NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Are you heading out to the beach this summer and looking for something to read? WCBS 880 is back with its Beach Reads series. Every Thursday, look for a new recommendation.
This year's first selection is by Bella Andre. It's "The Look of Love," the first book in the Sullivan series, and WCBS 880's Pat Farnack spoke with Andre.
PF: Before we get into the actual story behind "The Look of Love," your own story of getting your books out there is a business romance novel, isn't it?
BA: It is. It's been a very exciting couple of years in the publishing business for me.
Beach Reads: 'The Look Of Love' By Bella Andre
PF: So you got a lot of rejection letters, huh?
BA: Well, I was actually published before, with three of the big publishers and in 2010, in early 2010, my next contract was not picked up and a friend of mine suggested that I put something up as an e-book. And e-books were fairly new in 2010, so I did that and I was amazed in the summer of 2010 by how many self-published e-books I sold and at that point. I decided that I was going to shift my focus and self-publish e-books. And lo and behold, by now I've sold more than a million and a half self-published e-books, and I'm working with Harlequin on the print side, so it really... became a fairy tale situation.
PF: What's the moral of the story? "Don't look back if you get rejection letters?"
BA: The thing is I always knew that there were readers out there who wanted to read my books. It was just a matter of finding them. And once I started putting up the e-books myself, I really had a vision for how I wanted to make the covers look, I make all my own digital covers. I really knew how I wanted to describe the book. I knew the kind of stories I wanted to write; I understood my readership and I was able to focus everything I did to reach that readership and it's astonishing. They were everywhere, just as I suspected.
LINK: Bella Andre's Website
PF: Excellent, excellent. That's a great story, almost as good as "The Look of Love." Of course, when I saw [the title] "The Look of Love," I started singing that Dusty Springfield song. Is that what you were thinking of when you titled the book?
BA: It is. Yes. It's one of my favorite songs and I was a songwriter and a musician before I started writing novels.
PF: Your talents know no end!
BA: Yes! So it's always been very natural for me to connect music with books. And even when I write the books, I listen to songs on repeat. So it's all very connected for me.
PF: Give me a thumbnail sketch of the story.
BA: "The Look of Love" is the first book in the Sullivan series and it's about Chase Sullivan, who is one of the siblings in this family. And he is a photographer and he is on his way to spend the weekend doing a photo shoot at his brother's winery in Napa and he sees a car in a ditch on the side of the road. And when he pulls over to see if he can help, Chloe Peterson is standing outside in the rain and it's really sort of love at first sight for him. And he has to help her with her situation. The book takes place over the course of almost a week in Napa Valley at his brother's winery and it's a lot of fun. It's very emotional and it's sexy too.
PF: Oooh! Where do you imagine your readers picking up this book? Is it a beach book? Is it a rainy afternoon on the porch?
BA: It's an all of the above book. It's definitely, definitely a beach book. Um, the paperback has just come out and it will be available absolutely everywhere. And it's definitely the kind of book you want to read. It's a very sweet and emotional romance, but it's fun too. I think it kind of does everything you want a romance to do. It makes you feel good. You get to meet the rest of this big family as well, which is a lot of fun because all of those books will be coming out too. I think it's the perfect beach read for summer.
PF: I think a lot of people say a romance is a guilty pleasure. Do you agree with that or do you think that women have always read romance novels and it's just coming out of the closet a little bit?
BA: I think women have always read romance novels, just if you look at the numbers in the industry, romance novels have always been the biggest sellers of all genres. So, I think that's very telling. I do think with the advent of "Fifty Shades of Grey" doing so well in the last year, I think that's been great because I think it has sort of taken away any kind of embarrassment or whatever it is people feel about romance. I think a lot more people are saying 'Wow, this is great! This is really fun! I really love these books! This makes me feel good.' And that's the main thing. The readers e-mail me or post on Facebook all the time telling me, 'I've been going through something in my life and I've been reading your Sullivan books, I read 'The Look of Love' and it made me feel so good.' And that is my goal.
PF: That's excellent... By the way, did you see... in the paper... about the female Viagra maybe coming? It's in the New York Times Magazine section... The question is will this change society again and I wonder what will happen to the romance novel!
BA: That's a really interesting question. No, I haven't seen that and I've always said that I think people should read romance novels and boy, that just takes care of things, I think!
PF: You don't need female Viagra you just need "The Look of Love!"
BA: That's what I'm saying!
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