Interviews, My Guests

Interview With Maria Imbalzano, Author of Unchained Memories

Unchained Memories, a contemporary romance by Maria ImbalzanoWelcome, Maria. So glad to have you here today. Tell us a little about Unchained Memories:

My story is about a medical malpractice attorney (heroine) and an ER doctor (hero) who reconnect after ten years when the heroine returns to her hometown. The chemistry between them is palpable but their careers put them on opposite sides of the medical malpractice issue.


Only love and trust can unchain the memories and free her from her past

As a rising medical malpractice attorney, Charlotte Taylor believes in standing up for the injured, giving them a voice, and advocating for their rights. She couldn’t do it for her mother, so she does it for others, even if it means losing the love of her life.

Dr. Clayton Montgomery believes in working hard and playing even harder, until he reconnects with Charlotte. Barely noticing her crush when he tutored her ten years ago, Clay has a chance to make up for lost time when the beautiful lawyer comes back into town…until he discovers her chosen career path.

Now, philosophical differences soon become a reality and Charlotte is faced with the choice of representing a client against the hospital and against Clay. Will Charlotte give up her career and her tribute to her mother for a second chance with the man who got away?

Where do you start with writing? Research, plotting, character, or…?

I am definitely a plotter to the nth degree. I end up with an in depth outline which I can pick up at any time and start writing, whether I have fifteen minutes or three hours. Before I get to this outline, I come up with my heroine and hero and a very basic story line. Then I determine the conflicts. I love notebooks and begin a new notebook with every story. Once I have the basic story down in writing (a paragraph or two), I start with chapter one and outline the entire book, page by page.

What are you working on now?

Since I signed the contract with The Wild Rose Press for “Unchained Memories” in June, I have worked on edits, given my input on the cover, configured a new website, learned how to use Facebook and now Twitter (I still haven’t mastered that one) and have generally worked on trying to understand the business of being published. That has left little time for my WIP (work in progress) however, I have not totally ignored it.  It is called “Dancing in the Sand” and I am 80% through the first draft. It’s about a young woman who goes to NYU for dance with the dream of landing a job with one of the major dance companies. During a weekend in Newport, she meets and falls head over heels with her roommate’s brother. Unfortunately, he sustains a head injury in an accident that has wiped out his memory of her. Several weeks later she learns she is pregnant.  After giving up her baby for adoption to her sister, the heroine changes her career path so she can help support her child. Five years later, she runs into her former love and they start dating. Keeping secrets and the toll that takes on relationships is the theme of this manuscript. My goal is to finish it by year’s end.

How do you balance writing and everyday life?

I’m not sure that I do it very well.  I’m a divorce lawyer and my career takes up a large part of my waking hours.  I started writing fiction when my younger daughter started Kindergarten. She is now in her second year of college. So although I have been writing for 15 years, it has been on a very part time basis.  Now that both of my daughters are in college, I have more time to write, which I do at nights and on weekends.

Where is your favorite place in the world?

I haven’t been to many places in the world, but I must say that I love Italy, specifically Florence.  Walking is one of my favorite activities and walking around a city with beautiful architecture, cobblestone streets and friendly people ranks high up there. The little bridges over the Arno River are wonderful, although my favorite, the Ponte Vecchio, is the most amazing with its string of jewelry shops.  Who doesn’t like Italian gold?

What is your favorite scene from this story and why?

Chapter One in “Unchained Memories” is where Charlotte and Clay reconnect after ten years.  They are at a black tie charitable fundraiser and when Charlotte sees Clay across the room, all those old feelings come back to her.  At the same time, she also recalls how embarrassing her antics were in following Clay around the hospital like a groupie when she was eighteen.  He was an intern and 25, while she was in high-school. On one hand she is drawn toward him and on the other, she would like to run and hide. When Clay strikes up a conversation with Charlotte, he doesn’t know who she is. Until he does, and then he is smitten. I love this scene because we’ve all had a crush when we were younger and we’d all love to run into that gorgeous guy years later and have him tongue-tied. In this scene, Clay can’t keep his eyes off Charlotte. Sigh!

What is your favorite memory from childhood?

Every year my family would go to Wildwood for vacation for a week. Several other families who were friends would also go and we would all stay at the same Motel. Playing on the beach all day with friends; building a bus in the sand, body surfing, collecting shells was the perfect pass time.  But the magic happened at night on the boardwalk.  The lights, the rides, the wheels of chance, the food. I can still feel the excitement I felt as a kid just thinking about it.

Who first introduced you to your love of reading?

My mother. She read to me all the time as a small child. As soon as I could read myself, I was so happy. I would go to the library once a week and take out four or five books.  During the summer, my mother would want me to go outside and play, but I would prefer to stay inside and read.  On more than one occasion she sent me outside and locked the door behind me so I couldn’t sneak back in. That did not make me happy.

These are a few of my favorite things:

  1. Sitting on the front porch or our shore house with my husband overlooking the ocean
  2. Sharing wine and conversation with friends
  3. Shopping or doing anything else with my daughters

And now Maria has a question for you all: Is there someone you had a crush on years ago who you ran into lately? How did it go?


Red. Hot. Sexy.

Like magnets, Clay’s eyes clicked on Charlotte, unable to repel the force holding them. Her chestnut hair was held up in a loose, sexy do that had him itching to pull the pins to release it. Her strapless dress showcased a long neck and creamy shoulders that called out to be kissed. His involuntary focus on her lovely traits throughout the evening had made him a rude dinner companion, unable to answer even the easiest of questions.

He had come here tonight to socialize with the powers that be at the hospital, to talk up the ER, to lay the groundwork for future requests. But his concentration had been directed elsewhere. Since he’d squandered his opportunity to network, he should leave. But here he was at the bar at ten-thirty, waiting for a scotch and soda. The band was heavily into their Motown set and many of the revelers packed the dance floor.

Across the room, Clay zeroed in on Charlotte talking to a group of men, her red gown like a flame in a sea of black. He smiled. She sure knew how to turn heads. His included.

But he knew her better than those clowns. He knew the sweet, tough eighteen-year-old who’d lost her parents within hours of each other. The broken girl whose emotional health had worried Dr. Collins, their chief of surgery, much more than her physical wounds.

As the band segued into a slow song, Clay covered the distance between them. “Excuse us, gentlemen, but the lady promised me a dance, and I’d like to claim it now.” He deposited his drink on an empty table and guided her toward the dance floor.

“I don’t recall promising you a dance.” Her beautiful face held the hint of a smile.

“You don’t? I must have dreamed it.”

He pulled her into his embrace, and moved with the music around the floor, feeling like one of the luckiest men there. Although she hadn’t promised anything, she glided around the room, following his lead. Her perfume intoxicated him more than any drink ever could, and the movement of her graceful body against his had his heart palpitating.

Little Charley Taylor had certainly grown up, and he couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to know her now. As an adult. Ten years removed from the time their lives had intersected. He called on his memory, pulling up their very last encounter.

“I’m leaving for college today.” She stood tentatively in his office doorway, her crystal blue eyes so expressive in their sadness. “I wanted to thank you for all your help, especially with physics and calculus. I never would have done so well without…you.” She avoided his eyes as her voice trailed off, choked with tears.

His heart constricted, startling him. He hadn’t anticipated the day she would no longer be around; trailing him at the hospital, asking incessant questions, teasing him for being so serious. His life was on overload with his internship, not allowing him to realize the time he dedicated to her was not just tolerated, but treasured.

He walked around the desk, intending to give her a friendly hug, but when he took her in his arms something changed. Her familiar flowery scent awakened his senses as if he’d been in a deep sleep and he closed his eyes to heighten the aroma. Her body fit against his like a shadow. He fought the confusing stimuli. This was Charley, his former patient and pupil. But that wasn’t who he held close, who he breathed in. When had she become more than that?

Charley hugged him hard, laughing through tears. “I hate good-byes.” Before making her escape she added, “Dr. Collins has my information at school. Call me sometime. Let me know what you’re up to.”

Clipped, hasty words said with a matter-of-factness meant to cover up the emotions she plainly felt. The same emotions that had just blind-sided him.

Then she turned and walked away, her new life ahead of her.

Clay’s lips touched Charley’s forehead as they circled the dance floor. He closed his eyes, taking in the smoothness of her skin. Before he could stop himself he asked, “How’d you like to go out to dinner one night next week?”

You can find Unchained Memories on Kindle starting September 25, 2013.  The worldwide release date is January 17, 2014.

Maria Imbalzano, Author of Unchained Memories, a contemporary romanceBio: I was born in Trenton, NJ, in the heart of Chambersburg, the Italian section of town. My father was a barber and my mother, a State employee, who also taught me to jitterbug at the tender age of four. We loved to dance in the living room while watching American Bandstand. Hardly star material, but I was driven nonetheless. The product of a Catholic School education, I learned the basics, and took for granted I would be successful doing something, even if it entailed cutting hair. I attended Rutgers University as a psychology major, but after three years decided I liked political science better. My first job led me to Manhattan where I worked as a paralegal for four years before attending Fordham University School of Law. There I learned to think like a lawyer, write like a lawyer, and speak like a lawyer, all while living like a pauper in the city of my dreams. Living in New York City, albeit on a tight budget, allowed me to indulge my love of ballet, art museums, and theater. Did you know you could walk into a theater after intermission and no one checks your ticket? I enjoyed the second half of many plays as well as ballets.

My love of reading dates back to my childhood, however, I must confess, I hated to write. In every English and writing class from elementary school through college, I dreaded trying to be creative. As a friend from law school so aptly put it, “The reason why we’re here is because we don’t have a creative bone in our bodies.” I agreed.

Despite my dislike of creative writing back then, I embraced legal writing, and was first published in Volume 5 of the Fordham International Law Journal. My article was entitled “In re Mackin: Is the Application of the Political Offense Exception an Extradition Issue for the Judicial or Executive Branch?” I would advise you against reading it, for you will surely fall asleep.

Following law school, I returned to central New Jersey and took a job at a local law firm where I have been a partner for many years.  My area of practice is divorce, and while emotions run high and clients are living through the worst time of their lives, I find the practice very satisfying.  In addition to litigation, I have added mediation and collaborative divorce to my repertoire, which is much more civil ways of dealing with issues in family law cases.

In addition to practicing law and raising two daughters, I’ve been working towards my second career.  Memoranda of Law and Legal Briefs, although fascinating, pale in comparison to writing romance/women’s fiction. So how does one transition from divorce lawyer by day to romance writer by night? That’s the beauty of having two distinct passions.

You can find Maria at: 

Website – http//

Facebook –


10 thoughts on “Interview With Maria Imbalzano, Author of Unchained Memories”

  1. Sounds like a great book filled with conflict. As a writer and someone in the medical field (mammo technologist) I can imagine all sorts of things getting in the way of this HEA. Definitely putting this one on my TBR list. And great cover btw. The background image looks like Duke Chapel in Durham, NC. I live in NC and my sister donated her body to Duke University Hospital when she died. Last summer, the med staff held a memorial service for the donors. The chapel is as beautiful inside as it is on the outside.

    1. Hi Lilly: I’m sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner. I’m sorry to hear about your sister. What a wonderful gift she made to Duke Univ. Hospital. While the cover art may look like Duke Chapel it is the Cleveland Tower at Princeton University. The book takes place in Princeton so I chose that beautiful building. There are more Princeton buildings on my website at

    1. Love the interview and excerpt. At a book signing upstate NY a former lover showed up, swept me in his arms with a mighty embrace. Memories sweet memories interrupted when his current lady appeared. I had remarried after the loss of my first husband so nothing was gained but it was fun. Thanks for the sweet recollection and my best to you.

  2. I came close to a reunion with a long ago boy friend when I learned he was living just 9 miles away. I even drove by his new home but I chickened out. Just couldn’t bring myself to ring the door bell. After reading your excerpt I am sorry I missed out on the chance to see him again.

  3. love the story! Everyone wonders “what if” about someone in their lives — always fun to go there with someone else. Great job!!!

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