Thursday, June 14, 2012


This giveaway is now CLOSED!  Congratulations to Carin Walker, winner of Sophia Knightly's e-book GRILL ME, BABY!  Thanks to all who left a comment! 

Today's guest on Books by Banister is novelist Sophia Knightly! Earlier this week, she debuted her sexy romantic comedy, GRILL ME, BABY.  Sophia is doing something special with a portion of the profits from her debut week sales (June 12-18) for this book. In her words:

"GRILL ME, BABY is a celebration of love and food.  For the occasion of its launch, I'm going to donate a portion of my proceeds from the first week of sales of GRILL ME, BABY to Share Our Strength, No Kid Hungry.  When I heard that one in five children (over sixteen million) go hungry in America, I wanted to call attention to this charitable organization whose mission is to end childhood hunger in America."

And now for my interview with Sophia . . .

1) Can you give us a brief overview of GRILL ME, BABY?

Briefly, GRILL ME, BABY is about two hot chefs who battle for the top spot in a TV cooking show.

Hot Argentine chef Paolo Santos has loads of self-confidence and sexy charisma.  His style of cooking is rich and robust.

Cool, elegant spa chef Michaela Willoughby works hard at developing tasty, health conscious cuisine for her clients who have dietary restrictions.  Her style of cooking is light and luscious.

The fun starts when these two determined chefs collide and have to circumvent their intense chemistry.  Put them in the kitchen together and the impact is combustible!  As the lively battle of one-upmanship advances, their sexy rivalry nearly undoes them.

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

I love Paolo’s generous heart and the way he shoulders the responsibility of being surrogate father to his younger sisters.

I love Michaela’s strong spirit and her determination.  She also has a beautiful heart.

3) What made you want to write this book?

The idea for writing  GRILL ME, BABY came from watching celebrity chefs on TV cooking shows.  I love the way their individual personalities shine through as they entertain and entice us with the wonderful food they prepare.  Whenever I want to unwind, I tune into a TV cooking show and get inspired by new recipes.  

4) What are you working on now?

I’m writing the first book in a trilogy that involves three young women who met in summer camp and became best friends. The first one is a romantic suspense set in Key West. I’m having a blast pairing the firecracker heroine with the scorching, reclusive hero.

I’m also plotting a sequel to  GRILL ME, BABY about Tiffany, Michaela’s mischievous younger sister.

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

The characters always come first. I have to know them really well before I begin to write the story.  Once they become real to me, with strengths and flaws and I know their strongest goals and their greatest fears, then a plot begins to percolate.

6) How do you think of titles?

Titles are really important to me, as are book covers.  I try to think of something that ties into the plot. It must be catchy and short so readers will remember it.  I make sure to say it out loud and see what it looks like in print before I decide.

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?

Beautiful love scenes are integral to a romance.  I like to write and read sensual love scenes between characters who have intense chemistry and strong feelings for each other.  A quick romp in bed doesn’t draw me in as much as a love scene between two people who are emotionally invested in each other.

Even in women’s comedic fiction, also referred to as chick lit, I like to see a strong personal connection between the characters who make love because it raises the emotional stakes between them.

8) Who are the authors who inspire you?

I love Lisa Kleypas’s voice in contemporary romance.  For romantic comedy, I bow to the queen, Susan Elizabeth Phillips -- I also enjoy Kristan Higgins.  For hot romantic suspense it’s Linda Howard, and for funny chick lit, Sophie Kinsella and Meg Cabot.

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

I enjoy reading romantic comedy, romantic suspense, chick lit and biographies.

10) What was the last book you read that really WOWed you?

The book that immediately popped into my mind was Diana Gabaldon’s OUTLANDER.  Even though I read it many years ago, I’m wowed by Diana’s writing talent and how it resonates.

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

I don’t have a preference; either is fine.

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

It would be Ernest Hemingway’s A MOVEABLE FEAST.  I would love to see Paris in the 1920’s and be surrounded by all those talented writers and artists.

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

I would invite:

Michelangelo – I am in awe of his artistic talent.
Hillary Clinton – She’s brilliant and strong - I admire her intellect.
Audrey Hepburn – I love her talent and her strong social conscience.
Broadway star Audra MacDonald – She has a gorgeous voice and has a funny personality.
William Shakespeare – I’d love to know how he was so in tune with human nature.

Fast and Flirty 

Favorite celebrity chef?  Giada di Laurentiis – I’ve made a lot of her recipes.
Favorite thing to eat?  Joe’s stone crabs dipped in mustard sauce. I also love key lime pie.
Favorite scent?  Gardenia
Favorite word?  Delicious
Dream vacation spot?  Greek Islands
Favorite time period in history?  Renaissance – wouldn’t want to live during that time, but I love the art, especially the sculptures.
Favorite girl's night out drink?  Frozen lime margarita
Favorite date night activity?  I love trying new restaurants and cuisine.  A dream date would be a Broadway show and dinner in NYC.
Coffee or tea or soda?  Pomegranate green tea – hot or iced.
Strong but lean or built and burly?  Strong but lean.
Scruffy or clean-shaven?  Clean-shaven
Dark-haired or blond?  Dark-haired
Celebrity hottie on your laminated list?  Colin Firth
Novel hero crush?  Hardy Cates from BLUE-EYED DEVIL by Lisa Kleypas.

Thanks so much for participating in Authorpalooza, Sophia!  Best of luck with GRILL ME, BABY!

Sophia has generously offered to give away one e-book copy of GRILL ME, BABY.  So, leave a comment below telling me who your favorite celebrity chef is and you'll be entered to win.  Don't forget to leave your e-mail address so that I can contact you if you win!  Contest is open to US residents only!  Drawing will take place on Thursday, June 21st, so get your comments in by midnight on Wednesday, June 20th.

Purchase GRILL ME, BABY at:

Visit Sophia Knightly at:


  1. Love this interview, Tracie and Sophia!! I can relate to the characters coming first...mine do too. I usually have no idea what the story will be, but the characters have to sit with me a while so I can figure out what they want to say.

    I love Gordon Ramsey!!! I'm a Hell's Kitchen/Master Chef/Kitchen Nightmares geek...I love watching him yank people around and turn them into professionals! lol.

    I like your 5 people to have dinner with, Tracie, I'm going to borrow that idea today, and I'll link back to ya. ;-)

  2. I like to watch Alton Brown on television.

  3. For my favorite celebrity chef, Martha Stewart, is still the one. The reason she ranks tops with me is that every recipe I've ever tried of hers has been wonderful. They are always winners with the family.

    Great post. Fun questions.

    Kristi Rhodes

  4. Thank you for stopping by and commenting, Sharla. Lol about Gordon Ramsey, he is one tough taskmaster!

  5. Thanks for adding Alton Brown, Patricia. He is so informative and interesting to watch.

  6. Hi Kristi! I agree about Martha Stewart. She is multi-talented and not just at cooking. She does everything so effortlessly!

  7. I'm in Canada, so ignore me for the contest. But my favorite TV chef is Laura Calder. She has several cookbooks out if anyone's interested in French cooking made easy.

  8. Congratulations on your new book, Sophia! My favorite television chef is Chef Ramsey, for the sheer entertainment value :) In Kitchen Nightmares, I love how he goes in to a dying restaurant and, without mincing words, tells them exactly what is wrong and what needs to change.

  9. Hi Roxy - I love Laura Calder's show on the Cooking Channel! Everything she makes is gorgeous and must taste delicious. Thanks for stopping by. I can always send an ebook to Canada, so no need to be excluded from the contest.

  10. Lol, Kristine -- Chef Ramsey doesn't hold back, does he? He whips 'em into shape pretty quickly :) Thanks for stopping by!

  11. I'm a fan of Giada's too and have made several of her recipes. I enjoy watching the food channel and all of the chefs. Can't wait to read this book, sounds fun!

  12. Thanks so much, Jackie! I'm happy you stopped by!

  13. My favorite tv chef is Alton Brown I just think he is a hoot!

  14. I agree, Carin. Alton is an original! Thanks for commenting here!

  15. This sounds like such a fun read. My favorite celeb chef is Jamie Oliver--very down to earth. He's British, so I don't know if you have him in the US.

  16. Sounds like a fun read. I love stories with chefs. And I want to know more about Joe's stone crabs

  17. Thank you, Helen. Jamie Oliver is a fantastic choice! He's known here in the U.S. for his TV Show, "Food Revolution", an initiative dedicated to improving school children's eating habits.

  18. Thanks very much, Shelley! Joe's Stone Crabs is a landmark in Miami Beach and my favorite place for indulgent eating :) I adore their stone crabs dunked in their signature mustard sauce, lyonnaise potatoes, creamed spinach and their special cole slaw. Topped off with their luscious sweet and tart Key Lime pie and I'm in heaven...and running to the gym to work off the calories!

  19. Bridget O'NeillJune 16, 2012 at 7:04 PM

    My favorite celebrity chef is Bobby Flay, and he's pretty easy on the eyes!

  20. Martha Stewart by far! She's not only brilliantly talented in the kitchen, but all over the home, and in the wedding industry, events...definitely an inspiring woman!


  21. I don't really follow celebrity chefs all that much. I liked Julia Child more after seeing "Julie and Julia." I also like the chefs who make amazing looking cakes.

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  22. Katie Lee

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  23. Guy Fieri is my favorite! I am strangely attracted to that man. :D

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