This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Novelist Caitlin Raynes joins us now to talk about her rom-com, What What Ginger Rogers Do?, which focuses on the life and loves of a publicity manager at an independent bookshop in a US tourist town.
I blended some of my own experience into the life of the central character, Tosca Tonnino.
Like Tosca, I grew up in the Pacific Northwest – rainy days, foggy mornings, long cloudy sunsets – but I went to university in Los Angeles. I hated the unremitting sunshine there, the unchanging climate, all those bronzed bodies. Still, I stayed after graduation since I found a job on the edges of the entertainment industry that provided me with many funny anecdotes, and a decent salary. That, and I fell in love. When the love affair ended, I returned to Seattle, and with my degree in literature, went looking for a job. Where else could I work but Amazon? I found the whole corporate atmosphere uncongenial, and the work discouraging. Browsing one afternoon in an independent bookstore in my funky-dunky neighborhood, I overheard the owner saying she was looking to hire. Well, I was looking for work, for flexible hours, for a place that was bright with colorful books on pale wood shelves, and interesting customers. Perfect.
And too, like my character Tosca Tonnino, I love old movies, especially the Fred and Ginger musicals, the wise-cracking dames from the Thirties, a lot of the antic stuff from the Sixties, and nearly all period-piece films with luscious costumes. In fact, I like almost any movie that doesn’t have computer graphics, superheroes, nonstop car crashes, or anyone named Bourne.
Where do you find inspiration for your books?
The reader is always asking: what’s next? The writer is always asking: what if? As I gradually became a writer, I started asking what if? Asking of my own experience, and of the stories I’ve been told. The answers brought me to What Would Ginger Rogers Do?, my first novel.
Can you tell us a little about your average writing day?
I get up, go to the gym (on my bike) work up a healthy sweat, take a long shower, put on ironed clothes, and retreat to my book-lined study where I always have fresh flowers on the desk. Before I begin actual creative work, I dwell on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, exchanging witty ripostes and important newsy bits with my legion of fans. I reassure my mother again and again that I am not using her third husband for the Bad Guy in my new book.I am a novelist, and all of the above is fiction. In truth, my writing day is the ragged opposite of all that. Not pretty and not efficient. But effective.
When you are writing, do you use any famous people or people you know as inspiration?
The people one knows, or knows of, are always fodder for the author. Sad but true. The good news is once they have passed through the refiner’s fire of fiction, they don’t usually recognize themselves as prototypes. If they do, the writer can always retreat to the phrase “any coincidence between any persons living or dead….” Or the clean and simple: I made it all up.
What female writer has inspired you?
Daphne du Maurier. Paperback editions of her books lined the shelves at my grandparents’ vacation cottage on the island. The pages were always a little soggy from the prevailing damp, but her romantic novels carried me away as a young reader. She’s no longer popular, and whatever you might think of her literary merits, she always wrote compelling stories with lively women at the center of the action. (My least favorite of her books is Rebecca, though that opening line remains a winner.) Moreover, du Maurier started publishing in the 1930s and her last novel involved an LSD experiment in the Sixties. I’d like a writing career that long and varied!
Can you give us three book recommendations?
Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series is unputdownable. Since there are seven or eight novels in the series, that probably counts as three books, yes? In America there is also a lush new TV series made from these novels, and I am an addict for it as well.
What are you working on at the moment?
Another romantic novel, of course! With a lively woman at the center of the action.