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Q&A with Chandra Blumberg – Stirring Up Love

Stirring Up Love

By Laia Feliu.

We are very happy to welcome Chandra Blumberg to The Reading Corner to discuss her upcoming romantic comedy Stirring up Love, out July 26th!

After doing her time in corporate Chicago, Simone Blake returns to small-town Illinois to tackle a new venture: her grandfather’s barbecue restaurant. The secret, as they say, is in the sauce. Simone’s plan is to sell Honey and Hickory’s signature sauce to put her hometown on the map.

But she’s not the only one with a recipe and a plan: chef Finn Rimes from nearby Springfield has a similar vision. To jump-start his dream of opening a culinary school, he shows up at the local farmers’ market with his own barbecue sauce.

When Simone’s plan to outsell Finn falls flat, she auditions for a reality show to pitch her brand. But she’s horrified to discover Finn’s had the same idea. As Simone and Finn wage barbecue war on television, their feud turns into an undeniable attraction.

With their livelihoods on the line, it may not be so much about making the best sauce—but finding their way to each other.

Stirring Up Love

Hi Chandra! Firstly, thank you so much for your time. Let me start by saying that “Stirring up Love” was one of my favourite romcoms of the year, and I have read a lot of them! I loved how reading your book made me constantly visit the snack cabinet.

Before diving into the interview, I would like to give you the space to introduce yourself to our readers.

Thank you so much! I’m Chandra Blumberg and I write funny, heartfelt contemporary romance. I spend my free time lifting weights, trying out new dessert recipes, and dreaming of future travel destinations. Stirring Up Love is my second novel and book two in the Taste of Love series, following Digging Up Love. I’m thrilled to be living out my lifelong dream of being an author and spreading joy through my stories.

Honey and Hickory was Simone’s favourite place and she put a lot of love and time into turning it into a great place, was this restaurant inspired by a favourite place of yours? If not, where did the inspiration come from?

Honey and Hickory wasn’t inspired by one particular place so much as the atmosphere and food of countless barbecue restaurants I’ve visited over the years, both locally and across the country. Simone’s goal is to serve phenomenal food and make every customer who walks through the door feel welcomed and comfortable—home cooking, but without dishes—the perfect combination!

Simone and Finn’s love for food is what brought them together and made them fall in love. How has your love for cooking and baking inspired this book?

I love to binge-watch cooking and baking competitions—they’re my comfort shows. And my love of baking began at a young age. I remember helping my mom and grandma bake chocolate chip cookies and blueberry pie. In my family, feeding people is synonymous with love, and that’s true for Simone and Finn as well. Simone sees her restaurant as a way to serve the community, and as a chef, Finn gets great joy from cooking up stellar meals for both his friends and customers.

“Stirring up Love” is an incredibly heart-warming book, and both characters face problems I am sure many of your readers can relate to. Did you pull inspiration for your book from real life experiences?

I believe so many experiences are shared—we’ve all gone through heartbreak in one form or another, and we all have dreams that we’ve let go of or ones we’ve chased. I pull from those moments but create new scenarios for my characters.

This book has two of my favourite book tropes: enemies to lovers and road trips. If you could any read one trope for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Ooh, that’s a great question. I love the spicy dynamic of enemies to lovers, but I might have to say friends to lovers. I adore the tenderness of two people who already have that close connection and deep care for one another, and the tension of not wanting to jeopardize that. I’m instantly invested in friends-to-lovers romances and rooting for their love story from page one.

I often wonder what happens after I finish a book I really enjoyed, what do you think the future holds in store for Simone and Finn?

I see them being just as feisty and flirtatious with each other at 80 as the day they fell in love. They’ll probably be one of those couples who embarrass their kids and grandkids with public displays of affection because they can’t get enough of each other.

How do you come up with interesting characters? And how do you get to know those characters well enough to write a great story about them?

I spend a lot of time looking at the story world through the lens of my characters. I like to write journal entries in their point-of-view, and devote time to working through their “why.” The whole time I’m writing a book, the characters are always in the back of my mind—how they’d react in a given situation, what they might think of a current event, what kind of music they’d listen to—and this helps me get to know them better.

We are starting to see a lot more diversity in romantic comedies, and readers and writers are beginning to realise there are many more cultures out there that need representing. Do you think the publishing industry is doing enough to provide the public with more diverse stories, or is there still a long road ahead of us?

I think we’re headed in the right direction. All the time we are seeing readers who are overjoyed to see themselves in books. The world is diverse and always has been, and the more books that are published to reflect that reality, the better. I’m grateful to be contributing my voice to the diverse narratives that are already on shelves and continuing to broaden the array of perspectives shown in fiction.

What do you hope your readers will take away from this book?

First and foremost, I want readers to laugh and feel a connection with the characters. I had so much fun writing Simone and Finn’s love story, and I hope people finish the book with a smile on their face. Beyond that, I want Stirring Up Love to foster a sense of hope and empowerment that comes from watching the characters confront self-doubt and embrace love.

Are there any books within the genre or with similar messages to “Stirring up Love” you could recommend?

The Dating Playbook by Farrah Rochon is a fun, chemistry-filled fake-dating romance that explores themes of chasing your dreams and believing in yourself. Gouda Friends by Cathy Yardley is a friends-to-lovers romance that will leave you hungry in the best way and satisfy your hankering for a swoon-worthy love story.

And last but not least, where can everyone get their hands on this amazing story?

Stirring Up Love is published by Montlake and is available in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook format. Links to pre-order Stirring Up Love are on my website:

Stirring Up Love

Chandra Blumberg writes funny, heartwarming love stories about characters that feel real and relatable. Born and raised in Michigan, Chandra moved to the Chicago area after majoring in English at Michigan State University. When she’s not writing, she enjoys lifting heavy barbells at the gym, making a mess of the kitchen while baking alongside her four kids, and traveling with her family.

Chandra’s Instagram: @chandrablumberg


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