PW: You've come up with another fun read with your 14th novel, Faking It, a romantic tale of larceny, art forgeries and wacky families. You've been an art teacher. What's the primary similarity between painting and writing?

JC: You're taking reality and reorganizing it. You're looking at real life—and saying, okay, this is my interpretation. You're working with balance, color, shape, structure, flow, and it's very similar.

PW: Matilda Goodnight is an artist/art forger primarily because of an unscrupulous father, and she falls in love with Davy Dempsey, a con artist who also has a larcenous dad. Their chemistry is like that of the old Moonlighting chemistry Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd had. Will their love last, and are you considering doing a sequel?

JC: I think it depends on how open they are with each other. As I wrote them, it occurred to me that they were soul mates. I'm not planning on a sequel, but I wasn't planning a spinoff to Welcome to Temptation, which is what this is. Davy was a minor character in that book, and he kind of hung around. He's pretty happy now.

PW: In categorizing men as either doughnuts or muffins, Tilda's teen niece, Nadine, says, "Doughnuts are the guys that make you drool. They're gorgeous and crispy and covered with chocolate icing and you see one and you have to have it, and if you don't get it, you think about it all day and then you go back for it anyways because it's a doughnut." She also notes that doughnuts are good for one night, but the next morning they're not so hot, while muffins are good the next day. Do you still stand by Nadine's theory?

JC: All men think they are doughnuts. Just a metaphor... [laughs] It was kind of an accident. There was a psychological study done several years ago where they studied the way women dated and found out that women dated very different men when they dated for fun and when they decided to settle down and have kids. One day, I bought a muffin because in this book they keep eating pineapple and orange muffins, and a doughnut because I like chocolate and it had sprinkles on it. I forgot about the doughnut and the next day I opened it and yechh! Intellectually, I prefer muffins, but I've always dated doughnuts. There's just something about doughnuts, even though you know it's going to be bad, you just go for it anyway. All women have had their share of doughnuts.

PW: Tell us about your next book, Bet Me.

JC: It should be out by next summer. It's about gambling and love. Everything I do is a romantic comedy, but it's not a caper like this one was.

PW: Throughout your novels, you manage to insert humor and advice—how do you view yourself as, Bette Midler or Oprah?

JC: Bette Midler. You can either look at the world and cry, or you can laugh. Laughing is better.

PW: At the front of the book you quote your own fictional character, Gwen Goodnight, Tilda's mother, as having said, "If you can't be a good example then you'll just have to be a horrible warning." How do you see yourself?

JC: I am a horrible warning, but a happy horrible warning.