Today Ella Braeme is in the hot seat to talk about her release, Nice Enough, and her love of books. Let’s get started…
What kind of research did you do for Nice Enough?
I have created a fictional town on the coast of Georgia. But of course it is inspired by real life place and I have been to Brunswick, Darien, Sapelo Island, Savannah, Tybee Island… Writing a book is a great excuse for traveling, and I made use of it. I was hoping to make Windfall sound like it could be real.
So true! It’s always a blast to travel for the sake of research. Why didn’t you set your book in a real place?
I felt uncomfortable doing so. My story is not about real people. So if I write about the town librarian, it is not the one in the existing town. Having my characters roam an imaginary place was easier for me.
I totally understand that. It’s easier to create your own world than trying to fit something into a slot that doesn’t quite fit right. Are your characters based on anyone you know?
No. Not knowingly, at least. Of course, real people might trigger ideas. What if… But there isn’t a single character that was created after someone.
Oh, yes! That What if… scenario can lead to trouble. Sometimes the romance genre gets a bad reputation for being cliché and full of Fabios. How do you respond to that?
Interestingly, the people who’ve said that to me were men and avid readers of crime fiction. There are so many more murders in crime fiction every year than actual murders in the US, and yet those fans claim the fidelity of that genre.
And if women like to read about hunky heroes who actually get their partners satisfied every single time and love them dearly, and that is branded as unrealistic—well, that says a lot about the critics. Besides, I think of romances as some sort of fantasy or fairy tale. Why should it be realistic? What’s not to like about a cliché? And well-crafted Fabios can be deliciously swoonworthy.
Agreed! What do you prefer? Ebook or print?
That’s a tough one. I love printed books. The smell of them… However, I am an impatient person. Once I decided to read a book, I want to read it now, not wait for days to hold it in my hands. Besides, I love to set the font to something I am comfortable with. Thus said, I read mostly on my Kindle.
I decided to publish my book in ebook only, as it is a novella. It would look flimsy as a standalone print. Once the series is complete, I am planning on a boxed set that will have a printed version, too.
I love the smell of print books, too, but it’s so much easier to read digital. So Nice Enough is the beginning to a series?
Yes, the second book will be out in March. Books 3 and 4 will be published this year, too. I am afraid I am a slow writer. Researching for books has way too many rabbit holes…
That’s wonderful news, Ella. Congrats on your new series, and thank you so much for chatting with me.
Nice Enough: How To Find A Husband In A Southern Small Town (Married in Windfall Book 1) by Ella Braeme
Her family never had a good standing in the small town Dawn lived in. When she finally had the chance to be seen, she had to get married quickly. No big deal, right? Nice enough and absolutely honest—those are Dawn’s only requirements for her spouse. So why not go for that marriage-of-convenience? Because after the nuptials she might find out, Joss is her Mr Right—and a liar, too. That’s why.
This novella has all the small-town feels, pesky neighbors and all. Whereas the love is sweet, the sizzle is hot, so 18+. No cliffhanger. No cheating. HEA guaranteed.
“And we could have a bouncing castle!” The ideas for the town festival became more and more bizarre. Dawn groaned. She should have known better than to attend this assembly. What’s next? Jugglers? She bit her lip. Did she just say that aloud? She must have, because people were staring at her. Too bad, they did not think the idea ludicrous. They beamed at her. Some even clapped.
“Listen.” Dawn couldn’t take it any longer. She stood up to be better heard, careful not to move her sore shoulder too much. Maybe it was her role to bring some reason into the meeting. “It’s something special to be one of the oldest towns in the country and the upcoming anniversary should be treated respectfully. In all three hundred years of its history, there haven’t ever been jugglers. We should stick to meaningful activities, or else we might have fire-eaters, too.”
Dawn was silenced by a wave of approving hoots and Mayor Muir wrote “fire-eaters” onto the smartboard, nodding appreciatively. This town could not be helped. Dawn sat back down, determined not to open her mouth again.
Some more items of the agenda washed over her. A barbecue for several hundred people? A sack race of the business owners? Dawn held her tongue. The town librarian, who was the mayor’s sister, organizing a reading contest for six-year-olds? Dawn didn’t utter a peep. Only when addressed directly, she answered. Yes, sure, she would create a website for the festival. Her job was data encryption, but yeah, she could do a website. In fact, she was quite proud of herself for not rolling her eyes at that. So she had been required to sit through this assembly because they wanted her to contribute a website to the festival? Whatever.
“There is one last item.” The mayor’s announcement revitalized Dawn. This would be over any minute now. “We think it will be a good idea to have a member of the oldest family in town inaugurate the festival. Many of you might not even know, but there are three families that lived in Windfall all through its three-hundred-year history.” Dawn raised an eyebrow, but clapped politely with the others. She would not comment.
“The Armslows came a few months after the founding of the settlement.” The mayor prompted the crowd to clap for the Armslow family. They owned a fleet of fishing boats and a seafood market down by the docks. “The oldest family would be either the Claybaughs,” some more applause for the quiet secretary and her son, who was employed by the Armslows, “or my own family, the Muirs.” He feigned humility. His sister, though, had an air of royalty about her.
Dawn took a deep breath and loosened her shoulders. She would keep quiet. She could do this.
“We are ever so blessed to be able to choose from inhabitants who have given their all to Windfall through so many generations.”
Surreptitiously, Dawn cast a glance at the Claybaughs. The son blew up his cheeks and rolled his eyes. His mother shrunk in her seat and tried not to be seen.
Muir droned on. “There will be at least two TV stations covering the inauguration, and it’s important to have the right kind of person to conduct it. The city council has decided it is to be a member of the oldest family in town, and there are two just as old, but the Claybaughs have politely declined, so the honor will be all—”
“Mine.” Dang, she did it. She had stood up and offered herself for the most prestigious role of that festival. There was no backing out of this now, so Dawn kept her head high and let the surprised murmur in the room glide off her.
“Miss Firstner,” Mayor Muir said. Dawn had to give it to him, he did not look perturbed at all, rather like a long-suffering schoolteacher talking reason into a kindergartner. “I do appreciate your desire to commit further to the festival, and am sure we will find a suitable role. But I think it’s vital to mark that we indeed have founders’ families still living in Windfall and theirs should be the honor of opening the festival. And it’s a fact Lachlan Muir and Angus Claybaugh founded the city.”
“On my people’s land.” Dawn heard some gasps and mutter around her, but she looked straight into Mayor Muir’s eyes.
“Oh, so you’re pulling the race card?”
Dawn saw Muir blinking rapidly. He obviously had let that slip. Smiling sincerely, she answered, “Not at all. I’m glad to know you didn’t either. It was your ancestor who gave the name of Alexander Firstner to my ancestor Kikikwawason to acknowledge his family was here first. So your insistence on the Muirs and Claybaughs sounded like you were adamant the honorable role needed to be filled by a white person.”
“I wouldn’t.” After quickly assuring this, Mayor Muir fell quiet. Dawn could see the cogs in his brain turning, but he didn’t come up with an answer.
Windfall had been founded by Scottish settlers. Of course, over the years people from other backgrounds had come, too. Only three families of prevalent Muscogee heritage had remained. Dawn’s was one of them.
The mayor’s sister chimed up. “But you’re not even a family. You’re all alone.”
“Hell, Carol, that’s a shitty way to pay your condolences,” Joe Armslow burst out.
His wife, a council member, whispered, way too loud, “Language.” Some people snickered.
The librarian held her hands up to indicate innocence. “I am sorry your grandparents died in that car-crash. I really am. I’ve always loved your grandmother’s honey, but—”
“What?” Dawn glowered at her. “I am not worth considering, just because I am alone? Would it appease you if I had a family by the time the festival comes around?”
Carol stumbled back. Her brother had found his footing again. He proclaimed solemnly, “Excellent. So if in one year you have a family, you can open the festival.”
Dawn’s jaw twitched. “I will have a husband and a child by then,” Dawn blurted before she got around to thinking. But now she had said it and no way would she go back on her word. She stood tall and looked into Muir’s eyes until he averted his.
Ella Braeme lives further from the sea than she wished to, so setting her stories there felt just natural. She spends her days reading and writing, and walking her dog. That doesn’t sound very exciting, but it is an apt lifestyle for an author. She likes to travel and some of the things she encounters wind up in her books.