Kathy Strobos – Is This for Real?

I’m delighted to welcome the lovely Kathy Strobos, all the way from America, to my blog today. 

Kathy Strobos
Kathy Strobos

Kathy Strobos is a writer living in New York City with her husband and two children, amid a growing collection of books, toys and dollhouses. She grew up in New York City and graduated from Stuyvesant High School, Harvard-Radcliffe University and Columbia Law School. She previously worked as a lawyer. She left law to pursue her dream of writing fiction full-time and getting in shape. She is still working on getting in shape

Hello Kathy and thank you for agreeing to appear on my blog today. I loved Is This for Real? what a great book to curl up with. 

Is This for Real
Is This for Real?

An opposites-attract, friends-to-lovers, slow burn, fake-dating romantic comedy

Love is all fun and games until somebody gets hurt. Usually, me. I admit it. I’m a relationship-recluse. Ironic, given that I write romantic comedies. So, I’m on a sabbatical from dating.

Which is why fake dating my best friend, Rory, is fool-proof. Rory suggested it because he needed a date for work functions. And I can use our experiences as fodder for my romcom novel.

Plus, my sister doesn’t know it’s not real, and she is thrilled that I’m not walling myself off emotionally. Her words, not mine. But I do wish she would stop saying that she always suspected there was something more between me and Rory. She should realize that we’ve been friends forever so I’m immune to his appeal.

We would never work. Rory is such a romantic; he still believes in that perfect love similar to his parents’ marriage. My parents fought bitterly. So, we are better off as friends. I can’t risk losing our friendship, even if this might be my chance—before his ex-girlfriend wins him back. 

Those flickers of attraction? Easily extinguished by cold-water reality—like a two-mile hike in drenching rain over sand with wheelie luggage.

But our relationship is not sticking to the plot—or is it?

It’s a brilliant book, the fake date idea works so well. The chemistry between Rory and Penelope was spot on and I had to keep reading to make sure they realised what they had too!  There were times when I wanted to yell at them both to realise what they had. I loved that Audrey and Jake from Partner Pursuit made a reappearance and I’m definitely on the Secret Cinema mailing list now! Penelope and Rory went to see Casablanca, but if you could be transported into one film, which one would it be? And which part would you like to play?

So hard to choose. I would pick Bridget Jones Diary or How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. 

I’d want the romantic lead, of course!

We all use a bit of ourselves in our characters, and Penelope seems such a beautifully developed character, tell me some of the similarities between you and her? 

I think I poured a lot of my writing experiences into Penelope’s experiences. I’m much more open, I think, than Penelope, and in fact, I had a hard time writing her as closed and not sharing emotions. One of my first critique partners, in fact, totally called me out on that and wrote that she kept reading that Penelope was closed emotionally, but she thought Penelope shared everything! So, I had to revise the novel to make Penelope more closed off. My next heroine definitely shares her emotions. When I was single, I also had several male friends who did not reciprocate my more romantic feelings, so there’s that similarity. 😊 And I like playing with miniatures like Penelope, but I don’t sell my minis. 

I’ve seen some of your posts of Rob and Piper, they are so much fun. How did you get into the miniaturist scene and can you talk a bit about your dollhouse collection? Do you work to a particular scale? They must take you ages to make, 

I had a huge dollhouse in my childhood that my mother built for me. I played with it all the time. Then when I had a daughter, I built her a dollhouse. I then went on the internet and realized that adults were playing with dollhouses. I followed various blogs and Instagram accounts, and I actually made a lot of friends who also make minis. I also joined a local miniaturist club. My childhood dollhouse is too big to fit in our apartment, so I bought my own dollhouse kit (actually from a British shop called Dolls House Emporium) and built that dollhouse. I work in the 1/12 scale, so 1 inch is one foot.  And yes, it does take me ages. I bought another dollhouse kit 10 years ago, but I still haven’t finished that dollhouse. 

I love that Penelope dreams of becoming a published author, I don’t think it’s a dream that anyone of us haven’t had. What was the moment when you decided it was what you wanted to be?

I wanted to be an author when I was in elementary school and high school. But then when I went to college, I studied government and switched my interest to government and then law. Then when I was a lawyer, I watched a really bad romcom and decided I could write a better one, and I started writing scenes of Partner Pursuit. My first writing course was the Penguin UK Writer’s Academy “Constructing a Novel” course, and my teacher said the exchange between Audrey and Eve (two characters in Partner Pursuit) was “sparky.” That made my month. I realised I could write commercial fiction—and not just legal briefs. I took some more courses and finished the novel. I submitted it to the RNA New Writer’s Scheme. I received very positive feedback that encouraged me to keep writing and I decided to pursue my dream of becoming a published author. 

Penelope is a member of a writers’ group, what about you? 

I’ve been a member of two different critique groups, but both eventually disbanded. I really loved meeting and discussing work though while they did last. Now I’m a member of several, less structured, writers’ group. We don’t meet regularly to critique each other’s work, but we’re very supportive of each other. Writers can post a request for a review of a chapter. Right now, I have two critique partners, and we exchange work.

Top ten books to take to a desert island, go on what would yours be?

Pride and Prejudice; The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella; The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway; Bridget Jones’ Diary, Sheer Mischief by Jill Mansell;  

And I might bring along some writing books so I can keep writing: Romancing the Beat by Gwen Hayes, The Emotional Craft of Fiction by Donald Maass, Save the Cat Writes a Novel; Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain, Writing the Romantic Comedy by Billy Mernit.

Do you have a regular writing routine?

I drop my son off at school and then I try to write from about 9 to 2 with a break for lunch. But it’s hard now that I’m also trying to learn marketing and other things. I feel more distracted now that I have books out there. 

What’s your next project writing wise?   And miniaturist wise?

Right now, I’m working on my third novel, Caper Crush. I honestly can’t wait to share it with the world. I feel like my writing is improving. I’m also working on a short story as a newsletter magnet. And then I’m excited to start my fourth novel. 

Miniaturist-wise, I’m going to try to make the scenes that Penelope makes in Is This for Real? and post them on my blog and Instagram. 

And finally, from Partner Pursuit, I was impressed by the idea of Chicken Cranberry Curry, any chance of the recipe?

Sure, this is simplified from an original recipe in Eating Well (which had more ingredients):

1 diced onion

3 tablespoons mild curry

¼ tsp cloves

1 cup chicken stock or 1 chicken bouillon in 1 cup of hot water 

2 lbs. chicken breast cut into chunks

1 cup Dried cranberries

1 16 oz can of diced tomatoes or tomato sauce

Salt & pepper to taste

Olive oil

Add olive oil to the pan and then the diced onions. Once the onions begin to brown, add the curry powder and then add the diced chicken. Once the chicken is browned, add the cloves. Then add the chicken stock, the tomato sauce and the cranberries. Bring to a boil and let simmer until the chicken is thoroughly cooked and the sauce is thicker. If I’m feeling very fancy, I add some cilantro. Enjoy!

I will, thank you, Kathy.

Buying links:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/33Nj3IP

Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3IwKaGF

Kobo.com: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/is-this-for-real-1

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/is-this-for-real-by-kathy-strobos

Author website link: https://kathystrobos.com/books/

Thank you, Kathy, for talking to me today.

  1. Kathy Strobos

    Thanks so much for having me on your blog!

    • Anni Rose

      It was a real pleasure Kathy and I’m looking forward to trying that recipe soon. Ax

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