Author interview with Kirsten Fullmer of ‘Shabby Chic Forever’

Author Interview with Kirsten Fullmer

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 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:

Author interview with Kirsten Fullmer of ‘Shabby Chic at Heart’

Author Interview with Kirsten Fullmer


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!