Friday, November 29, 2013

Author Interview – Diane Mulligan @Mulligan_writes

Image of Diane Vanaskie Mulligan

What genre are you most comfortable writing?

I’m most comfortable writing realistic, contemporary fiction, probably because of the old adage, “write what you know.” I’d love to write a historical novel or a ghost story, but I don’t have time to do research while also maintaining a full time job, and I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to craft a believable ghost story.

What inspired you to write your first book?

My students. I used to moderate a weekly writing club at the high school where I teach. Each week I’d write with the kids. They were so enthusiastic and creative, and I think their excitement infected me, too. My first novel WATCH ME DISAPPEAR is for teens. I wanted to write something my young writers would enjoy.

What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general?

Revision. Drafting is easy and fun, but taking that raw material and shaping it into a meaningful, organized finished product takes a lot of time, effort, and insight, and the ability to self-reflect. I can draft all day, but revision takes discipline.

What is your greatest strength as a writer?

I think my greatest strength as a writer is my ability to sympathize with people, even people whom I disagree with or who do things I would never do. I’m really interested in what makes people tick, and fiction allows me to explore that. In THE LATECOMERS FAN CLUB, I wrote from the point of view of Nathaniel, who is a total jerk, but it was so fun to peek inside his head and even though he’s despicable, I had a lot of compassion for him.

How did you come up with the title of your latest work?

I went through dozens of titles before settling on THE LATECOMERS FAN CLUB. Way back in the beginning, the title was WORK OF ART (IN PROGRESS), which was a play on the fact that one of the main characters, Maggie, is an aspiring artist. That title, however, became increasingly irrelevant with each draft as I added more characters and focused less on the artistic side of Maggie and more on her daily life. As I finished the last draft, I had a piece of scrap paper with words, phrases, and themes on it. I kept it by my bedside and just kept adding to it, but none of the items on the list had the right ring or pizazz. The only idea I had was THE LATECOMERS, which was both the name of one of the main character’s band and an apt phrase to describe all the main characters, who are a little late in growing up. When I googled that name, however, I discovered dozens of books with that title, most of them bodice-ripping romance tales. I thought I might have to scrap the entire latecomer idea, but then, as I was trying to find a title that would bind all three point of view characters together, the phrase “fan club” occurred to me, and voila! I had a title.

The Latecomers Fan Club

What is it about guys with guitars in their hands that makes them so irresistible, even when they are obviously self-centered jerks? If Abby and Maggie could answer that question, maybe they could finally get over Nathaniel. There’s just something about him when he picks up his guitar and gets behind the microphone, something that makes sensible women act like teenyboppers instead of rational, self-respecting adults.

Abby was first sucked in by Nathaniel’s rock ‘n roll swagger four years ago when a drunken fling turned into a series of drunken hook-ups that became something like a relationship. Now, as New Year’s Eve promises a fresh start, she wants to believe he’s finally going to grow up and take their relationship seriously.

What does Nathaniel hope the New Year will bring? An escape from the disappointing realities of his life. He’s thirty-four years old and he’s barely making ends meet as an adjunct philosophy professor, which was always only a backup plan anyway. Nathaniel’s real goal was always to make his living as a musician, but his band, The Latecomers, broke up a couple of years ago, and he hasn’t picked up his guitar in months.

When he decides to spend the holiday with some high school friends instead of hanging out at the bar where Abby works, he gets the happy surprise of reuniting with his long-lost friend Maggie. Newly divorced, Maggie has just moved back to her mother’s house to regroup. Nathaniel and Maggie were supposed to be the ones who left Worcester forever to conquer the world. He was going to be a rock star. She was going to take the world of art by storm. He’s never gotten farther than Boston, and her best efforts only left her broke and heartbroken.

As they ring in the New Year together, Nathaniel decides it’s time to take control of his life and to start making his dreams come true. He thinks the first step will be easy. All he needs to do is break up with Abby and finally admit his feelings for Maggie. But the New Year has more surprises in store, and nothing is ever as simple as it seems.

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Genre – Women’s Literature

Rating – PG-13

More details about the author and the book

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