Today’s stop is a Q&A with BooksChatter. I enjoyed answering these questions, particularly my dream team if the book were to become a movie. And I even got to put together a YouTube playlist based on songs that inspired my book. How fun is that? So read on to find out something quirky about the story and where unibrows fit in. Strike that, I assume it should be singular – unibrow 😉
What was the inspiration for your latest book (i.e. the one you are currently promoting)?
I knew I wanted to write a book about dating in a time that’s heavily influenced by social media. A seed was planted while I was writing my first novel, Out in the Open. Tara is the youngest of the Winters girls, the irresponsible sister who was always dating someone new. I figured, hey, I can work with that. At first I planned to document her dates on Facebook, always posting about her disastrous adventures. But then I decided a blog was a better outlet. It turned out to be a fun experience coming up with new posts to summarize her thoughts on each guy she meets—and lessons learned along the way. The book is essentially one woman’s journey from consummate singleton to finding “The One,” documented for all to see.
How much of yourself is reflected in this book (for example, professional expertise, personality, or other), and how?
It’s funny because if you had asked me that question about my first book I would have said A LOT. But that’s not the case with I Should Have Said Yes. Tara, my protagonist, is very different from me. But that made her really fun to explore because I had to push my comfort zone. She’s artsy and extremely talented, with a blossoming jewelry business and an interior design career. I wish I had her vision—sadly my talent is seeking out what other talented people are posting on Pinterest. But I’m not totally without my merits. I worked at an advertising agency for seventeen years and managed a team of creatives. I was involved in a handful of space design projects for retail stores. So I felt like I knew enough to realistically paint a picture of her day job. At least enough to be dangerous. As for the men, some are loosely based on guys I dated, with lots of embellishment for dramatic (or comic) effect.
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover. Can you tell us about your cover – why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
I didn’t have a vision for the cover going into the process, which I actually found quite stressful. But in the end it was probably better because it gave my designer more creative liberties. I wanted the tone to be fun as my book is light-hearted and humorous, but also speak to the title. It’s a fine line as regret is a big theme that inspired Tara to form her “yes” dating pact. I also wanted there to be a connection with my first book, Out in the Open, because there is some overlap with the characters and story lines. I worked with Sarah Hansen from Okay Creations and think she did a fantastic job creating an intriguing cover that captures the tone of the book. Hopefully readers will agree!
Why should we read this book (or series) and what sets you apart from the rest? / What makes your book/series unique?
I like to think of my book as a modern day Bridget Jones’s Diary but with multiple love interests. And instead of keeping a diary for her eyes only, Tara shares her inner most thoughts with well, thousands. It’s unique because I’ve chronicled one woman’s dating journey from “The One That Got Away” leading to “The One.” I haven’t read any books that dedicate each chapter to a new love interest—plots are usually focused on the relationship between two people, or perhaps three if there’s a love triangle. Readers get to know Tara and what she is (and isn’t) looking for in a partner. They are along for the often hilarious ride as she meets many Mr. Wrongs, and I hope they’ll become invested in her finding happiness.
Can you tell us something quirky about this book , its story and characters? (for example, were the characters named after something or someone in particular)
Many of the characters were based on men I dated before I met my husband. And it’s funny because that was the hardest part of writing the book: coming up with unique and interesting suitors for Tara. I wanted her dates to be realistic but also entertaining. So I drew inspiration from my ghosts of dating past and those of my friends too. I didn’t necessarily tell them so I’m just waiting for that phone call! I wouldn’t say it’s autobiographical, but it was interesting to come up with characters that were based on people I knew. Some intimately, LOL.
For example, the night I met my husband I was supposed to be fixed up with someone else. That someone else had a very thick, dark and distinctive looking unibrow. I had a hard time concentrating on our conversation because it was distracting. Not only that he had it, but why not tweeze, even a bit? I don’t think looks are everything, but it wasn’t something I could get past. Not to mention he didn’t have a personality to make up for it. So when Tara meets Joey, you’ll know who inspired his looks. Or shall I say, look? 🙂
Who would you recommend this book to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
My target audience is women in the 18-50 range with a sweet spot on Millennials. That’s not to say that older women wouldn’t enjoy it. But they might not understand Tara’s motivations or relate to her because she is very representative of the Millennial generation. The only warning I’d give is that some people may view Tara as promiscuous. But I think that’s to be expected when you are young, single, and looking for someone who you are compatible with—on all levels. Although this book has way less intense romance scenes than my first. I wouldn’t let my parents read that one. This one I’m OK with. I mentioned it’s not autobiographical, right?
If you could / wished to turn this book/series into a movie, who would be your dream team? (e.g. director, actors, locations, etc. – dead, alive or mythical!)
I would love to see my book turned into a movie – wouldn’t most authors?! My dream director would be Richard Curtis. He directed one of my favorite movies: Love Actually. If you’re unfamiliar with the plot, the movie follows the lives of different characters that end up intersecting. But it felt seamless. I can see it working because each chapter in my book is like the different pieces in the film that come together to tell a cohesive story. As an added bonus, he directed Bridget Jones’s Diary.
The film would be set in Chicago because that’s the backdrop of the book. As for actors, I’m going to limit my list to Tara and her two primary love interests: D. J. Parker and best friend, Andy. Otherwise we’d be here all day.
Tara Winters: Protagonist Extraordinaire
The actress that comes to mind is Emma Stone. She doesn’t necessarily fit the bill physically, but I think she embodies Tara’s fiery spirit. Like Tara, Emma doesn’t take herself too seriously and is naturally funny. She’s down to earth, approachable, and downright likeable.
D. J. Parker: The One That Got Away
With his dark hair and bright blue eyes, Ian Somerhalder is a perfect match. If I turned him down I’d regret it too. For the rest of my life. Just look at him. Need I say more?
Andy Sutton: Supportive Best Friend
With his boyish charm, Ryan Guzman could easily be Tara’s sounding board and possible love interest. He’s someone you could hang with and watch sports, as Tara and Andy often do. He’s warm and charismatic, the kind of guy you wouldn’t mind marrying if you were still single at 30. Another pact that happened by accident—or should I say, alcohol?
What do you like to write about? Do you stick to a particular genre or do you like to explore different ones? Is this / Are these the genre(s) that you also like to read about?
I like to write the kind of books that I read. While I enjoy a variety of genres, Chick Lit and Contemporary Romance are my favorites. As an eternal optimist, I love writing uplifting books. We are all too often inundated with news of tragedies. I’m a big believer in Happily Ever After. Real life is hard enough, so I like books that offer an escape from reality and give women hope that happiness is attainable. I guess I figure, why not live the fairy tale once in a while?
What is your writing process?
My life is filled with chaos, so when it comes to writing I like the quiet of my office. I can shut the door and with it all the distractions from my day. I don’t listen to music or have the TV on as background. I prefer to be alone with my thoughts. But music still inspires me, and there are certain songs that trigger powerful emotions that feed into my writing. In most cases I have a general idea thought out before I begin typing and let the story take over from there. I typically write small sections at a time and title them in a way that will be easy for me to sort through later. In this case it was dates such as “The Professor” or “The Mama’s Boy.” These begin as separate, random snippets, and the magic happens when I’m able to weave them all together.
What is in store next? (please tell us about your future plans; if book is part of a series, can you give us any hints on future developments)
I’ve got an outline for book #3 mapped out in my head, I just need to put pen to paper. It’s a romance about an event planner, Lucy, who shares a passionate weekend with a mysterious stranger. It’s so out of character for her that she wants to keep their names anonymous. She falls hard only to never hear from him again. Lucy struggles with moving on and finally meets an incredible new guy who is perfect for her. But can she let go of her “Mr. Anonymous?” And is she in love with a ghost because it’s easier than facing the real thing? Along Lucy’s journey her love and loyalty will be put to the ultimate test.
And as a final quirky thing, to get to know you a little bit better… do you have a pet or something that is special to you (this could be absolutely anything!)? Could you please provide us with a picture of you with them / it?
This is my little, green notebook that goes with me everywhere. That way when I’m out and inspiration strikes, I can capture it. These days it seems I have a terrible memory, so I find if I don’t write things down they escape me!