In a nutshell, tell us about the highly anticipated book The Cinderella Project:
The Cinderella Project
explores some of the difficulties that I think many couples experience sooner or later in their relationships: what happens when temptations to stray arise, and there is every reason to give in? In today’s world, it seems expected that men are going to just “step out,” but I know for a fact that some men remain faithful despite sometimes great difficulty; I’m one of them. I think it’s a story that needs to be told, both to show the other side of the stereotype and to hold out hope that good men still exist, both within and without the realm of fiction.
How does it feel being a man writing a Romance?
Well, my hands have never been softer, nor my legs so smooth. Seriously, though, in a word: bizarre.
Yet cool at the same time, because I’m comfortable enough in my manhood that I can write about relationships and emotions that men do have (whether they admit it or not) and not feel emasculated. It’s definitely not a flooded field, and while Nick Sparks is awesome competition, it provides a sense of uniqueness I probably wouldn’t find writing many other genres.
Do you relate to the main character, med student Nick Cairn?
There’s a loaded question if I’ve ever seen one. I think I relate very well to Nick. In a way, Nick is like the “better me” I’m working to become. Nick might be fictional, but when I wrote him, I drew from personal feelings and experiences to inform his behavior up to the point where he took on a life of his own, and started writing himself. I think that’s kind of like life, though: we struggle through the early years with someone else’s guidance, but eventually, we grow into people who are their own selves, and who can make a positive difference in the world. I relate to that message of growth despite (or, rather, because of) struggles, and I relate to his desire to do what is he thinks is right even though so many things are screaming for him to take the other path. It’s the kind of integrity I try to keep in my own life.
Okay, so you write Romance and are a guy... Do you read any Romance?
Only recently. See, I stumbled into the romance genre—there was an online contest run by a girl, and my entry into that contest was the original form of this book. Turns out, I really, really enjoyed writing it, so despite the fact that I had almost zero experience with the Romance genre, the story compelled me anyway.
When I realized I actually could write a decent romance that was fun to read, it occurred to me that I’d better check out what was already out there, to get a better idea of how women felt, what they wanted in their reading, and what was entertaining to read. Let’s just say that I became a fast fan of Shannon Hale.
Where do you find inspiration?
My inspiration comes from frozen yogurt on rainy November days. I jest. The bulk of it comes from personal experience (mostly with my wife), and from observing the relationships of others. I dare say some of it comes from a “higher place,” for lack of a better way to put it, but I was raised around women—my single mom and three younger sisters. I had a reasonable number of female friends in high school and college, and I was taught to respect women from a young age. That has driven a desire to really understand them, and to value them in my life. As a result, I think I’m in better touch with women as a whole than most men I know. I love creating something they can enjoy.
How is your Romance different from most out there?
Aside from the fact that no one has sex in The Cinderella Project? The most obvious difference is that it’s told from a male point of view. I’m sure that has been done before, maybe even a few times. I’m not sure how often it has been done by a man. The book gets beneath the male stereotype and reveals (scandalously!) that yes, men actually do have emotions, and that, to paraphrase Mister Bennett, “a guy likes to be crossed in love now and again.”
I actively worked to keep this love focused on the commitment and the effort involved in making a relationship work in the long run, rather than on “just getting some” with the hopes that “real” love would come along before the end.
I just try to keep it light, fun, and real—no chiseled abs, no heaving bosoms (and yes, that’s me stereotyping romance novels).
Any last words?
That’s the kind of question you find on a last will and testament. I will say, however, that I absolutely adore my wife of almost 12 years (she was the only girlfriend I ever had, and my first kiss to boot; at least I got that right the first time). She has made me a better person than I ever was on my own, and through our seven (so far…) children, has given me a legacy I can be proud of. She brought not only this book to life, but my desire to pursue this rather unusual path: seeing her laugh and smile at something I’ve written is such a reward!
As I mentioned before, I hope my writing can give hope to women who find themselves in less-than-perfect situations, and give them hope that good and decent men are still to be had (if they don’t already have one).
Yeah, it’s a bit awkward talking about a book entitled “The Cinderella Project” with guys, but I’ve been surprised at how many men have actually found the subject interesting. Maybe I can be a voice for the real emotions and desires that men have, but that society tells us to suppress in the name of being “manly.” Because obviously, it’s better to channel surf, drink beer, and bet on fantasy football brackets than to admit that your heart acts funny when you really love a women, or to ‘fess up that you do sometimes choke up at something sweet now and again.
So if you’ll excuse me, I need to go shoot a round of pool with the guys…
Purchase The Book:
This book is currently in the middle of a blog tour
! Check out the stops HERE