Alison S. Parkins Fun Author Interview with
*~* Amanda Laneley *~*
All about you!
Name: Amanda Laneley
Location: Around the world, currently in Chile.
Star Sign: Taurus
What genre/genres do you write? Contemporary Romance.
Tell us a random fact about yourself: I hypnotize people since I’m a hypnotic therapist.
Where is your dream holiday destination? There are so many beautiful places in the world, I couldn’t pick just one. Old cities in Europe, breathtaking landscapes in America, paradisiacal beaches in Asia and go on… I choose the whole world!
What is your all-time favourite food? I adore French cuisine.
What is your favourite Take-Away choice? Pizza and Chinese food.
Tell us your favourite sweets/candy? Skittles, but I don’t buy them often, because they kill my self-control.
If you like to cook, which dish do you enjoy preparing and cooking yourself? Quiche. My husband is great at cooking and we normally prepare this plate together.
Do you enjoy baking? If so what is your favourite food item you love to bake? I don´t bake, but I always have oatmeal cookies with chocolate at home.
What is the one dessert you can never resist? Fresh fruits.
Which of your book characters has a lot of you in them? Sara, the main character of my book “What I love about Dublin”. Like her, I love travelling and exploring the world.
Who so far, has been your favourite character to write? Armando, one of Sara’s housemates. He’s charming and funny. I laughed a lot with his scenes.
If you could be any character from any book, who would you be and why? Sara, definitely. If you read the book, you’ll know why.
Is there one of your book characters that you have disliked or do you love them all in some way, even the bad guys? I’m not really fond of Stephen. Although he’s smart, he’s a little bit pretentious.
What car do you drive? I don’t drive. I learnt, but I never enjoyed it.
What is your dream car? Any car with driver, ha, ha.
Who is your current eye candy/crush? Chris Evans. He is so handsome.
Which celebrity did you have a crush on as a teenager? Enrique Iglesias. A huge crush.
What is your favourite movie of all-time? When Harry met Sally. So sweet!
Who is your favourite band/singer of all-time? The Beatles.
Tell us more about you, tell us as much or as little as you like…
I’m passionate about writing and exploring the world. I love to dance, laugh and share a beer with good friends. I adore a cup of hot chocolate, Meg Ryan’s movies and Jane Austen’s novels.
I try to keep a healthy life, so I meditate and exercise.
If we wanted to stalk you where can we find you?
My website: www.amandalaneley.com – The first chapters of my books are there.
Now we know more about you, tell us about your books…
“What I love about Dublin”
Let’s suppose you are a heartbroken woman trying to get over the pain of a failed relationship. You’ve always wanted to see the world. What do you do? Perhaps you would do what Sarah does: travel alone to Dublin and leave your worries behind. She wants to start from scratch, to forget about it all; to enjoy the lush green countryside, the Celtic music, the famous pubs. However, her life turns upside down when she finds herself living under the same roof as Daniel, a handsome yet stubborn Irishman.
Both Daniel and Sarah have their reasons for not falling in love, but love has other plans.
Things become more complicated because love affairs are prohibited between housemates. This is an unbreakable rule that also applies to the three other residents: a shameless womanizer, an absent-minded musician and a new female best friend, intrusive and meddling. It’s a fun and exciting intercultural household for Sarah to adapt to! And as if that wasn’t enough, she also has to deal with Daniel’s heated misunderstandings, with an insistent ex-boyfriend and some compromising situations with a very sexy Frenchman.
This is a new life in Dublin and there is certainly a lot to love!
“Welcome to Dublin.”
The welcome came over the loudspeakers as soon as the plane landed, and Sara unfastened her seatbelt with impatient fingers. She breathed out, filled with a mixture of apprehension, weariness and sadness. Barely past her mid-twenties, she was going to step onto European soil for the first time. She was finally going to become acquainted with the ancient continent she had fantasized so much about in the novels she devoured. What she wanted most was to repair her broken heart after what had happened with Antonio, to start over again surrounded by the greenery of Ireland.
“Greenery?” she wondered, disillusioned, as soon as she had left the airport and caught a glimpse of the bleak surroundings. “More like grayness.” The sunset, weighed down by black clouds, frigid gusts of wind and an incessant rainfall that spread in all directions, wasn’t exactly the cordial welcome Sara had hoped for. But, truth be told, nothing about the past forty-eight hours had been cordial. She never imagined she would hurriedly leave Chile. She had only long enough to say good-bye to her parents, whose worried faces reflected their opinion, repeating a thousand times that her going off to Ireland was a huge mistake.
Sara replayed in her mind the whole argument with Antonio, and as she rolled her luggage toward the taxi stand, her eyes filled with tears. She felt so alone! And the worst part was that now she really was alone. She didn’t know anyone in Dublin, neither family nor friends. All she had was the hope of a new beginning and a piece of paper with an address written on it, which she clung to for dear life.
The arrival of an empty taxi made her swallow her tears. She held out the address to the taxi driver and, twenty minutes later, found herself in the front yard of a narrow red house with a pointed roof while the darkness surrounded her and rain mercilessly pelted her and her luggage. As fast as she could, she rolled the suitcase to the front door and rang the bell.
No answer. She rubbed her hands together and blew on them to heat them up. She rang a second time. Nothing. He teeth chattering, she peered through the stained glass windows of the front door. She couldn’t make out anyone, but a light was on, so someone must be there. Lord, at least she hoped there was; if not, she didn’t know where else to go.
She knocked and, after a minute that seemed like an eternity, the door finally opened.
“Hello?” said a beautiful brunette of about her age, half greeting her and half inquiring.
“Hola, I mean, hello. I’m Sara and. . .”
“You speak my language,” the young woman interrupted, switching to Spanish with a Central American accent. “Are you looking for one of the boys, Sara? Because no one is here; they all went out.”
“No, actually, I came about the room for rent. I reserved it a few days ago.”
The young woman shook her head in unequivocal negation.
“That’s impossible; there must be some error. The ad clearly says we rent only to men. Better luck next time,” she said, starting to shut the door.
Sara’s stomach tied up in knots as she imagined herself looking for a place to stay somewhere else, in an unknown city, in the middle of the rain and darkness.
“Stephen Brennan gave me the address!” said Sara hurriedly. “He told me to come here.”
The young woman opened the door again and studied her, frowning.
“Stephen? He told you to come? Are you sure?”
“Yes, he gave me the address. I came straight from the airport.”
The young woman looked at Sara’s luggage, which was collecting water, forming an enormous pool. When she saw that its owner didn’t seem to be in much better shape than the luggage, her expression softened.
“Come in while we clear up this misunderstanding.” She opened the door and gestured to a spot near the entrance. “If you like, you can leave your things there. I’m Fran, by the way.”
“Thanks, Fran.” Sara obeyed, taking off her coat. She suddenly sneezed several times.
“You’re drenched. Would you like a cup of coffee?”
She followed Fran to a spacious wooden kitchen. She didn’t much care for coffee; still, she was willing to swallow anything that might raise her body temperature by a couple of degrees.
Her hostess put on water to boil.
“How do you know Stephen, Sara?”
“Actually, I don’t know him, at least not personally. I’m going to teach at the same university he does, Spanish classes, and he was my contact for arranging all the paperwork. He was very kind in recommending somewhere to live; he did not need to do it.”
“Yes, he’s kind when he wants to be; at least when he can make the effort to listen. I’ve told him a thousand times that the room isn’t available to women. Sometimes what I tell him goes in one ear and right out the other. Men!”
“Are you his girlfriend?” Sara guessed, from the annoyance and familiarity she heard in Fran’s voice.
“Yes. Let me call him and see what we can do.” Fran dialed a number and started speaking in English. “Stephen, it’s me. Sara, the girl you gave this address to, is here. Yes, but I told you we would rent the room only to a man. What? But I told you a thousand times!. What? No, it has to be right now! At least speak to her! What do I care if you’re in a meeting? No, Stephen. . . don’t you dare hang up on m. . . Hello? Hello?”
Fran suddenly slammed the phone down on the table. Sara didn’t dare breathe; she didn’t know what to say.
“Always the same thing!” complained Fran, exhaling a weary sigh. “I’m sorry, Sara, but you can’t stay here. I’d be very happy to rent you the room, but it isn’t up to me. It’s up to the boys.”
“But maybe I could speak to them, somehow convince them,” said Sara, feeling her throat close up.
“Don’t waste your time. You wouldn’t be the first one to try it and fail. I’m sorry, Sara, I wish I could help you, but I’m afraid you’re going to have to go someplace else.”
Sara agreed quietly, feeling her eyes fill with tears. “I understand,” she said in a hoarse voice. “It’s just that I don’t know where to go. I don’t know anyone in this city. Stephen was the only contact I had.”
“You can go to a hotel,” suggested Fran, observing Sara sympathetically.
“Yes, of course, that’s what I’ll do. . .” Her voice was about to break. “It’s just that, well, I didn’t feel like being alone today. . .” She remembered how alone she was. She thought of Antonio, of her uncertain future, and she couldn’t hold back a pair of silent tears. “Fran, excuse me, you barely know me and here I am crying in front of you. It’s just that the past two days have been the worst of my life, and all I want is a warm bed, a place to sleep and to forget about everything for a while.”
Fran gave her a sad look.
“Don’t tell me, problems of the heart, right?” When she saw Sara agree, Fran went on. “I’ll bet some man cheated on you and broke your heart.”
It hadn’t happened quite like that, but, yes, her heart was broken, so Sara just replied. “Something like that.”
“Well, what woman hasn’t been in that situation? You can’t imagine what a state I was in the first day I arrived in this city, and all because of a wretched man. . .” Fran seemed lost in thought a few minutes, lost in her memories; then she looked up with a kind expression. “Look, Sara, out of female solidarity, I don’t have the heart to tell you to leave right now. If you want, you can stay in the room for tonight, but you’ll have to leave tomorrow.”
“Really?” Sara asked, filled with gratitude.
“Yes, but just for tonight. Daniel isn’t here, so there won’t be any problem with him, and I doubt the others will be back today.”
Sara felt like hugging her. She accepted the marvelous offer without any hesitation and began to feel a little better.
Now feeling a bit more like herself, she sat at the table drinking coffee. Sara learned that four people lived in the house: Armando, from Italy; Fran herself, from Venezuela; and Colin and Daniel, from Ireland.
“This house is marvelous,” Sara observed, gazing around her.
“It is. Spacious, well located and in one of the best neighborhoods in Dublin, but you can’t imagine how expensive it is. To tell you the truth, everything in this city is quite expensive, but especially around here. That’s why we need to rent the open room right away; otherwise, the four of us will have to make up the difference out of our own pockets.”
“Then why aren’t you willing to accept women?”
“It’s all Armando’s fault. He got himself into a mess with the last renter and it poisoned the atmosphere. Finally the girl left, though it was his fault, since he’ll sleep with anything that moves. That’s why, no more women, to avoid risks. It’s strictly forbidden to get involved with anyone else in the house.”
Sara smiled sadly.
“I doubt very much there would be any risk with me. Believe me, Fran, the last thing I want now is more romantic problems.”
“Do you feel like talking about it? You can tell me about it, if you want.”
“Thanks, but I’m not ready to discuss it yet. So, how long have you been in Dublin?”
“Almost eight months. I had originally planned to stay for three, but I fell in love,” Fran said enthusiastically.
“With Stephen, right?”
Fran blinked. “Yes, of course, with him too, but especially with the city. It has some lovely places and is filled with greenery everywhere.”
Fran told Sara that when she first arrived in Dublin, things hadn’t exactly been easy. She couldn’t find any work in her profession as an accountant, so she waited tables in a restaurant. She missed everything about Venezuela, especially her mother and girlfriends, but fortunately she had found a new family in her housemates.
“Sometimes they drive me crazy with their jokes, it’s true,” said Fran, “but Armando, Daniel and Colin are fantastic, and I adore living with them.”
Fran described the domestic routine as a whirlwind of laughter, recitals and group outings, which made Sara wish all the more that she could be accepted into the house. The building itself was lovely, the available room was inexpensive and cozy, and the relationship among the housemates was fantastic, according to Fran. And Fran herself was the most charming and outgoing person Sara had ever met. Yes, this house was the perfect place for a new beginning. . . if she could only stay.
The next morning, to thank Fran for her hospitality, Sara invited her to breakfast at a nearby restaurant.
“I adore this place!” said Fran, taking the last sip of her coffee. “I hadn’t been here in a long time. The last time was with Armando and Daniel, before going to a recital of Colin’s.”
“Colin is the musician, right?”
“Yes, the musician. Stephen doesn’t really like me to go out with them,” she added in a confidential tone. “I imagine he doesn’t like his girlfriend being the only woman in a house with three men.”
“That explains why Stephen told me the room was available for me.”
Fran tilted her head. “You know what? After thinking through this more, I think it’s a good idea for you to live with us; after all, we need to rent the room right away. And I think you’d fit right into the house dynamics. Also, I don’t know about you, but I sometimes feel the need to talk to another woman. So much testosterone around can be overwhelming.”
Sara smiled hopefully. “I would love to stay, but what about the others? Do you think they’ll agree?”
“Colin and Armando won’t mind in the least. The real problem is Daniel. Don’t misunderstand me; he’s charming, but he’s also as stubborn as a mule. When he gets something into his head, there’s no way anyone can change his mind.”
“Then I don’t see any sense in talking to him.”
“Hmmm. . . no, I guess not, talking with him wouldn’t accomplish anything, but if we take another approach. ” Fran sat pensive, then a mischievous smile flitted across her face. “Even Daniel, as stubborn as he is, has his weaknesses. I’ve thought of something we can do.”
“Are you sure, Fran?” Sara asked dubiously.
Fran smiled, unconcerned. “Of course, leave it all to me. You just worry about making yourself beautiful tonight when we go out partying.”
Illuminated by the filtered sunlight flooding through the windows, Sara found the house even more beautiful than it had been the night before. It had two stories; on the upper floor were all the bedrooms, while downstairs were the living room and kitchen. The living room had soft armchairs perfect for cuddling in front of the fireplace on rainy days. The kitchen was luminous and made entirely of wood, with a spacious window looking out over a beautiful interior garden. The best part wasn’t that the house was so close to the university that you could walk there; no, the best part was that she had found a friend in Fran. They had spent the night chatting and Sara already felt as if she had known Fran all her life. And how she needed a friend, right now! She hoped she could convince this so-called Daniel; she hoped it with all of her soul.
At eight that evening, she came downstairs and went into the living room, where Fran waited, sheathed in a short dress and stiletto heels. Sara worried at once that her simple jeans and coat would not be up to the occasion.
“I’m ready,” she said insecurely.
Fran’s critical look confirmed her fears. “It will have to do. Incidentally, Colin has arrived, so no more Spanish for us. When the boys are here we speak only English, so we can all understand each other.”
“No problem, I can get by in English.”
“Great! Then I’ll call Colin right now.” Fran switched languages. “Colin! Colin! Come meet Sara!”
The lazy footsteps of someone descending the staircase preceded the arrival of Colin, who sauntered into the room. He was wearing worn jeans and a big shirt, which made him look even thinner than he was. He didn’t seem much taller than Sara; she calculated that he must be about 5’9”.
“Colin, this is Sara,” said Fran. “She’s going to be our new housemate.”
Colin held out his hand. “Hi. Fran tells me you’re a Spanish professor.”
“That’s right, I’ll be teaching at the UCD. You’re a musician, aren’t you?”
“Yes, well, I can’t make a living at it yet, so in the meantime I also work in publicity. Did you just arrive from Dublin?”
“Yes, just yesterday. I came here straight from the airport. I didn’t realize there would be any problem with renting the room.”
“And there isn’t any. If Fran says she can convince Daniel, it means she can. Anyway, this house could use another girl and some more money, too, to be frank. Just the other day Armando and I were talking about it, so welcome. That reminds me, he and Daniel will be meeting us directly at the bar, so we’d better get going.”
The three of them left the house, headed for one of the downtown bars. The pub was spacious, built of wood, with a long bar where beer flowed endlessly. People of all nationalities were laughing and chatting in a variety of accents and languages while Celtic music and the smell of beer floated through the air.
The group was lucky enough to find a table right away, and Colin, following Fran’s instructions, went looking for Armando. A few minutes later, the Italian arrived: tall, slender and smiling. He was tanned, with thick, chestnut-colored hair and dark eyes. Something in the way he carried himself and in his confident way of moving led women’s gazes to linger on him a little longer.
“Hi, Fran.” Armando greeted her with a prolonged kiss on each cheek. “As lovely as ever. Colin tells me that you have a plan for sweet-talking Daniel.”
She crossed her arms. “I very much doubt our dear Colin used the word ‘sweet-talk,’ so don’t stretch the truth. Anyway, no one will be sweet-talking anyone; it makes perfect sense for the girl to rent the room and you know it. One more man and I would go insane; I have my hands full with the three of you. By the way, let me introduce Sara.”
Armando smiled at Sara appreciatively before also greeting her with two kisses. “Well, you have my approval. I’d have to be crazy to refuse to live with a woman as beautiful as you,” said Armando.
“Tha. . . thanks,” was all Sara managed to respond, a bit taken aback.
Fran looked at him sternly. “Must you always think with your lower head? Sara is going to be our housemate, houuuse-maaate, is that clear? You can’t get involved with her.”
Armando messed her hair playfully. “Take it easy, Fran. No need to get jealous. It was just a joke.”
“As if I could be jealous of you, you two-bit Don Juan! I have a boyfriend, in case you’ve forgotten.”
“I haven’t forgotten, but I can make you forget.” He curved his lips naughtily.
Fran burst out laughing. “I give up. As you can see, Sara, you’re moving into a madhouse.”
Sara smiled. She loved the camaraderie among the roommates.
“I don’t know how you plan to convince Daniel to let Sara stay,” Armando told Fran. “You know how pigheaded he is. Just the other day I asked if we could rent the room to one of the girls from work, and he straight out refused. He didn’t even care that if we don’t find someone, the rest of us will have to shell out the rest of the rent.”
“After that business of yours with Inga and the fuss she raised, Daniel doesn’t want the same problem again, but he will agree to let Sara stay if you promise not to come on to her,” Fran said.
“I can promise a thousand times, but I don’t think it will help much.”
“How about if I speak with him?” intervened Sara. “Maybe if he meets me, he’ll realize there isn’t the slightest risk of my getting involved with you, Armando. Not in a million years.”
Armando burst out laughing. “I think that’s the most radical snub I’ve ever had.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to say it that way,” Sara apologized, blushing. “It’s just that I can’t even think about having a relationship with anyone at the moment. . .”
“She has a broken heart,” Fran explained. “Her boyfriend cheated on her.”
Sara thought it best to clarify immediately that things hadn’t exactly happened that way, but Armando spoke up before she could.
“Wow, I’m so sorry to hear it, but maybe if you tell Daniel about that, it will soften him. He always wants to help the whole world. He might seem rough on the outside, but in fact he has the heart of a grandmother.”
Fran agreed enthusiastically. “That’s an excellent idea, Sara. Just strike up a casual conversation with him, and then mention in passing what has happened to you, and that you’d like to live in the house. He won’t be able to say no.”
Sara was dubious because the plan verged on manipulation, if it wasn’t that directly, but her desire to stay outweighed her qualms. “And how can I approach him without being too obvious?”
Armando smiled. “Just leave it to me. You go to the bar and I will arrange a ‘casual’ encounter between you two.”
Fran looked at him dubiously. “Daniel never goes up to an unknown woman at a bar. If that’s what you have in mind, I can tell you right now it won’t work.”
“Want to bet, my dear Fran? But if I win, you have to give me something in exchange.”
“Ask whatever you like,” she said confidently. “You’re going to lose anyway.”
Armando smiled wolfishly. “That’s what I was hoping you’d say. Just watch a professional and take a lesson.” The Italian walked away from the girls, making his way amid the people in the bar, toward the table where Daniel was sitting.
“I thought you were coming with Fran and Colin,” Daniel commented when he arrived. “Did you find them?”
“I don’t see them anywhere,” said Armando, looking away. “I don’t think they’ve arrived yet. Don’t worry, they must be on their way. In the meantime we can always kill time with those two.” He gestured with his beer glass toward two blondes a couple of meters away.
Daniel shook his head wearily. “Not again, man. You know I don’t come to bars for that. When are you going to stop bugging me to pick up chicks with you?
“OK, OK. I don’t see why you’re so closed to the subject. Even when women come up to you, you give them all the brush off. Hey, how long’s it been since you got laid?”
“That’s none of your business. Let me remind you that I’m not interested in getting involved with anyone at the moment. I’ll be leaving for Australia in a couple of months, and the last thing I need is to complicate things by starting a relationship.”
“Oh, man, you’re talking like a teenage girl. Who said anything about a relationship? I’m just talking about getting laid. You’re not choosing the mother of your children, you know. Getting laid is just sex. It’s nothing more than that.”
“Maybe for you it is, but I’m not like you.”
Armando looked at him mischievously, like someone who has just discovered a juicy secret. “Well, well. I never would have pegged you for a romantic. So that’s why you don’t want to meet anyone. You’re scared to death that a woman might break your heart.”
“Stop talking nonsense.” Daniel calmly took a sip of his beer. “I’d just rather be alone, that’s all. And if you want to change my mind, you might at least pick a woman who’s really attractive.”
Armando smiled to himself. His friend had just offered him, on a silver platter, the opportunity to put his plan in motion. “What can you tell me about her?” He gestured toward Sara. “That woman who’s talking to the barman.”
Daniel looked at her, thinking that, for once in his life, Armando was indicating good taste. He guessed, from her dark brown hair and dark eyes, that she must be a foreigner. Young, not too tall, with a smiling face and curves in all the right places—the sort of natural beauty he liked so much. Lovely, yes, she was lovely.
Armando’s voice interrupted his reverie. “Well, are you going to talk to her or just stand here looking at her like a fool?”
“No, I’m not going to talk to her.”
“And why not? Isn’t she attractive enough for your majesty?”
“Absolutely. She has a great body and an angelic face.” Daniel turned to look at her again. “And lovely, dreamy eyes.”
Armando looked at him mockingly. “Dreamy eyes? Come on, Romeo! If that’s what you notice in a woman, no wonder it’s been so long since you got laid. If you think she’s so attractive, why the hell don’t you go up to her?”
Daniel rotated the glass with the last remnants of his beer. “What for? As I said, I’m not interested in meeting anyone. I don’t want any woman interfering with my trip to Australia.”
“Man, you aren’t going to marry her. Just buy her a beer.”
“I don’t see the point of starting something I can’t finish, so no.”
Faced with this staunch refusal, Armando looked at him defiantly. “I don’t suppose you’re worried she’ll reject you, are you?”
“It isn’t that.”
“Yes, it’s not that, so go talk to her. Or are you chicken? Cluck, cluck, cluck.” Armando started clucking in his face.
“I’ve already told you that isn’t the case.”
“Cluck, cluck, cluck. . .”
“You can make a fool of yourself all night,” said Daniel, somewhat miffed. “I’m still not going to do it.”
Armando fell silent and studied him closely. Finally he proposed gravely. “If you buy that girl a beer, I’ll stop insisting you pick up chicks with me.”
Daniel lifted his head, interested. “Are you serious? No more pressure?”
“Dead serious. I’ll leave you in peace to devote yourself to celibacy from now until you leave for Australia, if that’s what you want.”
“Really? Just one beer with her and you’ll leave me in peace?” Daniel narrowed his eyes suspiciously. “Hmmm. That’s too good to be true. It doesn’t sound like you.”
Armando responded with a calmness unusual for him. “Well, even if you are my best friend, you’re the worst sidekick in the world for picking up chicks, so what’s the point of insisting? One beer with her and you’re free. Agreed?”
Daniel hesitated a moment. “Agreed,” he said at last.
He thought he saw Armando repress an expression of victory, but he let it slide. Then he took a last drink of his beer and confidently headed over to meet Sara.