The Next Big Thing Interview

I was asked by my friend and fellow scribe Heather Wood to participate in “The Next Big Thing” project. TNBT is a way for wordsmiths to promote upcoming work. Basically, a writer answers ten questions about a new work and then get other writers to do the same. However, I’ve added a bit of a twist to my list.  I think that playwrights, bloggers and songwriters should be part of this as well, so… here are my Next Big Thing Q & A’s:

Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:

What is your working title of your book?  The Treadle

Where did the idea come from for the book? I was I was around 5 or 6 my Mom inherited her Grandma Brown’s Treadle sewing machine (made in 1889).  I became obsessed with it.  I would actually play games where I would open the drawers and pretend there were magical creatures hidden in them.  As I got older, my obsession turned to designing doll clothes, then eventually my own clothes.  I learned how to sew on it.  As I sat there running the petal with my foot I would come up with stories about the kinds of women who might have also used it.

What genre does your book fall under?  Literary Fiction.  Though there will be a bit of historical fiction in it as well, as it spans time from the early 1900’s to mid 1980’s.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? 
Though they aren’t Scottish (Elizabeth is Scottish), I picture a young Elizabeth played by Kate Winslet and older Elizabeth would be Helen Mirren.  The book itself has 3 female protagonists.  Elizabeth, Carrie and Lizzie. Grandmother, Mother, Daughter.  I’m not sure who I’d cast for the rest of the characters.  Knowing me, it would be a mix of quirky Canadian and British actors.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? Three women, three generations, with one very powerful object that ties them all together.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? Once the manuscript is done, I will be sending it off to a publisher.  I’ve already lived through the world of self-publishing and feel this novel deserves so much more.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? The story has been with me since I was a kid. I finally sat down and started working on it between other projects over the last 2 years.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?  I don’t like comparing what I’m writing to other books, because they all stand on their own, although I am inspired by many writers.  Just too many to list here.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?  A few people inspired this book.  My Great Grandma Brown, whose Treadle sewing machine I inherited, my Grandma Betty, My Grandma Carrie and my mother.  All strong women who have had a lot of influence on the woman and writer I have become.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?  Strong female characters.

And now check out The Next Big Things of these wonderful writers.
Kat Leonard
Cathy McKim
Monica S. Kuebler
Brandon Pitts
Marcy Rogers

Love and Shortbread and a woman named Betty.

I sit here with tears rolling down my face, missing someone harder than I ever have.  A red duo-tang tight in my arms, in it’s pages, memories of a woman I think about daily.  A woman who inspires me even though she is no longer here, a woman who would be telling me to smarten up and stop feeling sorry for myself, a woman who could give you a hug,  followed by a laugh, washing away all your fears.

Today I started beating myself up again for not earning enough as an artist, not doing enough to succeed. I dreaded opening my mail box knowing there would be bills inside, bills I might not be able to pay. Questioning why I keep doing this if all I do is struggle.  I put the key in the lock, turned and took a deep breath as I opened the door. Stuffed snugly in that mailbox, amongst the bills was a white padded envelope.  My Mom had told me something special was on it’s way.  Something one of a kind.  I had no clue what she was sending me, but it was my Mom and I figured it would be something sent out of love.  I wasn’t expecting this.  I wasn’t expecting for my Grandmother to jump out at me.

As I pulled back the front red cover, I saw the title Recipes By Grandma and to the right of it, there she was in a black and white photo, in an apron flashing her famous smile.  Instantly I was overwhelmed by how much I missed her, how long it’s been since I last heard her laugh.  When we were kids, we couldn’t wait to go visit her, at Christmas we didn’t care about gifts, it was her shortbreads, the mittens and the thick handmade socks that we wanted.  Each birthday for as long as I can remember, she gave me a tea cup and saucer, all of which I still use.  She taught me how to knit and how to bake.  She taught me that nothing is so bad that you can’t find humour in it.  She taught me that I was important. I wished I could have been a better granddaughter, but I won’t fail to make her proud.

This book, this treasure is from my Aunt Margie.  My aunt is a beautiful, generous woman who put this book together with her own hands.  It contains all of my Grandma’s recipes (in her handwriting) and photos of her taken throughout her life.  I recently told a dear friend that I was working on two cookbook ideas.  One is almost written, the second was a book I wanted to do of home style cooking, converting my Grandmother’s recipes to Vegan versions.  A week later, I hold the original recipes in my hands.  Aunt Margie, you have no idea how much I cherish you or how much I love that you made me this book?  Do you know I think about her every day, do you know I talk about her every single week? Do you know that every person who knows me, knows a Betty story?  Earlier today on my Facebook I said I needed inspiration. My inspiration has arrived.  You have both inspired me.  This book wasn’t just about recipes, inside are photos I adore and others I have never seen before.  The pages are bursting of Grandma Betty and Aunt Margie’s love.  Aunt Margie even wrote a poem.  I am going to reprint it here. Aunt Margie,  I hope you don’t mind.  It is the most beautiful thing anyone has written to me. Thank you.  I love you!

The letter/poem.

Dear Carolina,

My Mother – your Grandmother – one of the same
What a beautiful woman with a wonderful name
She cooked, she baked, she whistled, she sewed
In her wee wee house by the side of the road
She had many children and loved every one
But she adore her grandchildren each time they come
Her past time was knitting scarfs, mitts and socks
Which everyone received in their own special box
She never missed a birthday – everyone got a card
Enclosed was some money – on her pension – that was hard
But that did not stop her – our angel of old
Who had a memorable laugh and a heart of gold
I often sit and ponder over a cup of tea
and hear her words come back to me
“A pinch of this and a handful of that
and make sure that pastry is rolled out flat”
The thick Scottish brogue she used once in awhile
She had a pretty round face and a welcoming smile
She sang like a bird – could carry a tune
And if she could afford it – she would give you the moon
So enjoy this booklet I had fun putting together
It hold memories of Elizabeth – a wonderful treasure