It’s been so much fun talking with Deborah Bouziden all month! Our interview will be published in its entirety later this year–without all the asides to show you pictures of Barkis or music videos–so stay tuned for updated links. Here’s the final bit:

early writings ... SW at age 4

early writings ... SW at age 4

DB: When you finish a project, what do you do to reward yourself?

SW: A vacation, a shopping spree, a reading marathon, a ski trip, a dog walk, the ritual cleaning of my study. Plow through a queue of 176 unread e-mail messages. Long, long phone calls to my mom, my sister and my long-distance friends. When I finished Lakeshore Christmas, I went on a ten-mile hike with my dog and my best friend.

DB: You’ve written so many books, how do you feed your muse?

SW: Listen to music. Read. Go to performances. Travel. Stay connected. Cherish your friends who remind you what life–and therefore your books–are about.

DB: What is your favorite thing about book signings?

SW: Shopping for the clothes, planning the travel and meeting the bookseller and the few readers who trickle in. Not so favorite thing? The fact that only a few readers trickle in. I have a theory about this. My readers are readers. They want stories, not the author’s signature. I’m fine with this. There are definitely writers who are a draw at signings, but I’m not one of them.

DB: Book signing nightmare or strangest thing to happen to you?

SW: A guy I thought I was in love with in college showed up at a signing in a far-off city and said, “I still think about you.”

DB: The romance industry has seen many sweeping changes through the years. Do you think they are for the best or detrimental to our industry? What future do you see for the romance industry?

SW: I’m sorry to see writers exploited by vanity presses that make their money by charging the writer. And (okay, this will get me in trouble but I’ll say it anyway) e-publishing doesn’t interest me as a writer–I simply haven’t seen proof of it as a viable commercial vehicle, and I’m a commercial writer who thrives on having readers. Lots and lots of readers. But overall, the future for the industry is bright. Readers crave stories and always will, so the storytellers are safe.

DB: Tell me a bit about your latest project. What is it about? When will it be released?

SW: I just finished Lakeshore Christmas, a hardcover coming in October 2009. It’s a nostalgic, magical love story about the town librarian charged with directing the annual Christmas pageant. Against her will, she is paired up with a bad-boy rocker who’s been court-ordered to help her with the music. After that I”ll be working on The Summer Hideaway, which was known as Lakeshore #7 until I came up with a title.

DB: And now the last and probably most important question of all—do you still keep a bowl of M&M’s on your desk? If not, what happened to get them banned? If you still have them, what kind is your favorite?

SW: What happened to get them banned? Middle age! Where is my girlish figure?! I had to trade the M&Ms for pistachios. I need more protein and fewer carbs. Actually, I need a nip and tuck but I’m chicken.

DB: I counted 43 published books. Is that correct? I think I may be missing a few.

SW: I stopped counting after 30. It was making me feel old. Or like I should be better than I am after all that experience. The truth is, every book feels like a first book to me. I never get over the hurdles easily. Then again, I never get over the excitement. I’m such a nerd.