Welcome to Halu-Halo's new series: Author-ish. Halu-halo, as a blog, has always focused on inspiration, and our interviews will ask authors about theirs. Author-ish is named as such because these interviews won't be about the craft of writing, but all the feelings behind it.
FEATURED AUTHOR :: MARY KUBICA
Mary Kubica holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in History and American Literature. She lives outside of Chicago with her husband and two children and enjoys photography, gardening, and caring for the animals at a local shelter.
THE GOOD GIRL - published by Harlequin MIRA on July 29, 2014
Born to a prominent Chicago judge and his stifled socialite wife, Mia Dennett moves against the grain as a young inner-city art teacher. One night, Mia enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when he doesn't show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. With his smooth moves and modest wit, at first Colin Thatcher seems like a safe one-night stand. But following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia's life.
Colin's job was to abduct Mia as part of a wild extortion plot and deliver her to his employers. But the plan takes an unexpected turn when Colin suddenly decides to hide Mia in a secluded cabin in rural Minnesota, evading the police and his deadly superiors. Mia's mother, Eve, and detective Gabe Hoffman will stop at nothing to find them, but no one could have predicted the emotional entanglements that eventually cause this family's world to shatter.
An addictively suspenseful and tautly written thriller, The Good Girlis a propulsive debut that reveals how even in the perfect family, nothing is as it seems….
Tif (Halu-Halo): WOW <-- my first impression when I first read THE GOOD GIRL's blurb. And, I must say that the rest of the book did not disappoint. Easily one of the best books I have read, I am more than honored to have Mary Kubica here on Halu-Halo to tell us more about her inspiration for her debut.
Mary, a huge welcome from me! Tell us: what was your inspiration for THE GOOD GIRL?
Mary: I first started writing THE GOOD GIRL shortly after my daughter was born and I left my teaching career to stay home and care for her. I’d always loved to write, but for me it was a hobby rather than something I pursued professionally. But once I made the decision to be a stay-at-home mom, I had quite a bit of time on my hands that I wasn’t used to, and a relatively quiet home – with the exception of my infant child. My mind started wandering, and it was then that the ideas for THE GOOD GIRL were born. Initially, all I had was the idea of a kidnapping, and the before/after time sequence, but once I started working on the novel the rest of the details fell into place.
Tif : It's so interesting how stories can manifest and grow much like a fire that's been stoked. It's even more amazing that this can happen during such a transitional time, such as having a new baby. How did you keep this inspiration forefront while you worked?
Mary: Once I settled into the novel and started to develop and get to know my characters, they truly became my inspiration. Though I had only ever taken one creative writing class, and didn’t belong to a writers’ group or have a critique partner, I always had a great passion for writing. I highly doubted my novel would ever be published, and for as much as I tried to stop writing, I found that I couldn’t. The more absorbed I became in THE GOOD GIRL, I felt I owed it to both myself and the characters to see their story through – and I’m so glad I did. Over time, my characters themselves became my inspiration.
Tif: You've just expressed what most of us writers feel: that we can't seem to stop even if we tried. (And I am so glad you didn't!) When do you do your best work? Do you have a routine?
Mary: I am an early bird. I wake up around 5 a.m. everyday and begin writing. My mind seems to function best at that time of day, with my first cup of coffee, when the rest of the house is still asleep. I pack as much writing into the morning hours as I possibly can. Just this year my youngest son started full day school, so I now have much more writing time throughout the day than I did when I was working on THE GOOD GIRL or my second novel PRETTY BABY, which releases in the summer of 2015 from Harlequin MIRA. I also have an office now, something I didn’t have when I was writing THE GOOD GIRL. It’s a wonderful space that helps me separate my writer life from my home life, one which would easily be distracted by piles of laundry and dirty floors.
Tif: I am so looking forward to PRETTY BABY! And what a change in routine. It sounds like more focused work with a dedicated writing space and schededule. What fuels your spirit? What fills your tank?
Mary: First and foremost, my children. They are amazing little people who fuel my spirit every single day. I also volunteer at a local animal shelter, and when I’m having a bad day or something is getting me down, there’s no place in the world I’d rather be. The animals offer no judgment and will love you no matter what. Besides my great passion for animals and my desire to help them, I find that the shelter is a very peaceful, relaxing place to be – and helps take my mind off a negative review or a looming deadline.
Tif: Finding that balance (or close to what we can achieve as balance) is tricky, though we are surrounded by the people and things we love and enjoy. What are your biggest distractions and how do you stay focused?
Mary: Home life in general is my biggest distraction. Working from home is difficult for me because there are so many things around the house I’d like to do when I should be focusing my time on writing. That said, I’m not someone who can go to Starbucks or the library and write – that would afford more distractions for me than the laundry and housecleaning. I need things very quiet to work. Now that writing is my career and no longer a hobby, it’s been a bit difficult finding that balance, especially on weekends or summer vacation when the house is full of little people. Another one of my biggest distractions is my own self-doubt. No matter how many accolades THE GOOD GIRL receives, or the wonderfully positive reviews I’ve read from readers, I still trudge my way through every novel wondering if it’s any good, if people will like it, if my editor will like it, if it will do well… There are times this doubt inhibits me from writing, and I have to force myself to push through it to continue whatever I’m working on at the time.
Tif: I love your honesty here. Sometimes we can get swept up in all the good and not so good, even sometimes in our own thoughts. You can, however, add me to those list of people who cannot stop talking about THE GOOD GIRL. I actually just passed your book to my mother-in-law, who read it in 2 days. Indulge me--> Give me five words that describe THE GOOD GIRL.
Mary: First off, thank you so much for passing along THE GOOD GIRL to your mother-in-law. I really appreciate that! Five words to describe THE GOOD GIRL: Isolation, regret, longing, redemption, cold
Tif: That's so spot on *shivers*. What do you love most about this book?
Mary: No matter how many novels I write, THE GOOD GIRL will always be my baby. I love the story and every single one of the characters immensely, but more than that, THE GOOD GIRL for me was a dream – a hope, a wish, a desire. When I wrote the novel, I had no idea if it would ever be published, or whether or not I would finish writing the book for that matter. I wrote the novel for me, because I had a great love for writing, and it was a story I wanted to tell. The characters themselves took on a life of their own and truly occupied my mind and life for the four years I was working on the novel. I am able to correlate writing THE GOOD GIRL with the earliest years of my children’s lives. It will always hold a very special place in my heart.
Tif: Ah, The Book of Your Heart!
Now, I have three last questions. They're hard, now, so be ready:
Feet in the sand or tromping through puddles?
Mary: This could really go either way. There’s nothing I like more than sitting on a sun-soaked beach with my feet in the sand, but that said, I have an inability to sit still for very long and feel the need to get up and explore – so I can certainly enjoy tromping through puddles from time to time, too.
Tif: Log cabin or suburban palace?
Mary: Suburban palace – no doubt about it! I am not high maintenance, but I definitely like the comforts of suburban life. As the cold settles upon us this year, I find myself thinking about my characters, Colin and Mia, in THE GOOD GIRL, trapped in a cabin in northern Minnesota in the fall and winter. I don’t think I would have lasted 24 hours if I was in their shoes.
Tif: Me either! Suburban palace for me! Red wine or an ice cold beer?
Mary: My first choice would be a white wine, but given this choice, I’d choose an ice cold beer.
Tif: I'm a sucker for a delicious Moscato anytime! Thank you so much for this interview, Mary. And, CONGRATULATIONS for a spectacular debut!
Mary: Thanks so much for having me, Tif! It’s such a thrill to be able to visit with you! And Moscato - one of my favorite wines!