but we’ve all been there.
Alexi is very loyal to his family. He feels very much indebted to his mother for what she gave him. The story in the book paints a bleak picture, but he never lets anything that happen cloud the fact that she is his family and he owes her. That’s unconditional love.
I would definitely recommend this book. It was a fun read that kept me entertained for a few hours. The clues that were given were logical so neither character had to pull something out of their hat at the conclusion. There were enough clues that the amateur sleuth who was reading the book would be able to make the connection to the culprit possibly a bit earlier than the main characters.
I think readers who enjoy Nora Roberts or Suzanne Ferrell or Julie Garwood will enjoy this book.
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