A Food Network Champion Takes on the World of Romance

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Q&A with Food Network Cupcake Wars Champion and author of The Friend Zone, Abby Jimenez!
Abby Jimenez
Kini: Can you give us the quick and dirty about yourself?

Abby: I’m a Food Network champion with a Cupcake Wars win under my belt. I own three bakeries, four dogs, I have four kids, and a three-book deal with Forever (part of Grand Central Publishing). I live in Minnesota, I love Starbucks with the burning passion of ten thousand suns, and my craziest doglet is my favorite one. His name is Stuntman Mike and I wrote him into my book, The Friend Zone.

Some people may not know but before you were a very famous rom-com author you become famous for accidentally making a vagina cake. For those not familiar, how’d that happen?

One of my cake designers made a pink geode cake and sent it to me to post on social media. When I posted it, the people of the internet decided this thing looked like a vagina. Me, being the saucy admin that I am, decided to go with it. My responses to the vagina comments went viral and here we are. 

Geode Vagina Cake
Image: ScaryMommy
Your website mentions you are a motivational speaker. Tell me more.

I started getting asked to come out and tell the Nadia Cakes story about five years ago. Not sure if you know this, but I started Nadia Cakes out of my home kitchen. It was a long uphill battle getting to where I am today. I ran a full-time cake business out of my house with three babies in diapers, all under the age of three. I had severe carpal tunnel with nerve damage in both hands and we were sinking into debt. When we opened our first shop, we couldn’t get a loan so we charged the whole $125,000 on our credit cards. Now ten years later we have three locations and 75 employees. We’re debt free and we’ve won multiple Food Network competitions and we’re known worldwide for our social media. My journey is a very inspirational tale, wrought with wins and losses, and OMG moments. I got so good at telling our story, I decided to make it a side gig. I’m the keynote speaker at several events a year.

Are you a reader of romance? How/when did you start reading romance? Favorite sub-genre. What is it about romance that keeps you reading romance?

I started reading romance back in high school. I used to read bodice rippers that a friend would loan me. I bounce around a lot and read a lot of different genres, but romance is my favorite by far. I particularly like enemies to lovers. I just love seeing the dynamic between two people who hate each other. When it’s done well, it’s so great. (I also love romance audiobooks; I just finished listening to Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey and loved it.)

What made you want to go from baker to author?

Both baking and writing started out as hobbies for me. I never planned on making a career out of either thing. It turns out that the things I enjoy doing are things that people enjoy buying!

Why rom-com?

I love humor. It’s the lens that I tend to look at life through. So naturally when I decided to write a romance, that’s the tone I went with. It’s not hard for me to find humor, even in crappy real life situations.

Rom-coms are traditionally light and sometimes involve physical or slap-stick humor, no spoilers but TFZ covers a topic that doesn’t come up a lot in traditional contemporary romance. Why’d you choose infertility as a main point in TFZ?

I felt like there was a kind of romance novel that I wanted to read and I couldn’t find. Something funny and laugh out loud worthy, but also real. That’s why I wrote the book that I did. How can so many women struggle with this and there be no romance novels about it? It seems counterintuitive. Because the reality is, every single day couples deal with this diagnosis. Two people figuring out how to overcome obstacles is the core of every romance. So why not cover challenges that actual people deal with, often?

How does it feel to be a debut author of a book that is getting a lot of positive press and starred reviews?

Oh man, I am so, so grateful. That’s all I can say. It doesn’t even feel real. To know that I’ve written something that resonates with people is beyond humbling.

How is Stuntman Mike feeling about the spotlight you’ve thrown him in to?

Well, he hates pawtographing books unless I ply him with a spoonful of cream cheese. But other than that, he’s just living his life, hating everyone except me and being exactly as I wrote him in the book. He’s a character.

What’s next for you?

More writing! I’ll keep writing as long as it’s fun. And so far, I’m having a blast.

Other than your own book, what other books (any genre) are you really looking forward to this year?

I can’t wait to get my hands on The Two Lila Bennetts by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke. Currently loving Meet Cute by Helena Hunting. Also, you can’t go wrong with anything from Christina Lauren. I’ve got Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating as my next audiobook listen. How can you go wrong with a hero named Josh, am I right?

About the Author:

Abby Jimenez is a Food Network champion, motivational speaker, and contemporary romance novelist living in Minnesota. Abby founded Nadia Cakes out of her home kitchen in 2007. The bakery has since gone on to open multiple locations in two states, won numerous Food Network competitions and amassed an international cult following. Abby has since turned her talents to penning novels. She loves a good book, coffee, and doglets, especially Stuntman Mike. For more on Abby and her books, visit www.authorabbyjimenez.com.

The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez

Kristen Peterson doesn’t do drama, will fight to the death for her friends, and has no room in her life for guys who just don’t get her. She’s also keeping a big secret: facing a medically necessary procedure that will make it impossible for her to have children.

Planning her best friend’s wedding is bittersweet for Kristen — especially when she meets the best man, Josh Copeland. He’s funny, sexy, never offended by her mile-wide streak of sarcasm, and always one chicken enchilada ahead of her hangry. Even her dog, Stuntman Mike, adores him. The only catch: Josh wants a big family someday. Kristen knows he’d be better off with someone else, but as their attraction grows, it’s harder and harder to keep him at arm’s length.

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