Thanks to Laura Zera http://laurazera.com I’ve been tagged to write a post about my work-in-progress. The idea for this post originates from SheWrites http://www.shewrites.com. What follows are my answers to the interview questions.
You’ll have to forgive me for straying from the original theme. I’m releasing my next book on October 30th and preparing for the launch is a work in progress!
What is the working title of your book? It’s Second Chance Grill. The book is a prequel to my 2011 release Treasure Me, which recently became a finalist in the 2012 Next Generation Indie Awards.
Where did the idea come from for the book? The character of Blossom Perini, a precocious preteen in fictional Liberty, Ohio, arrived in May 2004 during yoga class. The instructor asked each of us to take a few minutes to meditate on a private intention and I asked the Universe to give me a starting point for a novel. Somewhere between Downward Dog and Child’s Pose, Blossom popped into my head.
Here’s an interesting side-note: After writing three chapters of Second Chance Grill I sent the partial out to several literary agents. I assumed six months would pass before anyone dragged my pitch from the slush and requested more chapters. Several days later a highly regarded West Coast agent called to request the full manuscript. She’d been struck by how the pages had made her laugh one minute and cry the next, and felt the story had the potential to become a bestseller.
After listening in stunned silence, what did our faithful scribe do? Well, I lied. I lied through my teeth.
In a wavering voice, I said I was putting the final touches on the manuscript and would have the full on her desk in two weeks.
The next twelve days were spent in a hellish frenzy to produce 400 pages. Murphy’s law being what is it, naturally the heat went out in the pool at the local gym. To my dying day, I’ll never forget the freckle-faced lifeguard as he shouted, “Stop! You shouldn’t swim laps in water this cold!” But swim I did. When I wasn’t grabbing thirty minutes for exercise or taking short naps, I pounded out page after page of Blossom’s story.
Naturally the agent found the final result episodic, and would I mind revising? I did, and discovered the frenzied outpouring of ideas provided enough fodder for many books—an entire series on the fictional town of Liberty, Ohio. Soon the first ideas for Treasure Me began percolating in my brain as well as a third book about the nefarious Wish Kaminsky, slated for release in 2013.
What genre does your book fall under? Contemporary fiction.
Which actors would you choose to play characters in a movie rendition? Convince Whoopi Goldberg or Viola Davis to play Liberty’s fiery town matriarch Theodora Hendricks and you’ve made my day. The other characters? I don’t know. Thinking about a movie version doesn’t preoccupy me during the creation of a novel. By mid-book I’m convinced I’m writing about real people kind enough to share their most remarkable life events and most private emotions.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? Dr. Mary Chance needs a sabbatical from medicine to grieve the loss of her closest friend but when she inherits a struggling restaurant in Liberty, Ohio she isn’t prepared for Blossom Perini. Mary can’t resist falling for the precocious preteen—or the girl’s father. The bond they forge will transform all their lives and set in motion an outpouring of love that spreads across America.
Oops. That was three sentences.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? Second Chance Grill is my third self-published novel. After working with agents and two near misses (Random House, NAL) my critique partners convinced me to try publishing my unusual brand of fiction independently. Treasure Me and the more literary The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge continue to earn 4- and 5-star reviews on GoodReads and Amazon. I’m praying Second Chance Grill will receive a similar reception from readers.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? After the write-a-book-in-two-weeks fiasco, I calmed down and hired an editor to work with me during the following year. Random House sat on the next version of Second Chance for yet another year as I wrote the first draft of The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge. Then I rewrote Second Chance yet again, right around the time Treasure Me became a finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards. And, because I’m never truly satisfied with any book I write—or read, for that matter—I put Second Chance through one last revision earlier this year.
I noticed I didn’t answer the question correctly. But, to my mind’s eye, most of those versions were first drafts. You wouldn’t believe how many pages I can summarily vanquish from a manuscript. It used to give my critique partners the shivers to watch twenty or more pages they thought were pretty damn good disappear during a rewrite. The point is this: if you plan to become a career novelist you must suppress feelings of attachment to your prose. Once you do, your natural voice will lift your work from the prosaic to the singular.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? Random House thought Second Chance Grill would appeal to readers who enjoy books like Fannie Flagg’s Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café. Another agent compared Second Chance and the other books in the Liberty series to the movie Steel Magnolias. I enjoy writing about ordinary people performing extraordinary acts of good. if you’d met my vast and varied extended family, you’d understand why I depict so many eccentric characters.
Who or what inspired you to write this book? Explaining would give the story away. A spoiler right before the October 30th release is not a good thing.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? Anthony Perini, Blossom’s father, is a richly detailed character. Reading about single parenting from a male point-of-view is both amusing and poignant. On the best of days men don’t “get” women. Imagine you’re the single father of a sassy preteen who’s decided she’ll choose who you’ll marry … and your dating skills are rustier than a ‘69 Mustang.
Now it’s my turn to tag fellow author Frederick Brook http://www.frederickleebrooke.com Please pay him a visit to learn more about his work.