With: Tawna Fenske
Tawna Fenske is a USA Today bestselling romantic comedy author who may have written THE TWO-DATE RULE for an excuse to hang out at the nearby air base ogling shirtless smokejumpers. Her new rom-com stars a woman who never dates a man more than twice, and the sexy smokejumper who steals her heart. While Tawna can't personally relate to the troubled childhood that led Willa to her two-date rule, she does identify with Willa's penny-pinching skills, and may be typing this on a secondhand computer while outfitted entirely in thrift store clothing (except underwear because ew. Wait. Tawna is wearing underwear. She's also feeling weird about addressing herself in third-person, and will stop now so you can read the Q&A).
When did you start writing?
I’ve always written for my supper in one form or another, either as a journalist, a tech writer, or a marketing geek crafting newsletters and web copy. But it wasn’t until 2002 that it dawned on me to try my hand at fiction. My book club read an abysmally bad romance by a famous author, and I remember smacking it on the table and declaring that if that crap could get published, so could I. Cue maniacal laughter, followed by ominous narrator intoning, “It was not, in fact, that easy.”
What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting out?
Read. Read everything you can get your hands on, from fiction to non-fiction, true crime to literary fiction to the back of your cereal box. Never, ever stop. It’s the best possible way to tune your brain to the cadence of excellent prose and dialogue, or to figure out for yourself what does and doesn’t work.
Do you write listening to music? If so, what music inspired or accompanied this current book?
I listen to music constantly while I’m writing, and every book I write has its own playlist. A lot of the music on the playlist for THE TWO-DATE RULE pays homage to the smokejumper element of the story, so it runs the gamut from Joan Jett’s “All Fired Up” to U2’s “The Unforgettable Fire” to Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire” (which the hero performs for the heroine at one point in the story).
Can you share with us something about the book that isn’t in the blurb?
While researching the book, I spent time at Central Oregon’s Redmond Air Center interviewing smokejumpers and learning what the job entails. They are exactly as buff and brave and badass as you’d imagine, but one thing that fascinated me is how much they pride themselves on their mad sewing skills. They’re constantly repairing their chutes and jumpsuits and gear, and they’re meticulous about making sure it’s done with the utmost precision and safety. Their lives literally depend on this stuff, so they’re kind of control freaks with the stitching.
Does one of the main characters hold a special place in your heart? If so, why?
The heroine, Willa, grew up poor. While I never knew the level of poverty she did, my family didn’t have a lot of money when I was younger. I learned to be super-frugal, shopping at thrift stores, clipping coupons, and ordering the cheapest thing on the menu on the rare occasions I’d go out to eat. Those habits have stayed with me, and I’d estimate 90% of my wardrobe still comes from thrift stores.
Willa Frank has one simple rule: never go on a date with anyone more than twice. Now that her business is providing the stability she’s always needed, she can’t afford distractions. Her two-date rule will protect her just fine...until she meets smokejumper Grady Billman.
The Two-Date Rule
After one date—one amazing, unforgettable date—Grady isn’t ready to call it quits, despite his own no-attachments policy, and he’s found a sneaky way around both their rules.
Throwing gutter balls with pitchers of beer? Not a real date. Everyone knows bowling doesn’t count.
Watching a band play at a local show? They just happen to have the same great taste in music. Definitely not a date.
Hiking? Nope. How can exercise be considered a date?
With every "non-date" Grady suggests, his reasoning gets more ridiculous, and Willa must admit she’s having fun playing along. But when their time together costs Willa two critical clients, it's clear she needs to focus on the only thing that matters—her future. And really, he should do the same.
But what is she supposed to do with a future that looks gray without Grady in it?
When Tawna Fenske finished her English lit degree at 22, she celebrated by filling a giant trash bag full of romance novels and dragging it everywhere until she’d read them all. Now she’s a RITA Award finalist, USA Today bestselling author who writes humorous fiction, risqué romance, and heartwarming love stories with a quirky twist. Publishers Weekly has praised Tawna’s offbeat romances with multiple starred reviews and noted, “There’s something wonderfully relaxing about being immersed in a story filled with over-the-top characters in undeniably relatable situations. Heartache and humor go hand in hand.”
Tawna lives in Bend, Oregon, with her husband, step-kids, and a menagerie of ill-behaved pets. She loves hiking, snowshoeing, stand up paddle boarding, and inventing excuses to sip wine on her back porch. She can peel a banana with her toes and loses an average of twenty pairs of eyeglasses per year. To find out more about Tawna and her books, visit www.tawnafenske.com.To learn more about all of Tawna’s books, visit www.tawnafenske.com
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