What can I say about my latest guest other than she’s an absolutely amazing IWU friend and author! Under her writing belt she has four books available for your reading pleasure. One of them is an Amazon Top 100 Bestseller! So instead of making you wait any longer to read what she had to say in response to my questions, here she is!
1.) Tell me a little bit about yourself.
My “brilliant” career has wandered down several wayward paths, and four years ago I set course for
what my heart wanted to do years before, write novels. I live in upstate New York, where my novels and short stories are set. I play Irish music, can salsa dance and make a mean weiner schnitzel.
2.) How long have you been writing?
I started writing parodies when I was a kid. (Was on a steady diet of MAD magazine at the time.) Wrote tons of
angst-filled songs in my teens and moved on, thankfully. After college, I began working on my first novel.
3.) Do you have a preferred genre that you read?
Is it the same as what you write? If the writing is good, any genre appeals to me. I gravitate toward literary works, but a good sci fi or thriller is just as enjoyable. My works fall into mainstream (leaning toward chick lit), parody and suspense (the latest).
4.) What is the title of your book and where can it be found?
5.) Describe your novel in 15 words or less.
Mother flees with Missoula trucker. “Men like pie.” Diner-owning family stunned, then 9/11 changes
6.) Where did the inspiration for your story come from?
This tale began as a short story about a woman who had to cook the same seven meals every week for her husband. In my other life I’m a cook, and the inspiration came from the first time I used a masala spice blend. It was so fragrant and exotic, and it made me think how sad it would be to go through life never experiencing new flavors.
7.) How long did it take you to complete this novel from concept to published?
The first draft was written in a month. Subsequent drafts and editing took about six more months.
8.) When you sit down to write, how does that process go?
Do you outline or just let it evolve? I have notes that I jot down while the ideas are bouncing around in my mind. They might be vivid descriptions of characters or a scene, a setting. Sometimes they’re just an overheard quote. I have an idea where I’m heading, but I leave the map and GPS at home and let the characters drive. I always write in longhand first to let ideas flow freely and uninterrupted. The second draft in entered into the computer.
9.) Are there any aspects of writing you struggle with?
Sometimes I do a restlessness dance before I first sit down to write. Make a cup of tea. Web surf a tad (evil habit). Do a sudoku or logic puzzle to warm up the brain. This can take anywhere from 15 minutes to a couple of hours. Once I’m in the zone, no interruption gets in my way.
10.) Are there any aspects that you simply glide through?
Dialogue is probably the easiest for me. I love overhearing conversation and paying attention to the cadence of speech, colloquialisms and watching the body language of the speaker and listener. Sometimes I wonder if I should have pursued detective work.
11.) What sets your book apart from others in the same genre?
The Terminal Diner shows the effects Sept. 11 on people far away from the scene of the attacks. That aspect is inspired by events in my own life. An old friend died at the World Trade Center and I’ve watched the slow process of his family healing from that terrible wound.
12.) What is the location of your story setting and why did you choose that place/time?
The story is set at a diner just around the bend from an upstate New York airport. I know the location well and selected it to play off themes woven into the Sept. 11 storyline.
13.) Your main characters, tell me about them. What is their back story?
How did they find themselves where they are now? Elaina Brady is the main character. Her mother was the piemaker at their family diner until the day she ran off with a trucker from Missoula who took a fancy to her lemon meringue pie. The last words she spoke to Elaina were “Men like pie.” That theme is a ribbon woven into the fabric of the story. When the story opens, it’s ten years later and Elaina is stuck making pies at the
diner—it’s her entire life. She has one friend and that term fits her loosely. There’s no man in her life. All she knows to be true about men is that thing about pie.
14.) I’d like to know more about your book.
Tell me all about it. It’s a suspense novel that shows how a family deals with a loss and then how a nation reacts to loss triggered by acts of terror. There’s a saying in Irish that translates to together we live in each other’s shadow. I’m always fascinated to see how chance encounters can change lives forever. That’s what happens to Elaina on Sept. 10, 2001 when she meets some new customers at the diner who will become important in her life as the ripples of Sept. 11 make their way into upstate New York. They bring her humor, inspiration and even her own terror.
15.) What do you want readers to take from your writings?
I want to transport them into my imagination and make them care about memorable imaginary characters that will make them laugh, cry and ponder their own lives.
16.) Are more books to follow or is this a stand alone?
I see this as a standalone, but several readers say they want a sequel. Perhaps….
17.) Where can readers find you?
18.) What are 3 random things about yourself that readers might like to know.
In the 1980s I painted portraits for a living; my hobbies include
handwriting analysis; I know what a spiedie is.
19.) What do you do in your down time? For fun.
Gardening. Hill walking. Wine Tasting.
20.) How about letting me have a sneak peak at chapter one?
Thanks so much, Melissa for welcoming me onto your blog. Always wanted to try my hand at your twenty-question challenge. 🙂
Mary Pat, I enjoyed having you! Please come back again and again!