Hi Rebecca! Thank you for coming to visit us today at Delighted Reader blog. I am looking forward to getting to know you better after reading your powerful-writing style in Hurricane Lily.
Thanks so much for having me here!
First off, tell us something about Rebecca, the author’s day. Do you have a special place you write? Do you have to have a special ambience like music present?
I usually write in bed, in my pajamas, sitting up next to the window that overlooks the tiny gardens behind the buildings on my block. (I live in Brooklyn.) I write like crazy for twenty minutes, and then lie down and take a five-minute nap. Then I write again for a half hour. Then I stare out the window and space out. I take frequent breaks so my head doesn’t explode. I also chew gum like a maniac, and wear appalling outfits. It’s really lucky no one can see me.
When you write did you have to do a detailed outline and character bio sketches or did it all just come to you as you went?
I do a lot of writing on napkins and the backs of my hands as ideas come to me, until I have enough puzzle pieces that a picture starts emerging. Usually it’s the conflict that appears first – some problem I’m interested in exploring. Then I think about who would have a problem like that, and why, and I make a preliminary outline. I usually start out thinking I know who the characters are, but then as I begin writing and speaking in their voices, it almost always changes. They become clearer and more defined, and sometimes that changes the plot as I figure out what these specific people would actually do or feel. For example, when I started Hurricane Lily, I had no idea how angry and confrontational Cliff was going to be. But it was incredibly fun to allow him to let loose, so I went with it.
What has been the most enjoyable experience you’ve had in the writing world after becoming a published author?
I really love Facebook because of the opportunity to talk with readers. It’s fun to chat about book stuff there, but also to share things about our families, about shows and music we like or the weird things we notice during the day. Being an author has helped me meet a lot of interesting new people.
When you need some down time from writing, what is something fun you do?
You know what’s funny? My kids have really had to teach me about having fun. I’m a super-serious person usually, but my boys (they’re 5 and 7) encourage me to act silly and get dirty and run around. My husband, too, is incredibly funny and enthusiastic, and he hauls me out of the house and makes me go on water slides and mountain coasters and things like that. Otherwise, I read a lot, and go out to breakfast with my girlfriends, and ride my bike, and watch a few semi-obscure TV shows that I then gush over and nobody knows what I’m talking about.
Now, I mentioned above that your writing style is very powerful (at least to me). How did the story of Lily and Cliff come about? Was it hard being immersed in the story each day with such strong, yet flawed characters?
Thank you! That’s really kind of you to say. I do write painful stories – I can’t help myself! But they’re cathartic too. Hurricane Lily began as a question in my mind about the relationship between anxiety and anger, especially among women. I wanted to write a heroine whose anxiety was both extreme and justified, and I wanted to connect her experience to some larger social problems related to class and climate change. I wanted to see what it would take for her to recover, or at least find some peace. Then Cliff came along with his beard and hammer and that huge chip on his shoulder, and I wanted to think through what he was angry about, and why, and what it would take for him to find peace too. The great thing about romance is that I always knew these two were going to make it out alive, you know what I mean? That love was possible for them. That they could find happiness. So even though on some days it was hard dragging them through their own madness, I looked forward to bringing them into the light, and it was very satisfying getting there.
I loved the description of the serene pond scene that Lily experienced in the past with her mother and later with Cliff. Is this a made-up place or does it really exist? If so, have you been to this lovely place on the Cape personally?
Oh yes, it’s real. It’s one of my favorite places!
What was a favorite or difficult scene to write?
I spent a long time on that first sex scene, I have to tell you. I wanted it to be tense. It’s like these two are at war with each other. I wanted that moment when they begin to realize they could be allies to be as powerful as possible. I revised that scene many, many times.
Lily has the anxiety issues that keep her housebound and also force her to go overboard with her emergency preparedness. It felt so authentic to me when I was reading about it from her perspective. Many people suffer in similar ways. What made you choose for her to have these issues? Did you have to research this?
I did research, yes. A few years ago I did a lot of reading about disaster preparedness for a post-apocalyptic book I was thinking of writing. At the same time I was giving a lot of thought to anxiety in my personal life, in my family history, among close friends of mine, and among my students (I’m also a teacher). I was thinking about the connection between personal, psychological issues and bigger social, cultural dynamics and I wanted to kind of work through some of those ideas in a story. I’m glad it felt authentic! I think a lot of us go through periods of varying degrees of anxiety, and we definitely live in a world that’s full of things to be scared about. It’s totally normal, and it’s certainly something that comes up in our relationships, so it seemed natural to bring it into a romance.
The whole story takes place with just one setting, Lily’s small house on the Cape (a film producer’s budgetary heaven). What would Cliff and Lily have gone out and done for a date if she could have left the house?
Film producers, you listening? Heh heh. I really like romance stories that are confined by time or space, like one act plays. It ratchets up the tension and raises the stakes, and in Hurricane Lily especially the strict containment plays a big role in the tone and theme of the story. Your question about the date would be a great one to ask readers!
Being a curious sort, I noticed the part Lily’s little sculptures play in the story. It never said, but may I ask if she continues to make them afterward and if so, what would she sculpt to capture how she feels about her and Cliff after the hurricane? And as to Cliff, does he go on with his writing?
These are terrific questions! Again, I’d love to know what readers think. Based on how Lily changes, how do you think her sculptures would change? Would Cliff continue with his novel, and how might the tone of that story be different than when he started?
What current or future writing projects are you working on?
Hurricane Lily was the first in a trilogy called Class Acts. All the books are going to deal with class conflict. The next one’s about a waitress and a businessman who both are falling apart at the seams. But! It turns out well for them, I promise.
Thank you so much for letting us to get to know a little something more about you and your books, Rebecca.
Thank YOU! It was so great to be here today.
Lily Sawyer flees her controlling, wealthy family in New York City for a solitary existence on Cape Cod. Three months later, a mounting anxiety binds her to the house she can no longer leave.
With hurricane season approaching, Lily hires Cliff Buckley–an angry carpenter with an immediate disgust for his elitist employer–to storm-proof her house.
Cliff soon discovers they have more in common than he thinks, as well as a raging spark between them that could either destroy–or save–everything they care about. The question is, can either of them survive Hurricane Lily?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rebecca Rogers Maher writes bold contemporary romance novels with strong, flawed heroines. She’s a Vassar graduate, a former community organizer and Brooklyn public school teacher, and a mother to two insanely sweet boys. She believes messed-up ladies deserve happy endings too, as well as lots of hot sex with genuinely kind men. She lives in Brooklyn, New York with her hot, kind husband and their children.
RT Book Reviews describes Rebecca’s writing as “beautiful, heart-wrenching, and heart-warming,” Library Journal calls it “dark, electrically charged…gut-wrenching…” and Dear Author says it “resonate(s) with depth.” In a ridiculously embarrassing article, New York Daily News called her novels “steamy.”