I’m super excited to welcome fellow Bookouture author Nancy Barone into the Hot Seat. THE HUSBAND DIET is out today, so I’m thrilled she was able to join us for the launch.
Erica Cantelli's life feels more suffocating than a size 4 dress. On the surface she's maintaining the image of successful career woman, perfect wife and a doting mother with two wonderful children. In reality she's running out of hours in the day; 6 dress sizes bigger than she wants to be; and the only man who shows her any affection is her gay best friend. In fact fantasizing about how to kill her increasingly disinterested husband is just about all that keeps Erica sane. That and a whole different type of fantasizing about the incredibly handsome new school principal, Julian Foxham. When her husband jokes about trading her in for two size tens, Erica knows something has to change. But is another diet really the answer? Or is getting rid of him the fastest path to happiness? Now if she could only stop thinking about the gorgeous Mr Foxham... For any woman who has ever felt under-appreciated, or thought about giving up on their dreams, Erica is a hilarious breath of fresh air.
And on with the grilling...
Q) You live in Sicily. In what ways has this influenced the story?
A) Hi and thank you for inviting me over! Living in Sicily would influence a hippo on tranquilizers! Seriously, nothing works properly in this part of the country (not that it’s any better up North, mind you) and you really have to shout if you want something done. But, oh, the weather, the colour of the sea and the changing hues as the hours pass by (can you tell I live nearby?)! Not to mention the FOOD which got me into this mess in the first place! So yes, being in Sicily influenced me, made me impatient towards the Domani, domani (tomorrow, tomorrow) attitude just like Erica, but Sicily really got my good side with all the beautiful people and places. I wish I could even come here on holiday- but I’m already here! It’s no wonder Erica’s dying to come to Italy!
Q) The Husband Diet is a superb title. How did you come up with it?
A) Ah, wish I could take the credit- and for the cover! But in both cases I have the fantastic Oliver Rhodes of Bookouture to thank!
Q) Erica is a plus-size heroine. In what way is that integral to the plot?
A) If Erica had been a normal size (and that goes for me as well) this book would have never been written. She thinks all of her problems derive from being big, like not being able to run after her kids, tie her shoes without grunting and get on her husband’s good side. So I’d say that Erica drives the plot also because of that- only she comes out in flying colors!
Q) What came first – the heroine or the concept?
A) They came together. As I just said, one can’t exist without the other. If she were someone else she’d be fighting men off with a stick, trying to decide which shoes or outfit she’s going to wear to Fashion Week, but no- Erica’s problems are much more nitty-gritty- like how to kill her husband, for instance!
Q) What makes Erica so unique or special than anybody should care enough to read about her?
A) I think everybody loves Erica because she is real- you have to root for her because she’s like your best friend who’s leaked out her most intimate secrets through clenched teeth when she’d rather be joking or dancing on a table sloshing a margarita around. But no, she’s bogged down by what she thinks she should do to please everyone else. I’ve done that (not doing it again) and I’m sure everyone at some point has made a compromise to please a loved one, but it’s not at all healthy if it doesn’t make you feel good! And Erica’s story makes you feel good!
Q) There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments in the book weighted with some deeply poignant emotional ones (I cried a lot). Keeping that balance is remarkable. How do you do it?
A) Thank you very much- now that makes me feel good! I didn’t do it, though. Erica is a woman in her own right and I think she even bosses me around. An example? When she planned to surprise Julian in her birthday suit, I wanted her to chicken out and go home, but she turned around and said to me, “And you want me to miss out on this? No way!” So she took off her clothes and waited for Julian. I didn’t have the guts to stick around, but she did!
Q) Ira (Erica's husband) is portrayed as the bad guy from the beginning. Is that really fair?
A) To be honest, I gave the guy a chance- more than one. But you know, when a man isn’t doing his best to please his woman and you don’t see eye to eye- and he becomes a jerk- what’s a girl to do?
Q) You have created a terrific balance of dialogue and inner monologue to really help us connect with both the internal and external character. Which of those do you find easier to write?
A) I’d say the interior monologue is easier for me because I’m abrasive only in my private world. At work or with people I don’t know that well I’m quiet and cautious. Even funny, sometimes. Like Erica- on the outside she’s funny. But that’s not my doing- it’s the situations she experiences that make her snarky and hilarious.
Q) The emotional level in some of the scenes is deeply moving. Is any of it inspired by personal experience, however loosely, or are you just empathetically gifted?
A) I’d like to say being big has never bothered me but I’d be lying. Who hasn’t tried to squeeze into a dress, regretting last night’s French fries? And dessert? But that’s about it. I have a cool sister, a close-knit, loving family and a great husband and my mum is nothing like Marcy.
Q) Your writing style is simple yet superbly effective. That’s quite a skill. Do you naturally write that way or did you have to develop it?
A) That’s very kind of you- can we keep these compliments coming forever? LOL. I have a pragmatic mind. Practical. There’s a story. Show all the best bits. No one cares what colour a dress is unless you’ve managed to fit into it and you’re going to knock your date out!
Q) Your cover is fantastic. A perfect reflection of the book. How did you feel when you saw it?
A) I immediately thought, ‘Yes! That’s Erica.’ Although her toes look a lot like mine. Hers are prettier, though.
Q) You’ve been published before. Have you learned anything on this new part of your journey?
A) Absolutely! I’ve learned that I like writing both romance and women’s fiction and I swing between the two to recharge my batteries. But I must say that I feel super-pampered by Bookouture- there is a professional but caring relationship between writer/ publisher/ editor. Oliver is absolutely great, with a wide, strong vision of what readers want and Emily Ruston is a truly top-notch editor who won’t let anything slip, not even with her busy life. You are amazing, Emily! Please work with me again!
Q) What made you decide that Bookouture was the right home for THD?
A) First of all, the video introducing the company. They are truly so unique and optimistic! Plus at Bookouture they don’t have straight-jacket rules where you can’t be yourself. They don’t want to pidgeon-hole you as a writer. If they think your story is good they’ll take you on board.
Q) I hear that The Husband Diet has an awesome HEA. What constitutes a HEA for you?
A) For me, a HEA is not always about ticking off every item on your wish-list, but it’s about putting big smileys next to the ones that you have ticked! We can’t have everything, but we can sure try and be happy, which is half the battle!
Q) Do you have any tips for writers looking to be published?
A) You’ve heard it before but it’s all true.
If I may: never stop writing. Don’t waste time. If your MS is with a publisher, keep going, write as much as you can. Make sure it’s all quality stuff or in any case stuff that you can improve.
Listen to professional feedback and always be courteous and professional in return.
Join writing associations that can help you hone your craft. I’m with the RWA and I love it! Also, I have my precious Matera Brainstormers in Italy- foreigners who’ve chosen Italy as their home or dream-home in any case. Great people who give me plenty of support.
Thank you for having me!
It’s been our pleasure, Nancy. Thanks so much for coming to visit! We wish you loads of luck with the success of your book.
And here's a little more about Nancy...
Nancy grew up in Canada, but at the age of 12 her family moved to Italy. Catapulted into a world where her only contact with the English language was her old Judy Blume books, Nancy became an avid reader and a die-hard romantic.
Nancy stayed in Italy and, despite being surrounded by handsome Italian men, she married an even more handsome Brit. They now live in Sicily where she teaches English. Like Erica, the heroine of The Husband Diet, Nancy is of Italian descent, but she swears that is where the similarities stop. And she’s absolutely never fantasized about murdering her husband.
Nancy has had a number of romance novels published, but The Husband Diet is her first Women’s Fiction book. She is a member of the RWA and a keen supporter of the Women’s Fiction Festival at Matera where she meets up once a year with writing friends from all over the globe.
And the buy links for THE HUSBAND DIET...
Amazon.com // Amazon.co.uk // Kobo.com // Barnes & Noble // US iBookstore // UK iBookstore
Amazon.com // Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.com // Amazon.co.uk