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Interview with Bonnie Trachtenberg, author of “Wedlocked”

Bonnie Trachtenburg

Bonnie Trachtenberg worked as Senior Writer and Copy Chief at Book-of-the-Month Club and has written seven children’s book adaptations. She’s also written for three newspapers, and has penned countless magazine articles.Wedlocked is her first novel. She lives on Long Island with her husband, stepchildren, and cats.

Please visit her blogs at:

http://www.BonnieTrachtenberg.com

http://www.Wedlockedthenovel.com

and on Twitter athttp://twitter.com/WritebrainedNY

Q: Thank you for this interview, Bonnie. Can you tell us what your latest book, Wedlocked: A Novel, is all about?

A: Wonderful to be here. Wedlocked is the witty, engaging tale of a struggling actress named Rebecca Ross, who, after years of disappointment and heartache, finds herself catapulted into a disastrous marriage and onto a honeymoon from hell. Readers will find that the story is like a wild ride through Rebecca’s life, featuring zany, memorable characters; unique, unpredictable plotting; and lots of humor.

Q: Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

A: Rebecca starts out as a perfectionist Pollyanna and talented overachiever but gets taken down quite a few notches by her experiences in life—so much so that she begins to doubt everything she’s ever believed and is compelled to make a desperate decision. Rebecca does what her dictatorial mother, an overzealous convert to Judaism, has always wanted her to do: she marries a Jewish man, namely Craig Jacobs. Craig is charismatic and persistent but brash and defiant too, and he comes into Rebecca’s life like a hurricane. But it’s not until her wedding day that she begins to realize just how wacky and destructive a man he is—and just wait for the honeymoon!

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

A: The characters in Wedlocked are closely based on real people, as the story is based on my first brief and calamitous marriage. Some characters are composites and most were amplified—but not all! I guess you could say that with a few changes, Rebecca is really me. In fact, friends who have read the book say they hear my voice in their heads when Rebecca narrates.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

A: In this case I was very consciously aware of the plot since it was inspired by actual events from my life. In my second novel, which is in the editing phase, I used an idea that had been marinating in my mind for a while. However, in both cases, I found that the stories took unexpected turns as I wrote.

Q: Your book is set in New York, Los Angeles and Italy. Can you tell us why you chose these places in particular?

A: I’ve lived in both New York and Los Angeles and therefore have a great affinity and good knowledge of both. Many of my life experiences can be tied to places and events in both cities. I chose Italy because I’ve been there three times and find it to be a paradise. What better place to set a disastrous honeymoon? Especially since that’s where mine took place.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

A: Yes, all three settings are like characters in what they offer and how they each affect Rebecca’s life. They also lend a certain richness to the story that only location can.

Q: Open the book to page 69. What is happening?

A: Rebecca is about to shoot her first national commercial and is practicing her lines. She wants to make sure absolutely nothing goes wrong since, thanks to her, all her other career opportunities have gone down the drain. Of course something will go wrong, but this time it will be totally out of her control.

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

A: Sure. This is from the prologue and sets the stage for what’s to come:
“As we were announced into a resplendent ballroom filled with enthusiastic guests, it was as if a UFO had plucked me out of my should-be life, only to plop me down in some sort of bizarre alternate universe. For it had been less than a year earlier that I was this close to seeing my dreams of fame, fortune, and romance come to fruition, when they exploded in my face like a cruel joke.

With Craig’s hand gripping mine, and the Starbright Orchestra’s lead singer channeling Frank Sinatra, the glorious, Gatsby-esque room that had so enchanted me, began spinning even faster than my shell-shocked, post-nuptial brain. What some brides know is that when you find yourself sashaying down the aisle on what’s supposed to be the happiest day of your life, things can sometimes turn bafflingly surreal. Sensing something’s terribly amiss, you chalk it up to jitters, refusing to acknowledge a most unpleasant fact: the man standing before you in white tie and tails is far from the soul mate you hoped for.

If I could have seen this truth in real time, I like to think I would have mustered the courage to make a mad bolt from the chapel. But I was thirty-six—trampled, lost, and romantically bankrupt—so the only thing running away that day was the train I was riding, and I kept my seat, although I was destined to wreck.” —from Wedlocked: A Novel

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Bonnie. We wish you much success!

A: It was a pleasure. Thank you!

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Interview with high school teacher turned author Christa Allan

Christa Allan is the mother of five adult children and the totally smitten Grammy of two granddaughters. She and her husband, Ken, live in Louisiana where she teaches high school English. Her debut novel, Walking on Broken Glass, will be released by Abingdon Press in March, 2010. She has essays in Chicken Soup for the Coffee Lover’s Soul, Chicken Soup for the Divorced Soul, The Ultimate Teacher, and Cup of Comfort for Parents of Children with Special Needs. You can visit her website at www.cristaallan.com.

Q: Thank you for this interview, Christa. Can you tell us what your latest book, Walking on Broken Glass, is all about?

My debut novel tells the story of Leah Thornton, a woman whose life looks pretty from the outside; she seems to “have it all.” But appearances can be deceiving because she’s a mess. She drinks to numb her pain and, until her friend confronts her with the truth, she thinks no one else has noticed. Leah admits herself to rehab, and the novel-told from Leah’s point of view-follows her through her recovery as she attempts to discover who she really is and what she’s willing to sacrifice to find out.

Q: Is this your first novel?  If not, how has writing this novel different from writing your first?

Yes. The first novel I wrote, and the first novel I sold.

Q: How difficult was it writing your book?  Did you ever experience writer’s block and, if so, what did you do?

The most difficult part of writing my novel was the intrusion of Hurricane Katrina. My husband lost his job, so we moved to another city three hours away. For two years, I didn’t write. So much change was going on around us with jobs, housing, finding a workshop for my daughter Sarah who has Down’s Syndrome to attend during the day, and generally feeling “out of sync” with ourselves. I simply chose not to write during that time. Two years later, we moved home, and I sat my butt down and finished.

My first reaction to writer’s block is tears! Then I get control of myself because I know I can’t cry over the keyboard, go outside and pull weeds until I relax.

Q: How have your fans embraced your latest novel?  Do you have any funny or unusual experiences to share?

The novel released February 1, so the feedback is just now making its way. Overall, the reviews indicate that readers appreciate the topic of alcoholism being addressed in Christian fiction, and that the novel balances seriousness with wit. So far, no funny or unusual experiences!

Q: What is your daily writing routine?

Being a high school English teacher sucks the creative energy out of me. I tried a daily routine and found that didn’t work. So, I hammer down during the summer, breaks during the school year, and weekends.

Q: When you put the pen or mouse down, what do you do to relax?

Sleep! I read, rediscover my husband, have dinner with friends, and try to lounge in the tub without drowning.

Q: What book changed your life?

At the risk of seeming a proselytizer, I know that my life changed when I rediscovered the Bible, and viewed it as a dialogue, not a monologue.

Q: If someone were to write a book on your life, what would the title be?

Queen Noor already used this one, but it’s so fitting; Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an Unexpected Life.

Q: Finish this sentence: “The one thing that I wish people would understand about me is…”

I don’t always feel as confident as I pretend to be!

Thank you for this interview Christa.  I wish you much success on your latest release, Walking on Broken Glass!

I appreciate your introducing me and my novel to your readers.

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