Lizzy is determined to avoid her mother’s meddling by escaping to live out her hard-earned dreams in the country. She didn’t, however, expect to find the man of her mother’s dreams there, or have an idea just how charming he would be.
Kirsten Fullmer has returned to ItsWriteNow.com today to share the third and final book in the ‘Shabby Chic’ trilogy, ‘Shabby Chic Forever’. Kirsten, we last chatted just before Christmas last year about the first instalment of the trilogy, and here we are just under a year later talking about the final instalment. How did the journey from the first to the final part of the trilogy progress?
Since this is book three of a trilogy, I needed to continue the story of Tara and Justin’s spa and I wanted to bring in a kick-butt leading lady to run it. I’ve been wanting to write about the junk gypsy side of shabby chic, so Lizzy got the role. As I watch my daughters become adults, and my friends with their grown daughters, I saw each day how hard it is for strong women to raise strong women. The ideas converged and Shabby Chic Forever was born.
Can you expand a little more on how your experience raising strong daughters has influenced this book?
Yes, as I said, strong independent mothers with strong independent daughters is a recipe for angst. I have a good relationship with my mother and I think it’s because I really wanted to understand why she is the way she is. We often think we know about our parents, but as we get older, we find we really didn’t know them as well as we thought.
Was portraying these strong family dynamics the most important part of these novels for you?
Yes, I wanted to show how family relationships influence our life choices in many ways, not just the ones we see and understand. I wanted to offer an intelligent and successful young woman the chance to learn about her mother’s past, and come to understand her mother in a way she never had. It was also just fun to write about.
Some of the fun that the crafty characters get up to in this story is having pet alpacas. Did you know much about the world of alpacas before you started writing?
Lizzy is very earthy and I had to do some research into her craft. I had to learn about her loom and her alpacas as well. But since I’d love to do some of those things myself, it was a labor of love.
What did you love most about these characters and their quirky ways?
I like to write about women who have a core of steel and tender feelings. Once I knew Lizzy wanted to get away from her mother and the things she was interested in, the rest came easy. Elliot was the consummate charmer. Out of his element and drowning a bit, but good hearted and sexy. I put the two together and the book nearly wrote its self.
It sounds like you put your effort into developing the personalities of Lizzy and Elliot, and then let them decide where the plot was going to go. Would that be a correct assumption?
Yes, Lizzy and Elliot were themselves well before the book started, but each had to do more than a bit of self-examination as the story took shape. My plots are usually centered around the characters dealing with their issues and situations and coming to terms with the thing rather than some outside threat.
As the biggest challenges your characters face is from internal struggles, who do you feel would be best to select if we were lucky enough to see the Shabby Chic books translated to the screen?
I think Lizzy could be played by Jenni Farley (JWoww) from Jersey shore, and Elliot could be played by Ryan Reynolds.
Nice solid choices there, I think that’s a great selection. Even if these books don’t make it to the big screen I’m sure they made an impact on your life. What did you learn from them?
It took my nearly two years to write because I had so many things going on. I had to learn to carve out time to do the things that are important to me.
When you had carved out that time to write, where did you find your rewards within the writing process?
It made me think a bout being young again, and full of dreams and passion and plans. it made me think about my own mother and my daughter’s feelings. Unfortunately, my middle daughter, Chelci, passed away while this book was in publishing and never got to read it. I wish that I had slipped her an early copy. She would have loved it.
I’m sorry to hear about your loss, and I totally agree, I’m sure she would have loved it as well and wanted you to continue writing these stories. What are you working on now?
I’m currently writing a Christmas novel about all the Smithville folks in the Shabby Chic Trilogy, as well as promoting my first novel outside the series, Love on the Line.
Good luck with your work outside of the Shabby Chic series! What do you love about writing so much that you’ve continued now that the Shabby Chic trilogy is complete?
I see writing as a form of introspection. When I’m writing I tend to see people and places in a different light. I don’t just see the surface, I want to know more and learn more about everything and everyone.
Everything and everyone is a big challenge. Do you have solid notes to help you rise to the challenge?
Yes, I have lists on my phone and a little book in my purse.
And when you’re at the start of a new book with your phone and book, how do you pick the direction to take? Is it pre-planned before you start writing?
I have a general idea in mind, but the characters and setting tend to massage the ending as I go.
You mentioned that you intentionally carve out to time to work with the characters. When you’re defining this time do you think about time spent writing, or the number of words written?
Sometimes I have to set a goal to write a number of words but usually, if I can get some uninterrupted time, I look up and time has flown past. I’m more likely to ignore things I have to do if I’m on a roll. It’s not easy to get started though, I have to be stern with myself some days and sit down with intent and conviction or I get sidetracked.
Is there any music that helps you get into the zone without getting sidetracked?
I usually listen to either Sting or Adele. For some reason they get me going without being obtrusive to my thought process.
What happens when life intrudes and those words just won’t flow? Do you have any techniques to work your way through the blocks?
I have to put my characters in a setting I can visualize and have a clear intention of what I want to happen. If I can do that and not get interrupted I do fine. A nice hot shower tends to help me focus and get ready to write.
A nice hot shower can solve so many problems! Does it also solve editing?
I need editing in the worst way, so I always read and reread my writing many times, then I pass it along to beta readers and then a professional editor. It’s been hard to find good editing that isn’t outrageously expensive. I’m always finding things in my books that I would do a little differently, so I guess that means I’m learning.
Indeed it does. And hopefully, you’ve learnt the lesson well enough that you don’t have to take the lesson again. For authors who are writing, and wanting to learn from the lessons of others, what do tips do you have to share?
Buy good editing. Yes, I would say find help and ask a billion questions. Don’t be scared, and search out ways to do whatever you can afford to do to get readers. If that’s writing groups on online groups, do that. If you can self-publish, be sure to create the best writing you can at that time. Grow a thick skin and learn from criticism. I took one of my worst reviews and turned it into a marketing strategy. If you want to write, write. No excuses.
I love that ability to turn your worst review into a positive marketing strategy. Can you share a little bit more about the approach you’ve used to connect readers with the Shabby Chic books?
I purposefully wrote about Shabby Chic in hopes of finding a ready-made audience of ladies who love the upcycling movement. It’s been far easier and more fun to search out this audience than I thought it would be. My new book doesn’t have that clear-cut audience and it’s a much bigger struggle to market. I believe it was a good move to have a distinct audience in mind before I started.
I love that you’ve really considered your readers before you started writing, and I’m sure that you can apply your market connections and research to this new novel. We’ve had a great chat about your novels today, but I want to see more of the life of the author behind the trilogy so let’s move onto the quietly quirky quick fire round. And since I knew I was chatting with you today, I have a special question I’ve added to the set today just for you which we’ll start with. How are you using the Shabby Chic design principals in your life?
I may be a bit different than most, in that I live and travel with my husband in a 36-foot camp trailer full time. His work moves us about every three to six months so it works out well for us. I’m currently in the middle of redecorating the living room.
Applying the Shabby Chic design to a camper trailer is a huge challenge, but one I’m sure you’ll defeat! What is your favourite quote?
My grand daughter is a Peppa Pig fan and she says “Whoa Momma Pig!” I’ve adopted it, and use it when I feel like things are spinning out of control.
*Laughs* The underrated wisdom of Peppa Pig! Who decides what morality is?
We each find our own heart and soul as we move through life. Allowing hatred into your heart makes you more judgmental, at least in my mind.
Do you have any philosophies that you live by?
I try not to judge anyone because I don’t know their story. I try to be kind first and foremost.
Kindness is so important. In your kind approach to the world, where do you feel the line between insanity and creativity is drawn?
It’s a wavy blurry line at best
*Laughs* Blurry and very faint at times too! What came first, the chicken or the egg?
The chicken was pushing out the egg when it was created
Why doesn’t glue stick to the inside of the bottle?
It couldn’t breathe until it got out
And then it started breathing and got stuck. That makes sense. Have you tangoed in the snow?
No. I tend to slip and fall.
Ahh, me too, but I still have fun! If you invented a monster what would it look like and what would you call it?
It would be small, blue, cute and fuzzy and ride around in my pocket, making lint. I’d call it Ugga
Awww, that sounds so cute! What happens if Batman gets bitten by a vampire?
He could drop all the gadgets I suppose.
True, but I think he should keep the Batmobile. It still looks like a really awesome car. What is your favourite jelly bean flavour/ colour?
Popcorn jelly bellys.
Yum. If all of the world is a stage, where does the audience sit?
It’s a theater in the round.
What happens when you get scared half to death twice?
This is called “experience” and unfortunately, it changes nothing but you.
But if you change then don’t all of the things around you start to change to match these new changes? Something to think about. If you could breed two animals together to defy the laws of nature what new animal would you create?
A dog and a cat, to get a dat.
*Laughs* You know I think I’d buy one of those just to say that I owned a dat! Finally, before we all go shopping for dats, can you share your favourite line from ‘Shabby Chic Forever’ so that we all pick up a copy of this novel on our dat buying trips.
Once again he wondered how a beautiful woman could cause an intelligent man to do such ridiculous things.
Kirsten, thanks for sharing the fun in ‘Shabby Chic Forever’, and I hope that you hit that right note sharing your new novel outside of the ‘Shabby Chic’ universe.
Excited to read the book we discussed today? Find it here on Amazon: ‘Shabby Chic Forever ( ASIN: B01K9FTZV0 )‘.
Want to find out more about Kirsten Fullmer? Connect here!
You can also catch our previous interviews with Kirsten:Kirsten Fullmer