with J. Arlene Culiner
Featuring her novel Desert Rose (Romance in Blake’s Folly Book 1)
Welcome to Sharing The Love, J. Arlene Culiner!
You’re on a first date. What’s a deal-breaker that would see you walk away?
Stupidity—I have little tolerance for it. I also have no patience with narrow-minded people, and I hate wasting my time with people who are afraid to think for themselves.
Have you ever been told you look like someone famous and who was it?
My mother was a frustrated actress who envied Liz Taylor, and thought she should have become a star instead. Since that hadn’t happened, she (very briefly) decided I should make up for her failure. When I was around ten, she decided I looked like the young Liz, and she took me to the hairdresser and had all my long hair cut off (which made me miserable, for I was planning on becoming a princess, and I knew all princesses had long hair) and restyled in a Liz Taylor cut, with two little curls on my forehead. The next time she had her friends over, she told me to come down the stairway slowly as she’d seen Liz do in some movie. No one thought I was a Liz Taylor replacement.
How many languages can you speak?
Six, but I make terrible mistakes in most of them.
If you had to eat one meal every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?
This might sound very boring, but Caesar salad is my favorite food. Authentic Caesar salad, not with a dressing mix, but with real garlic, thin slices of parmesan, and wonderful olive oil…just the idea makes my mouth water.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I do an enormous amount of research before and during the writing. I love research; I love going through the archives and public libraries; I love learning new things; I want to share information with my readers, and surprise them.
Do you read your book reviews? Do they impact your future/current projects?
I always read my reviews. I take the good ones seriously because a good reviewer can help an author progress. However, some reviews are silly, or badly written, or mean, or ignorant, and those I ignore.
About The Book
Blake’s Folly is a semi-ghost town in Nevada, a backwoods community of abandoned clapboard shacks, endless wind, and scraggly vegetation with strange local names like snatch-it shrub and sticky snakeweed. Back in the late 1800s, the town boasted three mining companies, a railway line to Reno, many saloons, and quite a few brothels, but the glory didn’t last. It was soon clear that the silver was running out, and those sane enough to do so, pulled up stakes and left town.
A Room in Blake’s Folly is my third book about this town. The other two, All About Charming Alice and Desert Rose, are Small Town Contemporary Romances, but A Room in Blake’s Folly starts in 1889, when journalist Westley Cranston falls in love with Sassy Sookie, a dancehall girl in the Mizpah Saloon. Their affair has far-reaching consequences, and touches the lives of Alice, Rose, and several other characters.
A Room in Blake’s Folly will be released in February or March — so more about it at a later date. But in the meantime, here are Alice and Rose.
Rose Badger, the heroine of Desert Rose, is a delightful character: gutsy, original, open-minded, and funny. As soon as the very appealing Jonah Livingstone (he’s part Paiute, part Italian) walks into her shop, he’s entranced too. But even if she’s outgoing and flirtatious, Rose has quite a few secrets, and she won’t share them with anyone. Of course, Jonah has secrets of his own, and before a romance can take place, both will have to confide and trust each other.
Alice, the heroine of All About Charming Alice, is a prickly character. Reclusive, she loves the Nevada desert, rescues dogs, and protects snakes. Jace Constant, my hero, is the opposite. He’s an intellectual writer from Chicago, and he’s not crazy about deserts, dogs, or snakes. But neither Alice nor Jace expects love when it comes galumphing over the horizon.
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Small Town Romance
Rose looked up. “You pass by Blake’s Folly from time to time? Whatever for? This is the end of the world.”
“The world has several ends, and I work in all of them. I’m a geologist.”
“Ah, I see. Well, that explains it.”
“That explains some of it,” he said, taking her in from head to toe with undisguised curiosity. “If this place is the end of the world, how did you get here?”
“The easiest way possible. I was born here.” Rose glanced out of the window at the early evening light touching up a bleak, empty landscape that would never interest a city slicker; at the gentle snowflakes drifting lazily, as though they had no intention of ever reaching the ground.
“And you stayed?”
He was looking even more curious now — if that were possible. She couldn’t blame him. “I did leave Blake’s Folly when I was young. I stayed away for years and was absolutely certain I’d never return, that this place was the absolute pits. It’s funny: there’s nothing going on here. The greatest social event of the year is the Blake’s Folly Get-Together — and that’s just bad music, awkward dancing, and gossip mongering. There’s no cinema within reasonable distance, no shopping outside of Reno — and that’s a very long, boring drive away. Yet, this place has a strange pulling power. So I came back, decided to settle.”
“Your husband is from Blake’s Folly too?”
Rose’s eyes flicked back to his. Ah ha. So, he was interested and checking out the territory. “No husband.”
He looked surprised. “An unmarried woman in such an out-of-the-way place?”
What was he asking? If she was lonely? Desperate for male company?
Rose laughed outright. “Oh, there are plenty of men around, believe me.” There were. They were out on the ranches, or climbing over the hills, or looking for gold, or photographing, or pounding along the history trail, or doing research, or taking care of animals, or looking for fossils, or stopping at the Mizpah Hotel and Restaurant for a drink, a chat, a meal, and a little human warmth out here on the lonely flatland.
He took the little gift-wrapped packet she held out, slipped it into the pocket of his leather jacket. Turned, looked out at the night, but didn’t move towards the door. Rose watched him, wondered why he was hesitating. Because he wanted to stay? Talk to her? Get to know her? Because he too acknowledged the buzz that was still hovering in the air around them, and he wanted to explore it, see where it would go?
Then he shook his head, turned back to her, the smile still playing softly around his lips.
“Well, I’d better be on my way. Looks like the snow isn’t letting up.” His eyes held hers. Warm eyes. Intimate eyes. Eyes that, in certain circumstances, could create havoc with a woman’s senses. “Until next time, Rose.”
“See you then.”
He stepped out into the night, half-turned, just briefly, his hand raised in a half-wave, half-salute. Then, vanished into the falling snow and dusky evening.
Rose shrugged. Next time, he’d said? What sort of next time? This was Blake’s Folly. People always said they’d be back, but they rarely were. Why return to a pile of clapboard shacks and abandoned trailers? This was nowhere. This was the end of the line, socially speaking. This was a has-been. This was home.
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About The Author
Writer, photographer, social critical artist, musician, and occasional actress, J. Arlene Culiner, was born in New York and raised in Toronto. She has crossed much of Europe on foot, has lived in a Hungarian mud house, a Bavarian castle, a Turkish cave dwelling, on a Dutch canal, and in a haunted house on the English moors. She now resides in a 400-year-old former inn in a French village of no interest where, much to local dismay, she protects all creatures, particularly spiders and snakes. She enjoys incorporating into short stories, mysteries, narrative non-fiction, and romances, her experiences in out-of-the-way communities, and her conversations with very strange characters.
Desert Rose can also be found on the Loved-up Library HERE