Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Interview: Lorna Collins

Today, Lorna Collins is here talking about Ghost Writer and how this intriguing novel came to be. 

1. What was your inspiration for "Ghost Writer?" Believe it or not, my husband and I were carpooling on our long commute home from work listing to NPR. The subject was someone who was a ghost writer. I suddenly thought, What if the ghost WAS a writer? By the time we got home, I already had the basic arc of the story in my head and couldn’t wait to get started writing it.

2. Can you tell us a little about Nanette and how she ends up at the cottage? Nanette (Nan) Burton was named for her great-great-aunt Nanette who dies at one-hundred-four years old, leaving the cottage to her namesake. Nan has lost her job, apartment, no-good boyfriend, and car. She loves the cottage and wants to live there. Since she has nowhere else to go and no funds to rent another place, it seems like the perfect situation.

3. Max is an interesting roommate. Can you tell us a little about his personality and how that contributed to his situation? Max is an egocentric, pontificating, know-it-all. He’s also been dead for over thirty years, so he’s completely out of touch with modern technology and sensibilities. Since he was born at the turn of the last century in England, his ways are courtly, if arrogant. His speech, as well as his writing are verbose and stilted. Nan comes to suspect that he was also a bit agoraphobic since he rarely left the cottage during the later years of his life. Although the house actually belonged to Nanette, Max saw it as his home. When Nan appears, his first instinct is to scare her off. He’s a bit of a poltergeist who can make some noise and rattle windows. When that doesn’t work, he decides her purpose for being there is to complete his final novel.

4. Can you compare and contrast the men in Nan's life? Jeff, Nan’s unlamented former boyfriend, used Nan as long as she had a job and apartment. When the job went away, so did he. He is self-serving and lacking in ambition.

Tad, Nan’s gorgeous surfer neighbor and the embodiment of her hero, is spoiled and self-indulgent. He flits from one gorgeous girl to another and has no plans to settle down. He can be a good guy, but he belongs to no one, at least not yet.

Steve, the publisher, is dedicated to his job and his writers. He’s a sweet, if nerdy guy, but he’s also steady and cares about other people.

5. Can you tell us about Mitzi's role in the book? Mitzi, Aunt Netta’s spoiled Shih Tzu, is bequeathed to Nan along with the house. The last thing Nan thinks she needs is a dog. But if anything happens to the pooch, Nan could lose everything. Nan is only able to hear Max, but she figures out that Mitzi can see him. By watching the dog, Nan can figure out where Max is. Mitzi turns out to be a pretty good judge of character.

6. Can you tell us a little about what Max teaches Nan about both life and writing? Through working on Max’s book, Nan discovers a skill she never knew she possessed. Max teaches her how to hone her basic ability so she becomes an even better writer. Through Max’s mistakes, she also learns to value the things that really matter in life like love and friendship.

7. Max and Nan have some similar traits even though they seem quite different at first.  Can you compare the two? Max and Nan both love the cottage. This is the first place they find commonality. In life, Max was always self-focused where Nan allowed herself to be used by others. Nan is a modern working woman. Max doesn’t understand the entire concept. He’s still stuck in a period of time where women were basically the property of men and whose only ambition was to marry and have children. Max is overly self-confident where Nan doubts everything about herself. They discover their mutual love of writing and of Mitzi, and they finally discover they care about each other.

8. Who are your favorite authors? I adore Jane Austin, Gail Tsukiyama, Janet Evanovich for laughs, and Marilyn Meredith for mystery. Anya Seton and Lloyd C. Douglas were favorites when I was young. I read all their books.

9. Do you have any interesting rituals or habits when you write? I often wake at around two in the morning when the voices won’t let me sleep. I have to get up and get their words down on paper. Of course, I never go back to sleep, but at least the voices leave me alone – until the next time!

10. Can you tell us about any future projects? I have another in our Aspen Grove sweet romance anthology series, The Art of Love, coming out this year. We’re working on a couple more of those. My husband, Larry, and I are in the midst of an historical novel, The Memory Keeper, set in San Juan Capistrano between 1820 and 1890. The research will take much more time than the actual writing. We expect to have that one done early next year (2014). We also have a couple more of our Hawaiian Agapé Jones mysteries in the works. And I have several more fantasies waiting impatiently for me to get to them. I foresee more early morning wakeup calls!

Ghost Writer is available now from Amazon