Author Interview: Dee Ernst

Lucy Checks In is a delightful work of romantic comedy about a disgraced hotel manager who travels to Rennes to rebuild a hotel and her own life in the process.

Lucia Giannetti needs a fresh start. Once the hotel manager of a glamorous NYC hotel and intimately involved with the hotel’s owner, Lucy had her entire future planned out. But when the owner disappears, taking millions of dollars with him, Lucy’s life as she knows it falls apart.

Two years later, forty-nine years old and unemployed, Lucy takes a job in Rennes, France to manage the Hotel Paradis. She pictures fur quilts and extravagant chandeliers, but what she finds is wildly different. Lucy is now in charge of turning the run-down, but charming hotel into a bustling tourist attraction. Between painting rooms, building a website, and getting to know Bing, the irritatingly attractive artist, Lucy finds an unexpected home. But can she succeed in bringing the Hotel Paradis to its former glory?

“With its abundance of interesting characters and Lucy’s genuine yet wistful voice, this delightful read hits all the sweet spots.” —USA Today

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your published book (s).

I began seriously writing in my forties, and self-published my first book, Better Off Without Him, in 2010. I’ve been self-published, published by 2 Amazon imprints– Montlake and Lake Union –and, most recently, St. Martin’s Press. My latest book, Lucy Checks In, combines a few of my favorite things – an older protagonist, found family, slow burn romance, and France!

Tell us about the genre you like to write, and how is it similar / different from other women fiction genres?

I’ve written in several genres: Romance, cozy mystery, even a YA/Fantasy, but I think woman’s fiction is where I’m most comfortable. I’m a big fan of the “Second Act” for women, and that usually means an older heroine, which is what I write. I find older women more interesting, and their journeys compelling. Lots of women’s fiction have similar themes, but I also like to include a believable romance, and by believable, I mean warts and all – let’s face it, as we get older, our emotional and physical responses change, and I think it’s important to reflect that in my books.

What are some of the biggest challenges authors of older protagonists face today?

Getting published. Although things are changing, many of my earlier books were rejected because I was told no one wanted to read about an ‘older’ romance.

When did it dawn on you that you wanted to be a writer?

When I was about ten years old. I began scribbling in spiral-bound notebooks all through school. But then college — and life — got in the way and I put the idea of writing aside.

Do you have a day job other than being a writer?

I just retired from working part-time in my local library. I loved it, but it was time to change gears and get into that ‘retirement’ mode.

What are some things that inspire you to write?

I’m always working toward a beach house. Seriously. I love writing and when I get an idea in my head, I can’t wait to get it all down in paper. Ideas can come from anywhere, and when one strikes, I get a little obsessed. But in the back of my head, I’m always hoping for the Bestsellers List, Movie Deal, the cover of Poets and Writers…

What is your typical writing routine like?

I’m not one of those writers who have to write every day. When I’m in the ‘ZONE’ I can sit down and write until my fingers cramp, but if I’m not in the mood, forget it. When I am writing steadily, I usually quickly read what I wrote the day before, do some editing and make any adjustments I need to make sure everything flows together. When I’m done with a first draft, I wait a week or two, go back and read it again, then start revising as needed.

What kind of message do your book (s) convey to readers?

That it’s never too late, and you’re never too old to go after what you want, be it a change in your life or a new love. That’s why I write older women. Sure, the mistakes we make when we’re young help to shape us, but the choices we make when we’re older rare so much more impactful.

Does your book (s) incorporate certain aspects of your own life (and / or that of others)?

I believe in the ‘Second Act’ because that is why I’m where I am today. I didn’t think being in my forties was too old to try something that I’d dreamt about when I was younger.

Who are some of your favorite authors and why?

Mary Stewart is probably the first author I read that made me think, “I want to do that!” Romance, adventure and exotic locations really appealed to my younger self. I love Jennifer Weiner and Susan Isaacs because they write great stories with humor and grace. And Susanna Kearsley because she reminds me of Mary Stewart – all glorious writing, far-off lands and dreamy heroines. I’m a big mystery fan as well – love Martha Grimes!

Any advice you’d like to give for aspiring writers over 40?

Writing is a lonely endeavour. Keep your head down, keep plugging away, and try to find a group of people to encourage you. Don’t get a group of cheerleaders, they really can’t help you, but look for other writers who can give serious feedback and help you with your craft.

You can find Dee Ernst here:
Twitter — @DErnst1

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