St. Nick Re-Imagined

What if the jolly old elf had a gaggle of strapping sons? That’s the vision that inspired today’s guest, Penny Watson. She’s a native Pittsburgher whose love of romance started at the age of twelve when she discovered Gone With The Wind in the middle school library. This resulted in numerous attempts at a first novel involving a young lady with windswept hair who lived in a tree house.

A biologist by training, Penny has worked at various times as a dolphin trainer, science teacher, florist, and turfgrass researcher (don’t ask). Through it all she was a compulsive reader and collector of romance novels. After taking time off to raise her two spirited children, she decided to rekindle her passion for storytelling with the support of a wonderful writer’s group, The Quirky Ladies. Now she gets to incorporate her wide array of interests, including gardening, cooking and travel into her light paranormal stories. Penny lives outside of Boston with one fly-fishing crazed husband, two lively Filipino kids, and a wiener dog.

Penny and I had a little cyber-chat recently. You’re invited to listen in:

Mia: I enjoyed your newest release, Sweet Magik very much!  I love your hero, Oskar. Tell me about how you decided to give him green spiky hair.

Penny: I’m so glad you liked Oskar. I knew Santa’s youngest son would be the “bad boy” of the family. So, in my mind I conjured up a punk snowboarder. Slouchy jeans, Doc Marten shoes, lots of tattoos, scruffy face, and spiky green hair to round out the portrait. And when he’s feeling especially naughty, a Dr. Seuss hat. :^)

Mia: Your Klaus brothers series is a delightful reimagining of St. Nick and elves and the whole Santa myth. Where did you get this idea?

Penny: I love stories that are a twist on a legend or old classic. One I enjoyed last year was Sherri Erwin’s Jane Slayre, a fun new take on Jane Eyre that combined zombies, monsters and humor with the Charlotte Brontë classic.

I thought it would be interesting to take the legendary Santa Claus concept…jolly old fat guy….and turn it on its head. Make Santa and his sons sexy, funny and irreverent, but still hold onto the basic premise of this fairy tale, which is about Christmas spirit, family and a generous heart.

Mia: I know you’re a sucker for a guy with facial hair. How long have you been attracted to beards and who’s your favorite bearded guy? (pic please!)

Penny: I LOVE beards. I think there is nothing sexier or more masculine than a guy with a luscious beard. Which is probably why I was attracted to the whole Santa concept in the first place. Santa’s beard is epic!

I have a lot of favorite bearded guys, but my all-time favorite is Hugh Jackman. He can really rock a beard!

Mia: Whoa! I so get it now! My readers would love to get to know you a little better. Can you share a bit about you?

Penny: Things I love ~1980s music, weenie dogs, lumberjacks, romance novels, gardening, anything with sequins.

Things I don’t love ~ Rap music, cats, metrosexual dudes, people who hate romance novels, cleaning my house, tube tops.

How’s that?

Mia, thanks so much for having me as a guest on your blog today. Merry Christmas to you and all of your readers!

Mia: Thanks, Penny. A very Merry Christmas to you and your fam too! And now a peek at

Sweet Magik…

Sweet MagikOskar Klaus’ job is killing him. Not even his favorite hobbies (extreme snowboarding and browsing old bookstores) are enough to snap him out of his funk. It’s not easy living in the shadow of four successful older brothers and a father named Santa. Little does he know that a kiss on New Year’s Eve is about to turn his life upside-down.

Kiana Grant’s Manhattan life is a world away from her childhood in Oahu. She traded sunsets and surfing for a respectable career in library science, but Oskar Klaus is a temptation that’s hard to resist. Before she knows it, she’s in the midst of an outrageous adventure in the North Pole, dealing with mischievous elves, wicked demons, and a devastating attraction to Santa’s youngest son.

There’s just one problem…a bitter elf hell-bent on revenge threatens the future of everyone in the North Pole, even Santa himself…

Excerpt from SWEET MAGIK

He never heard the end of the countdown.

One minute he was leaning toward her, and the next he was lost in a tropical Eden. Sweet and lush, surrounded by warm breezes and the feel of sand beneath his bare feet. The scent of perfumed flowers filled the air, and he groaned as Kiana’s slender arms wound around his neck. She let out a breathy sigh just before her lips touched his. So softly, so gently, he wasn’t sure if it was real. He brushed his mouth over hers and she opened for him, tasting of tea and honey and paradise. Greedy for more, his hands slid under her baggy blouse, stroking the smooth skin of her back. He pressed her closer until he felt the pounding beat of her heart against his chest. Her fingers fluttered like a butterfly against the stubble on his cheek, finally resting there and tracing his jaw.

He deepened the kiss, pushing her back against the cushions of the sofa, devouring her mouth. Her leg hooked over his knee pushing the drab gray skirt up her thigh. A long expanse of soft skin rubbed against his trousers. Without thinking, he moved a hand to her leg and dragged his palm along the bare skin. He could swear he heard the sound of the ocean, waves crashing and returning to sea. He moaned and Kiana gasped in delight. He was having difficulty breathing, so he pulled back, nipping her lip on the way. The heat of a scorching sun bathed his body, and before his eyes finally snapped open, he heard the faint sound of a ukulele playing. Then, silence.

His eyes opened and he found himself sitting in the darkened corner of the living room, alone on the sofa. In his hands he held a pair of tortoise shell glasses.

Kiana was gone.


Mia: Love it! This story is full of magical happenings. Thanks for that little taste. Here are some important links:

Penny’s website

Penny’s blog

You can also find Penny at Twitter and Facebook.

Purchase link for Sweet Magik at Amazon. You can find Sweet Inspiration, Penny’s first Klaus brothers’ story there as well.

And now a treat for you, my dears. Leave comment or question for Penny and you’ll be entered in a random drawing to win SWEET MAGIK. I’ll also do a drawing for winner’s choice of either A Duke for All Seasons or My Lady Below Stairs! (Contest limited to readers who can accept a download from Amazon.)

In keeping with Penny’s beard enthusiasm, I’d love to hear who your favorite bearded guy is.

PS. I’m over at Brava Authors today. I’m giving away an Advance Reading Copy of Touch of a Rogue (Feb 28, 2012). Here’s a chance to stuff your own stocking!

39 thoughts on “St. Nick Re-Imagined

  1. Penny Watson says:

    Hi Nina! I’ll bet if you peruse some of my Beard of the Day posts, you might get swayed! :^)

    Good luck with your new releases!

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      Bet I would. Hugh Jackman was very persuasive!

  2. Nina Pierce says:

    Though I don’t share Penny’s love of facial hair, (sorry Penny), I do love a great romance. This sounds like a wonderfully fun read. It’s definitely on my holiday buying list!

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      Hi Nina,
      I noticed there’s a free read listed on your book page. What a nice way to say thank you to your readers.

  3. Linda Townsend says:

    Love the cover and the story sounds so interesting! Thanks for the giveaway!

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      Thanks for dropping by, Linda.

    2. Penny Watson says:

      Hi Linda! Thanks for stopping by….I love the cover, too!

  4. Barbara Britton says:

    Hi Penny. I loved your excerpt. What a neat concept for a book.
    I am not a beard fan–I know bummer. But I would say George Clooney looks nice unshaven.

    1. Penny Watson says:

      Hi Barbara. You are not alone. Most of my friends are not beard-lovers. I keep trying to pull them over to the dark side. And I totally agree about George…I love his salt and pepper beard!

    2. Mia Marlowe says:

      Not every man can pull one off. For example, I thought Vigo Mortensen’s beard as Aragon was an anemic excuse for facial fuzz.

  5. That sounds like an incredibly fun read! And oh, those covers. ;-)

    1. Penelope says:

      Hi Shéa! I love my covers…the first one is quirky and cute just like Sweet Inspiration. The second one is a little darker and more magical, which represents Sweet Magik to a “T”….both are perfect!

    2. Mia Marlowe says:

      Had to pop over to your blog, Shea. You’re so right. Everything is better with dragons!

  6. Sandy says:

    Jumping on the “my favorite bearded guy is my DH” bandwagon, too, lol! My DH has had a beard for nearly 16 years now – he stopped shaving right after our elder daughter was born, and she turns 16 in just 3 days! We had a few complications with her birth – nothing too major, tho – she was born a few weeks early & then she had to go back into the hospital for jaundice treatments – so he just didn’t shave (he’d had a mustache since before I met him) and I *LOVED* the beard, so it stayed! (Contrary to his mother’s oft-stated wishes… LOL!) ;-)

    Love the previews of both “Sweet Inspiration” & “Sweet Magik” now on my Kindle, Penny! Now to leave not-so-subtle hints to my handsome bearded hubby about the perfect Christmas gift!!! ;-)

    1. Penelope says:

      Thanks, Sandy! I hope you enjoy the books!

    2. Mia Marlowe says:

      I love the ‘preview’ feature on Kindle. Great way to try before you buy!

  7. Gillian says:

    This sounds like an absolute delight! And I’m right there with you about the beards…:)

    1. Penelope says:

      Hi Gillian….another beard-lover! Excellent. I post a Beard of the Day hottie almost every Friday on my blog. :^)

    2. Mia Marlowe says:

      Guess I’d have to stipulate that the beard has to be well-groomed. A wild bushy one only says DELIVERANCE to me.

  8. Hi Penny – What a fun interview…we have a few things in common, like gardening and 80s music…LOL

    Sweet Magik sounds fantastic, so of course I have to have it. All of your books sound wonderful. :-) And I’m another whose favorite beard is attached to my DH’s face. Though I’m with you on Hugh Jackman…LOVE Van Helsing…LOL

    I think it was fate that Mia had you on today. I’d been reading reviews for my books on Goodreads (which I never think to do), and discovered a lovely 4-star review from you for Mischief In the Dark. Thanks so much, I’m glad you enjoyed it. I recently got my rights back, revised & self-published it (with a hot new cover!), so hopefully new readers will find your review & give it a try. :-)

    P.S. The Steelers look phenomenal this year. ;-)

    1. Penny Watson says:

      Hi Donna! I remember that story….I enjoy Halloween holiday romances, too. My 9 year old daughter told me I should write a book about the Easter bunny, which inspired me to write one about a spring fairy (not finished yet).

      We have a Patriots vs. Steelers household. I’m hoping the Steelers go all the way!

      1. We have a Packers vs. Bears household, so I understand. LOL

        Love the idea of a spring fairy! Will keep an eye out for it.

    2. Mia Marlowe says:

      My favorite Hugh Jackman movie is KATE & LEOPOLD. How can you resist such elegant masculine manners?

  9. Mia Celeste says:

    Sweet Magik sounds really fun!

    1. Penny Watson says:

      Thanks, Mia! I had fun writing it, too. ;^)

    2. Mia Marlowe says:

      I popped over to your website, Mia. Looks like your work has received some great feedback in contests. Good luck with your writing! (Hope you’ll check into my Red Pencil Thursday. My queue of critique volunteers is depleted at the moment.)

  10. Penny Watson says:

    Hi Janice…..I’m so glad you liked Sweet Inspiration! I’m just about to start another holiday book today. I love Christmas romances!

  11. My favorite bearded guy is my DH, too. My second favorite is my nephew, who’s the cover model for my latest book. Hugh Jackman does know how to wear a beard…yummay.

    I wrote about Santa’s daughter, but um, she doesn’t have a beard.

    Good luck with this series. You know I’m gonna have to check it out! :)

    1. Penny Watson says:

      Hi Jacquie! What is the title of your book about Santa’s daughter? Inquiring minds want to know!

    2. Mia Marlowe says:

      My DH is an “on again off again” facial hair sort of guy. When I married him, he had a mustache, but he’d been clean shaven for over a decade. Then this fall, he simply decided to try something else. The only problem is that it’s more work to keep the beard clean and well trimmed than it is to shave. I doubt he’ll have it much longer.

  12. Janice says:

    Hi Mia and Penny, I just finished Sweet Inspiration and just loved it. What a wonderful Christmas story! But I must admit, my holiday reading is starting to get in the way of my holiday preparations. Any suggestions? Mia, love the website!! My favorite bearded guy is Santa of course!! LOL

    1. Mia says:

      Thanks, Janice. I love my little cyber-home too. Hope you’ll drop by often.

  13. Mia Marlowe says:

    BTW Penny, my favorite bearded guy is my own DH! He’s been sporting a lovely thick mustache and goat since late October. It’s reached the soft “ticklish” stage. ;-)

    1. Penny Watson says:

      Oh, I’m so jealous! I think winter is a good time for men to grow a beard. Well, actually, I think anytime of the year is good. :^)

  14. Aretha zhen says:

    Hi Mia and hi to Penny too! What an interesting story. I love the fact that you make the whole Santa klaus thing as an inspiration. It’s always nice to imagine that the Santa is a very handsome guy that will come in to your house to bring the present:). Your books really lights up my imagination this Christmas. Congrats for your books. Cheers from one of the new Santa lover

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      Hi Aretha, Thanks for dropping by. I agree. If he’s sneaking into your house, it would help it he’s hot!

      1. Aretha zhen says:

        Hi Mia! True, it will be fantastic if he is hot;)

    2. Penny Watson says:

      Hi Aretha! Thanks for stopping by to say hello. In order to stay inspired about writing holiday books all year long–even in the hot muggy summer!–I have my office decorated for Christmas all the time. Here’s a link to see some photos…

      Happy Holidays!

      1. Aretha zhen says:

        Hi Penny! I’m happy we share the same opinion:). Thx heaps for the links of the photos. Cheers

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