As a writer, Marina is devoted to giving her readers contemporary romance where the towns are small, the personalities large, and the romance explosive. Her St Helena Vineyard series was the inspiration behind the Hallmark Original movie, Autumn in the Vineyard. (I totally snagged that from her website BTW)
I like to set a scene for my interviews, gives us a chance to be somewhere, and not just words on a webpage. Are we in a tasting room in wine country? Or on an open patio by the beach somewhere?
We are sitting on a front porch, sipping a glass of Pino Gris and watching the clouds float over Mt Hood in Portland.
You have several small town series, in vastly different areas across the US, did you travel extensively to research the regions?
I love creating new towns for my characters. So even if a series is based on an actual town, I fictionalize it. That said, every series I have written has been based on a place I have lived or visited prior to starting the series. For example, The Eastons series follows five alpha brother is Portland, Oregon who inherit their dad’s brew house. I flew to Portland and explored the city for several days with a friend and fellow author before I started the series.
What drew you to creating these communities of characters and places?
I spent most of my childhood in my head, creating amazing places and stories. It is still something I do to this day. The fact that my job now is to create places I’d wasn’t to live or visit makes it the best job on earth.
Please tell us about the Eastons and your newest release.
The Eastons series follows five brothers who must overcome the loss of their father in order to open themselves up for true love. They don’t mind breaking the rules or testing the limits, but when it comes to matters of the heart … they play for keeps.
My upcoming release in the series, DRIVE ME MAD, which comes out this summer, follows the Assistant District Attorney, Josh Easton, as he finds himself in the run for DA, and going head to head with a sexy, ball-buster of a woman, who teaches him that all is fair in love and war. It is an enemies to lover story, where my hero and heroine can’t stand what the other represents, but can’t seem to keep their hands off each other.
What was your reaction when you found out the Hallmark Channel wanted to make Autumn in the Vineyard story into a movie?
I have an MFA in screenwriting, which was my first love. So when I switched to novels, I thought I had to give up the dream of seeing my work on the screen. So when Hallmark optioned the entire St Helena Series, I was able to fulfill that dream. And it was amazing!
Did you get to visit the set?
I did get to go to the set! It was filming in Canadian Wine Country, so Big Sexy and I took a trip up north. Rachael Leigh Cook was as sweet as she is talented, and the producer heading up the project was an amazing man to meet. The highlight though was Larry the Llama, who was so talented he played Mittens the Alpaca. (edit: don’t you just love how she calls her husband Big Sexy!)
As part of (the now defunct Kindle Worlds) what was it like from your side of the table, having all these authors continue to populate your world, and have new characters, and familiar characters take on new adventures?
I have been so blessed in my career being surrounded by successful and talented authors who helped me get to where I am today. Kindle Worlds was an amazing opportunity for me to help other new authors grow their reader base and write in my world. My readers were able to spend more time with characters they love, and explore new characters as well. It was a win-win for all involved.
ChiChi Ryo is quite the character from the St. Helena Vineyards books. I can almost imagine that this fierce nona came to you and began telling you all about her handsome grandsons, and beautiful granddaughter. I am fascinated with how different authors discover their characters. So, who came first? The DeLuca hotties or ChiChi?
The DeLucas are based on a real-life family from my childhood. My babysitter was the only sister among five older, Italian brothers, who made her dating life hell growing up. But ChiChi is lightly based on my own grandmother and her friends. So, I guess ChiChi would have come first.
If you could rewrite a piece of classic literature (I’ll let you decide what that definition means) which story would you take on? What big changes would you make?
I’m not sure I would re-write, but I would definitely love to play in Jane Austin’s world. In grad school I read, Wide Sargasso Sea, which is a parallel novel of Jane Eyre, and tells the story of Bertha. That book blew my mind and inspired me to read other parallel novels, such as Huck and The Hours. If the opportunity presented itself to write a parallel novel, I’d probably write a book from Mr. Darcy’s or Jane Bennett’s perspective.
Pineapple on pizza, yes or no?
Coke or Pepsi?
What’s the one question you always like when people ask authors?
“Where can I get your next book?” Lol.
Every Little Kiss comes out July 18, 2018
Follow Marina, and find out where you can get her next book!