Interview with Rozsa Gaston, author of Budapest Romance

Rozsa Gaston writes playful books on serious matters. Women getting what they want out of life is one of them. She studied European intellectual history at Yale, and then received her master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia. In between, she worked as a singer/pianist all over the world. She lives in Bronxville, NY with her family.

Her books include Budapest Romance, The Ava Series: Paris Adieu, Part I and Black is Not a Color, Part II, Running from Love, Dog Sitters and Lyric. Her upcoming novel is Sense of Touch, a fictionalized story of Anne of Brittany and Queen of France.

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About the Book:

When Kati Dunai travels to Budapest to settle her father's estate, the last thing on her mind is the pursuit of pleasure. She's a busy international conference planner, her life rooted in Manhattan.

But from the moment she sets foot in the city of her father's youth, it's pleasure that pursues her. At the thermal bath spa hotel where she's staying, she meets a Dutchman who reminds her of Béla Dunai, her Hungarian refugee father, who fled his homeland shortly after its 1956 revolution.

Jan Klassen is in Budapest to mend from a motorcycle accident. His scars have healed on the outside, but inside, he cannot forgive himself for the consequences his son now lives with forever.

Jan has never met a woman like Kati before. Her blend of New England restraint with gypsy spirit captivates him. While Jan introduces Kati to Budapest's leisurely pace of life, Kati introduces Jan to her own leisurely pace of sensual exploration as their attraction to each other grows over six magical days.

When Kati returns to New York, their relationship continues. But it's not just an ocean that separates them. Kati's corporate job with frequent travel is the antithesis of the slow-paced pleasures she enjoyed in her father's favorite city, one of Europe's crown jewels.

Which will Kati put first—her new career or her new love; a man who reminds her of the father she never fully understood? And is it the Hungarian pleasure-loving side of herself that she really needs to understand before she can offer her heart to the man who has awakened her to who she truly is?

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Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

In 1997 I traveled to Budapest at the end of November to settle my late father's estate. I stayed at a thermal spa hotel where I discovered the delights of soaking in Budapest's thermal pools. The city is built upon over one hundred natural hot springs and is known as Europe's 'City of Baths.'
With ten days to while away while finalizing paperwork, I made the acquaintance of a fellow traveler taking the waters at my hotel. Ready for safe adventure but not encouraged by the cold, gray weather to walk around, we decided to visit thermal bath spas all over Budapest.

I returned from that trip and spent the next eight years in the corporate world. In 2007 I was down-sized from my job at a hedge fund. During the next six months, I took an online romance-writing course with Writer's Online Workshops and realized I love to write.

I decided to write a romance based on two foreigners, a Dutch man and an American woman who discover each other in Budapest's thermal bath spas. Both are there to heal from injuries. My hero has a neck injury due to a motorcycle accident. My heroine is mourning the recent passing of her father.

More importantly, both are healing from psychological wounds. Jan's wife has left him. Neither she nor Jan can forgive him for having his son on the back of his motorcycle at the time of his accident, resulting in permanent injury to his son.

Kati's inner wound is in not having known her Hungarian father. She is in Budapest not just to settle his affairs but to find out about Hungarian culture to fill in missing pieces of herself. She was raised by her American mother's side of the family in New England, but with her Hungarian face, she has always known there was something different about her.

The guilt-free enjoyment of pleasure Kati discovers amongst Hungarians in Budapest speaks to her soul. Jan introduces her to Budapest's glories and uncovers the half-Hungarian side of her she never knew she possessed. 

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

Budapest Romance was one of the easiest to write of my six published books. I have a passion for the city of Budapest, I love to come up with male characters with internal struggles, and I enjoy writing about half-breed characters, such as my heroine Kati Dunai, who's half-American, half-Hungarian. There's great wealth of material in exploring the conflicts and struggles of characters whose parents come from different cultures and who find themselves not fully identifying with either parent's background.

 My only tip for making the journey easier for other writers is to write about something for which you have a passion. 

I'm passionate about hydrotherapy, thermal pools, hot springs, the healing properties of water, the sensual delight of soaking in warm water. I wanted to share with the world what I learned in Budapest from spending time in the city's thermal bath spas. Many travelers equate going to spas with high-end luxury travel. But Budapest's spas are inexpensive and plentiful. Budapesters go to thermal bath spas regularly; the way Americans go to the gym. I recommend visiting one or two to any tourist who travels to Budapest.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

Budapest Romance was published by CreateSpace and Audible. Audible picked up the audio book through my agent, Sharon Belcastro of Belcastro Agency, who led me to them a few years ago. This is my fourth book to come out as an audiobook with

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

On the day my debut novel Paris Adieu was released I thought that there would be a solar eclipse or a new star hung in the sky. At the very least a New York Times book review.

Instead there was a sense of accomplishment that hung about and got me through moments of self-doubt as I worked on my second book. The realization that I was a published author gave me the confidence to publish again. Then Astraea Press extended a contract. Next, Audible did. Then I self-published again. Who knows what will happen next?

Once you are a published author, it's something no one can ever take away from you. You have made your mark forever in cyberspace once your first book comes out digitally. That fact alone makes all the work, the sacrifice, the initial invisibility worthwhile.

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

I'm working on Sense of Touch now. It's a fictionalized YA novel about a noblewoman, Veronique de Saint Sylvain, who served at the court of Anne of Brittany and Queen of France. Both Veronique and Anne came to court at age fourteen. Both were mothers by age twenty. Anne was widowed by age twenty-one and remarried. Both her husbands were Kings of France.

Anne of Brittany suffered repeated losses of children in childbirth and in infancy. Veronique has a special sense of touch that she uses to save the Queen's infant daughter when she falls ill. The story focuses on Veronique's skills as a female healer at a time of historical transition in France from the late Middle Ages to the Renaissance.

Sense of Touch should be out in the fall of 2015. Wish me luck with the second draft. I want it to be perfect, but I'm reminded of Voltaire's dictum: the perfect is the enemy of the good. Whatever it is, I'll get it out there for the world to share.

Q: What’s your favorite place to hang out online? online Cover Creator,, The latter two are stock photography sites. These sites aid me in coming up with book cover mock-ups for book projects I'm working on. It doesn't matter if the mock-up book cover I create ends up being the final cover or not. What matters is that it gives me a visual to look at, pin to my bulletin board, show to friends and industry professionals for feedback. 

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

Budapest Romance is a tender love story in which passion duets with restraint. I especially hope younger women will read this book, as there is much discussion of the joys of experiencing a new romance in a way that safeguards a woman's sense of security and self-esteem. It's important for girls to learn the value of restraint in this age of hooking up and rushing headlong into physical relationships without regard for long-term consequences. I don't mean pregnancy or diseases. I mean psychological consequences, such as the sense of oneself and one's value that a woman carries with her throughout life.

Q: What do you hope readers will get from your book?

I hope that female readers will get from Budapest Romance a deepened sense of how to value themselves in a relationship, take their time, and not let a man rush them into anything. Kati's interested but restrained behavior ignites Jan's sense of protectiveness as well as his desire, turning him into more of a man than he ever knew he could be. As a result his passion for Kati turns into something much deeper.

I also hope readers will come away from this story with a sense of the balance of sweetness and spice that typifies Hungarian culture and which so charmed me when I visited Budapest. The same balance of sweetness and spice is what keeps Jan and Kati's feelings for each other in check until both of them can be sure of their love for each other. If it had been all spice between them their relationship wouldn't have lasted beyond Budapest, and if their feelings for each other had just been sweet and tender, Jan would never have said to Kati what he did on the final page of Budapest Romance.
Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

Stay playful. And read Budapest Romance. May your 2015 be as effervescent as the bubbling warm waters of Budapest's thermal baths.

Rozsa Gaston, author of Budapest Romance

Budapest Romance is available on in paperback and ebook editions and on audio at, narrated by actress Romy Nordlinger of All My Children, One Life to Live.

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