10 Questions for Abby Jimenez

Fueled by an abundance of coffee, Minnesota resident Abby Jimenez founded her award-winning company, Nadia Cakes, in her own kitchen in 2007 after discovering she had a rare flair for handling buttercream and pastry bags. After taking home the gold in Food Network’s Cupcake Wars developing a cult following among sweet-toothed fans around the globe, and growing her business to three locations in different states, Abby realized another of her lifelong dreams when her debut romance, The Friend Zone, published yesterday. Now Abby takes some time out of her busy schedule creating sugary masterpieces to talk to Booklist about dogs, the requirements of a good romance novel, and what is next on her own literary horizon

Who is Abby Jimenez?

Baker of cupcakes, lover of doglets, writer of romances. My day job is being owner of Nadia Cakes, a chain of bakeries I founded out of my house back in 2007. I’ve got three locations, one in Palmdale, California, and two in Minnesota, where I live. I’m a Food Network Champion. I won Cupcakes Wars and my bakery has been featured on several shows.

I love animals and I own four dogs—including the now famous Stuntman Mike, who I wrote into The Friend Zone (follow him on Instagram @stuntman.mikey). I foster dogs for an animal rescue, I have four kids, and I wrote most of my books on my cell phone with my thumbs, an admission that earns me a collective gasp from anyone I tell. Despite my sassy online social media presence, I’m actually quite introverted and can happily go weeks without socializing in person with actual humans outside of my family.

Tell us about your new book, The Friend Zone.

The Friend Zone is a fictional romance with a true infertility journey inside it. My best friend, Lindsay, had a full hysterectomy at the age of just 29 after suffering from debilitating reproductive issues for years. The relationship between the two best friends in this book is largely modeled after the one I have with Lindsay, so when I sat down to write this, it only made sense to include the struggle that dominated so much of her life. Kristen’s experience in the book is told from start to finish almost exactly as Lindsay told her story to me.

Infertility is such a common affliction for women and it’s so rarely depicted in romance—and I couldn’t really understand why. Whether or not to have children is a huge compatibility point in a relationship. I’ve seen it written where one person wants kids and the other doesn’t. But what if they both want kids—and one can’t have them? How is that navigated? And why aren’t we writing about it more often? Because it happens so frequently in real life, to actual couples.

I’m happy to report that Lindsay found her Josh, and yes, real men like that do exist.

What three words best describe your writing?

Fluid, funny, and real.

What is the book (or books) that hooked you as a reader on romance fiction?

This is hard to answer because I’ve been reading romance for longer than I can even remember. I started with historical romances back in high school. I jump around between genres quite a bit, but my favorite part of any book is always the love story. A romance well done is so nuanced. It really does take skill to pull it off. As a romance writer, you need to make the reader fall in love with the hero or heroine. It goes beyond just rooting or sympathizing with them—it’s evoking actual feelings, making you connect to the characters, making you believe that they feel the way they do. It’s not easy to do and I don’t think the romance genre as a whole gets enough credit for this.

What is the best piece of advice about writing you have received so far?

No writing is wasted. Even if the book you’ve been working on ends up in a trunk and no one ever lays eyes on it, it still had value. It’s all practice. It all makes you better.

What is your own personal must-have sweet treat?

I’m a sucker for chewy SweeTarts. With the right puppy and a roll of these, I could be lured into a storm drain by a clown.

What exactly is a “vageode” cake?

Oh boy, you know about that, huh? I think the best way to explain my recent brush with worldwide viral fame is to Google “Abby Jimenez Scary Mommy”. They wrote my favorite article about the debacle. Strap in, ‘cause it’s a wild ride!

You are hosting a dinner party and can invite any three authors (alive or dead) you would like as guests. Whom would you invite, why, and more importantly what are you serving for dinner?

Well now I just have anxiety. Okay, here goes. I’d probably invite Christina Lauren because I love their books and they both [Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings] seem remarkably chill. And I’d invite Margaret Mitchell, back from the dead, so she could assure me that Scarlett and Rhett do in fact get back together.

I’d tailor my menu around dietary requirements and preferences. I’d plan it out in extreme detail weeks in advance using a spreadsheet (as I do for all dinner parties because that’s the kind of obsessive-compulsive person I am). Assuming everyone is fine with it, I’d probably make my dinner party a brunch since it’s way more relaxed and I’d serve my famous baked French toast, roasted rosemary potatoes, bacon and sausage, croissant Nutella strawberry banana paninis, and mimosas made with fresh fruit in my new juicer that I can’t stop using. Also, since this fictional meal is fantasy, I’d do it in the summer at the lake and we’d have perfect weather. Everyone in attendance would be assigned one of my Yorkies as their designated lap dog for the duration of the meal and I’d send them home with a recipe card for the French toast.

What is next for you as a writer?

I have three books coming out with Forever and my next book, The Happy Ever After Playlist, comes out in April 2020. (It’s Kristen’s best friend’s story.)

How can readers learn more about your book and connect with you as a writer?

Follow me in all the places! I’m on Twitter @AuthorAbbyJim, Instagram and Facebook @AuthorAbbyJimenez, and my website is AuthorAbbyJimenez.com.

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About the Author:

The Romance Writers of America 2002 Librarian of the Year, Charles has been reviewing romances for Booklist since 1999 and is the author of Romance Today: An A to Z Guide to Contemporary American Romance. After working for the Scottsdale Public Library System for 30 years, Charles retired and went to work for Scottsdale's independent bookstore the Poisoned Pen, where he still gets to push books but has to deal with far fewer computer questions.

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