A Slip of the Lit – Mandi Castle (Author Interview)

Ohmigosh! Do I have a TREAT for you today! She is *exquisite* and utterly perfect in every way. Let me take your hand and lead you in…here…have a seat. Careful, don’t make too much noise – I don’t want her to know you’re watching. Just sit quietly in the dark and look on as I do my thing with her. Ohhhh this is going to be SO GOOD! I love it when they’ve never done this before and I get to be their very first. It’s quite the honour, you know – especially when they’re *so* willing…

Here I go…I’m nearly ready to get in there with Brand New, Never-Before-Interviewed Author Mandi Castle, and give her the best damn interview I possibly can. I want to rock her world and set the bar so high that all other interviews are NOTHING to her she LOVES being interviewed and wants to do it all the time. And then I can watch her get more skilled and see her star rise as everyone falls in love with her and her book…but however high she flies…I will always be her FRIST.

 

Favourite Author Mandi Castle

*slinks into the spotlight, trying to keep the dance out of her step*

*fails – dances anyway – grins quickly before Mandi can see her*

Mandi, my sweet friend, I am SO excited I can’t begin to tell you. You’re still sure you want to do this? I do hope so, but I know it’s a big step for you, and one I’m honoured and delighted you’re taking with me. Make sure you’re comfortable – it’s going to be fine. I promise I’ll be gentle. We’ll start slowly, okay? What first inspired you to take up writing?

I love to tell stories, to watch people react to my words. Writing offers me a place to tell those stories when no one is around to listen to me talk. As a teenager, I was placed in an honors English class with a teacher who would become one of the most influential people in my life. She taught me the lesson of “show not tell” in my writing, and to this day, her words echo in my mind with every sentence I write. She believed in me and told me that I had a gift and that I should use it. It took over a decade for me to be brave enough to take her advice, but here I am now.

I think I’d like to shake her by the hand for being such a compelling inspiration for you. Without her, we’d all be worse off for not hearing your stories and your beautiful voice. So once you’d determined to start writing, what was most unexpected about it?

I never expected to actually write a novel. I have said since high school, “When I write my book,” but it was in jest. I think the most unexpected thing to come from my writing is the fact that I had the commitment to develop a story and see it to the end, and I can’t wait to get started on the next one.

It sounds like you’ve caught the writing bug good and proper! It’s wonderful that you finished with enough enthusiasm to want to continue straight on with the next novel. How exciting! But first the process – can you tell us how writing a novel has changed your life?

I didn’t know when I started writing Dear Stephanie that it would become a novel. Writing a novel has changed me. It’s taken me out of my shell, but more than anything, I think it’s given me purpose. Leaving corporate America to become a stay at home mom was a huge challenge for me. I was good at my job and had my own identity there, and when I stopped working, I felt like I lost a little bit of me with my career. Since starting the novel, I’ve found me again, and I kind of like her.

It sounds as though it’s been an intensely personal journey as well as a creative one. I’m glad that you found yourself again – it’s awful to feel as if there’s something lacking and to not be able to find that fulfillment. I’m dying to hear about the story which helped you get back to you – tell us a bit about Dear Stephanie…

Dear Stephanie is a story that centers around our main character and narrator, Paige Preston. Paige has everything. Beauty, brains, and more money than she can spend. She is self-centered, egotistical, and narcissistic on the outside, but inside she’s tormented by depression so much so that she has made several attempts to end her own life. The story starts out with her final attempt and then takes you on the journey of the past year and her experiences that lead her to this point. Through her words, you get a glimpse into the mind of someone who wants everybody to believe she has it all together while inside, she’s fragile, ready to break at any moment.

WOW! So your storyline covers some quite gritty (and possibly controversial) subjects – why do you think this tale was in you to write?

Hmmm. That’s a tough question. I don’t think I had it in me as much as it just came out as I typed. Depression and mental illness are real and often go undiagnosed because even though it’s becoming more “normal” (I hate using that word), people are often scared to talk about it. In America alone, someone dies by suicide every thirteen minutes. People who don’t suffer from depression think that it’s simple. That person just needs to cheer up. But inside his mind is a voice telling him that he isn’t worthy of living; that he needs to end his life; that the world is better off without him. I didn’t mean to write a book about depression and suicide. Paige was originally going to be this terrible despicable person, but as I wrote her, her struggles and life experiences became real, and she became this fragile person who represents a large population of people who struggle with mental illness but are afraid to admit it.

I love that Paige evolved over time into a far richer character than you ever imagined her to be. I can’t wait to read and find out how she manages and what happens to her in the end.

Now, Mizz Mandi – I happen to laud you as ‘some of the best Comment I’ve ever had’, and I *know* that you have the skill with words to transport me into a scene so that I can see it unfold around me. It’s magical and I *love* it when you do that, so it’s time to prove your mettle – write something to Make Us Feel!

I paced back and forth in the hotel room terrified. I checked the time on the digital clock on the nightstand next to the bed. 6:15, the same time it said twenty minutes ago when I arrived. I pulled the curtains closed and turned on the lamp. Then I heard the ding on my phone and looked down to see the message.

I’m here

My heart pounded heavy in my chest. I glanced at the mirror and rubbed my lips together to make my gloss even, ruffled my hair and pinched my cheeks. Then I heard the knock on the door.

I took a deep breath and walked toward it, pulled the lock to the side and opened it slowly.

There he was, in person. Finally. His dark eyes smiled at mine as he took a step into the room. I stood transfixed.

He’s here.

He closed the door, and was pressed against me immediately. I breathed him in, his scent rich and intoxicating as he put his arms around my waist and pulled me into him. He brushed his lips across my jaw then took my mouth in his. I surrendered into him, his lips soft and warm devouring mine. He pulled his mouth away from mine for a second and looked at me, wanting and needy then feather kissed my lips.

“Hi,” he said.

“Hi,” I whispered, breathless.

Unnnnh…

*clears throat and tries again*

Dangggggggggggg! Did it EVER get hot in here!

*glazes over*

Wow!

Who was I doing? Umwhut? Wha…where were we? Euuuuuuuhhh…

*fidgets in seat*

Something about something-something…dannnggg! Er…BOOK! Right – book. Tell us what we can do to best support you as an author.

The best thing anyone can do for any author is to read her book. If you like it, talk about it. Tell the people you know. Spread the word. It’s not a friend’s book if it’s good. It’s just a book that was written that you enjoy. Recommend it to your friends, to your family, to your work colleagues. Leave a review wherever a review can be left. (Unless you hate it. That won’t help the author. Just keep your mouth shut and whistle any time the name of the book is mentioned.)

And if you have the money, buy ten thousand copies.

“Ten…thousand…copies…” RIGHT! Gotcha.

Well, BOOM, baby! Your very first author interview. I loved it very much indeed, and I think that given you’ve neve done this before, you were utterly fabulous. I hope it was good for you, too *winks*

And dear readers, I hope this was good for YOU, too!

Dear Stephanie‘ will be available for you to buy on May 11th

OH BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE! Everyone’s favourite thing ever when it comes to new books and shiny-new authors – A GIVEAWAY! FREE BOOK! In fact, not just that, but FREE SIGNED BOOK!

Even better. So to WIN, I want you to splatter this post everywhere. EV-ER-Y-WHERE. And I want you to tag me so I know you didn’t cheat (because you’re a wily one, and I could see you doing almost *anything* to get your mitts on this book…)  and for each share, you’ll get an entry into a draw, from one of my hats, to WIN! WIN! WIN! So get to it…you have ONE WEEK.

Dear Stephanie

Mandi Castle is a daydreaming stay at home mom of two who spends most her time reading and writing. She loves watching football, is obsessed with music, and has a serious addiction to smart, funny people. She can often be caught having dance parties in her kitchen in Dallas, Texas. To connect more, visit her at mandicastle.com.

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119 thoughts on “A Slip of the Lit – Mandi Castle (Author Interview)

  1. “Paige was originally going to be this terrible despicable person, but as I wrote her, her struggles and life experiences became real, and she became this fragile person who represents a large population of people who struggle with mental illness but are afraid to admit it.”

    I had a similar experience on my current WIP. The POV character of Steve was supposed to be this brutal killer who was leaving the last vestiges of his humanity behind as he embarked on a bloody road trip with a sociopathic sex-pot sidekick. Then he went all human on me. It’s a stronger story for it, but also more poignant.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mandi’s book is beautiful and honest. Even back when Paige was still a bit more despicable and I read the draft I was about to critique, I cried. Dear Stephanie is that good 🙂 Not that getting all teary-eyed over a book is the only litmus test of effective writing, but damn it counts for a lot. Later, when I copy edited the manuscript I was even more impressed with all that Mandi has accomplished. Maybe an editor is like a mother in that she considers each book she works on her favorite, but this one is pretty special in so many ways 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think one of my very early comments to Mandi (can’t remember which chapter, but not very far in, after I’d marvelled at Paige’s audacity and utter slutbagginess (and even THEN it was kindasorta admirable; that intensely ‘fuck YOU then!’ attitude)) was “DAMMIT YOU MADE ME CARE!

      Mandi’s writing is intensely beautiful and highly accomplished. The sweet thing is, I don’t think she really knows how good it is. She’ll learn, and I’m SO glad she had you to guide her, Jeri – you did a truly fabulous job 🙂

      Like

    • I really owe you, Jeri, a lot of the credit in this book. Your critique guided me in making those necessary changes to make the characters that much more real and believable. Honestly, you say “Mandi has accomplished,” but I think it’s more “We have accomplished.”

      Liked by 1 person

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    • Thank you, QC (that’s your pimp name I think). I can’t wait for everyone to read it, but dammit if I can’t just get it right so that I can send it to you!!

      Like

  6. I’m a little late to the party but I’ll make up for it by getting EXTREMELY drunk and dancing on tables with a lampshade on my head!!

    MY SISTERWIFE WROTE A BOOK AND I CAN’T BELIEVE HOW TALENTED SHE IS, AND ME, BY ASSOCIATION WOOT!!!!

    Michelle said it best. I love this tribe. You are my people. I love the interview, and I can’t wait to buy 20,000 copies of the book. So there!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I know how nerve-racking it is getting ready to release, and wondering what people are going to think. All this praise should remind you that people are excited to read your words, and that, as Patrick Stewart would say, is a good thing. (or was Jimmy Stewart? Dave Stewart from the Eurythmics? I can never remember.)
    I know I am going to love it

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Helena. I really do hope you like it. I always value your opinion on writing. Thank you for volunteering to read an ARC. I hope to have those emailed tonight. My stomach has been in knots for weeks. As we approach the date of release, I am a ball of anxiety. I do hope it goes over well, but in the end, I’m just happy to have written something that I feel proud of.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Wow, if the book was as good as that little off the cuff snippet, then I will definitely have to read it. And I don’t think I’ve EVER had the pleasure of reading such heartfelt and amusing questions 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • Awww, Gretchen. You make me blush and smile. It only took 190 photos to get that one, and I’m pretty sure it’s hella photo shopped, but thank you.

      I am sending out ARCs this week, and you’re on the list. Get ready. I hope you like it. Sigh.

      Like

    • Our tribe IS amazing, isn’t it, Michelle. We have somehow stumbled into a circle of gold with all of our girls. Lizzi is fantastic with interview questions. I didn’t even feel too afraid to send her my answers. Until I hit send. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Michelle, you are SPOT ON! I was cycling the other day and my mind was wandering and I was thinking back to the number of comments I’ve had about how my writing here has changed, and how I have, and it struck me what the difference is (or part, thereof) – it’s that I no longer question my belonging. I belong. To our tribe, amorphous and peculiar and beautiful as it is – I belong. And that’s more wonderful than I could adequately express. I love our tribe.

      Like

  9. I love these interviews! They are so much fun and I get to learn new things about people I already adore. I’m so looking forward to reading Dear Stephanie and adding it to my library. Thank you Lizzi and thank you Mandi.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Lizzi, what an honor to be invited to such a sacred place, and I’m thrilled you popped by interview cherry. I’m so glad I saved myself for you. It was so worth it. *Takes a drag from cigarette and lets smoke out slowly*

    This was actually fun, even though I was a ball of nerves about it. I loved your questions and how you lead me to talk about the story and everything else. You are awesome at the interview, my dear, and even though I give great comment, you give great love, and that, to me, is the hugest most important thing. I’m just fortunate to be a recipient of your sweet giving soul. So glad I know you. Thank you for having me. *hugs you tight against my chest*

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Frankly, more people need to write about depression and suicide. It’s a sensitive topic, but one that should be broached. I will definitely be reading this…and not just because Mandi will break into my house and hurt me if I don’t.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I will most definitely come to your house and shove my book in your face and say, “read this now,” but then I’ll make you a cup of coffeh and hang out with you while you devour my words, so it’s cool. Thanks, Scott. You’re the best person I’ve ever stalked, and don’t think for a minute I’m not watching you now. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. The subject of this book is already extremely interesting to me, and I’ve been interested in Mandi as a friend of Beth’s who gets to hang out with her in real.life. In Texas, my home, no less.
    How absolutely wonderful that you can remember the teacher who first got you on this path. Teachers can make any incredible impact. I’m glad this one was a good impact.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Amycakes. (I know! I know!) I’m so excited that you’re interested. I know it’s a controversial subject, but it is one that is real. I hope you read and enjoy it.

      This particular teacher was one of the best. She believed in me. That went a long way. I’m not even sure she knows it. I would send her a copy, but Paige’s favorite word starts with F and ends with uck, and I don’t think Ms. Duncan would appreciate that much.

      Liked by 2 people

  13. MANDI. I love seeing you over here on Lizzi’s ASotL, and I love hearing how the novel (Paige specifically) evolved. It’s amazing how it all unravels, isn’t it? I’ll never tire of learning about other writer’s processes and journeys. Great questions, Lizzi. Very unique and entertaining, as usual. 🙂

    I will be buying 10,000 copies.

    Liked by 3 people

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