Hi Maureen! Please tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a writer who is also a mom of a teenage girl. I grew up in Louisiana and moved to Georgia for my M.A., then stayed when I met my husband. I have two cats named Pixie and Turnip Ann.
What's the biggest misconception of being an author/writer?
Some people think I know every word in the dictionary. They like to quiz me. I’m not kidding. They’ll come up to me and say things like “Since you’re a wordsmith, what’s ubiquitous mean?” It’s kind of weird—sort of like playing Jeopardy but without the opportunity to win any money. For the record, I don’t know every word in the dictionary. Also, I try not to use words like “ubiquitous” in my writing when its synonym “widespread” will do. Being a writer isn’t about using the biggest words in your vocabulary, it’s about creating characters that readers relate to and care about.
When did you realize you wanted to become a writer/author?
The realization took awhile. I actually wrote a novella in 8th grade, but didn’t know that was what I had done with my social studies report until much later. The first time I had an inkling that I could dare to be a writer was in high school when my honors English teacher Mrs. Biernacki gave me an A on a character analysis essay I wrote about Roger Chillingsworth in The Scarlet Letter. I compared his character to rotting fruit. After graduating from LSU with my B.A in English and not having the world knocking on my door offering me well-paying jobs, I started writing a novel that I soon after decided I wasn’t mature enough to write. Plus, I found a job in a large retail store and barely had time to get my suits dry-cleaned. (Maybe I should dig those notes up now!) In grad school, I wanted to take a creative writing class but was scared about being critiqued and admitting to everyone in my M.A. program that I wanted to write commercial fiction rather than literature with a capital “L.” After I had my daughter, I decided I needed something just for me. I spent most of my days caring for her and my mother-in-law who had Alzheimer’s. I tried my hand at my favorite escape—historical romance. I’ve thought of myself as a writer ever since.
If you could spend a week living in a book and interacting with the characters, what book would you choose? Why?
I would spend a week living in Mary Stewart’s romantic suspense The Moon-spinners. This novel is one of my all time favorites. I read it when I discovered romantic suspense in our local library at the age of twelve or thirteen, and since then I’ve read it about a gazillion times. I love the way the author describes the setting in Crete. I felt like I was there among the olive and lemon groves with the sun beating down on me. I love the heroine Nicola’s naiveté and bravery. I love the wounded hero Mark’s determination to find his kidnapped brother alive. Yes, it was published in 1962, but it’s timeless.
Let's talk about Haint Misbehavin'. Can you please give us a one sentence blurb?
How about more than one sentence? J Heather Tildy has enough trouble. Then the first ghost shows up.
What was the hardest part to write in Haint Misbehavin'? The easiest?
The hardest part to write was the middle. The original pace was much slower. I revised it and cut scenes, combined others to get it to what you see now. But I happen to like the revision stage; it’s rewarding to tinker with something until you get it right. The easiest scene to write was Heather meeting the ghost in the grapevines. I had a clear picture in my head of how that scene between Heather and Amy would go when I started it.
If Haint Misbehavin' is made into a movie, who would you cast as the leads? Why?
Heather: Emma Watson from the Harry Potter movies because she’s a good actress and has that pretty girl next door look. Most British actors can do an American accent, so I’m not worried about that.
Drew: To be honest, Channing Tatum was foremost in my mind while writing this character, even though he doesn’t have Drew’s blue eyes. He’s also probably too old at this point to play a teenager, but he has the necessary abs and portrays the hunk with a heart character well in She’s the Man and Dear John. However, my daughter prefers Zac Efron since he has the blue eyes as well as the abs, so I will defer to her choice.
Xavier: Jacob Zachar who plays Rusty on Greek. He portrays adorably geeky quite well.
Amy: Elle Fanning, Dakota’s younger sister, who was in Because of Winn-Dixie. She has the look for the most part, and she can act. The only thing she doesn’t have is the space between the front teeth.
Would you switch places with the main character of Haint if you had the chance?
Probably not. As much as I love Heather, I wouldn’t want to live through high school again for real—unless we could eliminate all the homework, testing, essay writing and group projects. I loathe group projects.
What's next after Haint Misbehavin'?
Hainted Love. Heather vacations at Jekyll Island, Georgia with her family. Unfortunately for Heather, ghost handlers don’t get to clock out when they’re on vacation.
Thank you so much for stopping by, Maureen, and answering my questions! Everyone, I highly recommend this book--check out my review of HAINT MISBEHAVIN' HERE.
**Open to US residents only (sorry international friends but I'm broke); the winner will be announced a little after