Monday, June 13, 2011

Beautiful Disaster is a Beautiful Must Read!

Laura Spinella's BEAUTIFUL DISASTER, haunted me as I perused the bookshelves. The cover pulled me in and I wanted to read it, no, needed to read it. But my hands were full and I couldn't spend a penny more. Sigh, I hate when that happens. The solitary man on a that road surrounded by lush greenery kept staring at me, and it kept me there for a few beats. I finally put it down and resigned to come back the following week for it. Well, I was back looking for a gift two days later. Low and behold the book was staring at me again, not in its right place, just randomly in a spot where I'd be. 'Twas a sign. I bought said book and started reading on the train ride home from work.

I COULD NOT STOP READING! I devoured this amazing story in two days. Flynn and Mia will capture your heart. You will need to know what happens, how did they get to this place and how it will all end. I sensed every move Flynn made, his persona, how he saw the world. Mia's vulnerabilities, her weaknesses, and the eventual strength she gained mirrored much of what many young women go through during those years of self exploration, years of loving only one man. The sacrifices Flynn made touched my heart and have stayed with me, coming back to my mind when I least expect it. When I finally finished it, I crushed it to my chest with a weighty SIGH, and so did not want it to end.

Here is a blurb from Laura's website:

Mia Wells is poised to finalize the deal that will make her eco-friendly career goals a reality. The moment is interrupted when an unexpected phone call ushers in a tremulous past. The man she’s always loved, the one who abandoned her years before, has mysteriously resurfaced.  

Set in the Deep South amid magnolia leaves and the innocence of college life, Beautiful Disaster begins with Flynn’s arrival. He’s a man with a doubtful past, half a name, and no ties to anything earthbound, except Mia. For a year they have the kind of love affair a man like him inspires. Mia trusts him with her life. It’s a precarious leap of faith when she learns that he’s a fugitive on the run. For the next twelve years she keeps his secrets, long after Flynn vanishes, devastating her. Succumbing to the common sense she once defied, Mia eventually marries. Michael Wells is a wonderful man: patient, successful, driven. She does love him; who wouldn’t? Never anticipating Flynn’s return, Mia does her best to put the past behind her. It’s a bittersweet truth as she must admit to a love and a passion that has never died. Yet, the future is grim as a gravely injured Flynn lingers, his dark past hovering like a storm. When he finally recovers, the puzzle unfolds. Flynn’s recollections are sketchy, piecing together the years and moments leading up to his accident. A smart man for whom honor has been a nemesis, Flynn unravels the truth: one well meaning lie has altered three lives, creating futures that should have never been. As the past and present reconcile, Mia’s what ifs are endless. Filled with sweetness and suspense, Beautiful Disaster is an achingly powerful tale—the kind of love story each of us wishes was ours to tell.

They way Spinella immerses you into Mia and Flynn's world is seamless. There were moments where I could feel the stubble on Flynn's face, the sweat dripping down his back or the wind combing its fingers through Mia's hair.

This passage here, simply made the air freeze in my lungs. Mia and Flynn have just met and Mia is re-thinking her decision to ride on a motorcycle alone with a stranger back to his hotel room.

"Would you like to search it?" he asked, making contact with her stark eyes, tipping the bag in her direction.

"Search it?"

"Yeah, are we having a language problem again?"

"Language...Oh, I...No, I don't want to search it." Yes, I do, but that would be rude. "Besides, you were a Marine, right? You can probably hurt somebody just as easily with your bare hands."

The remark was intended to ease the tension, but his face went dark and distant. With a glare of agitation, far different from the one he'd used with the desk clerk, Flynn came toward her. Mia's breath halted halfway between in and out, making it impossible to speak...or scream. His hands hit with a thud against the knotty paneling on  either side of her head. Escaping through a solid wall seemed more likely than getting past him. She was trapped. It appeared the train wreck was imminent. Soft blue eyes turned steely as they met with hers, and she blinked hard at him. But the sound of his voice was quiet and sure. 

"I would never ever hurt another human being like that. Know this much." His hands dropped from the wall, and he sulked across the room, picking up his drink. He stood with his back to her, finally speaking over his shoulder. "If you're ready, which I'm sure you are, I'll take you  home now."

Mia peeled herself from the wall and tried to speak, but nothing would come. Instead she walked over and lightly pressed her palm to his broad back. His body grew rigid as her hand made contact and his head snapped to attention. "Flynn...I'm sorry about whatever happened to...Well, I'm sorry."

This time the shaky breath was his. As he turned, his fingers reached up and traced the outline of her cheekbone. His hands, they were the opposite of her skin, uncared for and rough. But his touch was gentle, like butterfly wings, and oddly Mia found herself at ease. What is that? In his face, his eyes, something I can see...but don't understand. Something completely removed from her average existence. Mia fought a rush of involuntary tears- relief evidently he wasn't going to kill her, compassion for what she saw in his face. He started to say something. Mia leaned in, poised to listen, but instead found herself drawn into a long, sensuous kiss, and her average existence was over.
***

Soul crushing sigh! Now, can you see why I had to go back and relive this moment again?

I had the distinct pleasure of having Laura Spinella answer some questions for our little blog. I hope you enjoy her reflections and I hope you rush out and pick up a copy of BEAUTIFUL DISASTER.

Author Interview with Laura Spinella:
This is your debut novel. Diane Chamberlain gives an amazing endorsement of Beautiful Disaster on the book’s cover, “Can this really be a debut novel? Laura Spinella weaves the past into the present with a sure hand as she tests the boundary between love and obsession.” I must agree, the transitions are seamless and the prose is a heart pounding, edge of your seat ride that left me with a chest crushing sigh when finished. So, it’s not really a question, just a shameless gush of praise.

Well, that was easy enough! It’s an absolute thrill to have the awesome, incredible, fabulous Diane Chamberlain’s stamp of approval on BEAUTIFUL DISASTER’S cover.  It’s an honor.

Did you have any other completed novels before BD or is this not only your debut novel but your first novel ever written. (Be warned, if this is the first book you ever wrote I will Grrr with jealousy at your frawesomeness.)

No Grring necessary! Technically, BEAUTIFUL DISASTER is the second of five novels I’ve written. I wrote the rough draft in six weeks, but it took six years to see it on bookstore shelves.  In between revisions, it spent a lot of time in a desk drawer, contemplating the error of its pages! There was nothing easy or quick about it, and it’s far from perfect. (Though I will say that I think it’s an entertaining read!)

Yes, it is certainly entertaining, and IMO, perfect!

What was the journey like for you from first drafts, to the query stage, to the big sale, to the final edits, and to publication at last? (How long did it take you to write, how many queries did you send, how long did it take your agent to sell, yada.)

I answered a little of that in question two, so I’ll start from BD’s resurrection from desk drawer hell. I’d queried Susan Ginsburg at Writers House regarding a different manuscript. She rejected the book, but did write me a lovely letter complimenting my writing. It was enough to make me say, “Well, if you kind of liked that, maybe you’ll really like this.” That was BEAUTIFUL DISASTER. She did, but she also rejected it. I took one more chance and asked what she might change if she was representing the novel. She was very gracious and offered me a roadmap to what the ms lacked. The roadmap led to a treasure trove of ideas. A year later, I sent her a revised version. A few months after that, she sold it.

Wow, persistence, hard work, and a little patience really paid off. You're someone many aspiring authors, like myself, can look up to.

Laura, the cover of Beautiful Disaster is what drew my attention. Did you have any input on it? And what did it feel like to hold it in your hands? (I am living vicariously through you with these questions, btw.)

LOL, I hope I don’t disappoint. Sometimes I think I’m a writer b/c my characters are so much better at living life than I am! My only input was that I didn’t want stock art, the close up images of people and body parts that often depict the cover of women’s fiction novels. That didn’t seem right for BEAUTIFUL DISASTER. Berkley contracted an outside artist, Richard Tuschman, to design the cover.  After reading one chapter and a suggestion from Berkley’s art director, Rita Frangie Batour, that a romantic rural Southern road might be the way to go, he came up with what you see.  I think he did a phenomenal job!  As for the, “hold it your hands,” part, it’s probably not the answer you’d expect.  The physical book didn’t have that much impact, which, I realize, is an odd response.  I didn’t see it as a giving birth moment, like when they hand you that baby in the hospital. To be honest, this took way longer and required a great deal more effort.  It’s more like when I look at my smart, accomplished, vivacious 22-year old daughter and think, “Oh, I had a big hand in that.”  Does that make sense? 

Yes, it does. But this girl will be squeeing from the rooftops if her work ever sees print. But, I digress.

Did someone or something from your past spark the initial idea for this story? Was it the bad boy from your college days? A roommate’s personal experience? A local news story? Do tell. I need to know the inspiration for Flynn.

You mean, was there a Flynn?  I probably get that question more than any other.  It does make me feel like a job well done, that he’s had that much effect on readers. So, I guess he’s as real as he needs to be! Athens, Georgia, however, was a huge hands-on inspiration. It’s such a muse-like place, anything can happen there. It was a terrific canvas for a character like Flynn. When I visit Athens now (my other daughter goes to school there) I find myself glancing down the street, half expecting to see him. Funny you should ask about the roommate. My still BFF and roommate from UGA did go to medical school… not unlike Mia’s BFF, Roxanne!  That said, you couldn’t find a similarity between her and Roxanne under a microscope, pure coincidence.  People comment on it sometimes, and we laugh about it a lot.

Funny, I see Flynn every time I see a motorcycle....

The love scenes are so sexy, loving, tender and far from cliché. Was it hard to put yourself in the mind set of a young college girl head over heels in love?

Thank you and no. My opinion about love scenes: conversation (dialogue) is a desperately overlooked component when writing one. Sure, the sex is… there in BEAUTIFUL DISASTER, but it’s the conversation, the verbalized emotion, between Mia and Flynn that draws you in.  Body parts are just the mechanics.

How true.

Did you ever go for a motorcycle ride with a sexy stranger? If yes, details please.

My Uncle Billy took me for a motorcycle ride when I was eight. See, I told you I’d disappoint. Actually, my brother-in-law is a bike enthusiast and I drained his brain for insight. But I never did go for a ride. Honestly, there are days when I regret the biker aspect of the book. Flynn is so much more than that, and the motorcycle was literally meant to be a vehicle. But I get it. Flynn turning up in Athens in a Volkswagen doesn’t have the same impact.

A little disappointed. Uncle Billy doesn't sound as sexy as Flynn. (Sorry Uncle Billy.) And you're right. Flynn pulling up in a VW is definitely not the same!

Did you have to do much research on motorcycle accidents, ICUs, or the military for certain aspects of the book? Did you have first hand experiences with any of these topics?

Actually, BEAUTIFUL DISASTER required a lot of research. I interviewed an ICU nurse who answered all my medical questions. The day I visited, there just happened to be a patient in a coma, the result of a motorcycle accident. Observing him was powerful insight. I also interviewed an ex-special ops marine. I learned enough to piece together Flynn’s background and make it realistic. Even the fight scene at the concert was choreographed. My son’s Taekwondo instructor and his partner worked it all out for me; I sat on the floor and took notes.  Some readers have commented that I must be into eco-friendly design, like Mia. That makes me chuckle. I didn’t know the first thing about holistic design. I found an expert via the internet and she provided all the necessary details. It’s been my experience that people are happy to share their area of expertise. I’m very grateful for all the people who advised me; each one is thanked on the acknowledgement page.

I can just see you on a the floor taking notes, while watching guys duke it out. Pretty cool.

As a writer, what motivated you while writing? Certain songs, a room, time of day, etc.

BEAUTIFUL DISASTER definitely has its own playlist, but I’d never listen to it while writing. I’m a dead silence writer. If the neighbor’s dog barks, it drives me nuts. I do like to write in my sunroom, which can also be problematic if it’s too sunny.  I’d probably write just fine in cement walled solitary confinement. Writing for me tends to be more of a compulsion, therein lies the motivation. 

Continue using the same method from when writing BD, worked wonders! LOL.

Any advice on aspiring authors like myself with the passion to tell a story?

If you have a passion to tell a story then I think you’re halfway there.  But to answer your question, I think Anne Lamott said it best, (and I’m paraphrasing) “Publication will not make you more confident or more beautiful, and it probably won’t make you any richer.” Unless you’re incredibly successful, the rewards do not outweigh the effort and risk—at least not in my small experience. If you’re willing to accept that and do it anyway—well, that might be the other half.  Also, if you happen to come across someone who knows what they’re talking about and loves your writing, politely sink your teeth in.

My critique partner, AJ, her nickname is JAWS. She'll love that last bit about sinking her teeth into someone. I'll need to remind her not to literally bite anyone, though.

Fun stuff: If you could have a superpower what would it be and what would you call yourself?

As a kid, I was a huge Bewitched fan.  I loved how everything could be solved with the twitch of a nose.  It seems like a streamline solution to so many things!  As for the power, I’d have to say the ability to teleport one’s self. I could have breakfast in Bali, stop in Athens for lunch with my daughter, and pop over to Paris for dinner. What would I call myself?  Clearly, I’d call myself to my next meal.

I am the Time-Stopper. Who wouldn't want to his snooze, freeze time, wake whenever they wanted, and still be punctual.

If you could be any fictional character from a novel, television show, or movie who would it be and why?

Oh my, these are getting harder!  I’m such an observational reader, I don’t know that I envision myself anybody’s book—including my own! I really enjoy the sideline view. The only television show I’ve watched in recent years is Gilmore Girls.  My daughters and I, we’re completely obsessed.  At five o’clock everything stops, and we watch the nightly rerun on the Family Channel. (I know, it’s a far cry from Flynn and Mia’s more sultry moments) I don’t know that I’d want to be in it, but I would have loved to be on the writing staff—such snappy, witty, brilliant dialogue!  

I'd be Bridget Jones. That girl has all the fun! Or, thinking, I'd be Mia to get me some Flynn. Yup, definitely Mia. ;)

What was the first book you ever read that made you say, “I want to do this, I want to be a writer”

Hmm, for that you have to go all the way back to Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Little House series.  I completely loved them as a kid.  They were probably more influential than I realize. But I don’t think any one book or author gave me that, “I want to be a writer,” moment. I think it’s just who I am—like being left handed or having the ability to sing.  That and if you’d seen my math SAT score, you’d understand why I had to find an alternate occupation. 

I loved those books and remembered reading the first one! I took idiot Math in college. Yes, I agree, if you are a writer its in your blood.

What’s next for Laura Spinella, what tales can we expect to submerge ourselves in?

THE IT FACTOR: Aidan Royce, rock icon, has it all, money, fame, and an incredible life. The one thing he doesn’t have is Isabel Lang, the girl who left him on their wedding night in Las Vegas. Fate brought together a spitfire Jersey Girl and Catswallow, Alabama’s own Conrad Birdie. Circumstance drove them apart. Seven years later, Isabel works at 98.6—The Normal FM for Easy Listening. It’s a classic AM format with a touch of irony; it’s a world away from Aidan’s rock-n-roll life. When the station is bought out, demanding a huge promotional event, the always independent Isabel has no choice but to contact Aidan.  He’s the boy she loved, the one she left to keep him out of jail and to secure his amazing future. The book lends itself to the same past/present rhythm as BEAUTIFUL DISASTER, still very passionate, but very a different story and characters.

Can I read that now, please??

Thank you Laura for taking the time to be with us. I look forward to reading THE IT FACTOR and until then, going back and hanging out with Mia and Flynn. :)

7 comments:

  1. Beautiful Disaster sounds wonderful. I'm in love with Flynn and I haven't read the book yet. I agree the cover's beautiful.

    I've always said if I could have a superpower, it would be like Samantha's on the old Bewitched series. I want to twitch my nose and have my house cleaned. I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who wants to be like Samantha.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow, fabulous interview and I HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK!!! IT SOUNDS LIKE IT HAS EVERYTHING I'M LOOKING FOR IN read.

    ReplyDelete
  3. That is a beautiful, haunting cover. I can see how you couldn't resist. How great you weren't disappointed.

    Glad to read the interview too!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks Charli, and Laura! Loved the interview questions as much as the answers! Best of luck with your sales, Laura!

    ReplyDelete
  5. So I think I posted in the wrong place (the first time) Oopsy!
    1. I love this book cover.
    2. Cool business cards!!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. You have a fabulous blog! I’m an author and illustrator and I made some awards to give to fellow bloggers whose sites I enjoy. I want to award you with the Best Books Blog Award for all the hard work you do!

    I invite you to follow me since we have a lot in common, but no pressure. I’m not giving you the award just so you will follow me. You really do deserve it!
    Take care:-)

    Go to http://astorybookworld.blogspot.com/p/awards.html and pick up your award.
    ~Deirdra

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wow! Sounds like an awesome book, and yes, the cover is beautiful! Thanks for posting this, Charli. I second Deirdra -- you and AJ have an awesome blog here. It's obvious you put a lot of time and energy into it. Keep it up!

    ReplyDelete