Tara is a bit of a control freak and is determined to save every old house in the county. Justin moved to town to build flashy new resorts for big money clients, and that involves tearing old houses down. He and Tara inevitably butt heads and fall in love, but what Justin initially thinks is small town clannishness turns out to be long buried secrets about the locals, Tara, and her past.
Today I have been joined by Kirsten Fuller to have a little gossip about the first book in her Shabby Chic trilogy, ‘Shabby Chic at Heart’. Kirsten thanks for sitting down to chat with me today. Let’s kick off today’s session by discussing where the initial idea for you book started?
My inspiration came from watching HGTV. One show was about a smart, beautiful woman who saves old houses and the next was about a handsome guy who chops them up into apartments as investments, and I thought “Wow, they’d hate each other”. Boom, there it was.
Do you picture these two characters as the people that you saw on TV, or do you see them being played by other actors? And if you see them being played as other actors, who do you think they would be played by?
I see Tara as someone smart and strong, yet neurotic and quirky, like Kristen Bell. I see Justin as someone handsome and smart but with a great heart, like Ryan Reynolds. Tara and Justin are a lot like my husband and I in the way they see the world.
As you see the similarities between your characters and yourself and your husband, do you think you would have fun at a cast party with all of your characters if they could come to life?
Definitely! That would be a blast!
It does! Were there any other areas of the book where you felt that you needed to do some investigation to ensure that the foundation of the story was solid since the characters and their personalities were well formed?
Yes, I had to research quite a bit about home building and remodelling.
Looking back, can you recall the most significant aspect that you wanted the readers to get from reading this story?
That sometimes the biggest thing you have to get past to be happy in a relationship is the battle in your own head.
Was communicating the ideas about the internal battles the most satisfying aspect of writing this book, or did you find something else impressed more upon you?
I work on all my books with my husband. We talk about my stories over dinner and as we drive. I’m always surprised at the great plot ideas and characters that he suggests. It’s been fun for us to work on the books together and see them come to life.
That’s must be fun working with your husband on storylines. Are you and your writing partner working on anything new at the moment?
Now that the Shabby Chic Trilogy is complete and offered on kindle, paperback and audible, I’m working on a story about a girl who can’t find a job after college, so she travels to the mountains of West Virginia with her ne’er-do-well grandpa to build a pipeline.
It sounds like your new project is well in hand. How does your writing projects evolve? For instance, do you always know what the ending will be before you start?
I start with a general idea about the charters and how the story will develop, but it always changes and expands and gets much better as I work through the book.
And what keeps drawing you back to the challenge of writing and working through the story development process?
I had to retire from my full time work as a draftsman because of health problems and I’ve always enjoyed storytelling, so it has been a natural progression to write.
Do you feel like your background in drafting has helped you tackle the writing process?
I was a full time drafter, building 3D models of large steel structures like hospitals and office buildings. I also taught drafting in a technical college and travelled teaching 3D drafting/engineering software training and implementation. All that deadline work and interaction with people helped me understand how folks tend to respond in different situations. Writing has filled the void left by the loss of my drafting career. I travel with my husband for his work so during times of packing up and moving our trailer I can’t write, but since I don’t work full time, I have time during the day. Living on the road in a travel trailer makes some household tasks more time-consuming (no dish washer) and other less time consuming (vacuuming) so it evens out. I say it’s like living in bite size pieces. I get up very early with my husband (for his work) and we go to bed early, which, I think, gives me more productive time during the day. I never could have spent this much time writing when my kids were young and still at home and I had to maintain the house and yard.
When you do have days that you are working, how do you approach writing? Do you have any rituals or techniques that you use to help you get into the writing groove?
It seems like I get on a roll and write in spurts, spending five or six hours each day buried in the story, then after a week or two I have to take some time to do all the stuff I’ve been neglecting. When I’m determined to get a story out there and I’m really pushing, I can write between 1000 and 1500 words a day.
Do you find writing in a series of spurts helps you prevent writer’s block?
I try to really develop the characters in my mind and in the outline. Once I can get my head around the characters and how they’d respond to each other, I put them in the environment for the scene and they take over. I only have to keep up with the typing. Finding time and space where I’m not distracted by life is the hardest part for me.
Is editing a difficult step in the overall process for you, or do you find that editors are more useful for achieving a solid end product?
I write one day and review/edit it the next before I start writing new content. I often review my outline and character development and go back over each chapter looking for opportunity to develop the characters. I also go back and add in smells and textures and sounds to make the story more tactile. I also have beta readers who give me input about the scenes and characters. When I believe we’ve found all the bugs and typos and problems and I think it’s perfect, I turn it over to a professional editor. They usually find punctuation problems and a few grammatical errors but the story is complete.
Do you have an overall top tip for other authors who want to take up the mantel of self-publishing their own works?
It’s a lot of work. And writing is just one small part of the process. Be ready to spend a great deal of time promoting your book.
It is always more work than you think :). Finally, before I let you go today I’d like to ask you a few questions from the quick fire set to see if we can find out more about your ideas of the world through some pressing and not so pressing questions. Today I’d like to start this round with: What is your favourite quote?
“With my lips like this?” Explanation: my daughter had her wisdom teeth out last year and she was loopy and confused and thought her lips were huge from the Novocain. She was concerned and worried so I told her she was cute. She said “with my lips like this?” Repeating that makes me understand that usually our biggest concerns are something in our own head that is either temporary or not even a reality.
What is your favourite song or music to work by?
I’m the most creative and least distracted if I listen to something like Sting or John Mayer.
Are you a valuable asset on a quiz team?
I think so. I’m pretty creative.
What is your favourite ocean?
I lived in Florida for years so I’d have to say the Atlantic.
If you invented a monster what would it look like and what would you call it?
It would be big and bright, soft and furry, and most definitely friendly and kind.
Are you introvert or extrovert?
I’m a hermit with spurts of unexpected extrovert-ism when I venture out.
Have you ever danced in the rain?
If you ruled your own country, who would you get to write the national anthem?
Can’t we all just get along?
What is your zodiac sign?
Do you have a ‘do not use’ or ‘most hated words’ list when you are writing?
I try not to use the word “said” a lot. If I keep that to a minimum I write much more interesting conversations. I also try to avoid a lot of words ending in ly.
Are you left or right handed?
Do you have any philosophies that you live by?
I try to tell myself that things will work out somehow. It most likely won’t be the way you planned, but it will work out somehow. I’ve had some hard knocks and horrible times, but I keep going. Change is the only thing you can plan on for sure.
That is very true. How are the colours in rainbows made?
I know they’re made by refracted light, but I prefer to believe they are fairy magic.
I like the idea of fairy magic too. If you could breed two animals together to defy the laws of nature what new animal would you create?
A cat and a rabbit. It would be cute and fluffy and hop, but friendly and go in a litter box.
That sounds so cute! What is your favourite flavor of ice-cream?
Chocolate with chocolate chunks
What’s the most unusual name you’ve ever come across?
I had a friend in high school who’s last name was Quackenbush. I’ve always wondered how that happened.
That is up there with one of the most unusual names that I’ve heard. What is your favourite line, quote or statement from your book?
“I am going to kiss you and you are not going to cry or laugh, do you understand?”
Finally, what is your best tip for authors?
Stop talking about it and get her done!
And on that note this interview is also done. Kirsten thanks for talking with me today and I wish you the best of luck with both your promotion of ‘Shabby Chic at Heart’ and your progress on your new literary project.
Want to find out more about Kirsten? Connect here!