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Meet 2018 Golden Heart Finalist Alexandria Bellefleur

Today we’re welcoming another Persister, 2018 Golden Heart Finalist Alexandria Bellefleur, whose manuscript WELL-PLAYED is nominated for Best Contemporary Romance!

Alexandria grew up in the Pacific Northwest and still considers it home, despite now living on the opposite side of the country. When she’s not writing or reading, she can be found shipping fictional characters with a black cat curled up on her lap, and a strong cup of coffee or a glass of pinot noir in hand.

Here’s a blurb for WELL-PLAYED:

Never in his wildest dreams did MFA theatre student Oliver Matthews imagine he would wind up with his high school crush, Jason Edwards, as his roommate. Awkward, definitely, but it’s Jason’s glaring brows and clipped sentences that make sharing an apartment hell.

Oliver has no business agonizing over Jason’s animosity, let alone rekindling an unrequited crush. Not when he has a thesis to write, papers to grade, and an interview for an adjunct professorship to prepare for, all while struggling to atone for past mistakes. But when lecturing to a group of uninterested undergrads becomes a daily exercise in pain and an advisor recommends he audition for a professional theatre company, Oliver is tempted by a different future than the one he’d resigned himself to.

He also finds himself tempted by Jason’s emerging softer side, and before long his roommate’s heated stares take on a surprisingly sexier meaning. No longer able to deny the chemistry between them, Oliver proposes they be friends with benefits—the perfect way to have Jason without any distracting strings attached.

Feelings were never supposed to be part of their deal, but when the lines between friendship, sex, and love blur, Jason proves to be everything Oliver never knew he wanted. In over his head and unsure whether his feelings are returned, let alone what it means for his future if they are, Oliver realizes that what was meant to be casual is complicated.

Oh, yummy!! And when you see who Alexandria’s celebrity crush is, you can just imagine him as Jason! (Though I looked on Alexandria’s blog and saw Henry Cavill as Jason instead. I AM NOT COMPLAINING EITHER WAY. Henry Cavill…swoon!!)

Alexandria and I are sitting down to chat today, backstage at the local theater. Please pull up a stool and join us—we’ve got a big urn of really strong coffee and some awesome pastries the prop guys brought from the bakery down the block.

*********************************

So great to have you here, Alexandria! This is your first Golden Heart final, I believe, so it must be a pretty fun time! What was it like when you got the phone call telling you you were a finalist?

Honestly, that whole week leading up to the call was an amazing whirlwind. I signed with my agent (Sarah E. Younger of the Nancy Yost Literary Agency) on Monday, announced it on Twitter on Tuesday, and got the Golden Heart call on Wednesday. I’m an early riser, but Wednesday I decided to stay in a bed a little later than usual after celebrating with friends the night before. I remember lying in bed, my phone ringing, and thinking I don’t know this number. I let it ring, but I got another call a little over an hour later. The whole thing took me completely by surprise in the best way. I think I spilled coffee on myself, but that’s nothing unusual.

 Every part of being a finalist has been fantastic (okay, maybe not having my headshot taken) but my favorite has been connecting with the rest of the Persisters. Everyone is so talented, not to mention wonderfully supportive of one another. Making new friends has been the greatest perk of all.

Those Golden Heart sisterhoods are a fine, fine thing! Really takes the edge off the lonely writer experience. Speaking of which…tell us a little about your writing journey. Did you always write? Has Romance always been a part of it?

Growing up I had a larger than life imagination, probably thanks in part to being an only child. I spun a lot of fantastical tales my mom still likes to laugh about. Apparently, when I was five I had a really tumultuous marriage to a stuffed dragon named Rodger, so storytelling and romance are clearly nothing new for me.

Like a lot of romance writers, I have to credit Twilight for sparking the desire in me to actually put pen to paper (or you know, fingers to keys) and write. I started writing Twilight fanfic that I’ve since deleted because eek, it was really bad. But I enjoyed it and I learned so much about taking feedback and criticism because anonymous commenters don’t mess around.

A few years passed where I didn’t write anything beyond essays and lab reports. I picked up a bunch of romance novels to decompress from my upper division science classes the summer after I graduated from college, and my desire to write was renewed. It took a few fumbling attempts and a lot of trial and error to find my voice, but I can’t imagine not writing now.

I think Romance has saved many an upper division science student from madness! As has writing fan fiction. So, between your Twilight period and your early dragon marriage (LOL!), it sounds like you have a pretty strong fantasy / paranormal streak for a Contemporary Romance writer. What other stories catch your fancy?—not just novels, but TV and movies, too.

Any romance, all romance, sign me up. I’m partial to contemporary and paranormal, but I’ve been reading a good deal of historical romance lately. Occasionally I’ll pick up a solid thriller, but I’m more likely to go for romance. I love the guarantee of a happy ending, an escape from real life stress.

I don’t watch a ton of TV, at least not until shows wind up on Netflix in which case I’m a big binge watcher. Some of my recent favorites are The 100 (Bellarke or bust), Good Girls, Arrow, and Supergirl. All time favorites? Buffy the Vampire Slayer, hands down. I’ve watched every episode *cough*ten times*cough*…at least. I have yet to write a loveable—in my opinion—jerk like Spike, but I definitely think the quirky, slightly off-beat humor of the show has shaped my writing.

Ah! I was right about that paranormal streak! And you must have learned lots from all those shows in terms of creating story. What’s your writing process like?

I’m a serious plotter. Before I begin drafting I need to have a plot outline, a perfectly curated playlist of songs, and at least one aesthetic so I know the general mood I’m trying to achieve. Once I have this, I draft pretty quickly, a first draft taking me roughly 4-6 weeks. I like to get it all out as quickly as possible so that I don’t second-guess myself. If I slow down, imposter syndrome creeps in so I draft quickly to outrun the feeling.

My schedule is fortunately flexible and I can squeeze in writing time around my day job projects. I prefer to write early in the morning with a cup of coffee, but I don’t mind writing midday, or in the evening with a glass of wine. As long as I reach my daily word count goal, I’m happy.

Revision for me involves annotated edit letters, neon gel pens, plenty of coffee, and the occasional embarrassing pep talk in the mirror. It’s taken me time, but I actually love revising. Instead of thinking of it as fixing problems, I try to reframe revisions as a way of taking everything to the next level. How much better can I make this manuscript? How can I take the tension up a notch? If I keep it positive, I’m way less intimidated by changes that I need to make, no matter how big they are.

Oh, I love that: revisions as a way to kick the tension up a notch!! Very empowering!! So…day job and ambitious writing schedule. Anything else you manage to squeeze in to your day?

When I don’t have my nose buried in a book, I like to knit. Something about the repetition of stitches and patterns puts me in a great headspace to brainstorm, so I get a lot of plotting done while knitting. Two birds, one stone, I figure. I also enjoy rock climbing and hiking, so I’m not totally a twenty-something grandma despite how my friends joke that I am.

 Knitting and rock climbing sound like a great stress-busting combo to me…just not at the same time. Okay, here’s a question from left field: Biggest celebrity crush?

 Just one? Tough, but I’d have to say Tyler Hoechlin. I mean, have you seen his smile? Swoon.

Oh, yes! He’s so pretty. I’ve never even watched a show he’s in, but I know that smile from Tumblr. (I’ve said too much.) Ahem. *pours more coffee* One last question: are you going to Nationals?

 I am going to Nationals! It’ll be my first time attending and I’m thrilled to meet so many of my online friends in person. I’m not exactly sure what to expect, and I’m a little shy, but my excitement far outweighs my nerves!

You’re going to have a fabulous time!!!! Going to Nationals as a Golden Heart Finalist is a blast. Okay, we’re about out of time for our part of the conversation. What question would you like to ask our readers to get the conversation going today?

 What do you wish you knew before you attended your first Nationals? You know, something no one mentions, but you think is a must-know. I’m dying to absorb all the insider tips and secrets before July rolls around!

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Connect with Alexandria Bellefleur on social media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ambellefleur

Website: https://www.alexandriabellefleur.com/

 

 

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