I am so pleased to be able to welcome my wonderful blogger friend and author Marie Landry back to Obsession with Books for an interview, Her debut novel Blue Sky Days will be released in January 2012.
A year after graduating from high school, nineteen-year-old Emma Ward feels lost. She has spent most of her life trying to please her frigid, miserable mother - studying hard, getting good grades, avoiding the whole teenage rebellion thing - and now she feels she has no identity beyond that. Because she spent so many years working hard and planning every moment of her life, she doesn't have any friends, has never had a boyfriend, and basically doesn't know who she is or what she really wants from life. Working two part-time jobs to save money for college hasn't helped her make decisions about her future, so she decides it's time for a change. She leaves home to live with her free-spirited, slightly eccentric Aunt Daisy in a small town that makes Emma feel like she's stepped back in time.
When Emma meets Nicholas Shaw, everything changes - he's unlike anyone she's ever met before, the kind of man she didn't even know existed in the 21st century. Carefree and spirited like Daisy, Nicholas teaches Emma to appreciate life, the beauty around her, and to just let go and live. Between Daisy and Nicholas, Emma feels like she belongs somewhere for the first time in her life, and realizes that you don't always need a plan - sometimes life steers you where you're meant to be.
Life is wonderful, an endless string of blue sky days, until Nicholas is diagnosed with cancer, and life changes once again for Emma in ways she never thought possible. Now it's time for her to help Nicholas the way he's helped her. Emma will have to use her new-found strength, and discover along the way if love really is enough to get you through.
Welcome to Obsession with Books Marie, Are you able to tell us a little about your book Blue Sky Days and yourself?
Thanks so much for having me, Sharon! Your blog is a favourite of mine, so it’s a pleasure to be here.
I’m 27 and live in Ontario, Canada. I’ve always sort of been a jack-of-all-trades type, and have held a variety of jobs, including preschool teacher, house sitter, and personal support worker. Writing is my passion, and what I’ve always come back to. I’ve written several novels over the years, and have been freelance writing articles and short stories since 2009, but finally decided it was time to get a book published.
Blue Sky Days is about Emma Ward, a 19-year-old girl who feels completely lost when she realizes her identity is wrapped up in constantly trying to please her frigid, impossible mother. Emma’s had a plan her entire life, but when it all falls apart, she leaves town to live with her aunt Daisy, an eccentric free-spirited woman. While living with Daisy, Emma meets Nicholas Shaw, and her entire life changes – she realizes what she’s been missing all those years by living such a sheltered life, and Nicholas and Daisy teach Emma how to open up and truly live. When Nicholas is diagnosed with cancer, things change again, and Emma has to use her new-found strength to help Nicholas through.
When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I always had a story to tell, and even before I could write, I remember telling my parents stories. It just seemed natural to put those stories on paper once I learned to write!
Where did the inspiration for your book Blue Sky Days come from?
Well, it sort of came to me in bits and pieces. My dad died of leukemia when I was 10, so the idea of cancer was always in the back of my mind. When my friend Willie was diagnosed with leukemia about seven-eight years ago, I got this vivid image of a scene in my head – the scene where Nicholas tells Emma that he has leukemia. I started with that scene, worked in bits and pieces of other ideas I’d been collecting, and Blue Sky Days was born. I had also just seen The Notebook (repeatedly) and loved the idea of an old-fashioned, free-spirited male character.
What is your ideal day as an author?
Well, right now, it would be an entire day with no interruptions! I have a to-do list a mile long, and I feel like I’m always adding to it instead of taking away from it. Once Blue Sky Days is actually out, I think an ideal day would be hearing from people who have read and enjoyed the book. A few 5 star reviews wouldn’t hurt, either. ;-)
Do you mind telling us how long it took for you to write Blue Sky Days?
That’s kind of a hard question to answer. The short answer would be seven years (which I know sounds crazy). The long answer: I wrote the first draft about seven years ago. I loved it, and was really proud of it – I even naively sent it to a local publisher who turned it down. I knew it needed work, but didn’t know what to do with it, so I set it aside. Over the years, I jotted down ideas, but didn’t actually go back to it until early this year. Within two months, I had doubled the word count, and had a product that I knew would eventually be worthy of publication. I recruited several beta readers and an editor, who helped me flesh it out even more, and I tripled the original word count. I’m still technically working on it. My final proofreaders are going over it right now, as is my editor, and once that’s done, I’ll go over it again, and then it’ll be ready for reviewers – so exciting! It’s definitely been a labour of love.
Is there anything about you that would surprise your readers? Any quirks, habits, routines etc.
In real life, I’m painfully shy. So many people online are surprised to hear that because I interact with a lot of people between my blog, Facebook, Twitter, and GoodReads, and there aren’t many subjects that are off-limits when I blog. But in person…extremely shy and quiet.
Are you able to describe what your writing process is like?
It’s different for each project. Sometimes I’ll get an idea and just go with it – sit down and write. Other times, I’ll get the idea and I’ll plot it all out, write outlines, character sketches, etc. I’m constantly writing down ideas – my notepad in my cell phone is full of them, and I have loose papers and notebooks scattered all over my apartment.
Are there any books or authors that have most influenced you?
For years, I’ve said I want to be Nora Roberts when I grow up. She’s such a prolific writer, and her books are amazingly well-written. In the young adult genre, I’m inspired by people like JK Rowling, and Sarah Dessen. Also prolific, and also with amazing stories, relatable characters, and important life lessons.
Is there a book you are reading at the moment? And do you tend to favor a particular genre?
I’m always reading something. I’ve got an ebook started – Flame of Surrender by Rhiannon Paille – and tonight or tomorrow, I’ll be starting What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen. I have very eclectic reading tastes and will read most genres, but my favourites are romance, paranormal, fantasy, mystery, and pretty much any genre of young adult book.
If Blue Sky Days were to be made into a movie, who would you choose to play the roles of your main characters?
I knew I would eventually be asked this question, so it’s something I’ve given serious thought to over the last few months…and I still don’t have a straight answer! When I write, I picture real people, so it’s hard to pinpoint an actor who I think would be perfect. However, because I got the idea of Nicholas from Ryan Gosling’s character in The Notebook, I guess I’ve always sort of pictured him in the back of my mind. Either Ryan Gosling or Chad Michael Murray, but unfortunately, I think they’re both a bit too old now to play Nicholas…although wonderful, magical things can be done for movies! I could see Nina Dobrev (of Vampire Diaries fame) or Alexis Bledel (Rory Gilmore in the Gilmore Girls) playing Emma – they have the right look. For Emma’s aunt Daisy, I could see someone like Anne Hathaway (Daisy’s only 14 years older than Emma), Julia Roberts, or Lauren Graham. I would want Sam Trammell (Sam from True Blood) to play Nicholas’s dad, Sam. He’s the only one I know for sure – go figure!
What is up next for you?
Well, I have ideas for four novels – two YA, and two adult. I have three of the ideas drafted out, and I’m adding ideas in my notebooks all the time. It’s just a matter of deciding which one I want to really sink my teeth into next! I’m sort of leaning toward the idea that involves faeries, since they’re really popular right now…but that’s all I’m going to say. ;-)
Fave band / television series / movie? Band: U2
TV series: Vampire Diaries, True Blood, Blue Bloods, Friends, Gilmore Girls
Movie: The Notebook, Runaway Bride, Notting Hill, Serendipity
Coffee or tea? Coffee
E-reader or hardcopy? Hardcopy
Cats or Dogs Dogs
Ideal travel destination? Ireland
Day or Night? Night
Thank-you so much Marie for taking time to talk to us today! I can’t wait for the release of Blue Sky Days!
Thank you Sharon, it’s been a pleasure!