It’s been awhile since I’ve hosted an author! It’s taken me some time to get in the swing of 2015, but I’ve decided I only want to promote indie publishers this year. First on stage is Elizabeth Adams, author of The Houseguest, a Regency era Pride and Prejudice variation, and Green Card, an original story with a modern setting.
Green Card came out in December and I had wanted to host Elizabeth earlier but real life was in the way for us both. I was the cold reader on this story and I would love to fan-girl it all over the place, but I will try to remain professional. Regardless of my bias (not that I remotely had a hand in writing or plot construction) this is a beautiful story that is equal parts moving and funny. I love stories that make me feel emotion.
William Harper has it all: looks, money, power. There’s just one tiny problem – he’s about to be deported. Harper needs a green card. Fast. An American wife is the easiest way to get one. But where will he find a woman to marry him on such short notice?
Katherine Bishop is a full-time student, part-time dog walker, and weekend tutor. With a roommate who just ran out on her and neck deep in tuition payments, she needs money. Now. Harper just might make her an offer she can’t refuse.
He thinks he’s worked out the perfect deal, but he didn’t bargain for the collective quirks, brains, and sass of Katherine Bishop.
Can they go from strangers to friends? How will they live together without killing each other? Can they keep this enormous secret from all their friends and family?
Oh, God, no pressure! I don’t know that it’s timeless – that’s a pretty tall order. I think it’s more lasting than neon and leg warmers, so maybe that’s close to timeless? It’s authentic and funny, realistic enough to be believable, and romantic enough to feel like an escape. Does that suffice?
What parts of Green Card are actually inspired by your own experiences?
LOTS! I have had the same argument in chapter 18 with my husband. And I went through the whole process of immigrating a spouse in 2005, so in terms of paperwork and red-tape, that’s all legit. We were actually denied the first time, so I added a few shirtless pictures of my husband and that seemed to help the second time around. That inspired chapter 5. And of course I live in the south and cook, though I’ve lived all over throughout my life.
Personality-wise, Jen is a little bit like me. Independent but romantic, working for a non-profit, cheerful, morning person. But Laura has more of my sense of humor. I’m also fascinated with architecture and remodelling and restoration (I actually just finished redoing my 1928 English tudor), so Jacqueline gets that from me, though she is completely unlike me in other respects.
I live in a small town right now (I’m usually a city girl), so the idea for Kate’s background came from there. We have a bar here called Mama’s, which I just changed to Papa’s for the book. A friend of mine grew up on a Christmas tree farm, so that’s where that came from.
And I have to admit that Will is a little like my husband. Not completely, but maybe 65%.
As much as the immigration process was similar for you, the marriage was not. I mean…could you really take care of a man who is puking his guts out who you barely know?
I feel like in the book, they knew each other pretty well by then. Maybe not hold-your-hand-while-you’re-sick well, but well enough. I am actually not a very squeamish person (comes from growing up with all brothers), so I probably would do something like that. I can be entirely too helpful sometimes. On the other hand, I’m not a great caretaker, so… maybe not???
Kate has a background in literature for this story. Your own background is dance, although clearly you write. Is there a part of your professional experience in Kate’s?
Actually, yes. My first career was dance, but I had countless jobs before that, which is where Kate’s job juggling comes from. I also teach English as a foreign language (my second career) and adult literacy, and she tutors English, so those are similar. That’s actually how I met my husband. I was teaching English in Ukraine and he was a teacher at the same school.
I like to write what I know either from personal experience or extensive research. If it’s fantasy book, it’s all your imagination so you can get away with things, but if you are writing about real places, real events, and real people with real jobs, someone will read your book that lives in that place or has that job or has been through that experience, and your story needs to ring true or people will be throwing your book across the room.
You’ve written Regency JAFF and now an original modern, do you prefer one era over the other?
Um, maybe modern… today. I am in kind of a modern phase lately because it allows me to say more and have more freedom with the characters. There’s generally less book-research involved and I love the right-now feeling of it – like you could be those characters or go to those places.
I do love period pieces, though. My mind easily slips into the dialect of the time. I’ve recently begun working on a regency piece and I like the stateliness of it, the manners and the grace of it all.
I like having both available to read and the freedom to write both. I don’t ever want to limit myself on time periods, or even genres. When you put creativity in a box, it turns on you.
What did you like most about creating your own story with your own characters rather than fan fiction? What did you like the least?
Freedom. Hands down. We can debate all day about when something stops being fanfiction and becomes original, but for me, good fanfiction is when the characters (at least the main ones) are the same or at least 80%, and the time period and/or situations are believably altered. Like variations that change only one or two things action-wise or maybe make one character drastically different and let the dominoes fall from there. Modern JAFF is just so hard to pull off. Just for fun, sure, it can be done, but to do it seriously for a book… Oy! You have to keep so much of the original action to make it recognizable, and then it becomes predictable. Change too much and it’s hard to find the Austen in all the modernisms.
That is why I went original and why I gave myself the freedom to make that choice. When the time period is different, and most of the characters are different, and the situations are drastically different, what about it is fanfiction anymore?
As far as what I didn’t like about it, I love Darcy and Elizabeth. We all do. So it hurts a little to exclude them, like you aren’t inviting your cousin to your Christmas party. And I love how easily they are understood, so having to explain more for fresh characters can feel tedious. With JAFF, you have people who already know your characters, so you can just jump right in with the story, which is incredibly helpful and really streamlines the process.
Kate has some pretty awesome dresses in Green Card. Can you give us a picture of an outfit that seems to show your personality? Or, if you were in Kate’s position, what is the one store you would go to for a shopping spree?
Hmm, probably Bloomingdales.
What’s your favorite recipe featured in the book?
I love the summer salad. I seriously make it every week. And I love the quiche – it’s a staple around here. There are more recipes on my site than at the back of the book, but those two are probably my favourite. The lemon salad is also ridiculously good.
Kate’s had some pretty crappy jobs and some pretty crappy roommates. Which would you take again? Your least favorite job or your worst roommate?
I would take the job because at the end of the day you can go home and get away from it. Home is really important to me, so I would hate to have a bad roommate. I’ve actually never had a bad one, but I can imagine it would feel invasive and unsettling. At least you can leave the job when your shift’s over.
Did you have any visual inspiration for portions of the book? Actors, houses, clothes, etc.?
Yes!!! I actually have a file with pics of things that I think belong in the book. I had two farm houses for Kate’s parents’ houses, and I pictured Kate sort of Emmy Rossum-esque. Not 100%, but along those lines. Will was harder for me to find. I never found anyone that looked like him to me, but I got little glimpses here and there. I spent a lot of time looking at Tiffany’s jewelry and I visit New York regularly, so there was a lot to pull from there.
This excerpt is from Chapter 18, “Hostile Takeover.” Kate and Will have been married 2.5 months.
Finishing her sandwich, she took her plate to the sink.
“Ugh!” she groaned.
There was a bowl and spoon in the sink, now covered in dried yogurt and granola, a coffee cup, again with dried black gook in the bottom, and a bread plate with a half-eaten piece of toast on it. At least it’s in the sink, she thought dryly.
At that moment, she heard the front door opening and the sound of Will’s keys plonking into the dish by the door. He was in the kitchen a minute later, looking hungry and expectant.
“Hi, Kate,” he said. “Have a good day?” He grabbed a beer from the fridge and quickly popped off the top, leaving the opener on the counter next to the discarded lid. “Ooh, making grilled cheese? Is this the one with apples? I’d love one.”
Kate turned toward him and met his smiling expression with fiery eyes.
“Do you have thumbs, William?”
“Thumbs!” she exclaimed, holding up her hands and wiggling hers in front of him. “Opposable thumbs, these amazing things that allow humans to hold things and move things and wash things.”
He looked at her dumbfounded. “Uh, I -”
“I just can’t understand how a man with thumbs, a grown man who’s lived on his own for over a decade, who is supposedly intelligent enough to run an entire COMPANY, can’t manage to put a few dishes in a dishwasher!”
“Yes! It’s this miraculous machine that spurts water and soap and cleans dishes, hence the name dish-washer!” she said emphatically while her hands gestured wildly.
“And why on earth would you think I want to do it? Does something about me just scream ‘give me your dirty dishes’? Do I seem bored? Do you really think I don’t have anything better to do? I’m a very busy woman! An intelligent woman who has better things to do than scrub the crusted up granola off your dirty dishes!” She was nearly yelling now, her face bright pink and her heart pounding.
Will was completely lost and had no idea what was happening, but he had the distinct impression he was losing this argument. “I never said you weren’t intelligent,” he retorted.
“Really? You didn’t? You didn’t think that leaving your mess on the counter was sending a message? You didn’t think that I would notice how you freely leave things lying around in the kitchen, knowing full well I spend most of my time in here, with no regard for how it might affect my day or make me feel? Really?” She gripped the edge of the counter and deliberately lowered her voice. “I graduated summa cum laude from NYU and have a 4.0 at one of the most respected universities in this country. I am not your maid. Cleaning is not in the contract.”
With that, she grabbed her books and went to her room, Will staring after her in utter bewilderment. A few minutes later, he grabbed his keys and left.
Kate felt terrible for snapping at Will, but not at first. First, she stomped around her room. When she heard him leave, she quickly looked up the nearest kickboxing class, saw there was one starting in ten minutes, changed her clothes and sprinted the two blocks to make it on time.
After burning a few hundred calories, she felt better – calmer, more relaxed, and with a telling pain in her lower back. She called Laura as she walked down the steps at the studio.
“Hey, Katie, what’s up?”
“Uh oh. What’s going on?”
“I just went all pre-menstrual on Will.”
“Oh, G-d. What happened?” Laura asked.
“Well, I met Jenny yesterday and she was talking about how men take over our lives and suck us in until we become like our mothers, and then tonight I was brewing about it all and saw his dirty dishes in the sink and when he walked in I just lost it.” She sighed.
“Oh, Katie!” Laura said through a strangled laugh. “I would have loved to have seen you in all your hormonal glory ripping him a new one. Poor William! What did he do?”
“Nothing, well, he didn’t really have a chance.” She paused as she stepped into the corner market. “I stomped off to my room and two minutes later he left. I went straight to kickboxing and haven’t gone home yet.” She quickly grabbed a few bars of chocolate, paid, and left.
“Wow. Okay. What are you going to say when you get there?”
“I don’t know. I suppose I should just apologize, but it does actually bother me that he doesn’t ever do his dishes, or wipe the counters, or put away the blankets in the living room. He’s fine to just leave everything until the housekeeper comes to clean up after him. But in the meantime, I have to live with it and look at his shit everywhere.” She felt herself getting riled up again and took a deep breath. “But I definitely could have said it better. Argh! Is this our first fight?”
“Sounds like it. Except he didn’t really fight back, so maybe not.”
“Oh, G-d! I hate to think what I’m going home to. Do you think he’ll yell? He must be mad. Do you think he’s mad? He’s got to be mad.”
“Of course he’s mad. It’s what he does with it you should be worried about. Good luck, kid.”
“Thanks,” Kate said ruefully.
“Don’t feel too bad. PMS can make anyone a little crazy. I’m not going to lie, I once put Nutella on a meat-lover’s pizza.”
Kate barked out a laugh. “And I thought my cravings were weird.”
“Hey, don’t knock it till you try it.”
“Well, I’m here. Time to face the music.” She looked up at her building with trepidation.
“Call me tomorrow and let me know how it goes. And hey,” she said “it’ll be alright. Just explain it was the monster talking and that you are a reasonable person most of the month.”
“Thanks. Night, Laura.” She put her phone in her pocket and went upstairs. “You can do this, Katie. Chin up,” she told herself.
Elizabeth Adams is graciously giving away one (1) free ebook. Please comment below, being sure to leave an email address for me to contact to you, to be entered. Deadline is 11:59 pm EST February 24, 2015.