Darien Gee, aka Mia King, is one of the founding Debs at the Debutante Ball and made her debut in 2007 with Good Things (Berkley Books), a national bestseller. Darien will continue to write under both names (Mia is a pen name — to learn more about this, visit her www.miaking.com website) and joins us today to talk about her latest novel, The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society, which was published on January 29, 2013 by Ballantine Books.
Welcome back, Darien! Should we call you Darien or Mia?
I answer to either. “Hey, you!” works, too. :-)
Talk about one thing that’s making you happy right now.
My garden. I transformed a small side yard into four raised boxes and have several lavender plants lining two sides of the yard. I did this as research for my next novel as I’ve never had much of a green thumb and I’m not a huge fan of bugs. But now I spend hours in my litte garden, and sometimes my characters join me there. I figure out who would do what, who can’t be bothered, who is obsessed and why. I grow a lot of herbs, some kale, some cherry tomatoes, some bush beans. I also have carrots, turnips and beets. My favorites are thyme (I grow three varieties), mint (five varieties), and the lemon verbena and lemon balm.
Who is one of your favorite (fictional or non-fictional) characters?
I recently read Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette. I love Bernadette Fox, who’s fearless and flawed, funny and so uniquely her own person. The book is doing famously well, so I won’t break down the synopsis other than to say she’s an intensely creative woman, as many women are, and yet when the book opens she’s given it up. One of my favorite lines in the book (“If you don’t create, Bernadette, you will become a menace to society”) is a brilliant reminder that even with our multiple roles as mother, spouse, neighbor, and so on, we need to answer to our higher, creative selves.
Do you have a regular ‘first reader’? If so, who is it and why that person?
Nancy Sue Martin, a dear friend who has been with me since Good Things. I’ve thanked her in every Mia King/Darien Gee book I’ve written. She looks at all of my pages as soon as I’m ready to give them to her. She doesn’t heap praise and she’s not super critical — she simply tells me what she loves, what she wants more of, what she’s confused about, what she dislikes. She’s definitely not shy about voicing an opinion about something that is not working for her, though. Her approach is very simple and straight forward, and I carefully consider every comment she makes. We’ve been there for each other and our friendship — which many people around us don’t understand because we are so different — has blossomed over the years. We push each other constantly to be honest, authentic people, and she does that for me with my novels, too.
Tell us a secret about the main character in your novel — something that’s not even in your book.
Spoiler alert: Bettie Shelton’s daughter, the one she gave up at birth, lives in Avalon.
What’s your next big thing?
I have a Mia King book (Family Room, the third novel in the Good Things trilogy) and a Darien Gee book (The Green Girls Garden Club) in the works. I’m also going to give the Friendship Bread Kitchen some more attention this year. I started it when I was working on Friendship Bread and it’s grown (just like Amish Friendship Bread starter) into this huge thing that I need and want to spend more time on. We have almost 73,000 fans on Facebook and I want to spend more time connecting with them. You can find me there at www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com or www.facebook.com/fbkitchen. Thanks for having me back at the Ball!
And thank you for joining us, Darien! Find more about Darien at her website, facebook, on twitter and on pinterest! Pick up your copy of THE AVALON LADIES SCRAPBOOKING SOCIETY here or at your local indie.