Cheers to the Northwest Herald newspaper for a great interview about Punk Charming behind-the-scenes.
Where did the idea come from?
The spark of an idea came to me during my first trip to Europe. Although this is a fictional story, I did meet a very engaging Brit on a train. Although there was no romance (unlike in the book), my writer’s imagination began to conjure up a “what if” story. Fast forward several years to a creative writing class I was taking, when I wrote a short story related to that trip. My writing spilled over from that short story, and evolved into Punk Charming.
What genre is your book, and why were you drawn to it?
Punk Charming is at its heart a love story. I set out to write a fiction novel, celebrating life in the 1980s and exploring beautiful cities along the way. As I wrote the chapters, I found the story gravitating towards a search for the “one who got away”.
I’m drawn to stories that focus on the characters, ones that make you feel as if you’re in the scenes, experiencing life with them. This is true in my roles as reader and writer. Not surprisingly, my author’s take on a romantic story traces the path of true love rather than illustrating passionate scenes.
Who is the intended audience?
I’m a bit surprised by the range of ages attracted to Punk Charming. I expected people of my generation to be interested, as much of the book is set in the 1980s. However, it turns out that much younger readers are fascinated with that time period. When I wrote the scenes, I included many pop culture references to set the tone. Even if you didn’t live through the totally awesome decade of the 80s, you get a sense of what it was like.
Beyond the appeal of the 1980s, readers tell me they enjoy my story as an escape from the everyday. People interested in travel and the intricacies of relationships (both good and bad) will enjoy this story.
Why is this story important to you?
The past several years have been difficult for many people. It was important to me to write a fun story, to provide an engaging diversion. That said, it was equally important to me to weave in some issues.
My female characters must engage their strength and ingenuity to overcome some tragic and frightening circumstances. It was also important to me to recognize the tremendous sacrifices paid by members of the military and their family. Pet rescue is a pet cause of mine (pardon the pun!), so I wanted to include some references to pet adoption in the story. Some of the pet stories are directly influenced by my furry kids (who have trained me better than I could ever have hoped to train them).
How long did it take you to write? What was your process?
If you consider the time elapsed from Punk Charming’s spark as an idea to its being published, it has been rather a long stretch. From the time I realized it would be a novel, I would say it took about six years to write (and rewrite!).
Writers are often split into two camps – “pantsers” and “plotters”. I definitely fall into the former, letting the story tell itself. I am also a late-night writer, finding my most creative and productive periods to begin at about 11 p.m. and often flowing into the wee hours of the morning.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book? What was the hardest part?
What I enjoyed most about writing Punk Charming was also the hardest part. Writing descriptive scenes of the 1980s was a fun trip down memory lane. I rediscovered the music, foods, TV shows, films and fashions that made the decade so vibrant. However, since my story progressed along a specific timeline, I had to ensure all my facts were accurate. This required quite a bit of research (thank goodness for the Internet!). If I shifted a scene in time slightly, I had to ensure all the references were still accurate. Given the rapid progression of technology, plot lines could easily be derailed by quickly evolving machines. For instance, phone communication swiftly elevated from rotary-dial phones, to touch-tone phones, to cordless phones, to pagers, to car phones, to flip phones to smart phones.
How are you publishing this book and why (traditional/indie/self-publishing)?
This book is traditionally published by Eternal Press. I liked the idea of a small press, as it allows for greater interaction between publisher and author. As Punk Charming is my debut novel, I appreciated that extra attention.
What is your education/background?
After I graduated from DePaul University with a BA in Communications, I studied Writing at Northwestern University’s Graduate School. I earned my master’s degree in Liberal Arts from the University of Chicago. Like my character, Kate, I was also fortunate enough to attend classes at Oxford University during a glorious summer term.
I love to travel, and incorporate my adventures in much of my writing. So far, my furthest points traveled are: Maui (west), Panama (south) and Norway (north and east). A recent trip was driving from Chicago to L.A. via Route 66, with my husband and dog (who enjoyed 70% of the car space). My two cats gladly stayed home with their substitute human servant, having no love for the jostling contraption that exists solely to abduct them to the evil vet.
How/why did you decide to write a book?
As I mentioned earlier, this germ of an idea came to me long, long ago. It remained dormant until a class assignment shocked it back into life. The words, the story, kept flowing so fast and so furiously that I realized it had to be a novel.
Who are your favorite authors?
This is probably one of the toughest questions to ask a writer. I, like my peers, am entranced and inspired by so many talented authors. A very small sampling of my favorites would include Shakespeare, Poe, Orwell, Beaton, Neville and Christie.