Friday, June 1, 2012

Elle Druskin, Animal Crackers

Today's guest is Elle Druskin the author of the delightfully funny Liberty Heights series.  The first book, recently released from MuseItUp Publishing is Animal Crackers.

Author name: Elle Druskin

Book Title: Animal Crackers (Book 1 in The Liberty Heights series)
Publisher:  MuseItUpPublishing
Buy link: com/dp/B008231P9 2 

Everything you ever wanted to know about Elle Druskin and a few things you probably didn’t need to know .

Please tell us about yourself with the following favorites:
Food? No hesitation on this one.  It’s pasta.  Any pasta.  Rigatone, penne, ravioli, any pasta. Preferably with a really good sauce and cheese.  (I didn’t say it wasn’t fattening, just that I love it! ).  I thought I was in heaven when I was in Italy.

Drink (non-alcoholic)? If we’re talking alcohol, it’s champagne.  What’s not to like? Great taste, color, beautiful flutes, bubbles and full of life.  If it’s more pedestrian, it’s got to be iced tea, or if you live in the South, the US, that is, it’s sweet tea.

Flower? Gee, do I have to pick one?  I love so many; roses, especially yellow, violets, peonies, lilacs, tulips, daisies, poppies, cornflowers.  Sorry, I can’t choose one but I do think flowers are a wonderful way to show you care, appreciate someone, or just to brighten your life in your own garden.  And in Hawaii, giving a lei (or getting leid---say it out loud to get it ) is a custom for multiple occasions—birthdays, graduations, Mother’s Day.  Even the dogs get doggie leis when they arrive from the Mainland. I’ve seen it so I know.

Day of the week? Every day is potentially a great day.  If I can wake up and think that, then no day is a standout.

Time of day to write?  I don’t have a favorite time but I think I tend to write better in the morning.  I used to be a night person, but once I had children and had to get up at all hours, I turned into an early morning person.  I’m usually up very early or very late depending on your point of view and what you consider 4 or 5 am.

Place to write?  I consistently write on a laptop and usually in my living room where I can have background noise.  I don’t mind the television news or radio or music playing; it doesn’t interfere with my writing.  On the contrary, I think total quiet would be detrimental for me.

Season? I love them all.  I love the color of flowers and gardens coming back to life in spring, the smells of barbecues and the beautiful sky of summer and of course, the beach.  I love the leaves changing into magnificent reds, yellows and orange of autumn and the smell of leaves burning and I guess I even like winter in some way.  At least, I love the beautiful scenery of snow when it’s still pristine and the icicles hanging from trees.  I guess I love them all for different reasons.

Holiday?  I’ve lived outside the US for many years although I am back now.  I’ve had the opportunity to celebrate holidays in my countries of residence, while still remembering American holidays.  To me, the best one in the US is Thanksgiving.  It’s completely secular, every American can and does celebrate and it is a chance to think how lucky we really are and the many blessings we have been given.  That might sound corny, but it’s still true.

Animal?  Dogs.  I’ve always had one and my latest is a cute little Westie male.  I’ve had several breeds and mixed breeds but I fell in love with Westies as a kid, and I’ve stuck with the breed for nearly 30 years.  They know they’re the important member of the family but they are good family dogs and small enough not to be difficult to handle.

Hobby?  I’ve had quite a few. Sometimes I drop them for a while and eventually go back to them.  With limited time, right now the two prominent ones are ballroom dancing (I didn’t say I was good at it, I just enjoy it immensely; what’s not to like? ) and after a very long gap, I’ve started knitting again.  Also not particularly good at it but I find it a good pastime and a nice way to use my hands if I’m sitting around watching television which doesn’t happen often.

Color? That depends on the purpose.  In clothing, I like bright colors.  Reds, pinks, purples, electric blue.  I looked washed out in more muted tones or colors.  That being said, I would choose the more neutral ones for painting at least some rooms in the house.  I can’t see me happy in a room painted in electric blue but it could make a nice accent color.  It really depends on the house, space and geographic location too.  Pastel and tropical colors obviously work better in hotter climates but they can work in other places with some care and thought.

Sport?  I love swimming and generally being around the water.  I keep trying to learn to surf but mostly fall off the board.  So what? I’m having fun in a perverse way and I’ll get it eventually.

Song?  Too many to chose one.

TV show? I don’t watch a lot of television regularly but I never miss The Big Bang Theory.  I love that show and can still watch the re-runs and laugh just as hard.  I’m also addicted to Dancing With The Stars.  I’m amazed at the level of dancing that the “stars” achieve; I know how much hard work has to go into producing that kind of performance.  The idea of live performance, knowing something can go wrong must be really intimidating.

Movie? I love a lot of movies but if I had to pick the all time favorite, it’s still Casablanca.  What a great movie!  Great actors, great story, romance, tension, good guys, bad guys, the world going insane.  I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy that movie even if it was made in 1942.  It really has passed the test of time.

Book? The list is far too long to choose one favorite.  I have so many books that I have loved that I could write a lengthy treatise on them.

Author?  That list is also long but a few really favorite authors are Diana Gabaldon who is the epitome of generosity to other writers.  I also love the work of Larry McMurtry, Pat Conroy, J. K. Rowling, R. F. Delderfield, Amy Tan, L. M. Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables)  and so many others that I can’t possibly begin to list them all.

Word? Serendipity.  I don’t know why, I just like that word and don’t have occasion to use it often. I guess I haven’t had too many serendipitous encounters .

Quote?  Whatever you are, be a good one. (Abraham Lincoln)

Now some easy one-word answers:

Coffee or tea? Both.  I love good coffee but I know it isn’t really good to drink too much.  I drink green tea, really like it, and iced tea.  Recently, I discovered a fabulous tea shop near my house.  So far, my favorite one they stock is pomegranate and green tea.  Absolutely delicious.

Veggies or fruit?  Fruit.  I love fruit.  Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, peaches, nectarines, watermelon, grapes.  Summer fruit, so that might be one of the things I love about summer too.

Cat or dog? I think I answered this earlier; it’s dogs for me but that doesn’t mean I don’t like cats.  I’ve had a few over the years.

Plot or not?  No plot.  I let scenes unfold and write as they come.  Eventually, they seem to come together and form a coherent story.  They might need some connecting scenes, but that’s pretty much how it goes.  I’ve tried to plot but then the final story ends up looking nothing like the plot I had originally conceived so it’s not a method that works for me.  I know other writers who plot meticulously and adhere to that plan and good for them, but it doesn’t work for me.

Desktop or laptop?  I think I addressed this earlier, but it’s always been a laptop for me.  It’s meant that I can work no matter where I am.

Pencil or pen?  Definitely pen and preferably not a ballpoint.  It might have something to do with being left-handed or it just might be my own personal quirk.

Rain or sun? I love both.  I like walking in the rain if it’s mild.  I like the smell of things after rain, so fresh and clean.  One bonus in Hawaii is that we almost always get rainbows after rain.  Of course I enjoy the sunshine too.  I especially like to wake up naturally to sunlight rather than an alarm but that doesn’t happen often.  Having spent several winters in Scandinavia, I found the minimal light and hardly any sunshine very disconcerting.

Mountains or ocean?  Ocean, hands down.  I love the beach.  I love the colors, the smell of the sea, the sound of the waves, the feel of the sand.  I never tire of it and now that I’m living in Hawaii, the beach is never far away.  How great is that?  I think you are a beach person or you aren’t; there’s no in between.

Plane or train? I hardly ever use a train because they aren’t going where I am so it’s plane and most often because I am traveling internationally so not a lot of choice.  I should say that when I am outside the US, especially in Europe, I do use trains a lot and mostly enjoy them.  Personally, if I had the time and money, I would travel by ship; I think it’s a great way to travel.  No worries about excess luggage and baggage charges, no time zone jetlag. I find it relaxing and of course there is the ocean all around, by now you have figured out that I love the sea.

Car or motorcycle? Definitely a car.  When I was 19, I was riding around on the back of a motorcycle in Paris.  Unbelievably stupid, but I wasn’t wearing a helmet and we were driving on cobblestone streets.  That scared me enough to avoid motorcycles ever since to choose to travel by car.

Run or walk? Walking, definitely.  I can’t run.  I’ve tried and eventually I end up with foot or knee pain so I stick to walking.

Casual or dressy? Both.  I wear a uniform a lot of the time to work so wearing anything else is always a treat.  I do like getting dressed up but wouldn’t want to do it all the time, so I guess casual is what I wear the most but there’s a big range in casual and even in that kind of a look, I do like things that are neat, well matched and comfortable.  I always prefer bright colors; they seem to work better for me.

Indoors or outdoors?  Both.  While I do enjoy walking in a mild rain, I’d prefer to be inside for a thunderstorm or heavy downpour.  I really take pleasure in waking up on a day like that knowing I don’t have to go out, make a nice pot of coffee and curl up with a great book.  To me, that’s really enjoyable.  Conversely, I love the beach and being outdoors on a nice day.  So I guess you could say my answer is weather dependent.

Reading: EBook or paperback? Definitely Ebook.  I never thought that would happen but from the day I got my Kindle, I’ve avoided print books when possible.  The Kindle is just so convenient and easy to use, fabulous for travel, and means I have the book in thirty seconds.  And, I’ll never have to pack up the hundreds of books on my Kindle and break my back lifting the boxes.  I still have dozens of boxes of print books, running out of space, and that’s another good reason for a Kindle. I don’t have to find more shelf space.

Reading: Short story or novels? I prefer novels although I do read short stories occasionally.  I think I prefer novels, and even better, Big Fat Novels, where there is plenty of scope for plot twists, unfolding aspects of character, and sufficient description to be able to create a world for the reader.

Theater or rental? I only go to the movies if it’s a film I am really dying to see, mostly because it is such a short turnaround to rental time which is generally a lot less money.  That doesn’t mean I don’t like to go to the movies, I do, but it is pricey.

Vampire or shifter? Neither.  I know people are crazy about these genres but I’ve never really been too hooked into them although I have read a few books of this type.  If you’re asking if I’ve ever met one, not to my knowledge .

Horror or romance? Romance, for sure.  There are so many genres within romance that you can read suspense, mystery, historical, paranormal or almost anything else.  I love that scope.

Tell us about your new/latest release:

Title: Animal Crackers (Book1 of The Liberty Heights series)
Honestly, I had a ball with this book.  I’m the original Jersey girl, born and bred in the Garden State although I haven’t lived there for years but you can’t take the Jersey out of us!  I had originally intended to write one book, that was it and I knew I would have fun with a Manhattan workaholic who’s been fired and desperate for a job, any job.  House-sitting for a movie star who’s on location sounds like the answer to Hayley’s prayers—or is it?    First, the house is in Jersey, a place Hayley hates more than any other on the planet and second, nobody told her the house is loaded with exotic critters.  You can imagine the fun I had with that.  Being a romance, it’s a cinch that the local veterinarian, Jake Marx, is on speed dial to corral all those quirky animals, and they are quirky, trust me on that one .  Pretty soon Jake and everybody in Liberty Heights has taken on a mission to make Hayley one of their own, especially Jake.

I had such a darned good time with this and got to know lots of folks in Liberty Heights with this book so I just kept going.  Had an equally good time with the second book, The Life of the Party, which will be due out later this year, and the third installment, Hanky-Panky.  The interesting thing is that one of my editors thought this must be a real place and of course, it isn’t. Liberty Heights only exists in my head but it’s very real to me.  The fun thing about writing a series has been the chance to keep developing the secondary characters and their stories or to allow them to come front and center in subsequent books.  I am happy to say that I am working on another book in the series. No idea how that will develop, Liberty Heights always throws surprises at me, much to my delight.

Genre:  Contemporary romance, romantic comedy.  Book 1 of a series all centered in the small town of Liberty Heights.

Blurb: You’re fired! Homeless, out of work and luck, Manhattan workaholic Hayley Weaver is desperate for a job.  House-sitting a movie’s star home sounds like the answer to her prayers—or is it?  Nobody told Hayley the house is in New Jersey, the one place she swore never to set foot upon again, nor that the house contains a rather exotic menagerie.  Local veterinarian Jake Marx is desperate too.  Jake needs to meet a woman he hasn’t known since kindergarten and with Hayley’s frantic calls to corral the critters, pretty soon, Jake is on a mission to corral Hayley.

Short Excerpt:
 Hayley gritted her teeth. Darn that lady cop who had the build of a Sherman tank. How was she supposed to know the stupid rooster was hers? To top it off, that bulldozer of a woman was the Chief of Police, too. The way she carried on, it was pure luck the cop hadn’t shoved her in the local slammer.
After the police station fiasco, Hayley marched across the train tracks to Animal Crackers to confront the veterinarian who thought everything was so funny last night, because even if he was hot, she was hot, too. Burning up she was so livid.
Some old lady peered through bifocals at her and tsked. What a nerve. Who was she to be judging anyone? First that cop, now a woman who looked like Sophia on The Golden Girls making a sour puss.
“Where’s Jake?”
“Are you the house sitter?” the old lady asked.
Hayley nodded.
“You’ll pardon my saying so, but you could do with a visit to Andre.”
Andre. Maybe that was a goat. Or a horse. Wasn’t there a movie about a seal with that name?  God knew what else was running around. The whole town was Animal Crackers as far as Hayley was concerned. As for Andre, with that French name, for all she knew, he could be a cousin of that foul-mouthed parrot, Antoine.
Just that second, Jake poked his head out of a room. A huge smile brightened his freshly shaved cheeks. Hayley staggered. Why did he have to be so cute? She didn’t like him; he’d laughed at her, and he thought she was a neurotic idiot after last night. Plus, she hadn't forgotten her sneaking suspicion he had something going on with that bimbo actress Paulette Stone.
He was dressed in worn jeans and a T-shirt that said, “Have You Kissed Your Vet Today?”
No matter how she tried, Hayley couldn’t seem to avoid studying his lips. Kiss A Vet. In his dreams before she’d kiss him. Never mind that she’d dreamed about exactly that, and he’d been dynamite. She had more pressing problems, and the last thing she needed to do was kiss a veterinarian.
“Henry is loose. I don’t know how he got out of the yard. I got a ticket for him leaving, uh, deposits.”
Jake ducked his head to hide a smile.
“There must be a gap in the fence. I’ll ask Ed to have a look, but Henry wanders. He has a fairly regular routine and usually heads to the same place. He’s safe there.  If Henry can’t get out, he might become distressed.”
“He’s right behind me.”
Hayley turned around and stared. No Henry. He was gone.  The monster beast had been right behind her, dogging her steps like a lovesick teenager only two minutes ago.
“I lost him! I can’t wait to get out of here, and now I’ve lost him!”
Jake shot a glance at the older woman who kept staring at her. The vet had a funny look on his face, as if he was trying not to laugh. What the hell was so hilarious?
“Um, not that it looks bad, but your hair is different. Kind of shorter on one side.”
Hayley fumed. As much as she detested the mess she was in, she was doing her best to be responsible, warning him that a deaf dog was lost, and all he could talk about was her hair. Wise guy.
Her hair.
Shorter on one side. The nail scissors on the floor. Pansy. Please, please, not that!
Hayley let out a screech that would have rivaled Wilbur’s decibels and sunk down into a plastic chair. Her fingers threaded through her hair, and she began to hyperventilate, gasping for air.
Pansy had scalped her. No wonder the old lady was staring.
“Calm down, or you’re going to faint. Nice, slow deep breaths. I’ll get you some water.”
Jake handed her a plastic cup of cold water. Hayley gulped it down.  “I guess you’d rather have another drink, but we don’t keep alcohol around the clinic.”
“A mirror.” She barely managed to rasp the words.
“You sure?”
Dread rose in her heart. It sounded as if he didn’t want her to see the damage. It must be awful, and she’d walked around town without even knowing. People had stared at her, but she thought it was because of Henry trailing her everywhere. That hardware guy, Ed, had offered her one of those dumb Lemur baseball caps, and she brushed it off like an annoying fly. His snickers made a lot more sense now.
God Almighty.
"Aunt Tilly, have you got a mirror for Ms. uh, what is your name?”
“Weaver. Hayley Weaver.”
Tilly handed Hayley a tiny mirror from her handbag. Despite its miniscule size, it was big enough to get an idea of the damage Pansy had inflicted. Hayley gasped and snapped the compact shut. She couldn’t bear to look at it again.
“My hair!  That no good Pansy scalped me!”
No more.  She couldn’t take anymore. She’d put up with a nasty French parrot, a deaf dog, and now a chimp who thought she was Phillippe, the snobby Manhattan stylist.
Hayley burst into tears. Yesterday had been the worst day of her life. Nothing could have been worse, and then today happened.
Jake crouched down in front of her and held her hands.
“Hey, it’s not so bad. Hair grows back.”
She sniffed and blinked at him.
“I paid a fortune to get it exactly right. I can’t go on job interviews like this!”
“It’s not terrible, just a little uneven with those ends sticking up like a Mohawk on one side. It’s asymmetric, but that could be trendy,” the old lady said as if that helped and handed her a tissue.
Asymmetric? Whole chunks were gone. It looked like a blind man had savaged her hair.

Buy links: com/dp/B008231P9 2 


  1. What a fun way to get to know someone. I enjoyed meeting Elle and learning about her new book.