Thursday, 20 October 2016

Q & A with Tracie Banister

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Today I'm very happy to welcome the lovely Tracie Banister on my blog. She has joined me for a little Q&A. 

Your newest novel is called Mixing it Up, what is it about?

Mixing It Up is about a classically trained chef of French cuisine named Cecily Sinclair whose life is upended when the network that airs her cooking show comes under new management and she’s forced to work with Dante Marchetti, an egocentric Italian chef. Cecily has butted heads with Dante in the kitchen before, and she loathes him with the heat of a thousand habañeros. The two chefs go to war, each one determined to prove their culinary supremacy, while the president of the network tries to referee, and Cecily finds herself vacillating between being drawn to and repelled by both men.

What was your inspiration for the book?

I’ve been addicted to watching cooking shows for years (everything from talk-and-chop shows like Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa to competitive reality shows like Top Chef, Chopped, and Masterchef). So, I thought it would be fun to go behind-the-scenes of a cooking show and explore what life is like for its star. Combining the two worlds of food and entertainment gave me lots of great stuff to work with!

Can you tell us more about the main character(s)?

Cecily comes from old family money and was expected to either go into the Sinclair business (Asset management? Boring!), or become a career socialite. (Even more tedious!) Instead, she followed her bliss and went to the Cordon Bleu to train as a chef. She feels more passionate about food and cooking than she ever has a man and she’s beginning to wonder if she’s capable of having an intense romantic connection with someone.

Cecily’s new boss, Devlin Hayes, is only 30, but he’s already made his mark on the television industry by creating several successful niche networks and programming geared toward Millennials. He wants to revamp Cecily’s show, making it more flashy and hip. Although she’s not keen on the idea, Devlin is a very persuasive man and Cecily soon finds herself being dazzled by his charm and twinkly blue eyes.

Dante Marchetti is a self-taught chef who’s made a big splash on the New York restaurant scene. Like many creative geniuses before him, he is volatile and sparks fly between him and Cecily whenever they interact. Viewers love their chemistry and rumors abound that they are more than just co-workers off-screen. Cecily can’t deny that the man is gorgeous (If you’re into dark, swarthy types who ooze testosterone.), but she’s determined to get him out of her life once and for all.

Where and when do you write your stories?

I’m probably one of the last people on the planet who has a desktop computer. (I loathe laptops!) So, I do all of my writing at my desk in my office. That’s where I can be found 8-10 hours a day.

If you could switch places with a character from a book, who would it be and why?

I’d go with Jo March in Little Women. I’ve always felt a kinship with that character because she’s a feisty writer. Of course, if I was Jo, I would have never turned down Laurie’s proposal (He was my first literary crush!) and then it would be a totally different book!

What books have influenced your life most?

Oh, gosh, there are so many. Jane Austen’s books were probably the most influential as her stories combined humor with romance, had wonderfully witty dialogue and fully fleshed out characters, and were such entertaining reads. My favorite book of all time is Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind. I just adored the character of Scarlett O’Hara; she was so strong and sassy and she was very flawed, which made her fascinating. These books and characters have all greatly influenced my own writing.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m currently devoting myself to getting the word out about Mixing It Up, but I am very much looking forward to getting started on my next writing project, which will be a follow-up to In Need of Therapy. I swore I’d never write a sequel to any of my books, but my readers have been clamoring for another story about the Alvarez family and I have a fun idea for Izzy, the bratty younger sister of the protagonist in INOT.

What do you enjoy most about writing?

I love seeing the characters and stories in my head come to life on the
page, and it always feels great when I get a scene just right, sometimes even surpassing how I originally envisioned it!

Pick three authors you want to have dinner with and tell us why.

That’s a tough one since I have so many favorite authors. If I had to pick three living authors to share a meal and a spirited conversation with, I’d choose Sophie Kinsella, Janet Evanovich, and Lauren Willig. Although these supremely talented ladies write in different genres, all of them deftly employ humor in their books, which is something I really appreciate.

Imagine Mixing it Up would be turned into a movie, who would you cast for the main characters?

I’d cast Canadian actress Laura Vandervoort as Cecily because she’s tall, slender, and fair-haired, plus she’s got an elegant, aristocratic look about her. I envisioned James Wolk (preppy good looks, great smile) as Devlin and Justin Baldoni (dark coloring, muscular physique, super sexy) as Dante.

The third book you published is called Twin Piques, can you tell us more about it?

Twin Piques chronicles a critical few months in the lives of sisters Sloane and Willa Tobin. They’re identical twins, but polar opposites in every way. Sloane’s a hyper-intelligent, sharp-tongued forensic accountant who’s focused on getting a promotion at work while Willa is a sweet, kooky pet psychic who’s on a search for true love. How the two of them help (and sometimes hinder) each other from reaching their goals and finding happiness is the core of the story. There’s comedy, romance, cute guys, and even cuter dogs in Twin Piques!

Blame It on the Fame and In Need of Therapy are your first two books, what are they about?

Blame It on the Fame tells the story of the five women who are in contention for the Best Actress award at this year's Oscars. These are five very different ladies, ranging in age from 24 to 48, and they are all at very different places in their lives and careers. For some, this nomination is a dream come true. For others, it's a nightmare. All of them will experience tremendous highs and lows on their journey to the ultimate red carpet event.
In In Need of Therapy, handling the problems of hysterical
hypochondriacs, lovelorn neurotics, and compulsive man whores is all in a day’s work for super-shrink Pilar Alvarez. But she might end up on the couch herself when she has to deal with her crazy Cuban family, a trio of unsuitable suitors, and a threat to her practice all at the same time.

How would you describe your style of writing?

Intelligent, witty, and fast-paced, with a little heat. My stories are complex and focus on all aspects of the heroine’s life—work, family, friends, and romance.

You’re an avid reader yourself, what’s your favourite genre and why?

I’m a genre-jumper with my reading. I love Historical Romance, Cozy Mystery, YA, and Women’s Fic, but Chick Lit is, and always will be, my favorite genrea good thing since that’s what I write! I adore Chick Lit because it’s upbeat and fun and contains my two favorite elements in fiction, romance and comedy. Chick Lit is great escapism!

How are the covers for your books developed?

I’m a very visual person, so while I’m working on a book, a concept for the cover art will start to formulate in my head. In the case of Mixing It Up, the cover art is a play on an important scene from the book. I then collect a lot of inspirational pictures (everything from what I think the characters look like to what they’re wearing, as well as color schemes) and I send those along to my incredibly talented cover artist, Lyndsey Lewellen. She always does a great job editing down my vision to something that’s workable and she adds lots of her own touches that really enhance the cover art. I feel like my fun, colorful, original cover art is part of my brand now.    

Coffee or tea?

I am a big tea drinker, iced or warm. Must be my English blood. (My great-grandparents were from the UK.)

Paperback or e-reader?

E-reader all the way. I don’t have any more room to store books in my
house, and the inexpensive price of e-books makes me feel less guilty about my reading addiction.

Mountains or the sea?

Mountains. I find them very peaceful and relaxing. I’m not a fan of the beach as I burn too easily.

Summer or winter?

Winter! I love the cool, crisp temps, the bulkier clothing (sweaters/coats/hats/etc.), and the holiday season. Of course, I should admit that winters aren’t that harsh in the southern US where I live. I probably wouldn’t love winter so much if I lived up north where people have to deal with piles of dirty snow for months on end.

Sweet or salty?

Salty! In moderation, though. I never salt my food, but I do enjoy a salty treat like potato chips or pretzels.


Born with a silver spoon in her mouth, Manhattan upper-cruster Cecily Sinclair now uses that pricey utensil to dish up fancy French fare on her cooking show, Serving Romance. When there’s an executive shake-up at the network, she’s not worried. Not much anyway. Her show’s a hit after all. Why would the new CEO want to mess with success?

The driving force behind several buzzed-about networks, Devlin Hayes is considered to be a wunderkind in the television industry. Although his plans to rebrand CuisineTV and make Serving Romance more Millennial-friendly don’t thrill Cecily, her charming, blue-eyed boss is a hard man to say “no” to and she really wants to keep her job—even if that means sharing screen time with a loathsome blast from her past.
Mercurial Italian chef Dante Marchetti a.k.a. “Il Duce” was once Cecily’s boss, and she has the PTSD to prove it. Now the owner of one of the hottest restaurants in town, Dante’s egomania knows no bounds and his constant attempts to provoke and upstage Cecily make her want to conk him on the head with a sautééé pan. She thinks they’re toxic together, but viewers love their chemistry and clamor for more.
As Cecily battles to maintain the integrity of her show, she finds herself scheming and manipulating right along with Dante and Devlin. Is she fighting a lost cause? Does she really belong on TV, or would her culinary talent be better served elsewhere? And could one of the men who makes Cecily’s blood boil ignite a passion in her for something other than food?


An avid reader and writer, Tracie Banister has been scribbling stories since she was a child, most of them featuring feisty heroines with complicated love lives like her favorite fictional protagonist Scarlett O'Hara. Her work was first seen on the stage of her elementary school, where her 4th grade class performed an original holiday play she penned. (Like all good divas-in-the-making, she also starred in and tried to direct the production.)

Tracie’s dreams of authorial success were put on the backburner when she reached adulthood and discovered that she needed a "real" job in order to pay her bills. Her career as personal assistant to a local entrepreneur lasted for 12 years. When it ended, she decided to follow her bliss and dedicate herself to writing full-time. Mixing It Up is her fourth Chick Lit release, and in it Tracie finally got to live out her fantasy of being a Cordon Bleu-trained chef.


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1 comment:

  1. Great interview, ladies! Jo - good pick!

    Mixing It Up would make a great movie!