I’m going to tell you something personal. I have never read more voraciously than on my honeymoon. No, I did not neglect my husband, thankyouverymuch, but those 10 days we spent in 2001 in French Polynesia—on Tahiti and the nearby island, Moorea—turned out to be perfect for reading. We stayed in a beach bungalow for a week, then in a tres chic overwater bungalow, and I read so many books that week, it was pure heaven. Every morning we’d start our day with coffee in our bungalow (instant Nescafe coffee found at a local market that was really, really good, surprisingly) before setting out in the tropic heat for a walk into town for pastries and miniature bananas and pineapple. Then we’d head back and finish the afternoon with a swim and spend the rest of the day reading in lounge chairs on the beach or on the porch of our bungalow—drinking more coffee, of course.
I always think back fondly to this time—to the weather, the warm-and-fuzzy new-married feeling, and all those books. I can’t remember every book I read, but I do recall devouring The Thornbirds. When I ran out of books, I grabbed a few random titles stacked up in the hotel’s open-air lobby.
If you read my debut novel, The Violets of March, you’ll see a few nods to my time in Tahiti. And my next novel, The Bungalow, is set in Bora Bora. The title is inspired, in part, by my time in French Polynesia.
I’d love to go back—with a stack of books—but somehow I don’t think the experience would be as relaxing now that we have three boys (4, 2 and newborn). Someday.
Oh, yes, I love to read in Paris. In fact, it’s one of the only places I choose to read at all! The cafe’s, L’Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel tower nearby to amuse me. It’s glorious. And don’t forget the soft pillow, digital clock at my side and three sleeping children down the hall.
My husband Mark gave me an I.O.U for my 40th birthday, “Good for One Trip To Paris.He was out of work that December and we were about to descend into our real financial struggles. Well, 40 has come and gone and gone and gone and gone and gone and gone and gone (got it?) and there’s no Air France ticket in sight. We can’t possibly leave the girls with someone/anyone (is Freddie Kruegger available I really want to go to Paris!) and travel across the world. At least I can’t. Too much room for error with the kids and I’d never relax and enjoy myself. I know myself. I could go alone or with a friend if Mark would stay with the girls. But that’s not exactly the romantic trip to Paris I’d imagined. (Although I suppose that depends on who is the “friend” I take!) Epcot France or some hotel in Vegas will have to do.
My bed is my haven. I write there. I read there. I luxuriate in the hour or two I have when the girls go to sleep and the quiet is so thick it’s like a layer of creme fraiche.
If you’ve read The Weird Sisters you know that one of the major themes is the ways in which books and reading influence our lives. My parents always taught me to take something to read wherever I went, because you never know when you are going to be stuck somewhere and need a little diversion. Frankly, I find unexpected delays delightful, because I get to sneak in a few more pages.
But lately I’ve noticed a serious intrusion into these beautifully unexpected respites of reading time.
I noticed this first at the doctor’s office, where once we had all sat happily reading our out-of-date magazines, a television appeared. And a loud one at that. During the day. When the talk shows are on.
And now I feel like they’re everywhere (I think the lowest point was at the pump at the gas station). If I’m the only person in the room, I’ll figure out how to turn the volume down or ask if I can turn it off so I can read in peace. But if there are other people there, I feel like it has to stay on.
Except it doesn’t. Have you seen these devices? The TV-B-Gone is advertised as a way to turn off virtually any television. It looks like a car’s remote control and you can ostensibly click it and give you (and everyone around you, whether they want it or not) a little peace and quiet.
The readerly part of me is oh-so-tempted. One click, and, ah, beautiful silence. After all, if the television weren’t on, maybe everyone else around me would go back to reading too.
But the polite part of me is uncomfortable. What if someone really does want to watch that talk show? Do I have the right to decide how other people spend their time?
So should I buy one and give myself a chance at a few more moments of peace? Or should I let it be and just tell the people wherever I am that I really wish they wouldn’t have one?
It’s not so much that the loo is my favorite place to read, but it’s certainly the most reliably uninterrupted. At least, now it is. For the first four years of my daughter’s life, she was always in there with me, which didn’t stop me from reading, but definitely lowered my concentration level. She still wants to come in, but I’ve drummed it into her head that for mommy, “potty time is private time.”
It’s also reading time.
Whatever novel I’m reading, it comes along with me, every time. (Sorry Debs who followed me on the reading list for Eleanor, Kim, and Sarah’s books! Tawna, yours is comin’ in there too!)
In case I forget to bring it in, or the need is too dire to wait for me to grab it, I keep the basket next to the commode stocked with at least one non-fiction book I can easily pick up without losing a narrative (something on parenting, or writing, or fitness usually), plus several magazines.
So if you ever come to visit me and you notice me racing off for potty breaks a-plenty, know that it’s probably not because I have a ridiculously tiny bladder (although my daughter will assure you that I do), but because I’m in the middle of a really good book.
Deb Sarah recently sent her agent the first 100 pages of her third novel. Fingers crossed!
Deb Eleanor had an amazing west coast tour and got to meet Deb Sarah AND Deb Elise. I am so lucky! Next up – Little Rock, AR, Columbia and St. Louis, MO, and Orlando, FL!
Deb Kim will be appearing at Elms College in Chicopee Mass this Wednesday, 3/30 at 4:30pm with special guest NYT best selling author John Elder Robison . We’ll have a guest post from him next week to celebrate his new book, “Be Different.”
Deb Tawna is having a great time watching the votes roll in as readers get to pick the title of her August debut. There’s still time to share your two cents (and win an advance reading copy!) Check out Friday’s post to cast your vote.
Deb Dish — When They Were Little, What Did the Debs Want to be When They Grew Up?
Damn, Deb Eleanor and I had the same fantasy! Although I do have a whole novel (penned in 8th grade) about George’s and my marital adventures, so I think I might win this one. I also wanted to be an actress, the folly of which was cemented in my head yet again as I shot behind the scene footage and author interview stuff during the Populazzi trailer shoot. I FREAK OUT on camera. Oh, I’ll share, but believe me, it’s not pretty…
Married to George Michael. I’m fairly glad that didn’t work out as planned.
I wanted to be an orthodontist like my Dad for years. In high school I took an English class on advertising and that changed my life. I went into advertising straight out of college. And the skills work well for me even today!
A writer. No surprise, right? But I also went through a strange period of wanting to be a pilot. And, oddly, a career aptitude test in high school told me I should be a car mechanic. Um, no. Glad I didn’t take that one seriously.
For most of my childhood, I wanted to be a garbage collector. I liked the uniforms and the fact that they got to drive around in those cool trucks. I’m still fascinated by landfill compactors, those big tractorlike things with spikes on the wheels designed to crush trash. I could spend hours at the landfill watching them.
The Debutante Ball is squealing with delight over having renowned romantic comedy author Kristan Higgins here to take a stylish twirl around the dance floor.
Kristan Higgins is a USA Today bestselling author and two-time winner of the RITA Award from Romance Writers of America. Her romantic comedies have been published in many languages and on four continents, which is quite thrilling to the author, who lives in her small hometown in Connecticut. Kristan is married to a heroic firefighter who cooks dinner almost every night and is the mother of two extremely attractive and entertaining children. She loves dogs, the New York Yankees and dessert and excels and very loud whistling and extremely neat bed-making.
Kristan’s books are big love stories about regular people, with lots of laughs and a generous sprinkling of tears as well. Her current release, MY ONE AND ONLY, was called “perfect” by Romance Reviews Today.
We’re excited that Kristan agreed to do the Deb Interview with us. Let’s hear what she had to say about everything from writing to her irrational fear of hummingbirds! Also, don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of her new release, My One and Only.
Talk about one book that made an impact on you.
Oh, I hate to be a cliché, but Gone With the Wind has had more impact on me than any other book. First of all, Rhett Butler was the first man I loved other than my dad. I was 13 when I read the book for the first time, and Rhett kept me chaste through high school (didn’t even get kissed till I was 18½). I reread the book recently and saw it so differently…setting as character, emotional blindspots, a relentlessly realistic character who doesn’t magically change just because we want her to kiss Rhett on the mouth and end our torment. Scarlett O’Hara has to be the greatest heroine of the 20th century. In Too Good to Be True, my protagonist is a history teacher; the Civil War is her specialty, and I got to indulge in GWTW that way.
Which talent do you wish you had?
I wish I could dance really well. I look somewhat like a valiant yet half-tranquilized rhino on the dance floor…stumbling, crashing, but she just won’t go down for good. Bet you can’t wait to see that, huh? I also wish I could cut my own hair and do a cartwheel without straining something important.
What time of day do you love best?
In the spring, summer and fall, I love sunset the best. We have a great front porch, and I love to sit out there with my family, watching the birds, listening to the Yankees on the radio.
Share something that’s always guaranteed to make you laugh.
My mother falling down. Isn’t that awful? I’m a terrible daughter. Let the record reflect, however, that I am also quite clumsy (see above rhino reference), and my mom tends to laugh when she falls down, too. Happy times!
Do you have any phobias?
Yes. I’m afraid of hummingbirds. It’s a phobia, and therefore I don’t have to explain it J. Logically, I know they’re cute and lovely and all that…in reality, I’m shrieking and ordering them away from me.
One of your trademarks is including a lovable pet (usually a dog) in your novels. Why is that, and how does it impact your stories?
I love animals (except hummingbirds). I’ve always had a pet, and including them in books is just natural for me. The pet —type, size, age—usually says something about the character, too…for example, in Too Good To Be True, Grace Emerson’s dog walks all over her, but loves her fiercely, too. So do a lot of humans in that book. And in Catch of the Day, Maggie has a wonderful, noble, dignified dog—a nice contrast to her disasters on the dating front.
Deb Tawna writes romantic comedy and is in awe of your ability to masterfully blend humor, romance, and a poignant love story. How do you find that balance?
In awe? How thrilling! I like the sound of that! I don’t know exactly how I find it; hopefully, it’s a natural instinct. Books that are merely funny don’t have the emotional impact that you find with stories with both laughter and tears…then again, books that are just sad can be a little depressing. So the balance comes from the desire to give both laughter and emotional depth. After all, humor and sorrow are just different sides of the same coin, after all. I think someone important and famous said that.
You’ve won the RITA award twice (basically the Oscar of the romance writing world). How has that changed things for you?
Well, I have a butler now, a wine cellar and daily massages…oh, wait, I was hallucinating for a second. Sorry! Winning the RITA has given me two absolutely fantastic, wonderful, exhilarating moments to pull out from time to time when I’m struggling with a scene from a book. My publishers put “two time winner of the RITA Award” on my book covers. Otherwise, I’m not sure life is any different because of those wonderful awards. The statues look very pretty on my bookcase, where they sit with my husband’s Firefighter of the Year award—he pulled an unconscious man from a burning building, saving his life—and my grandfather’s American flag. His unit liberated Dachau in World War II. Keeps things in perspective, you know?
What a wonderful interview! Looking forward to reading Kristan’s new release, My One and Only? Leave a comment for a chance to win your very own copy! We’ll draw one lucky winner on Friday, April 1 and will announce it in our news flash on Sunday, April 3. Good luck!
We’ve been talking about social media all week at the Debutante Ball, and I’m thrilled to tell you that we’re going to put it to good use right here, right now.
Excited? Don’t pee.
It’s no secret in publishing that book titles can change for a variety of strategic reasons. Sourcebooks, Inc. is publishing my debut romantic comedy in August, and in an effort to make sure we have the title that’s most compelling for the most readers, they’re considering two options.
Here’s the cool part – you get to pick.
Call it the magic of social media. You’re reading this blog either as a regular Debutante Ball fan or because you’ve been pointed here by another blog, a tweet from my agent, a status update on Facebook, or that unfortunate message scrawled on the wall of the men’s room.
In one form or another, social media brought you here. Now you have a job to do.
See that spiffy poll below? Which of the two titles would make YOU pick up the book and squeal with joy as you run for the cash register? (You can also squeal as you download it to your e-reader. Squealing is an integral part of any book buying experience).
In case you’re new here, this is what the book is about:
When his sleazy boss kicks him to the curb and steals his pension, Alex heads to the Caribbean with a crew of corporate castoffs to intercept an illegal diamond shipment in the most dysfunctional pirate mission in history. Things heat up when Juli – who’s supposed to be dumping her dead uncle’s ashes at sea – mistakenly stows away on their boat.
After you vote, leave a comment about why you chose the title you did. We’ll draw a name from the comments on March 31 and one lucky reader will get a signed Advance Reading Copy of the book. Pretty cool, huh?
Now here are your two choices:
And don’t forget to leave a comment explaining why you voted the way you did. My publisher is particularly interested in this information, and it’s your ticket to wining an advance reading copy. Thanks for playing!
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