Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Author: Theresa Rizzo Interview and Giveaway!

Brought to you by the fabulous JKS Communications...

It's my pleasure to welcome Theresa Rizzo to the blog today to celebrate her debut novel! Welcome to Books à la Mode, Theresa! Let's get this interview started.

Will you please share a brief bio with us?

I was born and raised in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. Growing up in an Irish-Italian family was never dull or quiet. I have four siblings, two sisters and two brothers. My mother was a nurse and my father a general surgeon, so my interest in medical issues is hardly surprising.

As a youngster, I struggled with mild dyslexia. I couldn't read until third grade, but after years of remedial work, the wondrous world of books opened up to me and I've been a voracious reader ever since. Though possessing a fertile imagination, my practical side never even considered pursuing a writing career, because I'm too fond of eating. So I became a registered nurse.

After college, I married my high school sweetheart and had four children. Though I adore my kids and am very proud of them, parenting requires a lot of patience—not exactly my strength—so I began writing. Writing gave me the creative, intelligent outlet that I needed, and it was far less expensive than therapy and a defense attorney. Writing allows me to create wonderful characters who, if they disappoint me, I can make their lives miserable—literally—or simply kill them off, without going to jail! How great is that?

We lived in the Chicago, then San Diego, before settling in beautiful Colorado. We absolutely love the mountains! When not skiing, hiking, or writing in the mountains, I love to play tennis, take long walks, work in my gardens, decorate our house, read, work with my tile mosaics, and crochet.

It's true that writing is a lonely endeavor. Learning the craft and the publishing industry is a lengthy, complex process made much more fun when I joined the Romance Writers of America, and later, the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and the Crested Butte Writers.

I've been fortunate to make friends with many interesting people. Writers are a remarkable, entertaining breed who possess quick wits and huge hearts. They've enriched my life immensely and I'm very grateful to each and every one of them.

You are so lucky in having fun while doing what you love! Could you tell us a bit about, He Belongs to Me, which hits shelves June 15th?

Page Count: 392
Publisher: self-published

Catherine Boyd will do anything to regain custody of her young son... even reconcile with the husband accused of killing their son's twin.

Catherine graduates from college, eager to start a new life with her six-year-old son, Drew. But when she tries to bring him home, her parents refuse to relinquish control of the grandson they'd raised.

Wrongly accused of a horrible crime, Thomas Boyd has buried himself in his career, determined to forget his painful past and the family he lost. But now, five years later, Catherine is back, requesting his help to regain custody of their son—custody he thought she had.

Though older and wiser, when courtroom battles reveal lies and secrets and generations of pain, will Thomas and Catherine find more tragedy and loss, or will old wounds finally heal?

What inspired you to write about the deeply emotional family issues in the book?

Back in the late 1990s, shaken baby syndrome was a popular or new concept. I read about a young couple where the boy was accused of shaking his baby to death. When it went to trial, the young man was undisputedly acquitted, but I couldn't help but wonder how this tragic experience had irreparably changed them. How could they go on and salvage their marriage? How could their love survive? His son died in his hands. How could he not subconsciously feel like he had killed the baby? How could they move on to create a happy family with this horrible legacy? Hence, He Belongs to Me was born.

You've been writing "hybrid" stories for over 16 years that have appeal across different genres. Into which genre would you categorize your books?

They don't really fit in romance because that's not the main conflict of the story, but they always have strong romances in them and happy endings. My books are broader than romances, a bit more complicated. Life is messy, and I love exploring relationships and the messes people get into.

You had mild dyslexia as a child. Does that affect you today as a writer?

Only if I need to spell something correctly or use numbers in the correct sequence. I’m such a... creative speller, that often spell-check can't even get me close to the word I want. I'll have to call my dad or a friend and ask how to spell words. I have a decent vocabulary, but spelling the words is a different story. And I'm still not overly fond of reading out loud.

It's admirable how you've triumphed that difficulty and continue to write! How has your personal experience as a wife of 30 years and mom of four children shaped your stories?

As a wife, you make mistakes. No matter how much you love each other, there will be times when you say the wrong thing or hurt the other person—intentionally or not. Married at 21, I remember how tough it was. In the book, Catherine and Thomas were even younger when they married and the deck stacked against them in so many ways—pregnancy, financial dependency on her parents, and then the tragedy that broke them.

As a mother, I understand that bond and instantaneous surge of love that comes with the birth of a child. I know a mother's fierce protective instinct. God forgive the person who tries to get between me and my child—like when Catherine had to leave her son with her parents.

And as a parent of several young adults now, it's hard to let go. Eric and Sara thought they knew best for Catherine and Drew; it's really hard to sit back and allow your maturing children to make their own mistakes.

I believe most relationships are fluid and ever-changing. It can be a challenge to keep up with the dynamics; the rules of the game change on you, and if you're not paying attention you'll fall behind. It makes for great stories.

That's an interesting approach, and I agree completely! Where can you be found on the web?

It was absolutely delightful getting to know you and your debut a little better, Theresa! Thank you so much for joining us, and best of luck for future endeavors!


We've got one digital copy of He Belongs to Me up for grabs. To enter the giveaway, fill out the Rafflecopter form below.
For extra entries, leave me a comment about He Belongs to Me, your favorite "non-romance" element in romance novels and/or what kinds of deep serious issues you like to see raised in fiction.
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL—comments only consisting of "I love the sound of this book" or "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry!!!! I really want to hear you guys' thoughts! :)

Don't forget the terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the author and publicist—a huge thank you to Theresa and JKS Communications!
Giveaway ends 26 June 2013 at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to anyone in the world. Woohoo!
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their prizes will be forfeited.
Although I do select winners via Rafflecopter (, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤ Plus you get extra entries ;)
Good luck!