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.
*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.
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 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.
*clears throat and tries again*
…Dangggggggggggg! Did it EVER get hot in here!
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.
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.