Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Today, I'd like to welcome fellow Southerner, online pal, and talented writer Lauren Clark to Books by Banister.  Lauren recently released her second novel, DANCING NAKED IN DIXIE, and I had the pleasure of reading an advanced copy.  See my rave review here and read on to learn more about Lauren and her new book . . .  

1) Can you give us a brief overview of DANCING NAKED IN DIXIE?

In essence, it's a story about finding happiness in the most unlikely of places. When the story begins, New York City travel writer Julia Sullivan is sent to Eufaula, Alabama to cover the annual Pilgrimage and she's not happy about it! When she arrives, though, she's soon charmed by the quaint area -- only to discover that a developer is planning to raze the city's historic landmarks.

2) What's your favorite quality about your hero/heroine?

Julia is smart, resourceful, and energetic--she always has the best of intentions--but often acts before she thinks. That impulsiveness gets her into a LOT of trouble!!

3) What made you want to write this book?

I lived near Eufaula, Alabama for several years and always enjoyed attending the Pilgrimage. It's a magical time of year--everything's in bloom--the weather is great! I always thought that the city would make a wonderful setting for a novel. In fact, the movie, "Sweet Home Alabama," (Reese Witherspoon) used shots of Eufaula's historic district!

4) What are you working on now?

I am researching for my next novel, The Pie Lab, which is a real restaurant in Greensboro, Alabama. This story will follow a girl who’s gone off to a big city (like Atlanta or New York) and vows NEVER to come home. She’s forced to return to Greensboro, though, when her romantic relationship falls apart. Since she’s burned a lot of bridges, it will be interesting to see how she makes amends.  The Pie Lab, as a business, is a great concept, as it offers on-the-job training and the owners are very active in the community. Added bonus…the pies are delicious! The Pie Lab has been featured in Southern Living and The New York Times.

5) What comes first for you -- character idea, plot idea?

It's always an idea ... or a 'What if' question. For example, Stay Tuned was a "What if two anchors got into a fistfight on live television...what would happen next?" Dancing Naked in Dixie was a "What if a big city travel writer was forced to go on assignment to the Deep South or lose her job?"

6) How do you think of titles?

Stay Tuned came from being in the television business for a long time. I wanted something catchy, short, and easy to remember. Dancing Naked in Dixie jumped into my head one day when I was thinking about a novel about a travel writer who comes to Eufaula. My first idea was to have the protagonist discover some fabulous "dessert" or treat that was so good it made everyone want to dance naked! The more I thought about it, though, I felt it would be straying too much from the plotline that needed to be Julia's journey--a physical journey from New York to Eufaula, Alabama, but also a personal journey of growth and discovery about herself and her own family.

7) What are your thoughts on love scenes in books?  Do you prefer to read/write sweet/romantic encounters between your hero and heroine or spicy ones?

After just finishing Book 2 in the Shades of Gray series, I'm definitely in the prude camp! I had a racy strip-tease seduction scene in Stay Tuned, but I don't want to write anything that would make my mother blush or my grandmother come back from the grave to wash my mouth out with soap!

8) Who are the authors who inspire you?

Love Sophie Kinsella...she's so funny! I adore Jennifer Weiner and Emily Giffin, as well as Lisa See, Abraham Verghese, and Michelle Richmond. I think Stephen King is brilliant, though I'm not a horror fan. The Green Mile is so moving, as is the short story he wrote which was made into "The Shawshank Redemption" movie. His book, On Writing, is witty and truthful!

9) What genres do you like to read?  Do you stick to one or are you eclectic in your reading tastes?   

I vary my reading--mostly between Chick Lit and Thrillers. I've been on a Lisa Gardner kick lately. I'm desperately waiting for Juliette Sobanet's third in the Paris series. I tore through Stieg Larsson's series, as well as Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games (loved her trilogy for the strong heroine).

10) What was the last book you read that really WOW'd you?

Gosh - I was really impressed by James Patterson's Guilty Wives. It's not his usual serial killer repartee and I was captivated by the story. Prior to that, Alice Hoffman's The Dovekeepers was amazing, detailed, and very moving.

11) Do you prefer a series or stand alone novels?

Doesn't matter.  I'm happy with either!

12) If you could be plopped down in the middle of any book, which one would it be?

I loved Sophie Kinsella's Remember Me?

13) If you could invite any five people (living or dead) over for a dinner party, who would they be and why?

Stieg Larsson - I need to know if there's a book four or five!
Stephen King - I think he is fascinating and has led such an interesting, yet grounded life
Jodi Picoult - She's such a fabulous writer and chooses such controversial topics. I really didn't think that I'd enjoy Lone Wolf, but decided to try it as an audio book and found it fascinating!
Both of my grandparents because I miss them so much. I would love a few more hours to talk to them and tell them that I love them.

Fast and Flirty 
Favorite word?   Fabulous
Dream vacation spot?    Santorini, Greese
Favorite time period in history?  I do love to think about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, but I adore my shower and washing machine too much to time-travel to back then
Favorite girl's night out drink?  Red wine, I love the "Writer's Block" Syrah by Steele Wines (California)
Favorite date night activity?  We have a great little brick oven pizza place within walking distance of our house. We know the owner, the manager, the servers, and many of the neighbors who come in!  Fun!
Coffee or tea or soda?  Flavored coffee, cream and sugar
Strong but lean or built and burly?  Daniel Craig, I guess I'm in the strong but lean camp!
Scruffy or clean-shaven?  Clean-shaven
Dark-haired or blond?  Blond
Celebrity Hottie on your laminated list?  Daniel Craig, Mark Wahlberg, and I do adore LL Cool J in NCIS Los Angeles.
Novel hero crush?  Mikael Blomkvist (of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series)

Thanks so much for stopping by Books by Banister, Lauren!  It was a pleasure to have you here.

Here's where you can find Lauren Clark:

DANCING NAKED IN DIXIE can be purchased at:


  1. Thank you so much Tracie! It's been so great getting to know you and exchanging ideas -- everyone LOVED the Chick Lit author Blog Hop!!!

    So glad you enjoyed Dixie ... thank you or spreading the word about Julia's adventures!

    xx, Lauren

  2. Great interview! Can't wait to jump into the book! <3

  3. What a fun interview! "Dancing Naked in Dixie" sounds like a really cute book!

    P.S. I'm right there with you on the prude scale :)

    P.P.S. I want access to the Pie Lab!

    1. Yes! I want access to the Pie Lab as well!!

  4. What a great interview! Lauren sounds like one of those awesome people! I have to add "Dancing Naked in Dixie" to my TBR list.

  5. Great interview, ladies! I love how books start as a small germ of an idea and than take on lives of their own.

    And it looks like there will be a fight in the Pie Lab! :-)