I love reading more than most other things in life. I read just about everything too, from the most dense non-fiction to the flightiest of chick-lit novels. Lately, with all the academic reading I am doing in grad school, I find I need a little “literary sorbet” during my school-free time. By literary sorbet, I mean books light enough that I don’t have to look up every other word, but with enough character and story development that I get sucked in and can’t figure out the ending by page three. (Please, I can’t stand bad writing, no matter how popular the trilogy may be!)
This is not an easy task, writing well enough to be interesting yet not taxing for my brain, but Mary Kay Andrews has done it. I just finished reading Ladies’ Night which is about a Lifestyle Blogger who as a condition of her messy divorce has to attend a counseling support group. Talk about the perfect book! A blogger who goes to counseling? It’s as if she wrote it just for me. Anyway, spot-on main character aside, I loved the book from start to finish. Great characters, a fantastic story and just enough plot twists to keep me coming back for more.
Mary Kay Andrews has a brand new book out called Save the Date about a wedding florist in Savannah that looks to be just as delicious as Girls’ Night Out. I got the chance to ask a few questions about both books. Check out what Ms. Andrews has to say herself down below. I’m partial to answer #2.:) If you want to win free copies of both Ladies’ Night and the brand new Save the Date, add your email to Reinvention Girl’s email list on the top right of this page. If you already get the RG Weekly, then leave a comment below. Winners will be announced next week.
Q&A with bestselling author Mary Kay Andrews
Author of 23 novels including Ladies’ Night and Save the Date
Q: The protagonist of your novel Ladies’ Night (recently released in paperback)is a lifestyle blogger. How did you come to create such a character? Is she based on anybody in particular?
A: In Ladies’ Night, Grace Stanton writes a lifestyle blog called TrueGrace. She’s a former interior designer who starts blogging as a creative outlet after her business tanks during the recession. Her character isn’t based on any actual bloggers. I certainly don’t claim to be a lifestyle blogger, but on my own blog at MaryKayAndrews.com, I find that my most popular posts are the ones dealing with my junking finds, recipes for entertaining, and my always-in-process home decoration and renovation projects. These are my own long-time passions, so it was inevitable that I would eventually dream up a character like Grace.
Q: Your novels frequently have a theme involving design, decorating or renovation. Hissy Fit featured an interior designer, The Fixer-Upper was about a woman trying to restore an antebellum mansion in a small Southern town, and Save the Date features a florist and event planner. What speaks to you about this theme?
A: The theme of most of my novels is reinvention. I start with a protagonist whose life is in turmoil, than I search for a way she can turn travails into triumph. To me, rehabbing a house is a symbol for rebirth, of hope for the future. Maybe you can’t cure a broken heart with a power sprayer, but you can certainly concentrate on the small details that make life sweeter and more bearable. I love that quote from the society decorator Elsie deWolfe, who said “I believe in optimism and plenty of white paint.”
Q: What kind of research did you do into the world of blogging for Ladies’ Night? Any favorite blogs you trolled for research?
A: For the technical stuff—like how a blog could be hacked, I talked to my own website folks. As for favorite blogs—there are too many to mention, but here are some of the ones I never miss. For junking/antiquing, Vintage Rescue Squad, Fresh Vintage, Flea Market Style, Old Thyme Marketplace, My Vintage Soul, Vintage Junk in My Trunk and Oodles and Oodles. Design blogs I read include Cote de Texas, Lime in the Coconut, The Polished Pebble, Adventures of Tartanscot, Design Indulgence, Velvet and Linen and Little Green Notebook. These DIY crafters, thrifters and all-things-home-centric keep me in awe; The Lettered Cottage, Miss Mustard Seed, Young House Love, Pretty Handy Girl, Southern Hospitality, Bower Power. And there are many more. You know how it is, you’re cruisin’ somebody’s blogroll . . . the next thing you know it’s two in the morning and you have saliva all over your nighty.
Q: There are so many different types of weddings described in Save the Date from high society chic, to art student funky, to country barn rustic. How did you come up with the ideas for all these affairs?
In a word—Pinterest! I also liberally borrowed wedding theme ideas from magazines and my friend Liz’s book about vintage-inspired weddings.
Q: Save the Date is set in Savannah, as are several of your previous novels. What speaks to you about this location?
Savannah’s historic district is lined with beautiful 19th century homes, ancient oak trees dripping with Spanish moss. I love the sense of history that meets you at every turn, and the fact that it’s really such a small town.
Q: Anything you can tell us about your next novel?
A: I have a title, which my editor and agent and I all love, a protagonist, and just the barest sketch of a plot. If all goes as planned it will be published June 2015.