Hi, readers! I am beyond pleased to announce a very special post today on ILRB. We’re doing something a little different. This is our twenty-second official author interview on this romance blog! I know in the past, we did character interviews then switched over to the author’s take on it, but this approach is a bit unusual.
We have a real treat for you, readers. Today we get to speak one-on-one with a talented author. Please join me in welcoming Kaya Quinsey Holt to ILRB!
Marie Lavender: Hello, Kaya. Please have a seat.
Author Kaya Quinsey Holt: Hi!
Marie: Hey, such a pleasure to have you here!
I’m going to throw in some standard questions first.
Obviously, we know your occupation as an author, but some writers have other jobs as well. Do you have another occupation? Do you believe you’re any good at it? Do you like what you do?
I know I’m overloading you with questions, but we’re really interested in finding out more about you…
Kaya: I have been a romance author since 2018, after writing my debut novel, Paris Mends Broken Hearts. Since then, two additional sweet romance novellas I wrote have been published — A Coastal Christmas and Valentine in Venice. It has been a whirlwind few years. I was delighted when my books became available in audiobook format, and that they have now been translated into five additional languages. The Marseille Millionaire is the first book of mine that has been published in 2020. In late February 2020, my latest book, Fate at the Wisteria Estate: The Pink Shell Shores Series Volume 1, will be released. It is currently available for pre-sale on Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Indigo, and Apple.
That’s fantastic! 😀
So, tell us…what is your family like?
Kaya: My family is amazing. We’re really close and we spend a lot of time together. They are also huge supporters of my writing. My family is full of artists and they always encouraged me to pursue my passion. They gave me a lot of confidence that I could do anything I set my mind to. I have a twin sister, which is as awesome as it sounds. She’s my best friend. In June 2019, my family expanded when I got married. At the very end of 2019, my husband and I brought in a new addition to our family—a sweet Pomeranian Shih-Tzu puppy named Jagger. (We’re big fans of The Rolling Stones.)
Let’s try something else, okay?
If it doesn’t bother you at all, can you let us know what your childhood home looked like?
Kaya: I grew up in Toronto. In one word, my childhood home was warm. My mom and dad always put up the drawings that my sister and I had done, so our walls were covered in art. There was usually a pot of coffee brewing (my parents had twins, after all), and in the evenings, my sister and I loved to help cook dinner. Books were a huge part of our childhood. Weekend afternoons usually included at least one visit to the library or Chapters. The albums “Rubber Soul” by The Beatles, “Este Mundo” by The Gipsy Kings, and “Hello, Dolly!” by Louis Armstrong always played on rotation.
Marie: Sounds like it was such a great place to live. 😉
Do you have any hobbies, Kaya? What do you enjoy doing?
Kaya: I love yoga, and have had a dedicated practice for around ten years. I also love to cook (and eat!). Seafood is my absolute favorite. Lately, I’ve been cooking a lot of Cajun-inspired seafood dishes since visiting my Aunt down in Louisiana. I have a lot of fun trying new recipes. Of course, I’m a big reader. My favorite authors are Sophie Kinsella and Jill Mansell. I’m guilty of re-reading books constantly. I feel like the second (or fifth) time you read something, you take away something new. Outside of writing, traveling is also one of my favorite pastimes. It’s how I get a lot of inspiration for my books. Marseille was the first stop on my honeymoon. It clearly left me with an indelible impression.
Now, six months later, The Marseille Millionaire is available!
Marie: Awesome! 😀
Okay, with the next question, I hope I’m not prying too much, but we are curious…
What’s the most terrible thing that ever happened to you?
Kaya: Losing loved ones (including beloved pets) is always hard. There is a wonderful quote my mom told me by Franz Kafka, that has helped me through times of loss:
“Everything that you love, you will eventually lose, but in the end, love will return in a different form.”
Marie: Yes, that’s certainly a more inspiring way to look at it.
Let’s move on to another topic, shall we?
What was your dream growing up? Did you achieve that dream? If so, in what ways was it not what you expected? If you never achieved the dream, why not?
Kaya: Growing up, I had a lot of dreams. They changed frequently and with enthusiasm. They have ranged from art curator (sigh—it still sounds wonderful), to travel writer (I suppose in a way I do this, as my writing is inspired by my travels), to fashion designer. I think that moving to Paris and being a full-time croissant connoisseur was also on my radar (and probably always will be). At one point, I wanted to be a marine biologist. The beauty of being a writer is that, to some extent, you can get a taste of life of each of these areas through your characters. Who knows—perhaps writing a book featuring a marine biologist is in my future!
The one dream that remained constant for me was to find my soul mate. I married him in June 2019 in a beautiful waterfront ceremony just outside of Toronto. Dream achieved.
Marie: How wonderful! ♥♥♥
I love romance.
So, let’s switch gears for a second and try something fun.
If you were trapped on a deserted island, what five essentials would you need with you? They don’t have to be practical.
Kaya: Sunglasses, SPF, a satellite cell phone to call for help, a massive straw hat, and finally a great beach-read to help pass the time until I was rescued (or came up with an escape plot).
Marie: (Chuckles.) There you go! 😀
Okay, readers, let’s get the author’s perspective on one of her characters.
We’ve heard rumors about the heroine of your story, Elise Laird — realtor extraordinaire, ambitious, go-getter. Quite an interesting character. Can you tell us a little about her?
Kaya: Elise Laird is a realtor in Ashfield, USA. In her twenties, she is the soul breadwinner for her and her younger sister, Rose. A hard-worker, Elise sells some of the most desirable homes in Ashfield — including the house of a retired French multi-millionaire. Impressed by her charm and sales tactics, Elise is referred another client straight from Marseille: Luc Dubonier. This is where it all begins.
And what are Elise’s greatest strengths?
Kaya: Elise is practical and ambitious. She has a moral compass of steel. A realist, she sees things the way they are. Her life experience has made her a hard worker. Although sometimes she becomes overwhelmed, she always makes time for her family and close friends. That said, Elise isn’t afraid to take a chance and risk it all (under the right circumstances).
Marie: Great! Any weaknesses of which we should be aware?
Kaya: Elise worries about taking chances when it comes to love.
Marie: (Nods.) Oh, we’ve all been there…it’s hard to open yourself up and trust someone new.
Let’s try something different, shall we?
What are your character’s favorite foods?
Kaya: Coffee! I know, not technically a food, but for Elise… 😉
Marie: (Laughs.) I hear ya!
How about another question?
What’s a positive quality that your character is unaware that he or she has?
Kaya: Elise is a wonderful friend and champion for the people she loves. I want to be friends with Elise!
Marie: Me too! How admirable! ♥
Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?
Kaya: I tend to write main characters that I would like to meet in person. Although I’m biased, I think readers will like Elise. Even though her experiences are unique, I think people will identify with her struggles, the loss she has experienced, her ambition, and her fears.
Marie: Awesome! 😀
Now that we have a real taste of Elise, we have a few questions for you as well as the author, about the writing process of your book.
What first gave you the idea for The Marseille Millionaire?
Kaya: I began writing The Marseille Millionaire in June 2019. Marseille was the first stop on my honeymoon. It completely captured my heart. The moment that we arrived back in Canada after our time in the South of France and Paris, I began putting pen to paper. The Marseille Millionaire was really fun for me to write. I had the chance to revisit my adventures in Marseille all over again.
It’s fascinating how the muse works, huh? 😀
Let’s try something else.
What is your writing style like, Kaya? Are you a pantster or a plotter?
Kaya: I am absolutely a plotter. Of course, there are moments of spontaneity here and there; but for the most part, the larger themes are planned.
Marie: All right.
So, I’m throwing this one in for our aspiring writers. Did you come across any specific challenges in writing The Marseille Millionaire or publishing it? What would you do differently the next time?
Kaya: If I could do it over again, I would have been less nitpicky about details. Re-writes upon re-writes definitely held up publication. Next time, I’m aiming to make faster decisions about plot and further develop the ability to trust my writing instincts.
Marie: Sounds like a plan!
Well, it was a total pleasure having you here on the I Love Romance Blog! And how apropos is that, considering what a great story Lady Law and the Texas DeRangers appears to be… ♥
Let’s learn more about this book.
Title: The Marseille Millionaire
Genre: Sweet Romance, Contemporary Romance, Chick Lit, Romantic Comedy
Publication date: January 24, 2020
Here is the blurb:
While selling a million dollar home in Marseille, will Elise Laird cash in at her chance at love?
From Ashfield, USA, to Marseille in the South of France – this is a romance not to be forgotten! The first in a new series following ambitious Elise Laird in her struggle to achieve more than she ever imagined for herself… all in the heart of the South of France!
Elise Laird has just sold the most expensive home in the history of Ashfield, USA, at $4.2 million dollars. The French multimillionaire whose home she sold is thrilled – so much so that he recommends her to a fellow French friend. And when Luc Dubonier steps off of his private jet with the intention of investing in some of Ashfield’s best properties, Elise is shocked to find that the successful tycoon is single.
At least, until she gets to know him. In a series of blunders, Elise learns that Luc may be tough in business, but couldn’t imagine anyone’s personal life being more of a mess. After she impresses him with her sales pitches, Luc asks her to do one more sale for him – his $88 million home in Marseille, France.
When Elise arrives in France, she learns that there is more to the house, and Luc, than meets the eye. If she sells the house, the commission check will be more than her lifetime salaries combined. But after learning why he is selling it, Elise finds herself conflicted, wanting to convince Luc to keep it. Will Elise choose between her bank account or her heart?
Kaya is giving us a peek at this story as well…
“Welcome to Marseille,” Luc said as he walked over, greeting her with a kiss on each cheek. It would take her a while to get used to that custom, she thought, as she suppressed the urge to give him a big hug.
She beamed back at him in response, taking in his bright expression. “It’s good to be here,” she said, and she meant it. Their eyes locked and her legs felt like they were about to melt beneath her right there in that lobby. She looked away and pushed an errand strand of hair behind her ear.
He stepped back a moment to survey her. “You look good here,” he declared.
Elise felt herself flush and laughed. It came out more high pitched than she had intended. “Where? In this lobby? In Marseille?”
He shook his head. “Both, I suppose.” Elise smiled and jutted out her hip with a playful wink. She couldn’t believe the confidence that had washed over her. She felt good. “Well, I suppose I wanted to come over and see that you arrived all right. You know, Marseille isn’t the safest city. So I wanted to make sure you were, you know, all right.”
Elise’s heart thudded in her chest. Before she could reply, the concierge came over again. “And Madame Laird, would you like your birthday champagne sent up now or later?”
Elise’s eyes widened. Birthday champagne? She opened her mouth to reply, before realizing this must be a gift from Joe and the team at Cotherington Realty. They were the only ones apart from Rose who knew where she was staying and her birthday.
“Later is fine,” she said, trying to brush it aside. “Merci.”
Luc’s eyes widened. “Ah, it is your birthday?”
Elise nodded, averting her gaze to a modern art piece nearby. She hated celebrating her birthday. Today had been perfect. Low-key, some shopping, the end.
But Luc continued. “Well, we must celebrate. You have plans tonight, or non?”
“Ah, ah, ah,” Luc held up his hands as if to signal he had won. “I won’t take no for an answer. Luckily, you are staying at my favorite hotel in Marseille, which has one of the best restaurants. Three Michelin-stars, too,” he added with a wink.
Elise flushed. Okay, so her arm wouldn’t need to be twisted too much to go out for a dinner with Luc Dubonier. Especially when the words ‘Michelin’ and ‘star’ were included.
“Okay,” she finally agreed with a smile. She and Rose had wanted to go to a three-star Michelin restaurant since, well, forever.
As Luc reserved a table for them later that evening, Elise’s entire body tingled. Was this it? A do-over to their disastrous-ending first and only date? If it had even been a date. She was still unclear where they stood with one another.
When Luc turned to her and announced he had made them reservations for seven o’clock that evening, his face was telling. “I’ll see you tonight,” he added with another wink.
Elise smiled. Suddenly her birthday seemed like the best day in the world.
Looks so romantic! 😉
Universal Reader link: https://books2read.com/u/3LDYB7
Add it to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50267569-the-marseille-millionaire
What are people saying about The Marseille Millionaire?
“I Loved Loved LOVED this book. A must-read!” – Katherine, Goodreads
“A must read! I absolutely loved this book. I could barely put it down after starting it. The characters are wonderful and human, and the plot keeps you guessing at every turn.” – Cecilia, Goodreads
“Elise and Luc are wonderfully-drawn characters, believable, lovable, and vulnerable. The setting details are lush and sweeping. Kaya also created an intriguing cast of secondary characters, which I love in a romance! It’s a wonderful start to the series. I can’t wait to read Fate at The Wisteria Estate.” – Tracy Sumner, Amazon
“Swept away! I sat down to read and never looked up. My tea grew cold. I forgot what time it was. I only realized how long I’d been immersed in it when the dog barked, insisting I walk her! The characters are real. The romance between Elise and Luc gave me butterflies and was emotionally satisfying. Quinsey explores the characters’ vulnerabilities in such a gentle way that I felt held by the book as it delivered the characters (and me!) to the healing power of love. I cared about every single person, even the secondary characters mattered to me. And, wow, how she writes places! I could see the streets they walked, taste the meals they ate. I felt like I was with Elise and Luc for every step of this enchanting romance. Quinsey really is an exceptional writer.” – Ils, Amazon
“Highly recommended! I had a hard time putting this fun romance down. Quinsey’s endearing heroine is very fresh and contemporary and this story takes twists and turns that keep you hooked. Wonderful characters and so lovely to be taken to the south of France. I loved it.” – Laura L, Amazon
Wow, great commentary, and I love the book cover!
We’ll be sure to get a copy of this sweet romance/chick lit/rom com novella! ♥♥♥
About Kaya Quinsey Holt
Kaya Quinsey Holt is the author of three romantic comedies. She holds her undergraduate and master’s degree in psychology. Her first novel, Paris Mends Broken Hearts, was released in April 2018. Since then, her books have sold in seven countries. They have been translated into multiple languages and been formatted into audiobooks. Kaya’s passion for culture, travel, and psychology intertwine for books that are romantic and full of surprises. When she’s not typing away, Kaya loves chatting with friends over a glass of wine, playing with her fluffy Pomeranian Shih Tzu puppy, spending time with her family, and indulging in one too many cups of coffee. Always planning her next trip and adventure, Kaya’s favorite places are usually somewhere near a beach. She lives in Toronto with her husband.
And, if you want to know how to connect with the fascinating Kaya Quinsey Holt, here are some author links…
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/kindle-dbs/entity/author/B07CBR7JJL
Once again, I want to thank Kaya, the brilliant author of this sweet romance novella, for stopping by! It was a pleasure to have you here! Readers, check out her work! ♥