Today is a whine-free zone. :-) Instead of book, book, book, me, me, me, moan, moan, moan, my publisher doesn't love me, blah, blah, blah, I'm going to talk about someone else's book because it's time for a Girlfriends Cyber Circuit entry (and because I'm still recovering from last night's meeting with the DFW Tea book club. Honest, I only had one drink. But it was a reaaaaaallllly gooooood drink).
I've talked about Coupon Girl by Becky Motew in a Book Report before, but now it's out in mass market paperback if you want to give it a try. You know I liked it because I gave it a cover blurb. This really is one of the cutest, funniest books I've read in a while. In case you, like I am, are too lazy to go back and find what I said about it before, here's what it's about:
Jeanie Callahan sells coupons. Dry cleaners, mechanics, pizza guys—all of them are friends and clients, deadbeats and tormentors. This summer Jeanie has joined the local community theatre, hoping to snag a collection of customers to win her company’s sales contest.
But weighed down in a nun costume and fighting with middle-aged women about whose crucifix should be bigger, she wonders if it was a good idea. Frankly, there’s not a business owner to be seen. The handsome director is in sight, though, and Jeanie thinks she may have found true love. Or maybe it’s a course in Sex Fetishes 101. Opening night looms and some unusual sales propel Jeanie to the brink of victory.
Now, the interview:
What inspired you to write this book?
I always knew I would write Coupon Girl. The kernel of inspiration was the coupon job itself, although it wasn’t that different from other sales jobs. "Parts is parts," some say and they are right. Whatever you have in your bag, you still have to walk in cold and try to sell yourself first. It’s intimidating. It takes guts. Plus sales people are buffeted by everyone—the boss thinks he knows the best way for you to handle clients, the customers laugh and reject that and tell you how you should REALLY do it, and then your colleagues have their own ideas. You have to find your own way and that’s the story I tried to tell with Jeanie.
I don’t mean to leave out the theatre aspect of the story. In a way, CG is a three-legged race with the two plots side by side. The intriguing part of community theatre to me was always the addictive nature of it. I couldn’t get enough.
Describe your creative process.
I usually start with a concept, a picture in my mind of something. This was the "coupon book" and another one is the "grocery store book." Still another is the "nun" book I am working on now. Actually, it's an "ex-nun" book. I know the main events and when they will occur (halfway through, about two thirds through, etc.), especially the ending. But in between is a big furry space . If I try to do a detailed outline, I start cheating on it the first day. So I leave it kind of furry. I revise at night after writing in the morning, though I don't always revise the thing I wrote in the morning. Does that make sense?
Do you have any writing habits or rituals?
I try always to leave a scene in the middle so I can return to it and not feel so "cold" when I do. No music or noise of any kind. I love music and am instantly singing along with it and not paying attention to business.
How much, if anything, do you have in common with your heroine?
It would be foolish for me to deny kinship with Jeanie, since I lived her life for many years. But at least in the theatre aspect, she is content to be in the chorus and has no ambitions further. I did in my day. I was usually lucky enough to get cast in one of the secondary comic roles--Broadway shows typically have only two roles for women, a romantic lead and a comedy lead. I think we share a certain outlook--life is odd and everybody walking around in it is a little odd and you might as well enjoy it.
Has writing this book made you look at those coupon mailers in a different light?
Nope. I see them in exactly the same light as I always did. There's a story behind each coupon, sometimes a really surprising one.
(Silly me didn't realize when I asked the question that Becky had actually sold those coupons. I guess I thought I knew everything because I'd read the book already and had met her so I didn't read the whole news release until just now. Duh. I just know that after reading the book, I treat those mailers with a little more respect and actually look at them instead of instantly trashing them. And I know that's a job I could NEVER do.)
Have you had any particularly interesting community theater experiences that inspired that part of this book?
I guess I had about every experience possible. I was left on stage with nothing to say a few times. Life goes by in two-year increments in those moments. Once when that happened (somebody missed an entrance), there happened to be one other actor out there with me, a guy I'd been dating who had just dumped me. Talk about awkward. The two of us, both extroverts with never a lack for words, turned to each other and he spoke first. "Well?" I got him, though. I said, "Well, what?"
Chocolate: dark or milk?
They're both good. God, what a waffler, huh?
What are you working on now?
Ex-nun teaches school and tries to enter the dating scene after 20 years.
Is there anything else you'd like to say about this book or the process of writing it?
No, but can I change to dark chocolate? Thanks, Shanna.
(You can change your vote to dark chocolate, but I'm not sharing mine. I desperately need all I can get right now. Oops, sorry for the whine).
For more info, visit Becky's web site. You can buy the book from Amazon by going here.