Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Meet Maria Imbalzano

February is the month for romance, and this month we are featuring romance authors.  My guest today is Maria Imbalzano, a new author with The Wild Rose Press.

Thanks for joining me, Maria. Your day job is being a divorce lawyer.  What got you started writing contemporary romance novels?
As with any high-stress job, you need to relax at night.  I have always loved to read, and reading romance provided an escape from the difficult issues I dealt with on a daily basis.  I started writing romance about fifteen years ago because I was frustrated with a novel I was reading by a well-known author. I believed I could do it better.  Of course, it’s easier said than done, but my desire to try it put me on the path I am on today.   Writing romance novels may seem like a contradiction to my highly charged ivorce litigation practice. But through my writing, I'm able to create positivemotions and story lines that counterbalance my embroilment in real life conflicts. 
Tell us a little about your new book, Unchained Memories.
Returning to her hometown of Princeton was not part of Charlotte Taylor’s plan. She had a prestigious job as a medical malpractice attorney in San Francisco, a great apartment overlooking the bay and a somewhat serious relationship. But her brother-in-law’s untimely death has her flying clear across country to help her sister and two young children survive unimaginable loss. Memories of her parents’ deaths in a car accident ten years earlier, as well as her serious injuries, come flooding back.
Running into Dr. Clayton Montgomery at a fundraiser was the last thing she expected. He had been an intern at Nassau General when she’d been a patient a lifetime ago. As an 18 year old, she had a mad crush on the gorgeous doctor, yet he didn’t seem to notice.  Now, sparks fly as they re-connect.
Unfortunately, philosophical differences over the benefits and detriments of medical malpractice suits soon become a reality and Charlotte is faced with the choice of representing a client against Princeton General – and against Clay.   
Your novel is set in Princeton. Is there a reason you chose it as your setting?
I grew up in the Princeton area, and still live and work here.  I love the town of Princeton with its perfect combination of quaint shops and restaurants, the University campus, and historic and cultural sites. When writing, I like to picture myself at the various places where my characters frequent, and by using Princeton as my setting, it was very easy to do. For example, Charlotte and Clay go to see a play (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof) at Pendelton Theater. It was really McCarter Theater which has fabulous plays, dance performances and other shows. Clay’s condo is right off Palmer Square and Charlotte’s rental house is on one of the side streets off Nassau Street a few blocks north of the University. Knowing the town so well makes it easy to have my characters move around.
How important do you think setting is to a story?
The setting of a novel can clue you into some of the personality traits of the characters. For example, someone who chooses to live in a small town like Princeton may do so because he/she is close to their family, they want the security of living in a place they know, they want to be a big fish in a small sea career-wise or they enjoy getting involved in the community where they live. If the setting is in a big city, the characters’ personalities may include a love of the arts, the need for excitement obtained from the hustle and bustle, a non-stop work and social life, or a need to be anonymous among thousands. Setting can also be a character unto itself.
What do you like best about your hero, Dr. Clayton Montgomery?
Well, of course he’s gorgeous. And intelligent. And driven.  He’s also connected to his family.  He helped his four siblings by loaning them money to go to college and grad school. But, he’s also flawed in that while he supports his siblings financially, he doesn’t always give them his time.
What about your heroine, Charlotte Taylor?
Charlotte is also intelligent and driven.  In addition, she’s very strong. She had to learn how to survive on her own after the car accident that killed her parents. Although her older sister, Renee, was around, she wasn’t there for Charlotte. Unfortunately, the trauma of losing her parents and her sister’s absence from her life from that point on, has made Charlotte distrustful of close relationships.
What are you currently working on?    
My current work in progress is called “Dancing in the Sand.”  It’s about an accomplished dance major at New York University, Ava, who is pursuing her dream of becoming a professional dancer upon graduation.  When on stage, her feelings of unworthiness melt away, and in their place grows confidence and value, feelings she doesn’t get from her workaholic father whose presence in her life all but disappeared the day her mother abandoned the family to live her dream.
             One summer weekend in Newport, she meets her roommate’s brother, Brian, a charismatic Harvard grad who is joining his father’s business. They steal private moments together and fall quickly for each other, but the weekend ends with a disastrous accident leaving Brian with a head injury and no memory of Ava.
            When Ava learns she is pregnant as a result of her time with Brian, her world collapses. She gives up her passion –dance – and goes to law school so she will have a lucrative and steady career, if not the creative career she aspired to.  She wants to help support her daughter financially, even though she convinced her sister and brother-in-law to adopt her child.
            Five years later, as a new associate at an environmental law firm, she meets with Brian, who is looking for representation for the family business. He doesn’t know Ava, but is drawn to her.  They start dating and old feelings surface, as well as memories of their weekend together. But will her secret destroy their newfound love?  Stay tuned.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us about you or your book?
            I am thrilled to finally be published after years of working to get to this point. Even though it took me a long time, I can honestly say that the journey has been fun and rewarding.  From not knowing the first thing about writing a novel to learning the craft by going to conferences, seminars and reading dozens of books on the subject, I feel that I have learned something new – something that gives me great pleasure.  Along the way, I have met amazing authors (published and pre-published) who have given me support and motivation, especially when I went into a funk over rejections. And I must say that the authors from The Wild Rose Press have been the absolute greatest in welcoming me with open arms and giving me a voice on their blogs.  Including you, Rebecca.  Thank you.   
How about a short excerpt?
Of course!

Red. Hot. Sexy.
Like magnets, Clay’s eyes clicked on Charlotte, unable to repel the force holding them. Her chestnut hair was held up in a loose, sexy do that had him itching to pull the pins to release it. Her strapless dress showcased a long neck and creamy shoulders that called out to be kissed. His involuntary focus on her lovely traits throughout the evening had made him a rude dinner companion, unable to answer even the easiest of questions.
He had come here tonight to socialize with the powers that be at the hospital, to talk up the ER, to lay the groundwork for future requests. But his concentration had been directed elsewhere. Since he’d squandered his opportunity to network, he should leave. But here he was at the bar at ten-thirty, waiting for a scotch and soda. The band was heavily into their Motown set and many of the revelers packed the dance floor.
Across the room, Clay zeroed in on Charlotte talking to a group of men, her red gown like a flame in a sea of black. He smiled. She sure knew how to turn heads. His included.
But he knew her better than those clowns. He knew the sweet, tough eighteen-year-old who’d lost her parents within hours of each other. The broken girl whose emotional health had worried Dr. Collins, their chief of surgery, much more than her physical wounds.
As the band segued into a slow song, Clay covered the distance between them. “Excuse us, gentlemen, but the lady promised me a dance, and I’d like to claim it now.” He deposited his drink on an empty table and guided her toward the dance floor.
“I don’t recall promising you a dance.” Her beautiful face held the hint of a smile.
“You don’t? I must have dreamed it.”
He pulled her into his embrace, and moved with the music around the floor, feeling like one of the luckiest men there. Although she hadn’t promised anything, she glided around the room, following his lead. Her perfume intoxicated him more than any drink ever could, and the movement of her graceful body against his had his heart palpitating. 
Little Charley Taylor had certainly grown up, and he couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to know her now. As an adult. Ten years removed from the time their lives had intersected. He called on his memory, pulling up their very last encounter.
“I’m leaving for college today.” She stood tentatively in his office doorway, her crystal blue eyes so expressive in their sadness. “I wanted to thank you for all your help, especially with physics and calculus. I never would have done so well” She avoided his eyes as her voice trailed off, choked with tears.
His heart constricted, startling him. He hadn’t anticipated the day she would no longer be around; trailing him at the hospital, asking incessant questions, teasing him for being so serious. His life was on overload with his internship, not allowing him to realize the time he dedicated to her was not just tolerated, but treasured.
He walked around the desk, intending to give her a friendly hug, but when he took her in his arms something changed. Her familiar flowery scent awakened his senses as if he’d been in a deep sleep and he closed his eyes to heighten the aroma. Her body fit against his like a shadow. He fought the confusing stimuli. This was Charley, his former patient and pupil. But that wasn’t who he held close, who he breathed in. When had she become more than that?
Charley hugged him hard, laughing through tears. “I hate good-byes.” Before making her escape she added, “Dr. Collins has my information at school. Call me sometime. Let me know what you’re up to.”
Clipped, hasty words said with a matter-of-factness meant to cover up the emotions she plainly felt. The same emotions that had just blind-sided him.
Then she turned and walked away, her new life ahead of her.
Clay’s lips touched Charley’s forehead as they circled the dance floor. He closed his eyes, taking in the smoothness of her skin. Before he could stop himself he asked, “How’d you like to go out to dinner one night next week?”

How can readers reach you or find you online?
To purchase UNCHAINED MEMORIES, go to:
The Wild Rose Press
Barnes &
All Romance
Thank you, Maria, and good luck with your new book.  

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Amazing how you can juggle it all, Maria. Loved the excerpt and now I'm craving to read the rest. Wishing you all the best! :)


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