What did you enjoy most about writing and publishing this book?
Seeing my book evolve from the earliest draft (which was way too long) into the version readers have today has been a labor of love.
I felt like the first draft gave away the twist too early, and I hated that. As a suspense reader, I always try to figure out what’s going on throughout the book, but I don’t REALLY want to be right! When I started circulating the revised draft to beta readers, I felt this tingle when they told me they didn’t guess the ending. But those were people I knew. Were they just being nice?
When I put advance review copies out there, I held my breath. When time and again, reviewers said they loved it and were shocked by the ending. I let out a sigh of relief. One of the reviewers wrote, “You probably shouldn’t try to guess the ending. If you do, good luck getting it right.” I loved that! There is nothing more gratifying than knowing something you put your heart and soul into has been enjoyed.
Do you feel connected to your characters?
It might sound odd, but Becky and Jules feel like friends of mine. When I have to go a little bit without writing about them, I kind of miss them! I feel like we should be scheduling a happy hour or some girl time to catch up.
Even as I wrote about their individual struggles, I wanted so much for them to find what they were looking for, but I also had to be realistic as a writer. There’s not much suspense if everything goes perfectly.
In Jules’s hunt for her birth parents, I wanted to show the reality of what could happen. Some reunions are welcome and heart-felt, and sometimes an adoptee doesn’t get the reaction they’re hoping to get. I wanted Jules to have a little of both. In the next book, The Inheritance, Jules will get some resolution with her birth mother. She just needs to have a little patience.
Tell us about your main characters- what makes them tick?
What I love about Becky and Jules is they’re a little like all of us. They’re not perfect and maybe even a little crazy sometimes. I mean, who hasn’t stalked an ex-boyfriend just a little, right?
Becky moved away when she was young, and never found the kind of friendship she had with Jules. When she moved back, the first place she wanted to go was to reconnect with Jules. She has a loving husband, but Jules is definitely her “person.”
Jules is the fiercely loyal friend every woman wants to have. She may be single, but she believes women can have friends who are soulmates, and Becky is hers. She needs the connection the two of them have like she needs air to breathe. Becky is the one relationship in her life she trusts completely.
The two best friends both want something they feel is life-changing. I always envision Glinda the Good Witch from The Wizard of Us. Dorothy thinks she needs the ruby slippers to get what she wants most of all but is shocked when Glinda tells her she actually had the power all along. Becky and Jules travel parallel paths toward different goals, but ultimately learn some powerful lessons about appreciating what they already had.
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
They say write what you know, right? A good portion of Becky is me, right down to her parking deck phobia. We don’t look alike at all though. As I wrote her, I pictured Jennifer Love Hewitt (ala Ghost Whisperer timing) or perhaps Tiffany Amber-Thiessen (post Beverly Hills 90210 – the first 90210 for people younger than me!)
Although the DNA obsession is all me, Jules is mostly based on my best friend Stacy, right down to her red and black cowboy boots and huge smile. While she wasn’t adopted, she is still single which I will never understand. Just like Jules, she’s quite fabulous! Her younger self was always what I pictured as Jules started to take shape, although Stacy does spend her spare time trying to figure out who she wants to play her in the movie. I think currently Jessica Biel is in the lead …
Tonya was based on a running buddy, and Becky’s husband Bryan is loosely based on my boyfriend. Yes, there are men that love to cook, and I’m lucky enough to have one of them!
I didn’t know my boyfriend when he was Bryan’s age, so his visual was different. I actually work full-time for Coca-Cola in Sports Marketing. (Right now you’re probably thinking, Aha, now I know why her characters only drink Coke products.) It was the beginning of football season, and I was at the coach’s table for a UCF kickoff luncheon. As I looked across the table at my coach crush, Scott Frost, I thought, well, damn, he’s the living breathing version of Bryan. (He coaches for Nebraska now which made me really sad, but look him up and see what you think.)
What did you edit out of this book?
Too much to mention! I lost a good deal of the flashbacks: how Becky and Bryan met, Tonya and Becky meeting in college and becoming business partners, the day Becky found Sherlock and tried to sneak him into the house before she told Bryan about him.
I streamlined a good deal of the IVF information. While it was important that the process resonated with authenticity, I understood (or was convinced, however you want to look at it …) that too much information bogged down the story. I didn’t want to lose readers that weren’t as intrigued by all the elements of egg retrieval, so I took a good deal of the minutia out while hopefully leaving enough so that the storyline made sense.
I also had a great scene (again, I liked it, but perhaps my editor thought it wasn’t quite necessary) that really told the story of the IVF hormones wreaking havoc with Becky’s emotions. What woman can’t understand a little bit of crazy that goes with being a girl sometimes? And to Bryan’s credit, he was able to understand it was the hormones talking, so he was able to dismiss a little bit of Becky’s stress that she had unloaded on him. Just another reason Becky is so lucky to have him.
Advice you would give new authors?
As a new author myself, it’s hard to think I could give worthy advice. I will share the advice I found most valuable, and it came from a fellow author and backed up the way I already felt.
When I started working with Jonas Saul, a fabulous author who also helps fellow writers with editing, he gave me some great insight. He told me that when a book is poorly edited, the reader is let down. They don’t feel the author felt they were important enough to spend the money to properly edit and proofread their book. You only get one chance to make a first impression.
It’s so important your book is professional so your reader can lose themselves in the story instead of the fact that it’s not edited well. There may be writers who disagree, but I don’t really think you can do a final edit of your own material. No matter how many times you read it, there are things that are going to slip by you. I had a small typo that an early reviewer pointed out, and even after the told me, I still couldn’t see it when I read and reread that sentence. I thought I was going crazy!
How do you feel about reviews?
I never gave much thought to reviews until I became an author. I remember the first one I got on the book for an advance reader copy I had sent out. I keep reading it and rereading it. She loved it! That is the most incredible validation for something you have put your heart and soul (and time and money!) into. Reviews really are important to an author. Good reviews help the author sell more books.
It’s important to have a thick skin though. Even the most well-known authors don’t always get five stars on their books. Not every book is for every person, and that’s okay. But, the ones you do touch – there’s no better feeling.