Please tell us something about your newest novel, Tomorrow Is A Long Time?
This novel is my own little love letter to Brando, Tennessee Williams (whose film adaptations Brando is noted for), and Old Hollywood; torrid, wonderful place that it was. To quote Tennessee (in my own analogy), Old Hollywood gave us “truth, in the pleasant guise of illusion”. Brando just broke my heart, on and off the screen. Such a talented, beautiful actor; such a miserable life. I’ve taken my love of these three and turned them into the fictional tale of Tomorrow.
The romance in Tomorrow Is A Long Time seems to be very unconventional and original. How did you come up with the idea for a relationship like this?
I was one of those teenagers who developed these really deep crushes on actors; not on the actual person per se, but on the characters they played. However, there were a few that really tugged at my heart when I read their bios or memoirs. Their lives were torn; they never had that one true love. Hollywood destroyed their souls, etc. So I came up with the idea of what if someone truly felt that they were the long-lost soul mate of such an actor, and what if they were given the chance to prove that they were that one person who could dramatically change the destructive course of that actor’s life? From that, the relationship of Eileen and Cal was born.
I also thought that making the age difference so extreme would add dramatic tension to the plot and reconcile the fact that I wanted the time warp to take place in the 60’s with both parties being roughly the same age. Plus, all the actors I ever had crushes on were decades older than me (or dead), so I could identify with Eileen and was able to channel that into Eileen’s dilemma of wanting an impossible relationship.
Who was your favorite character in Tomorrow Is A Long Time?
Definitely Cal. I wanted to make deadly sure that I didn’t accidentally incorporate actual events from actual actors’ lives into his back-story, so I took things like alcoholic parents, poverty, being sexualized too young by the wrong people, and being in destructive relationships-all of the things that plagued the lives of the actors I read about-and used those as broad themes to create my own back-story for Cal. I’m very pleased with the result and find him a very complex, sympathetic character, even if he is a total mess.
What is the most challenging thing about writing?
For me, time is the most challenging thing about writing. As an English Language Arts teacher, writing is my delicious pleasure that I get to indulge in on holidays, snow days, and summers off. During the rest of the year, I make it a point to set writing aside and focus on my job and my family. I love the socialization of being a teacher as well as knowing that I’m making a difference (however small) in my students’ lives, but I also love the quiet joy of writing and creating and wish that I had more time for it.
What is the most rewarding thing about writing?
The most rewarding thing about writing is reading a review or an email from a reader who truly enjoyed my writing or was impacted in some positive way. I truly try to create stories that aren’t merely entertaining but also meaningful, so when a reader gets that and says something like, “this is going to stay with me for a while”, it’s so rewarding.
How do you handle writer’s block?
I really don’t know; it hasn’t happened yet, and I’m on novel number 4, so I guess that’s a good thing. Usually, I have the broad plot of a novel mapped out in my head, and the little events that it needs to lead up to the big stuff work themselves out in this almost supernatural way. I used to read interviews of authors who would say that characters will take on a life of their own during writing, and I used to think that was malarkey. But it really is true. Sometimes I marvel at what my characters have to say or the choices they make, and sometimes they go places that the broad plot was not even leading to, but it’s freaking cool when that happens!
What type of romance can we expect in Tomorrow Is A Long Time?
Well…it’s not chick lit. It’s not a Nicholas Sparks. And there’s no Fifty Shades-esque stuff happening either (sorry, erotica lovers). This is a story about soul mates, but it’s not clean or pure and it’s definitely not easy. It’s heart-rending, and messy, and the characters are not always going to make choices that the readers will like, but the readers (I hope) will at least understand those choices. I’m hoping that readers can look at the relationship between Eileen and Cal (and even between Bear and Eileen or Gracie and Jim) and identify with the things they struggle with and say yeah, I’ve been there, or yeah, I totally know how that feels.
What is the first book you remember falling in love with?
Oh, it was Wuthering Heights. Not only because I am a sucker for sad, fated, Gothic romance, but also because that book summarized for me what true love is. When Catherine says that Heathcliff is a “source of little visible delight, but necessary” I want to stand and cheer and say, yes, somebody gets it. Because true love is not about riding off into the sunset; it’s about putting up with all the BS and still showing up at the end of the day. It’s about admitting that I need you, even if I don’t necessarily want you at the moment.
Do you have any upcoming writing project you can tell us anything about?
Right now, I’m working on my first novel that’s not primarily about a romantic relationship. It’s about a girl from a troubled family who not only has to save herself from a downward spiral but also must intercede for her sister when her sister succumbs to a similar fate. What I love about this story is that even though the characters are irrevocably screwed up, there’s a deep undercurrent of love and commitment there. It’s very much a coming of age odyssey that can relate to anyone who’s had that family member who drives them bonkers but you have to love them anyway because they’re family, or who identifies with having to pull yourself up by your bootstraps because you’re the “stable” one of the bunch.
I like to end an interview with a short game so my readers can get to know you better. I will start the sentence, and you finish it however you like!
My favorite day of the year is…
Christmas! Or any day I get to spend with my family, outdoors, or writing.
I have always wanted to travel to…
Germany and Austria. The Black Forest, Bavaria, Sound of Music tour…yes yes.
I always smile when I…
Say good morning to someone.
The last really great movie I saw was…
Is it bad that I’ve been sitting here for the last five minutes trying to think of a “recent” really great movie that I saw???
Ok, I know it’s cheesy and this is not one of those deep, Oscar-nominated, change-your-life films, but I saw Prometheus and it freaking rocked my world. I’m not much of a sci-fi person, but Alien and Aliens blew my mind; I can watch them over and over. Prometheus answered so many questions that I’d never have figured out on my own, and like its predecessors, it was so gripping that I had no choice but to watch it in one setting (which is a luxury for me).
The world would be a better place if…
Everyone cared a little more about others and a little less about themselves.
Click on the book covers to get more information on the books: