Sunday, December 14, 2008

ON BREAKING NEWS: Girlfriend Visiting

Love, Longing and La Dolce Vita!

Ramona Elise is in a rut—a 36-year-old widowed mother of two, she can’t seem to find what make her truly happy in life. Making sure her kids are happy isn’t the hard part; Ramona’s looking for the passion she lost two years ago when she lost her husband and her world turned upside down.

When a handsome Italian immigrant walks into her English class, Ramona never expects to find la dolce vita (the sweet life) in a younger man—or in her self!
Come experience a renaissance to love and life as Sourcebooks Casablanca presents the heartwarming novel

Dating da Vinci by Malena Lott

"Written smartly...satisfying and uplifting."Publishers Weekly

Malena Lott lives in married and has three kids! But somehow, she manages to write charming, witty, heartwarming and oh-so-true novels--perfect for the time you steal to curl up with a good book.

HANK: You and I get into an elevator on the first floor. We're both going to 22! Oh, I say, you're the famous author. What's your new book about? You say:

MALENA: Dating da Vinci is a Texas-based Under the Tuscan Sun meets How Stella Got Her Groove Back. A young widow, 36-year-old Ramona Griffen, searches for joy with the help of a handsome younger Italian immigrant named Leonardo da Vinci. He becomes the catalyst to her own renaissance.

HANK: Do you remember the moment you had the idea for the book? How and when did that happen?

MALENA: I don’t recall the exact a-ha moment when the book idea came to fruition, but I’d just moved into a new house in the ‘burbs, my whole department had just been laid off, and I was in a big transition period as a stay-at-home mom and starting my own consulting business. I was definitely in a place in my life where I was thinking: what’s next? And, what does it mean to truly be happy? So Ramona sprung to life, and since I’ve always been a huge da Vinci fan – there wasn’t anything that guy wasn’t gifted at – it all just came together.

HANK: Your main character--is she you?

MALENA: No, but of course we have some things in common. Ramona is a 36-year-old widow, and mother of two boys. I am thirty-six with two boys, plus a girl in the middle, but the biggest point about Ramona is that she is a widow and lost her soul mate to a sudden heart attack two years prior. Ramona is a Griever, so she sees life through the lens of her sadness, but she desperately wants to be happy again and the book shows us her journey. I definitely understand her grief as I’ve lost a lot of loved ones in my life, but I’d say I’m generally a very happy and optimistic person. Like most writers though, aspects of ourselves spill onto the page, so besides the emotions that we share, Ramona and I share a love of words. She’s a linguist and I’m a writer. I think we’d play a pretty mean game of Scrabble.

HANK: So--movie time. Tell us who you envision playing your main character? The love interest? A bad guy?
And you can be in the movie too--what part would you play? And why?

MALENA: Every author loves to play casting director! I did envision the book as a movie as I was writing it. It helps if you can find actors that you can draw from. I imagine Kate Winslet (in her plumper roles) as Ramona, a sexy unknown Italian for da Vinci, Greg Kinnear for handsome, charming doctor Cortland, Jane Krakowski for her egotistical sister, and Sandra Oh for her best friend Anh. I’d only want a bit part. Perhaps the barista at Starbucks? Or be the bed salesperson when Ramona is shopping to replace her marital bed Lumpy. (I do a mean rolling of the eyes.)

HANK: Do you read other people books while you're in the writing process? How does that affect you?

MALENA: I do, because I’m always either writing or editing, so if I had that rule I’d never get anything read and I think reading is the key to becoming a better writer in addition to clocking more hours writing. I would only be worried about being adversely affected, so in that regard I only read books I like or I’m into. If not, I put it down and read something else that inspires me.

HANK: . What's the very best line of the very best review you've gotten? So far, of course.

MALENA: I really like “A remarkable tour de force” from the review. That’s epic.

HANK: What was your favorite book as a child? Do you still love it?

MALENA: I really love A Bridge to Terabithia. First book that made me cry. I recently re-read it and it still holds up. Great emotion.

HANK: What's your secret indulgence? A certain food? A particular movie? What would you buy on a day of shopping?

MALENA: I’m the queen of simple pleasures! It doesn’t take much to make me happy. Love Starbucks Mocha, a hot bubble bath with a glass of Merlot, pepperoni pizza, chick flicks, and hats, handbags and shoes. Pretty much a girlie girl through and through.

HANK: What's one thing no one knows about you?

MALENA: Most readers don’t know that I’m an avid college football fan. My team is the Oklahoma Sooners (currently ranked #1 and going to the national championship!) I was in a college recruiting club at OU called Crimson and Cream so I got free tickets to the game; we got to sit at the forty yard line right next to the band and my job was just to talk to the high school recruits and their parents about how great going to OU is. Now my eleven-year-old son is a big Sooners fan so we watch all the games together and have gone to two games in person this season. The OU/Texas Tech game was one of the highlights of my football fan memories!

HANK: Do you remember when you typed "The End?" What happened next?

MALENA: I probably smiled, exhaled and then changed my baby’s diaper. Of course even when you type THE END, you know it’s just the beginning of the next round of revisions! I usually do about four to five drafts and only stop making revisions when the publisher tells you too, really. But, yes, getting to The End that first time feels pretty great.

Irresistible, yes? Check it out at

And come back soon for more photos of Crimebake!

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