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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Spotlight on Allie Pleiter and The Perfect Blend


Enthusiastic but slightly untidy mother of two, Allie Pleiter writes both fiction and non-fiction. An avid knitter, coffee junkie, and non-reformed chocoholic, she spends her days writing books, doing laundry, running carpools, and finding new ways to avoid housework. Allie grew up in Connecticut, holds a BS in Speech from Northwestern University, spent 15 years in the field of professional fundraising, and currently lives in suburban Chicago, Illinois. The "dare from a friend" to begin writing eight years ago has blossomed into a career that includes numerous public speaking engagements, two books on parenting; BECOMING A CHIEF HOME OFFICER and FACING EVERY MOM'S FEARS, and five novels: BAD HEIRESS DAY and QUEEN ESTHER AND THE SECOND GRADERS OF DOOM, the Rita-nominated MY SO-CALLED LOVE LIFE, THE PERFECT BLEND out now, and MASKED BY MOONLIGHT due out in June of 2008.

By Allie Pleiter


1. First-person wit and humor, plus a coffeehouse owner facing off against a "stuffy" banker. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

I get asked this question all the time, and I must confess I have NO IDEA where my stories come from. God seems to toss huge pieces of them into my head at odd moments, though; they never come all at once. The Perfect Blend started as the concept of insurmountable odds—opening yet another coffeehouse in Seattle, which is brimming with coffeehouses. The coffeehouse element probably came from my own personal obsession with coffee. Then came to elements of opposites—coffee and tea, artistic and corporate, and all the other fun character traits that make William and Maggie such a pair.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced the characters of Maggie and William? What aspects became traits that were theirs and theirs alone?

The process of character building is so organic for me that I'm never really sure where my characters get their traits. I have lots of William's planning and structure, but I'm definitely a free spirit risk-taker like Maggie. And, as I said earlier, I do take my coffee very seriously. I always visit the city where my books are set, so I hope that comes through in my writing. While I did have the great fun of interviewing rugby players, I've never played the game (nor do I think I'd survive if I did, even if I am six feet tall). But the dynamics of risk vs. faith, or planning vs. leaping—all these are things I've always wrestled with over and over.

3. What themes exist in The Perfect Blend that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

I think the book is about God taking us where we don't expect. About where our personal dreams meet God's higher plan. Sometimes that is a wonderful meshing, a launching pad. Other times it feels like a dead end. It's easy to know what to do at the launching pad. The dead end, on the other hand, presents a bigger challenge. As a writer, I was most intrigued by how the Freemont Troll figured into the story. I could not understand why I was so drawn to him (he's a lifesize concrete troll in an artsy neighborhood of Seattle), and it didn't surface until near the end of the book. I won't tell you more than that because I'd ruin it for you, but he became a wonderful metaphor. That sort of thing is the wonder of writing for me. I hope that wonder transfers itself to my readers.

4. What were your favorite parts to write? Your most difficult?

There is a scene where Maggie demonstrates the various types of coffee drinks that is a personal favorite. William gets his rebuttal (again, don't want to give away too many details here) that also was great fun to write. Humor is a natural language for me. I crack myself up all the time while writing, which is kind of odd—it shouldn't work, it's like tickling yourself, but I chuckle all the time and my family thinks I'm rather odd that way. The book's darker moments are always challenging for me because it is so important to me to get them exactly right. They go through draft after draft until I'm satisfied that they feel authentic. The first kiss in this book was particularly delicate and hard to get right—but I'm very pleased with how it worked out.

5. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

Every author's favorite question! I have a historical coming out from Love Inspired Historicals in June 2008 called MASKED BY MOONLIGHT. This is a great, almost swashbuckling adventure of dual identity in 1880's San Francisco. I had a fantastic time researching and writing this one, especially creating the Black Bandit—our hero's alter ego. It carries, I hope, the same Allie Pleiter wit (lemon cake, repartee, swordfights, drugged chickens, unscrupulous newspaper editors, masked balls, and exploding crates of pajamas—how could anyone resist?) in an historical setting with one of my all-time favorite heroines.

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Thank you, Allie, for being in the spotlight. Readers, feel free to leave a comment for your chance to be entered in the drawing for a FREE, autographed book. This week, the contest is open to US/Canada residents only.


Deborah said...

i love allie's books! please enter me for this one!

Cherie J said...

This is on my TBB list so I want to be entered for this one. Great spotlight!

Shauna said...

I just finished reading this book and it was AWESOME!! And the hero was British!! I could just hear that delicious accent! Yum. Good luck, all!

(Tiff, you don't need to include me in this draw. I have this book and some other lucky person deserves to win this!)

Tinkerdelle said...

Sounds like a fun read! Coffee and cream anyone?

tetewa said...

Would love a copy!

Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

Wow! Can't believe I forgot to post a winner for this one. Amazing what happens when I get my brain all wacko on wedding details. :)

The winner of Allie's free book is:


I've sent your information to Allie so she can get your free book out to you. Congratulations.

Thanks again to everyone for your continued support. New spotlight up today!