It’s hard to know what to write about in the middle of my launch week. I’ve been running on adrenaline for the last several days (or is that caffeine?). I’ve known for months upon months that VINTAGE would be released out into the world today. That, finally, readers would be able to follow the stories of April, Violet, and Amithi–three women I made up, but who are very real to me indeed. It seems appropriate, then, that the characters should get the spotlight today.
April’s character came to me in a workshop exercise at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. The workshop was on, of all things, food writing. But it wasn’t about learning how to write for gourmet magazines or how to critique restaurants. Rather, it was about how to use food to enhance larger writing projects. Our instructor did this exercise where she placed half a hard-boiled egg on the table and told us to write about it. I began scribbling, and soon there was a teenage girl eating a hard-boiled egg at her mother’s table. Except that her mother was dead. And the girl was pregnant. That girl was April. From that very specific image, an entire character and backstory grew.
Amithi’s story sort of hit me out of the blue, too. Her character was initially inspired by the stories of so many of my friends’ parents who were first-generation Indian-American immigrants. But Amithi’s story quickly took on its own life, twisting into tensions that so many women can relate to regardless of their cultural backgrounds–the conflict between work and family, tradition and independence, loyalty and self-sufficiency.
Out of the three alternating points of view, Violet’s was the most difficult to write. I wanted her to be tough on the outside, but tender within. This was hard to do because, the more grit and gumption I gave her, the more prickly she seemed to readers. On the other hand, I didn’t want her to be too soft, or someone to whom things just happened. It took many drafts to get Violet’s voice just right. To reveal the chinks in her armor at just the right points in the story. But I think that, because her character was so difficult to write, I ended up loving her all the more for it.
To celebrate the launch of VINTAGE this week, I’m running a Glamorous Vintage Giveaway on my blog for anyone who purchases the book (if you pre-ordered it months ago, it still counts!). The prize is a vintage Louis Vuitton handbag from my personal collection and a $50 Etsy gift certificate. To enter, all you have to do is email a copy of your receipt to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you buy more than one copy, you’ll get more than one entry! I’ll pick a winner at random at 5:00 PM CST on Sunday, March 30. Good luck!
Need an extra copy to give away as a gift? Deb Lori is hosting a giveaway over on her blog.
4 Replies to “Come On In & Wander the Aisles of Hourglass Vintage with Me”
I love knowing how you came up with your characters, Susan. I found Merrit’s point of view the hardest to write. Maybe it’s because they carry the weight of the story? It is hard to get the balance right.
I know. It seems like getting that balance is what I spend most of my time on in revisions.
Susan, is your next book a sequel of sorts?
I how April’s character came to you—on the surface, someone eating a hard-boiled egg seems like such a simple, everyday moment, but you went deeper into it and that’s where the story is. And I can definitely see how Violet would be difficult to write. I always find the main characters hardest to write myself. I guess because they carry so much of the story’s weight. (LOL. I just went back and read Lisa’s comment and realized we said that same exact thing. At least we all agree!)
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