Lauren Clark, the author of Stay Tuned, is currently on a blog tour in promotion of her debut novel. She took the time to answer a few questions about her life and the book. As part of the tour, you have the opportunity to win a $10 Amazon gift card! Just leave a comment on her tour page to enter. (And if you comment here, I'm entered to win too in a separate giveaway!)
Like Melissa, you worked in TV news. How did your experiences in the industry shape Stay Tuned?
Stay Tuned is based—in part—on a true story. Before I began work at an Upstate New York television station as a reporter, the two main anchors (who were in a romantic relationship) got into a fistfight in the parking lot of the television station. They were fired, the incident made the newspaper, and a lot of ugly editorials and threats were exchanged. The story—and the irony of these two successful people losing their jobs—has always stayed with me. When I began to write Stay Tuned, I thought about something similar happening—this time, while the anchors were on live TV—and then let the readers watch what unfolded behind the scenes.
I also wanted the characters in Stay Tuned to be memorable, since the TV news industry is so full of amazing, unique people. My favorite weatherman used to bring his Dachshund in to the station, dress him in a tiny superhero cape, and carry him around in the studio. He actually went on the air with his dog during one show, but our news director quickly put a stop to that! One reporter—when stressed—used to bang on his keyboard with his fists and shout cuss words at the top of his lungs. We were all so used to it that everyone smiled and kept working when it happened! Also—one of the most talented anchors I worked with used to break into “Who Let The Dogs Out?” whenever he got into the mood—you can’t do that in many office jobs!
Who or what was the inspiration for Candace? She seemed like a great friend despite all her Dr. Phil quotes!
What hairdresser doesn’t like to give advice—even if it is from Dr. Phil? In all seriousness, Candace Daughtry is based on my best friend, Lisa. I took all of her wonderful qualities, turned her into a hair stylist, and made her (a little bit) obsessed with Dr. Phil! Like Lisa, Candace is the best friend a girl could ever have—someone you can call at midnight, the person you laugh the hardest with, the person who knows your worst faults and loves you anyway. My friend Lisa has overcome some of the toughest obstacles in life a person could face, and I wanted to draw on that same tenacity and inner fire in Candace. She’s a true friend—I hope everyone is blessed to have a Candace (or Lisa) in her life!
The Dr. Phil obsession was added to make her character stand out. Candace is close to perfect in every other way, so being addicted to Dr. Phil’s advice seemed like a way to add a quirky edge and round out her personality.
What book has had the most impact on your life?
It’s a tie between two novels: For a book that explores the bonds between women, I’d have to say The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. I loved the setting, the characters, and the beautiful symbolism. It’s a coming of age story, a ‘triumph over tragedy’ novel written in a way that is both fresh and unforgettable.
My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult, to me, is hands-down a masterpiece (the ending made my cry). Picoult explores the relationships between sisters and how grave illness impacts a family. The author tells the story from more than half a dozen points of view, manages to give each a distinct personality, all the while weaving a story that breaks your heart and leaves you shell-shocked at the end. I hope to (someday) write a novel that leaves readers with that level of lasting, emotional impact.
What’s your writing routine?
I write best in the morning and need absolute quiet. I often go to the library at the local university near our house—if I stay home, the doorbell rings, the phone rings, and the Internet is too much of a distraction! The other essentials are lots of flavored coffee (yes, I am on a first-name basis with everyone at two coffee shops in town) and I have to have my MacBook!
Just sitting down and typing does not work well for me. I have to have a plan and a rough outline. Once I have the story fixed in my mind, index cards come in handy for switching up scenes and seeing a timeline develop. The novel I’m working on now took about 60 index cards. I lined them up on the floor of my tiny office—there was no room to walk in there for about a week! I also keep a notebook by the bed, in my car, and in my bag to jot down ideas.
What’s up next for you?
Dancing Naked in Dixie is the working title of my next novel. It’s a story about a writer for a travel magazine based in New York City. She’s talented, but really scattered, and is on the verge of being fired. She gets one last chance to pull her career back together and gets sent to the ‘Heart of Dixie’—Eufaula, Alabama—for the city’s annual Pilgrimage. The Pilgrimage is an actual event, a tour of historic homes held every spring. (Part of the movie Sweet Home Alabama with Reese Witherspoon was filmed in Eufaula, Alabama).
In Dancing Naked in Dixie, the main character can’t help but fall in love with the area and its people. She soon discovers, though, that a real estate developer has his eye on making Eufaula into a tourist spot. This challenge divides the city, but helps the writer grow and realize that her job is much more than telling stories about pretty places—her article could help prevent Eufaula from being bulldozed into another strip of vacation condos. As she works on her story, she dreams up an idea that could help save the historic district and the people who love it.
I hope you enjoy Stay Tuned as much as I loved writing it! I’d love to hear what you think about the story and characters. Feel free to drop me at line at laurenclarkbooks @ gmail.com.