Welcome to Booksting With CoHo, a new post on my blog where I’ll be featuring new-to-me authors, authors who intrigue me, authors whose books I love and even awesome bloggers.
My first author is Renee Carlino. Her newest book, Before We Were Strangers, releases on August 18th and it’s so, so good. I know, because I actually read it. Renee knows all the details of when I read it, but that stays between me and Renee.
I asked Renee a few questions and then I had her answer a few reader questions, which, btw, you guys are crazy. How do you want to die? What kind of question is that? Don’t worry, I included it. But first, let’s all be nosey and inspect the contents of Renee’s purse and analyze her personality.
Okay, based on this pic, Renee likes her lips to be kissable, her hands to be clean, her clothes without stains, her eyes to be clear, her hands to be soft, the option for her hair to be up and she likes her breathe to be fresh.
Renee, based on the innards of your purse, we conclude that you must have OCD.
Okay, on with the interview! The first few questions are highlighted in bold and have to do with her fabulous book, Before We Were Strangers. If you are allergic to spoilers, no worries. There aren’t any here. But if you hate knowing anything about a book before you read it, even character names, then feel free to skip ahead to the reader questions.
1) What inspired you to write a second-chance romance? Is there someone from your past you wish wouldn’t have gotten away?
It wasn’t personal. I think for some of us, if we were to run into someone from our past that we liked or dated fifteen years prior, we might exchange pleasantries, walk away and either think, “that was nice,” or “dodged that bullet.” But for Matt and Grace, they knew at once that there was a missing piece to the puzzle. Their story was unfinished. This book was inspired by a real Craigslist missed connection. My editor and I had been scouring missed connections, when we found a unique post that was a plea for a second chance after many, many years. Not nearly as many as Matt and Grace were apart but still, the post got the wheels turning for me.
2) Does Matt fall for Grace because she is his muse or is she his muse because he fell for her?
Great question! I think you can have a muse without being in love with him or her. That’s not really answering the question though. The answer is, I don’t know. I think Matt and Grace inspired and supported each other’s art forms, which made them well matched. When you find someone who can appreciate your individuality and be proud of you, instead of being competitive or envious of your success, then that’s a great start. For Matt and Grace that quality in their relationship actually became a catalyst for their separation. It was bad timing. They let one other go to pursue dream careers and then later realized the dream actually included the two of them being together.
3) Grace is a big fan of Jeff Buckley. Are you also a fan of his music?
Um…let’s just say his birthday is still marked on my calendar. I was a huge beat poet and Bob Dylan fan growing up and naturally as we moved into the grunge rock era, Jeff Buckley’s music stood out to me more because it was so diverse and poetic. Even before he recorded Hallelujah, I was reading Leonard Cohen and Allen Ginsberg, so I was experiencing what Grace was experiencing around the same time. “Grace” was one of my favorite albums. When the posthumous release of “Live at Siné” happened, I felt a renewed appreciation for him. I still search for bootlegged recordings. One of my favorites is Jeff singing “I Shall Be Released” over the phone for a radio station. It totally proves what a genuine artist and lover of music he was.
4) What inspired some of the names in this book like Pornsake, Aletha and Tati?
Aletha sounded Greek to me, although I never really looked into it. Pornsake needed to be an underdog from the get go. There needed to be something that was completely outside of his character that one could joke about because I needed to find ways to differentiate the characters from past to present. I needed Grace and Tati and even Matt to be a bit immature in their college years, so the name was just fodder for them. And it helps to explain something in the third movement. But most of the time, the names are completely random. Just whatever pops into my head.
5) I loved how frugal they were, and how they found things to do and places to eat for free. Was this inspired by personal experience?
Definitely. I was very poor in college. I paid for and worked my way through undergrad and graduate school on my own, so I had to be creative. There is a café in LA that serves free pancakes if you wear your pajamas, or at least they did when I was in college. I also scoured want ads to see if I could be in any medical studies to make money and I seriously considered selling my eggs in the late 90’s, which my boyfriend at the time forbid.
And now for a few random reader questions!
- How old were you when you finished your first novel? How long did it take you?
I was around ten and I think it took a few days. It was a series of letters to my boyfriend in the military. It never got published ;).
2) What is one word that makes you cringe just to say/write?
Succulent. Oh and Cumin- I decided that after I read question number 5.
3) Weirdest thing you have googled for book research?
Where to buy a cow femur bone?
4) If you could co-author with anyone, who would you pick?
5) If you were a spice what would you be?
Not cumin. I don’t know, maybe Tarragon. Sounds like something Jon Snow might like.
6) If you could live the life of one of your characters for a year who would it be and why?
Probably Kate from “Nowhere But Here” because she’s a writer and she’s lives on a winery with Jamie and his body, his money and his brain. Did I mention wine?
7) What is your favorite food?
Anything from the ocean and chocolate—separately of course!
8) Favorite drink?
I’m so boring. Sparkling water or Champagne—same thing right?
9) What was your favorite book as a kid?
“Are you my mother?” A little bit older it was “Tuck Everlasting,” I think.
10) Of all your books, which is your favorite?
It’s always the book I just finished or currently working on, which is tentatively titled, “Wish You Were Here.” I have one in between that’s also finished titled, “Swear On This Life,” slated for a March release and then “Wish You Were Here” should be fall 2016’. I only like it more because it’s fresh in my mind. But as I get back into “Before We Were Strangers” after being away from it for so long, I’m feeling a part of Matt and Grace’s world and my emotions are in full swing again.
11) What’s your favorite movie?
Princess Bride, Pretty In Pink, Say Anything, Walkabout, recent fav is Rust and Bone.
12) What is a typical workday like for you?
Normal mom stuff, then dropping off the kids and writing. I listen to a lot of atmospheric rock while I write like El Ten Eleven or Explosions in the Sky. I do that for about four to six hours and then it’s back to carting kids around and making food.
13) Is there anyone you want to give a shoutout to?
All of the enthusiastic authors, readers and bloggers who have been willing to read BWWS and talk about it. And to Colleen for reading and bringing me onto BOOKSTING to introduce you all to Matt and Grace’s story. Thank you, I am so grateful.
14) How do you want to die?
That wraps up booksting with Renee! Thank you, Renee, and I can’t wait until everyone gets their hands on this book. It releases in exactly one week, but you can preorder your copies here:
Also, make sure and leave a comment below to enter to win a signed paperback copy of Before We Were Strangers. All you have to do is follow Renee on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter and come back here and leave a comment on this post, letting me know you followed her. International entries are allowed. Winners will be verified through follows.
(Renee Hardman, you are the winner! Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your address and what you won.)
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