“When I put together a fifteen-page paper about imagery in Gerard Manley Hopkins’s poetry, the whole point was breaking down and analyzing his ideas. When I wrote a short story, the whole point was breathing life into *my* ideas. It was like the difference between rummaging around in someone else’s old house and designing and building a whole new house of my own. There is pleasure in rummaging, but nothing like the grand, expansive feeling of creating.”
~Dawn West, via Charity Shumway in Ten Girls to Watch
First, a book recommendation for y’all: run, do not walk, to the closest bookstore (or closest computer) and buy Charity Shumway’s TEN GIRLS TO WATCH. I only started it yesterday, but I’m already ninety pages in and absolutely adoring the story. You know it’s going to be a fantastic book when you fall in love with a passage from the very first chapter. Expect a full review when I’m finished (MUST. NOT. NEGLECT. EDITS. TO. SIT. AND. READ. ALL. DAY.), but for the time being … seriously, do yourself a favor and add it to your to-read list.
And now, to change gears a bit, I saw the following survey on Julie’s blog and instantly wanted to fill it out. Here’s a peek into my current book-baby:
What is the working title of your book?
Mine to Love.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
Well, this book was originally intended to be the third in a set – and, with the other two written, it always will be – but as I was working on the draft, I also started to envision it as a stand-alone. So, if we’re talking about the overarching idea for Sofie’s journey, it actually came about quite randomly. I remember it clear as day: I was sitting on the sofa, watching HGTV (because who doesn’t love HGTV?) when this thought popped into my head. Suppose someone was adopted and didn’t know the truth? It was one of those light-bulb moments, you know? One of those moments where you instantly know it’s a story you have to write. That’s how the idea for the first book was born. The second is a direct follow-up … and because I still wasn’t ready to say goodbye to my characters, the third came about as a way to bring their lives full-circle. It has a story within itself, though, one of working through the darkness of grief and emerging into the strength of sunlight, and I think that particular aspect came from all the emotion I felt after losing Gram last year. I needed somewhere for those feelings to go. I also needed a way for Sofie and her husband Brandon to pay their journey forward. This book was born from that, and I’ll be forever grateful.
What genre does your book fall under?
Women’s fiction – my favorite to read and also to write.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Hmm … Caterina Scorsone for Sofie. Maybe Chris Pine for Brandon? I’m not sure about Ellie. Anyone know of some adorable curly-haired little actresses? I have some ideas for who would play the secondary characters, too, especially Aubrey and Lily, but I’ll spare you all from a zillion pictures. Ha.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
When a mother’s dream-come-true suddenly morphs into a nightmare-come-alive, she must find the strength within herself to heal, to hope, and to truly embrace the lessons she learned from her own adoption: that everything happens for a reason, that happy is as happy does, and, perhaps most important of all, that family really is who we choose for ourselves.
(Side note: I wrote that in about five minutes. This excerpt from the actual book may help summarize: “Love doesn’t differentiate between nature and nurture. It thrives not on threads of DNA, but on those that tie us together by our heartstrings.”)
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
The plan (and hope, dream, goal, etc.) is for agency representation. Nothing would make me happier.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Four months – a little longer than normal, but telling this story was unbelievably therapeutic for me in many ways, and so I needed to take some extra time. That means a lot of editing now, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. This book is the story of how Sofie’s heart heals … and it helped mine do the same.
May we see an intro?
“Mama, Mr. Bubbles is swimming!”
Ellie’s voice is soft, filled with the kind of enthusiasm only a three-year-old can possess this early in the day, and her feet whisper across the carpet as she scurries into the room. Even with my eyes shut, I can see her. Rosy cheeks, button nose, dark curls all tousled from sleep … yes, even without looking, my heart paints a picture-perfect image of my daughter.
“It’s early, Lima Bean,” I say, pressing a kiss to her temple as she climbs into bed with me. “Isn’t Mr. Bubbles too tired for aquatics?”
Ellie’s imagination is endless, so it’s a natural assumption that she’s simply playing make-believe. Until … “The witches are swimming, too. The green one and the princess one.”
AKA Elphaba and Galinda. AKA silent auction items for a benefit I’ve been working on for one of my clients. Curtain Call, a theater troupe for at-risk youth, was the first non-profit to take a chance on me when I launched my advertising company two years ago, and the thought of their fundraiser being ruined has me springing up and dashing through the apartment like a madwoman.
“Where are they swimming?” I ask.
“The bathtub. Where else?”
I race into the bathroom, mind whirling as I try to figure out how to save the dolls I had specially commissioned for next weekend’s event. They cost a hundred dollars apiece, and the hope was that they’d go for double, helping to fund new costumes for the kids.
And now they’re more reminiscent of The Little Mermaid than Wicked.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Oh boy … I’m always hesitant to answer questions like this. Anyone want to read it and tell me? ;-)
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
This is going to sound really cheesy, but it’s the honest truth: my characters inspired me to write it. After the first book about them, I wasn’t ready to say goodbye. After the second book about them, I was even less ready. They still had a story to live, they still had a story to tell, and I think this third part of their journey is the most important to who they are, to who they will always be. So … Sofie, Brandon, and Ellie inspired me. On a less corny note, I have always been fascinated by adoption and I was excited to explore it more fully in this book. I truly think it takes such a beautiful, selfless kind of love for all parties involved.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Hmm … it’s set in Atlanta, because I instantly fell in love with the city when visiting back in 2009. It also features a handful of characters from previous books I’ve written. It was so fun to spend time with them again! Oh, and yes, I did find a way to incorporate my favorite singer (Kelly Clarkson), television show (I Love Lucy), AND musical (Wicked). Sofie and I don’t share many similarities in terms of life circumstances, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t reflect my personality a little bit in other ways.
Your turn – answer one (or more!) of the questions!