Interview with author of Start Your Engines, Jim Cangany!

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Denise Alicea

This blog was created by Denise in September 2008 to blog about writing, book reviews, and technology. Slowly, but surely this blog expanded to what it has become now, a central for book reviews of all kinds interviews, contests, and of course promotional venue for authors, etc

Start Your Engines



Buckle up for a race for the championship and the prize of a lifetime in this heartfelt reunion romance.

When racing team director Brad Thomas needs a new driver, his boss insists there’s only one answer: Gabrielle Marquez. The Indycar ace has newly returned to the United States after becoming one of the European circuit’s top drivers. But ten years ago, Gabrielle caused a crash that ended Brad’s racing career and killed their mutual best friend, along with the burgeoning crush they were exploring.

Gabby’s ready to put the past behind her, even though she knows making amends and regaining Brad’s trust won’t be easy. Rebuilding their professional relationship paves the way for healing, and old feelings soon rekindle, but a rival’s dangerous game of sabotage may threaten their team’s chance at the title.

Then an irresistible offers lands on Gabby’s windshield, forcing her to choose between her heart and her hard-fought career. Will achieving her professional dreams mean personal sacrifice?



Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself!

Hi there, and thanks for having me! I’m from Indianapolis, the Racing Capital of the World. My wife and I have been married for more than twenty-six years and have two sons. We also have a kitty, who is the princess of the house. Start Your Engines is my seventh contemporary romance novel.


Tell us about your book? How did it get started?

Start Your Engines takes traditional gender roles in motorsports and turns them on their head by having the heroine be the racecar driver. It’s also a reunion story in that Brad Thomas and Gabrielle Marquez, are brought together ten years after a racing crash involving Gabrielle ended Brad’s racing career and took the life of a mutual friend. Gabrielle and Brad have to overcome a lot of hard feelings and unresolved issues before they get to have their happily ever after.


As a lifelong fan of IndyCar racing, I wanted to write a book using it for a setting. I’m also a fan of IndyCar driver Pippa Mann, so I thought it would be a lot of fun to write a story featuring a female driver and use that as a way to flip a traditional gender role on its head.


How do you create your characters?


I start with a general topic I want to write about. For Start Your Engines, it was motorsports. From there, I settle on a theme I want to explore and other issues I think will work in the story. Once I have those things in place, I start building an outline for the story and the characters form in my head as the outline grows. I’ll also spend time doing Internet searches for people who share a character’s unique traits, like brown hair or green eyes. As I write the story, I get to know the characters more.


What inspires and what got your started in writing?


I’m amazed and inspired by other writers within the romance community who are so generous with their time, advice, and kind words for other writers. Romance writers are truly some of the most welcoming people on the planet.

I got my start in writing in the aftermath of my wife’s bout with breast cancer. I was looking for a way to come to terms with my experiences as a caregiver, and when an idea for a story came to me. I went with it. Six weeks later, I had the first draft of my first novel. The best part of the story is that, after chemotherapy, mastectomy, radiation, and reconstruction, my wife has been cancer free for almost eight years!


Where do you write? Is there something you need in order to write (music, drinks?)


As long as I have my laptop I can write almost anywhere, which is a good thing since I have a day job that limits my writing time. At home, I’m fortunate to have a dedicated workspace in a spare bedroom, which has a desk, printer, and lots of bookshelves. I prefer a quiet background when I’m revising, but I will often listen to mellow music when I’m on my first draft. It depends on my mood. One of the things I try to go without when I’m writing is my cat, Maria. I adore her, but she likes to jump onto my lap and demand my undivided attention. She’s a major productivity killer, but she’s still adorable.


How do you get your ideas for writing?


I’m a sports fan, so a lot of my ideas evolve from that. I’ve written books that included pro cycling, college basketball, triathlons, and now open wheel racing. A lot of the time, it’s simply a matter of keeping my eyes open and something will catch my attention. As a contemporary romance author, there are so many things I can draw from for a story or setting, I can’t imagine ever running out of ideas. And for that, I consider myself fortunate beyond belief.


What do you like to read?


I read across a lot of different genres. Of course, I’m a fan of contemporary romance, especially authors Kristan Higgins and Linda Morris. I also read a lot of sci-fi, a product of being a lifelong Star Trek fan. Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of mysteries. About the only thing I’m not much of a fan of is non-fiction. I think it’s because when I read, I like to escape the real world.


What would your advice to be for authors or aspiring in regards to writing?


First off, write what you enjoy and don’t listen to the nay-sayers. As a guy writing romance, I know what it’s like to be odd duck, but I like writing romance and I’d like to believe it shows up in my writing. Secondly, take your time. Don’t get into a rush to get a book in front of an agent, editor, or self-publishing platform. Let that manuscript sit for a while—a couple of months would be great—so you can take a final look at it with fresh eyes.


Anything else you’d like to share?

It’s been an honor and pleasure to visit with you today. If anyone wants to say hi, you can find me on social media at, on Facebook at, and on Twitter @JimCangany. Thanks again for having me!

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