I’m in the cushy red chair today! (To be honest, it’s not as comfortable as it looks — but maybe that’s because I’m 7 months pregnant with twins. Nothing is comfortable.) Anyway, I’m THRILLED to be taking the Deb interview today. I found out about The Debutante Ball about four years ago and jealously/admiringly lurked, watching as other writers took the step that I only dreamed about — publishing their first novel. And now, here I am! It’s surreal, and very exciting, and if you are currently the lurking aspiring novelist that I was, let this be a message to you — DON’T GIVE UP! This could be you before you know it.
Now, let’s do this.
BEFORE I GO has been described as “heart-wrenching” and a “tearjerker”— what are three books that have made you cry?
I’m not a big crier in general (although I have become a bit more emotional since having kids), but there are so many books that have started the waterworks for me! Three that stick in my memory because they made me ugly cry are: The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, Marley & Me by John Grogan and A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron
But your book isn’t just sad — Publisher’s Weekly described it as having a “liberal dose of gallows humor.” What are three of your favorite funny books?
That’s easy: Where’d You Go Bernadette? By Maria Semple, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson and everything ever written by Dave Barry
Do you have a regular first reader? If so, who is it and why that person?
I do — my sister Megan. I typically wouldn’t recommend people to choose a friend or family member as their go-to critique person as most of the time they’re too biased and are just going to tell you what you what you want to hear — but my sister doesn’t care about my feelings. Just kidding! She does, but she really is no-holds barred and spot-on in her assessment of my WIPs. She’s a big reader and whip smart and she’s who I write for —meaning, as I’m writing, I keep her mind thinking: Is Megan going to laugh at this part? Cry here? Will she like this character? Hate him? I trust her opinion infinitely.
What’s your secret or not-so-secret superpower?
This is a strange one — I can perfectly hang pictures, the very first time, with just a hammer and nails — no measuring, no level, just eyeing it. My husband even begrudgingly admits that it’s pretty amazing.
What is your advice for aspiring writers?
Read, write, repeat. And don’t worry if you hate everything you write — that just means you’re doing it right.
GIVEAWAY: Comment on this post by Noon (EST) on Friday, January 16th to enter to win a copy of BEFORE I GO. Follow The Debutante Ball on Facebook and Twitter for extra entries—just mention that you did so in your comments. We’ll choose and contact the winner on Friday. Good luck!
Colleen Oakley’s articles, essays, and interviews have been featured in The New York Times, Ladies’ Home Journal, Marie Claire, Women’s Health, Redbook and Martha Stewart Weddings. She lives in Atlanta with her husband, two painfully cute kids and a huge lapdog named Bailey. BEFORE I GO is her debut novel. For more info, go to her website, like her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.