Smart, sexy, women & the men they choose to love.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
What's in a title? Well everything. Would Catcher In The Rye be the same book if it were called Holden Visits New York? And I'm not comparing my latest tome to J.D. Salinger, not by a long shot. But I am trying to show an example of the difference a good title makes. And my latest manuscript went through dozens of titles. DOZENS. And finally I selected one that wasn't even created by me but by my fantastic agent. But I had scads of people, including best selling authors, helping me out. We looked for words within the text, song lyrics, song titles, clever phrases, anything and everything that would convey the fun of the manuscript as well as the relationships within the pages. And the thing that's interesting about this title is that even with this much work to come up with a few words, the title might not stick. The editor could decide to change it or the marketing department might not like it and that's okay. As long as they help to come up with the next clever few words that label the pages. I mean consider if Scout And Boo's Big Adventure had been called something silly, you know, like To Kill A Mockingbird?
Friday, October 23, 2009
The Last Will of Moira Leahy by Therese Walsh
Is this the most beautiful cover you've ever seen?!
I love it.
The Last Will of Moira Leahy was written by Therese Walsh. This is her first book and she was gracious enough to answer some of my questions about her process and her fabulous new book.
Tell me about your new book.
The Last Will of Moira Leahy is, at its core, the story of a woman recovering from the loss of her identical twin—but this emotional core has rangy genre limbs. We learn what happens to Maeve Leahy after she purchases an artifact from her past—a Javanese keris, a weapon that reminds her of happy times playing pirate with her twin on Castine’s Penobscot Bay—and the journey she undertakes as she tries to unravel the mystery surrounding this particular blade. The book is told through interwoven narratives—Maeve Leahy in the present day, and Maeve and Moira in the past in sections called “out of time.” Eventually, these narratives merge in a surprising way and the full meaning behind Maeve’s quest over the keris is understood. Not easy to explain, as you can probably tell: it’s a women’s fiction novel with plenty of cross-genre elements, including psychological suspense, mystery, some romance and mythical realism.
What is your writing process and where do you write?
My writing process is best described as “haphazard.” When I’m in the zone, I write like mad and give up many things including meals, television and sleep. When I’m not in the zone, it’s often because I’m stuck on something; my muse knows I’ve taken a wrong turn and is waiting for me to figure it out. I write both at my desk in my office and on the loveseat in the living room with my laptop. That couch is great, because my 5’2” self can just fit there and give my calves a good stretch, and my dog can snuggle up beside me more comfortably (for both of us).
What is your favorite thing about writing? What is your least favorite?
My favorite thing about writing is drafting something unexpected that I actually—hope this doesn’t sound conceited—admire. You know, a phrase or plot twist that seems to come from nowhere inside of me. I usually just smile when that happens and nod to the dead writers hanging over my shoulder, who I think have a better grip on the story than I. My least favorite thing is the solitude and the butt-in-chair time. I really don’t like to sit for long periods of time, but with this job you have to.
Please name the five movies and the five books you want with you if stranded on a desert island.
Oh, good question. Movies: Princess Bride; Shakespeare in Love; Shawshank Redemption; Lord of the Rings; Moulin Rouge. Books: The Time Traveler’s Wife (Niffenegger); The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime (Haddon); Daughter of the Forest (Marillier); Bliss (Cuevas); Wishing Box (Slater).
What is your advice for aspiring writers?
I really believe the magic formula is perseverance + opening yourself to/acting on criticism. Listen to your critics without pride and with open ears, then make changes to your work when your gut tells you those critics are right. Keep at it. Never, never quit on your dreams.
What is next for you?
I’m working on another novel of women’s fiction + psychological suspense + mystery + mythical realism + interwoven narratives. It’s the story of a blind woman who treks across West Virginia in search of her dead mother’s story and along the way teaches others how to see the world. The *third* book will be simpler, I keep promising myself. ;-) Thanks so much for having me, Maggie. This was fun!