Book Nerd Interview
Growing up in the Bay Area of Northern California, Lorena Bathey attended St. Mary’s College in Moraga graduating with a degree in English. Then she traveled, learned about life, and developed great fodder for a book. Losing her mother to cancer and her own marriage’s demise brought her to find herself. She wrote Happy Beginnings: How I Became My Own Fairy Godmother (www.amazon.com) and found speaking and empowering others was her passion.
Lorena Bathey found after writing her first book that characters were visiting her mind and wouldn't leave. She was introduced to Marissa, Andrea, Lily, Deidre and Beatrice and her first novel, Beatrice Munson, came to life. After finishing that book she was inspired to write more novels and she knew that pursuing her passion was the best way to live her life. So a writer she became.
After meeting the love of her life, they embarked on the thrilling life to follow their dreams bringing their families along for the ride. Today Lorena has nine novels in her writing queue all with screenplays in the works.
But writing isn't the only muse that inspires Lorena. She has become a passionate photographer and likes to push the envelope taking shots while learning how to navigate Photoshop. Travel, walking, enjoying new restaurants, and Italy are other loves and things she makes sure she has time for.
Where were you born and where do you call home?
I was born in Riverside, California on an Army base. But I grew up mostly in Castro Valley, California, a small suburb in Northern California.
What is your favorite food?
Chocolate Mousse, Steak at Harris Ranch in San Francisco, and grilled cheese sandwiches.
When and why did you begin writing?
I have always had a journal and was great at essay tests in high school, but my real writing began in 2005. My mother had passed away from cancer, my dad had remarried very quickly, and my husband left me....all within in three years. I decided to write about finding myself again and finding even more, my inner fairy godmother. I chose to find my own way to happiness and that journey I chronicled in my first book, Happy Beginnings: How I Became My Own Fairy Godmother. I began my first novel at this time. I wrote half of Beatrice Munson and then set it aside for five years until I finished it in a nine-hour writing session at Panera.
How did you come up with the title for your book?
The characters of the book show themselves in my mind and the name just came with that character.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes, that life is meant to be lived. That living YOUR life is important. Many women are stuck in roles and believe that their dreams and passions should take a back seat to everyone else's. I want, with this story and the character of Beatrice Munson for women to see that their dreams are important, their happiness is even more important, and that going for those things can bring more to their lives. Living without often causes resentment and unhappiness. Finding bliss and happiness is important to a good, healthy life.
If you gave some of your characters an opportunity to speak for themselves, what would they say?
I think that they all speak in the book. Beatrice would probably speak loudest about following your heart and doing something...anything...than compromising yourself. As she has shown in her life, face your fears and the rewards can be great. With the other characters I think they would say that even small steps in a positive, forward-moving direction can make great impacts on your spirit and your life. This book is all about taking chances and following your heart.
Why do you feel you had to tell this story?
When I started the story I was living that life. I lived as a divorced woman in a suburban community and I felt stifled. It was kind of like writing my story. I saw so many women unhappy with their lives and where they were headed. And hear way too many times that they would pursue this or that after their kids were grown. After my mom passed away at 54 I knew, you don't always get that chance. That's when I knew I had to write to show women that taking those steps now are not only smart, but worthwhile.
How much of your work is realistic?
Well, a lot of what I write is based in places I've been with a sprinkling of people I might know or have met. So I would say it's all realistic. Although the next novel has three women ghosts so depending on whether you believe in ghosts or not...
What was your favorite chapter to write and why?
Oh...without giving too much away I'd say the reunion was my favorite scene to write. It had such an element of drama and romance. I'm a sucker for romance. But even more, I am invested in all the characters so their happiness is important to me.
What question are you never asked in interviews but wish you were?
Where would you live if you could live anywhere and why?
Has a review or profile ever changed your perspective on your work?
Yes, absolutely. I take all that the reviewers say and use it in my next work. For me any review is a way to make myself a better writer. I've had mostly great reviews about Beatrice, but any insights someone gives I have brought into my next novel. I appreciate the time reviewers take to read and critique the work, so of course I value their opinion. And they are my target market so getting the chance to see where I can do better is fabulous in my mind.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
Many of the people who have read Beatrice Munson have given me reviews, even if I didn't ask them for one. This book touches people because I think it rings true to most women. Most everyone wants to find a Beatrice Munson to inspire and motivate them. Also, they love the way the characters interact. I think most people who read the book wish they could either live in Vista Heights or visit. One of my favorite statements was, Beatrice Munson was the Mary Poppins for women over forty. That one stuck with me!
Are there any tips you would give a book club to better navigate their discussion of your book?
Hopefully you can open yourself up to whether you have felt like any of the characters of the book. That is a question that might be a bit prodding but I think it can open a discussion deeper than just about the writing style. Another question would be, what would your dream be? And if you can begin to talk about it...who knows where that could lead!
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I have become a HUGE fan of Stephen King. I don't read his really scary books but I have been enjoying all his shorter and more current works. He is a master at character development. I was astounded in The Stand how he wove the plethora of characters together to make an amazing story.
What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
I think you have to feel the characters and talk in their voices. If you don't know them then the dialog and situations can seem forced. I also think you must go back and edit your work. Hire professional editors and then you go through and read it again. My tip, and what I do, is to read the work out loud. This way you hear how sentences are structured and what sounds right. You also hear your mistakes.
Are you working on any books/projects that you would like to share with us?
My next novel, House on Plunkett Street, is coming out next month. It's the story of Phoebe Bertram who is a girl that simply exists through her life. Then she moves into a new apartment and three women ghosts from different eras of time come to visit her to show her how to really live. It is the story of growth and about trusting that what you need to know will come to you in some crazy ways.
What are you reading now?
I am reading an ARC copy of a book called, Jack's in Love. I won it in a giveaway and it's a nice story. I just finished reading Sisters by Rosamund Lupton for my book club and absolutely LOVED it.
Lost in this world of suburbia, Marissa Lyons learns her high school nemesis has bought the house right across the street from her. Afraid that her arch enemy, Beatrice Munson, will move in with Marissa’s high school crush as her husband and cause Marissa to relive the insecurity of high school in her forties, she decides to face the music and heads to Beatrice’s house with warm cupcakes. But what Marissa finds is something she never expected.
How will Marissa and the rest of the women of San Martino deal with someone like Beatrice Munson, whose defining moment in her life was to get a boob job or go on a trip to Egypt.
This story is about friendship, love, learning to look at things differently, and great parties.
Step into the world of Vista Heights where you might recognize the women, or you might be one of them.
Lorena Bathey’s “Beatrice Munson” is the story of friendship and love, about women allowing themselves and each other to live a fulfilling life, about acceptance, absolution and reinvention. Just the very thought of your arch-nemesis from high school moving in next door would be dreadful. And that’s just what happened to Marissa Lyons when Beatrice Munson moves across the street from her. Just the sight of Beatrice brings Marissa flashbacks on how she stole her high school sweetheart. With a failed marriage and raising two kids on her own, Marissa has feelings of unworthiness. But much to her surprise, the newly moved in neighbor is not the same girl that she knew in high school.
Bathey explores the thoughts of women in their forties about how they feel about friendship and love. She reminds us that despite living an ordinary life in a cookie-cutter home in suburbia that high school is over years ago, that every woman is worth of love, live life to its fullest, answer that door when opportunity knocks, and dreams can still come to life. The story is fast-paced with many activities happening that touches the subject of divorce, marriage, friendships, flirtations and much more. Although all of these events come at the reader, it does not encumber you and leaves your heart warm and enlightened.
There is a controversial scene but Bathey wrote it a very mature way. It was written well and I see many readers accepting it. Bathey’s Beatrice Munson was empowering that reaches a fulfilling climax and relayed many fundamental messages. I highly recommended this book as it will make you laugh, cry, cringe, and dream.
You can purchase Beatrice Munson at these following retailers.
And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you Lorena Bathey for making this giveaway possible.