I am so excited today because I get to spend a little time (and so do you!) with one of my favorite fictional characters of all time: Emma Rae Travis, the pastry chef at The Tanglewood Inn (a fictional wedding destination hotel here in Roswell, GA) from the Another Emma Rae Creation series of novels by author Sandra D. Bricker and Abingdon Press.
Sandie says she came up with the idea for these Laugh-Out-Loud books while on a quick “potty break” during an all-day Amazing Wedding Cakes marathon one Saturday afternoon. “I remember thinking about the phenomenal design of those delectable cakes and wondering, ‘Wow! What if God gave those unbelievable cake skills to a diabetic who couldn’t enjoy them?’ And three hours later, Emma Rae was born.” And we’re so glad she was!
Sandie has graciously agreed to let us spend a little one-on-one time with Emma today. So sit back and relax; let’s enjoy the company of someone who has become an old friend to us all. And watch between what Emma says for some good tips on finding characters. And if you have a comment or question for Emma Rae, you'll be entered in a drawing for a package of all three books in the Another Emma Rae Creation series. Continental U.S. only please.
ANE: Emma Rae, we’re so thrilled to have you with us today, and we really do appreciate you taking time away from your work at The Tanglewood Inn to join us. I’ve always wanted to ask you about your relationship with Sandie. Your story and friendships are so interesting; they just keep us turning the pages to see what happens next. It’s kind of a chicken versus egg kind of question, but which one of you calls the shots?
EMMA: Well, I would definitely say it’s her. I mean, those are her fingers on the keyboard. But she says it’s me. Sandie’s an interesting sort in that she’s a Type A – like my best friend Sherilyn from Always the Wedding Planner Never the Bride – and is first to admit that she plans out every aspect of her life with schedules and lists. But when it comes to writing, she flies by the seat of her pants. She says that every book is a surprise to her and that she writes them “on a wing and a prayer.”
ANE: So you’re telling me that the vivid details of The Tanglewood Inn…those are a figment of a writer’s imagination?
EMMA: (laughing) No. I’m not telling you that at all! Sandie says that everything she’s done in her life, every place that she’s ever visited, every random person she’s passed while shopping or waiting in line at the bank…little details about them have been stored away in her memory for use at a later time.
For instance, back in the ‘90s, Sandie was an entertainment publicist in Los Angeles. The demands of her job had gotten particularly stressful, and her business partner went looking for somewhere they could go – far enough from L.A. to give Sandie a decompressing vacay experience, but close enough that they could get back quickly if necessary. That’s when they found The Horton Grand Hotel in San Diego.
ANE: So the Horton Grand…
EMMA: You guessed it! That hotel, with its carved staircase and vintage rooms, all surrounding a courtyard of chirping birds and twinkling lights, later became The Tanglewood Inn. Sandie says she just picked it up (mentally) in San Diego and dropped it down in Roswell, GA, where she dedicated a year of her life working publicity and event planning for a children’s charity many years later.
ANE: I guess it’s too much to hope for that your fiancé Jackson Drake is actually out there somewhere?
EMMA: Sandie tells me that Jackson is a combination of several men she’s known over the years, but she’s quick to add that she turned her back on their more negative qualities and only borrowed the great ones to construct the man I love. Bless her heart!
ANE: What about the more minor characters appearing throughout the series? There are some really interesting and fun people, like Russell the Aussie actor and your wonderful Aunt Sophie. Are they based on real people?
EMMA: Sandie says they’re each compilations of several different people. Russell, for instance, is the sum of three different, really cute Aussie men she’s known over the years, with a little dose of naughty from each of them. She says that’s the way her writer mind works. Often, after meeting someone new, you’ll notice her pulling out the notebook she carries in her purse and scribbling fast notes about something that struck her about that person.
ANE: That’s kind of scary!
EMMA: Tell me about it.
ANE: Emma, can you tell me about the various books in the Another Emma Rae Creation series?
EMMA: Speak for Sandie, you mean? I don’t think she’ll mind. Book #1 is my book, Always the Baker Never the Bride. It starts right before I step foot in The Tanglewood, and takes readers through my initial fall for Jackson, his family, and his hotel. Book #2, Always the Wedding Planner Never the Bride, is my best friend Sherilyn’s story as she moves back to Atlanta to marry a doctor and join the Tanglewood staff. Book #3, Always the Designer Never the Bride, introduces Audrey as a wedding dress designer who joins the family when she comes into town for her best girlfriend’s wedding.
ANE: And there’s another one coming up, right?
EMMA: Always the Baker FINALLY the Bride comes out in the spring, and it will wrap up the series with my engagement to Jackson. I can’t tell you whether you’ll actually get to attend our wedding, despite the title of the book, but I can say you’re going to have a blast finding out.
ANE: Emma, that’s cruel!
EMMA: Come on now. You know Sandie would kill me if I told all of the secrets!
ANE: Well, thank you so much for joining us today. I know there are a lot of loyal fans of you and your cohorts, so come back any time.