I’m absolutely thrilled to be doing this week’s interview with Denise Williams, author of the much anticipated HOW TO FAIL AT FLIRTING, which is romance at its swooning, heart-pounding, toe-curling best! Below, Denise shares what she’s most looking forward to with the release of her book, tells us about the story behind her title, and explains why a future novel will definitely include a haunted house. Enjoy!
Denise Williams wrote her first book in the 2nd grade. I Hate You and its sequel, I Still Hate You, featured a tough, funny heroine, a quirky hero, witty banter, and a dragon. Minus the dragons, these are still the books she likes to write. After penning those early works, she finished second grade and eventually earned a PhD. After growing up a military brat around the world and across the country, Denise now lives in Iowa with her husband, son, and two ornery shih-tzus
What are you most looking forward to with the release of your book?
For years, even before I started writing this debut novel, I fantasized about seeing someone reading my book in an airport. It will be a while until I get to step foot in an airport again, but it’s the thing I most look forward to. Will I kindly ask that person to take a selfie with me? Definitely.
Tell us about the title of your book. What is the story behind it?
Naya is not good at flirting. In the book, her attempts include a spilled drink, insinuating the hero had hemorrhoids, and getting sick to her stomach while making out. She could write an instructional manual on how one can fail at flirting. More than that, though, she’s flirting with the idea of taking risks, flirting with professional ruin, and flirting with love. To that last one, she is definitely not a failure.
What was the first piece of writing you ever published or saw in print?
In college I wrote a poem about a quarterlife crisis and discovering the power I held. It was published in a campus literary magazine and I don’t remember anything in college exciting me as much as seeing my words in print. It’s been years since I read it, but the theme of it is consistent with Naya’s journey in How to Fail at Flirting, just a few years later.
Do you have a regular first reader? If so, who is it and why?
My best friend Bethany is my regular first reader. She has been supportive of my writing since the first fledgling sentences. I love how she can brainstorm with me, make me feel great about my writing, and offer critique all in the same conversation. She’s my ride or die for many reasons, but that is one of them!
What’s the strangest job you’ve ever had?
I was a college residence hall director early in my career. I loved it and I learned a tremendous amount of things about serving students and how universities function. At the same time, it was a job that was unlike any other. The strangest day was spent designing and building an elaborate haunted house with the hall council. To this day, that haunted house is in my top 3 professional accomplishments along with earning a PhD and publishing How to Fail at Flirting. Someday I will write a book that includes building a haunted house so I have an excuse to document it.
WHAT REVIEWERS ARE SAYING
“In this steamy romance, Naya Turner is an overachieving math professor blowing off work stress with a night on the town, which leads to a night with a dapper stranger. And then another, and another. She’s smitten by the time she realizes there’s a professional complication, and the relationship could put her job at risk. Williams blends rom-com fun with more weighty topics in her winsome debut.”—The Washington Post
“Denise Williams’s How to Fail at Flirting is absolutely SPECTACULAR!! Ripe with serious, real-life drama, teeming with playful banter, rich with toe-curling passion, full of heart-melting romance….Her debut grabbed me on page one and held me enthralled until the end, when I promptly started re-reading to enjoy the deliciousness again.”—Priscilla Oliveras, USA Today bestselling author
“How to Fail at Flirting is a charming and compelling debut from Denise Williams that’s as moving as it romantic. Williams brings the banter, heat, and swoons, while also giving us a character who learns that standing up for herself is as important–and terrifying–as allowing herself to fall in love. Put “Read How to Fail at Flirting” at the top of your to-do list!”—Jen DeLuca
“How to Fail at Flirting is a powerhouse romance. Not only is it funny and charming and steamy, but it possesses an emotional depth that touched my heart. Naya is a beautiful and relatable main character who is hard-working, loyal, spirited, and determined to move on from an abusive relationship. It was thrilling to see her find her power in her personal life, her career, and through her romance with Jake. And I cheered when she claimed the happily ever after she so deserved.”—Sarah Smith
“Williams’ debut weaves a charming, romantic love story about a heroine rediscovering her voice and standing up for her passions.”—USA Today bestselling author Andie J. Christopher, on How to Fail at Flirting
“How to Fail at Flirting delivers on every level. It’s funny, sexy, heartwarming and emotional. With its engaging, loveable characters, fresh plot, and compelling narrative, I did not want to put it down! It’s in my top reads of the year for sure!”—Samantha Young, New York Times bestselling author
“The warmth in Denise Williams’s writing is unmistakable, as is her wit. She tackles difficult subjects, difficult emotions, with such empathy and thoughtfulness. Best of all: Jake is just the type of hero I love—sexy, smart, sweet, and smitten.”—Olivia Dade, Author of Teach Me, on How to Fail at Flirting
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