Friday, June 1, 2012

Kristin Harmel - The Lit Chick

Florida writer Kristin Harmel’s seventh novel, The Sweetness of Forgetting, (scheduled for release  Aug. 7 from Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster), is a real departure for the Orlando-based novelist, who grew up in St. Petersburg. She wrote her first published book, a laugh-out-loud chick lit novel called How to Sleep with a Movie Star, at age 24, and quickly followed it with three more chick lit tomes from and two young adult novels. Her books have been published in numerous languages and are sold all around the world.
Harmel’s writing career began earlier than most. As a 6-year-old, she penned her first novel, which she describes with a laugh as “a little hand-written, stapled-together Bobbsey Twins book.”  At sixteen, this “obsessive reader” started writing for a local newspaper, and months later, she was covering minor league and high school sports for the St. Petersburg Times (now the Tampa Bay Times). After earning her degree in journalism and communications from the University of Florida, she began writing for People magazine, where she’s still a contributor more than a decade later.
At age 23, Harmel spent the summer in France. That summer changed her life. “It taught me to slow down, to appreciate what I had, to look inside myself,” she says. “It gave me the courage to get out of the rat race and attempt a novel, which is something I’d always dreamed of doing. Two months later, I started my first book.” In 2006, How to Sleep with a Movie Star was published. Praised as “hilarious” by Cosmopolitan magazine, it tells the story of a 26-year-old reporter whose life is turned upside-down after an encounter with a movie star. This was followed a year later by The Blonde Theory, the tale of a corporate attorney who goes undercover as a “dumb blonde” to see if her love life improves. Harmel calls her first few books “Bridget Jones-esque, entertaining reads about women striving to be better versions of themselves and trying to find their way in life – set to an amusing backdrop.” The Blonde Theory was followed by The Art of French Kissing (set in Paris), and Italian for Beginners (set in Rome). Harmel also wrote two novels geared toward young adult readers : When You Wish and After.
Now, at the age of 33, Harmel’s writing has grown up with her. The Sweetness of Forgetting moves away from her chick lit roots to tell the story of a 36-year-old bakery owner who discovers that her grandmother, now suffering from Alzheimer’s, has a mysterious past buried in 1940s Paris. “It’s a completely different kind of book for me,” Harmel explains. “It was a transition I’ve been ready to make for a long time. I’m so proud of the depth of the story I was able to tell here, and I’m hoping that readers are as touched by reading it as I was by researching it. I was able to touch on some topics that mean a great deal to me, including Alzheimer’s, the Holocaust and interfaith cooperation.” Already, the buzz both here and abroad has been wonderful, and translation rights for The Sweetness of Forgetting have already sold in a dozen territories overseas. In August, Harmel will set out on a book tour that includes New York, Los Angeles, Washington DC and Chicago before heading to Italy to promote the release of the Italian language version of her novel. But whatever the language, The Sweetness of Forgetting has a plotline that takes readers deep into a surprising interfaith tale based both in Holocaust-era Europe and modern-day Cape Cod. The novel also includes nine original recipes from the main character’s bakery. Harmel describes the book as “ a story of family, love, honesty…and baked goods.”
While writing is her passion, Harmel, who is now the travel and dating expert for The Daily Buzz, (a  nationally syndicated morning television show) doesn’t find it difficult to set time aside for reading, cooking, and traveling. She’s seldom in her Orlando home for more than a month at a stretch, and she likes spending time with friends. But according to Harmel, what she loves most of all is "being able to tell a story that will hopefully amuse and inspire. It’s a privilege to be able to do that with the written word.”
For more on Kristin Harmel, visit her website at

Next: Diane Gilbert Madsen - History and Mystery

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