Web site: www.micheledunaway.com
One photojournalist, one girl next door, plus one hot and sexy race car driver, and one single mom who wants nothing to do with him, all add up to one crazy month of December with my two releases, The Christmas Date from Harlequin American and Hart’s Victory from Harlequin NASCAR.
I’m Michele Dunaway, and I’m one of Jessica’s authors, having been her client since February 2006. While I sold 14 novels on my own to Harlequin, Jessica has since sold six more for me (bringing my total to 20 in 8 years). I’m also a full-time high school journalism teacher who sponsors the yearbook and the newspaper. The yearbook was named All American, which means it’s pretty darn good. My writing process is sporadic and I do a lot of it in big, huge spurts. I simply can’t focus with fewer than 45 minutes to write.
Hart’s Victory is one of those dream books for me and I’ve dedicated it, in part, to Jessica, for helping make this work a reality. The book is also dedicated to one of my former students and my daughter because this book has had this weird karma to it since inception. I first thought of the idea after my daughter got to ask Dale Earnhardt Jr. a question during a Q&A session. She stumped him, and on the way home from Nashville, the entire book formed in my head. I wrote the first eighty pages and a synopsis within a week and sent them to Jessica, who sent them to my current editor.
The book sat and I moved on to writing something else, keeping my fingers crossed for the last 2007 NASCAR slot. During this time, one of my current students died of leukemia. I was at his visitation, and as I passed under the portico of the funeral home, there sat this red, late-nineties Corvette. I’d had the hero in my book give the son in the story a Corvette (I’m a Chevy girl) but didn’t even realize the coincidence until my students told me the next day that was Charlie’s car—that his parents gave him his dream car since his driving time would be so limited.
I freaked out. It was one of those magical, surreal moments that I knew, long before Jessica fielded the call the next week offering me a contract, the power of this story. Everything I needed clicked—the teacher in the classroom next to mine mentioned my story to a student, who told her mom, who happens to work for one of the racing websites and has all sorts of contacts. I suddenly had access to all sorts of things, and Harlequin came through with the rest. I got to go behind the scenes at Roush-Fenway racing. I got to attend a media event and meet Matt Kenseth, Kenny Schrader, Brendan Gaughn, Rusty Wallace, Martin Truex Jr., and others. I got to be in the garage and pits before a race—one that Carl Edwards won (he signed my daughter’s hat).
Because of Hart’s Victory, Harlequin also asked me to do two books for the 2008 NASCAR series. I remember sitting in my car and then suddenly realizing—twenty. In September 1999, the thrill had been selling the first one. Twenty felt equally as good. Hart’s Victory is number fifteen. It has received rave reviews, including from my daughter, who agrees with Harriet Klausner that you’ll need Kleenex tissue while reading. It’s one of those books that you’ll love even if you’re not a NASCAR fan. Now if you want some heat and light romantic comedy, try my other December release, The Christmas Date. For an emotional ride of a lifetime, follow Hart Hampton as he gets the biggest victory of all, true love, in Hart’s Victory.