Your heroine Mara is a dancer — did you take lessons as a kid or are you just a fan?
Thank you for having me here today. And yes, I did take dance lessons as a kid! Tapdancing. I loved the noisy shoes, but all I remember is the instructor saying, “Brush one, brush two.” I can brush like nobody’s business, but that’s about it. I think it would be more honest to say that Mara’s a dancer because I’m a fan. Plus, a free-spirited dancer really did seem like the kind of partner a nerdy professor, who’s a cowboy at heart, needed to balance his life.
What is Luke’s favorite movie?
Luke’s favorite movie… I’m not sure I can come up with just one, but he’s definitely all about CGI and special effects. He’s not watching them for the plotlines.
Luke and Mara are both teachers — did you have a favorite teacher?
I did have a favorite teacher. Terry Wadden, my high school English teacher. I contacted him after I wrote my first book and reminded him that he once told me he’d read anything I wrote. (Be careful what promises you make, teachers.) He made me feel even more important by thanking me because I was one of his first students, and my book came out as he was about to retire, making it part of his story. (Don’t bother doing the math on that one.) He tells new teachers to remember that they do make a difference, because they do.
On that note, my mother was also a teacher and she encouraged me to write from the start. I’m sorry to go on about this, but teachers are so important and she’s a great example. She loved her students as much as she loves her children. She has Alzheimer’s now and the fact that she has a daughter who writes is one thing she hasn’t forgotten, even though she struggles every day to remember what (and who!) is important to her. When we were going through her belongings, and trying to decide what she should keep, we found a box of her memorabilia. I can still see the look on her face as we went through each piece and she couldn’t remember why it once meant something to her. Then I found a letter from one of her former students who wrote to her on her retirement to tell her how much she meant to her, and what a difference my mother made in her life. My mother, who has faced this disease with amazing stoicism, started to cry because she remembered that particular student, and then proceeded to tell me all about her. She told me to throw everything else in the box away but that letter.
So if you had a favorite teacher, please take the time to thank them and tell them why. I promise you, they were your favorite teacher because you were important to them, even if they don’t remember your name, and they will welcome the gesture.
What actress would play Luke’s ex-girlfriend in a movie?
Another great question! Luke’s ex-girlfriend isn’t a terrible person, she’s simply very self-contained and focused. She comes across as cold because nothing has touched her yet, and that includes Luke. They meshed on an intellectual level, which was important to them both when they were students, but he always knew there was something deeper missing from their relationship. I’m trying to think of what actresses I’ve seen lately who would suit the role, but unless they were in a Marvel or X-men movie, I’m at a loss. Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique might work.
What are you currently reading?
Heartthrob by Robin Bielman. To shake things up a little, and because I love anything with a western theme, I’ve got a book by Harlan Coben on the go and I’m re-reading my Louis L’Amour collection. I just finished a Lee Child novel, too. I don’t read a whole lot of romance while I’m writing romance.
Paula Altenburg lives in rural Nova Scotia, Canada, with her husband and two sons. Once a manager in the aerospace industry, she now enjoys working from home and writing fulltime. Paula writes fantasy and paranormal romance, as well as short contemporary romance.