Love on Beach Avenue is the latest novel from romance author Jennifer Probst. Not only have I read it, I also listened to the audiobook while walking around town, and took pictures of some of the actual locations that appear in the novel. Cape May is mentioned in the book at least 26 times! It was fun walking around town and imagining the characters in the various locations. I found this book to be a fun and energetic love story, and can’t wait for the second book to come out.
I hope you enjoy this Q&A. I had a blast talking with author Jennifer Probst!
Why did you use Cape May as a setting? I have always wanted to set a series in Cape May. I adore the quaint beach town, which has stolen a piece of my heart, and believed it would be a perfect back drop to a satisfying, emotional romance story.
What inspired you to write this book? My editor wanted a new proposal for a series, and I knew I wanted to write about sisters running a wedding agency. There’s so much to explore within the dynamics of sisters, and adding a family business to the mix would only deepen both the conflicts and relationship. I knew immediately Cape May would be the perfect setting since it’s one of the premier wedding destinations. Who wouldn’t love to be married on or by the beach?
Did you write while you were here in Cape May—either this book or any other books you’re working on? During my vacations in Cape May, I always bring my laptop and am working on some project, so yes, I’ve written portions of many of my books here. My favorite time to write is after I get home from the beach, freshen up with a shower, get the kids settled, and pour a glass of wine while I write for an hour or two.
How long did it take you to write Love on Beach Avenue once you came up with the idea? Love on Beach Avenue was one of my gift books—which means it flowed easily and I didn’t have to struggle like I do on some of my projects. I wrote the book in exactly two months.
How did you start writing the novel? My first task was to sketch out the three sisters and their personalities because they were the core of the three book series. I knew right away I wanted to write a fun romantic comedy where the wedding planner was consistently butting heads with the man of honor. I felt as if the premise had a lot of potential for both fun and emotional moments. I had a few ideas of who Avery truly was and what she wanted to accomplish, and then Carter grew in layers for me. He’s a bit of a nerd and a little grumpy, so I enjoyed digging in to show readers who he truly was and the sacrifices he made to raise his little sister. With that in mind, I just began writing and dove right in!
Is there a book you fell in love with that made you want to write a love story? I’ve been reading voraciously since I was very young. My father always encouraged me to read broadly, but my romance obsession began when he came home with a box of romance books for me to read from the library. My mom got upset and said I wasn’t old enough, but the moment I spotted Danielle Steel, Nora Roberts, Joanna Lindsey, Judith McNaught, and so many more, it was too late. I was hooked and knew in my heart I was meant to write love stories. After all, love is the true power in the world.
Did you get stuck or have writer’s block? How did you overcome that? No, I’ve been writing full-time now for eight years so I’ve gotten more adept at pushing through writer’s block. If I’m blocked, I take some time away to brainstorm, or get away from the manuscript, and other times, I can push right through and maybe focus on scenes that are more clear to me in order to jumpstart. I had terrible block after my father died two years ago, and needed to take the time away to grieve instead of write. It was hard, but I think you need to be kind to yourself regarding healing and grief, but also know when it’s time to get back to work.
I know there are a few ways to start writing. What is your process? I do a very loose sketch of characters, ideas for plot, what type of theme I’d like to focus on throughout the series, and just sit with it a while as my Muse cooks. Then I write—every single day. Sometimes I’ll take a weekend off if I’ve hit my writing goal, and if I don’t, I make sure I get some words on the page.
What would you tell a new writer to do? Begin. Write every day if you can, even in clips of five, ten, fifteen minutes. It needs to become a habit that is engrained inside of you. The only way you truly learn how to write is by writing.
What type of music do you listen to? I’m a music fanatic and always have my noise cancelling headphones on while I’m writing. Like my reading, I have varied tastes—I adore old school 70-80’s music, top hits, classics like Sinatra, Dean Martin, Barry Manilow, Billy Joel, etc. I listen to some country but my favorite bands are Rob Thomas/Matchbox 20, Lifehouse, Daughtry, and Imagine Dragons. Oh, and I adore soundtracks and old musicals too!
Do you have a playlist/type of music that you listen to while writing? Always. With each book, there are certain songs I listen to on repeat, and then I create the playlist for my readers and load it up on Spotify.
I know you consulted with Catherine Walton from Weddings by the Sea. What ideas have you used or will you use with this series? Catherine was so wonderful! She emailed me back right away because I had so many questions—I really wanted to know the ins and outs wedding planners deal with in the business, and the insider language. It was so interesting to hear they don’t use the term bridezilla—they use PITA: Pain in the Ass! She also provided me with some funny wedding disasters that inspired all three of my books.
Have you been to each real place you’ve mentioned in your book? I have been to most of the places I mentioned in the book, and took creative license with some. Louie’s Pizza is one of the best pizza places in the world and I’m obsessed with them. I tried to mention all my favorite restaurants to give them a shout-out.
Where is your favorite place you mentioned? Louie’s Pizza, and Harry’s—my fave cocktail the Orange Crush.
Where did you stay in Cape May? I usually rent a house there for a week, and then I stay at the Avondale by the Sea for a week later in the summer. Over my life, I’ve stayed in many, many of the bed & breakfasts and hotels.
Avery’s house: Is that a real place where you have stayed? No! But I passed this amazing, quaint, purple house when I was out for a walk toward West Cape May and immediately knew it was Avery’s place!
Carter’s rental house: Was this a real place? No, I kept that fictional since I had him rent a small cottage for purposes of ease.
If a movie were made of this book, who would play Avery and Carter? I love this question! I can totally see Avery being cast as Kaley Cuoco being cast as Avery, and Ryan Gosling would be perfect as Carter. They’d nail those roles!
You hit on a few tough subjects. What made you want to touch on those in the novel? All of my romance novels are built around characters who have real issues. Many of our conflicts are within ourselves and our past, and we need to have some type of resolution in order to have a happy, healthy love relationship. There’s no perfect people, and reading about them is boring. Very few of us had perfect childhoods and most have hard challenges to overcome. I needed to dig into Carter to give him a true reason why he’s avoided love and become the way he is. And Avery’s workaholic ways shows a driven career woman, but she still believes and hopes for her own happy ever after. I find that inspiring.
On what part of the beach would you say the first kiss happened? LOL! I was thinking about that when I was writing the scene and trying to come up with the perfect spot! I’d say it ended up being more toward the end of the of the boardwalk, away from the hustle of the main strip where it was quieter.
The chocolate croissant. Do you get them when you’re in Cape May? If yes, where? Actually, I don’t. My husband is the one who adores them and can eat them every day! He gets them in various places—the French Bakery in Washington Square, Madison’s Bakery, and wherever we pop into.
When will the next book in the series be released to read?
I’m thrilled to say Temptation on Ocean Drive is coming August 25th! So we don’t have long to wait to get Bella and Gabe’s story, and more wonderful Cape May mentions. Hopefully, I’ll be able to bring a few Advanced Reader Copies when I visit in August, so make sure you keep your eye out for them in the local bookstore and businesses! Along with Love on Beach Avenue, of course!
Michelle is the staff photographer for CapeMay.com and Cape May Magazine. On the weekends, she loves to ride her Harley, do crafts, and bake.