Red Shoes for Lab Blues by D.B. Sieders
I’m thrilled to host one of my new favorite authors today. D.B. Sieders also happens to be a fellow Lyrical sister and a fellow science-geek.
Thanks for having me, Jessi! It’s great to be in the company of a fellow science geek and fabulous author.
Jessi: Let’s start with an easy question. What’s your tagline for Red Shoes for Lab Blues?
DB: Officially, it’s ‘Can love and sex overcome logic and sabotage?’ But I also like ‘Nerds need love, too.’
Jessi: LOL! Yes we do! Your heroine, Stacey Jameson, is a cancer research scientist working in a university laboratory. I loved how realistic your setting is, from the equipment Stacey uses to the guidance she offers her graduate student lab assistants to lab politics and cancer drug industry shenanigans. You weave all these things into a wonderful, supportive backdrop for a touching romance with the perfect balance of description and action. Me thinks you’ve drawn on some personal experience. Am I right?
DB: Oh, perhaps a bit – I definitely understand the life, and I wanted to paint a realistic picture of the challenges and rewards that go along with being in academic research. Scientists are often portrayed as socially awkward. Big Bang Theory, anyone? I love the show, BTW, but naturally as a sitcom, it tends to go over the top. Then you have CSI or Bones, where the scientists have all of the answers by the end of a neat, one-hour episode. I wish it were like that! And, of course, evil-scientist-out-to-take-over-the-world is a standard archetype in books, film, and television. I wanted to write some good guy/gal scientists who work long and hard to find their answers while living their lives and finding love along the way.
Jessi: I’d say you accomplished that, D.B. Quite nicely, in fact. What challenges did you face balancing science and romance and how did you overcome them?
DB: I definitely had to fight the tendency to get long-winded with the technical parts. Fortunately, my crit partners and editor pointed out those areas where I needed to stop ‘lecturing’ on page and get on with the plot!
Jessi: Don’t you love those CPs and editors! I’d be over my word limit every time if not for them! And as one of your readers, I definitely noticed how well you streamlined the sciency parts. I am a former scientist too, but don’t look for science-speak when I read romance. You kept me thoroughly entertained while adding just the right amount of realistic backdrop.
You have a deliciously evil villainess and a sweet as pie father figure for Stacey in Red Shoes for Lab Blues. How did your secondary characters come about? Are they based on real people in whole or in part?
DB: Stacey’s boss, Robert Callahan, is the sort of mentor you dream of: supportive, caring, but also willing to push in order to get the best out of his people. He’s an amalgam of several great mentors I’ve known or observed. Cameron, wicked witch of the lab down the hall, was just flat out fun to write. She was a great foil for Stacey and sort of a mirror for Henry’s cutthroat approach to advancement. Fortunately, I’ve never encountered anyone like her professionally, but she is a bit reminiscent of some of those ‘mean girl’ types we all knew in high school, isn’t she?
Jessi: Uh, yeah. She was a convincing mean girl. Stacey’s love interest is Chinese. What inspired you to write an interracial romance?
DB: For starters, Asian heroes aren’t as well represented in romance fiction as other ethnicities, which is a shame. They are certainly well represented in science and I’ve had the good fortune to work with many first and second generation Chinese-Americans in the laboratory. Parts of Henry’s personality and charm were inspired by those experiences.
Jessi: Henry is good looking and has no trouble getting the attention of women. He even likes “anglo girls” which is handy since he’s surrounded by them as a Chinese-American raised completely in the United States by adoptive parents. But most women seem to want him only for the fleeting exotic experience he represents. I loved how he was so attracted to Stacey in so many ways but how he had trouble trusting her with the real him, the him he’s always held back to keep his heart safe. What were some of the challenges you faced writing a hero with trust issues?
DB: Oh, Henry was a pain at times. Getting his backstory was like pulling teeth – he didn’t want to share his story with me any more than he wanted to share it with Stacey. But I knew his trust issues went deeper than just being burned in a few past relationships. He’s suffered some major losses in his past. Plus, his ambition has made him a bit of a shark. He’s not above moving in on someone else’s research project and using his colleagues to advance his own work, so he tends to view others through that lens and expects rivalry and ulterior motives from those around him. Henry not only questions Stacey’s motives in their relationship, he is torn about his own. Balancing that with his growing affection and genuine desire to help boost Stacey’s confidence, both in the lab and in their romantic relationship as it blossoms, proved challenging. Lucky for me (and Henry), Stacey’s character came with a healthy dose of tenacity.
Jessi: Red Shoes for Lab Blues is your debut novella. How long did it take you to write it, and how did you wind up with a contract for it? Tell me your journey to publication.
DB: I have some wonderful writing mentors who encouraged me to write what I know. At the time, I was finishing up an urban fantasy project and starting a paranormal series, so shifting gears to work within a familiar setting was a welcome break! It took about three months to finish the first draft and another few months to edit (mostly in the evenings after work and after putting my kiddos to bed). I submitted it to a Lyrical Press editor I’d ‘met’ through LP’s How Lyrical is Your Romance contest. After she critiqued a partial for my entry, I sent her Red Shoes, and much to my delight, she accepted it for publication on behalf of Lyrical!
Jessi: Thank you for visiting A Time to Love DB! My final questions: Where can readers buy Red Shoes for Lab Blues and where can they go to learn more about you and your works?
Dr. Stacey Jamison thinks she’s close to validating PharmEx’s new anti-cancer drug. Her budding independent career, her boss’s tenure, and a ton of research dollars are at stake. She just has to prove Compound Z kills cancer cells.
So far, it doesn’t.
Then along comes Dr. Henry Chan, the department’s new rising star. Henry is smart, handsome, and confident. He’s also captivated by the enigmatic Dr. Jamison, who seems oblivious to her own charms. But will Henry risk his heart when the research project is at stake?
A rival drug company, an insider with a personal grudge, and militant animal rights protestors force everyone’s plans into disarray. Can their love overcome everything being thrown at them?