Wednesday, August 6, 2008

"Surprise Packages" Rounds Out the Series

By Nichole Giles

I live for the mail. What masochists we writers can be. You’d think that after so many of them, we’d get the hint that only rejection letters come by snail mail. Mostly. Oh, and the occasional unexpected royalty check for an article you sold to a magazine years ago which has been resold to someone else. Those are always nice—though extremely rare.

Anyway, for the last month or so I’ve had a totally different reason for watching for the mail person to make his/her (depending on the day) daily appearance. I’ve been waiting for books.

In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve started doing book reviews and author interviews, and am thoroughly enjoying it—mostly. But I digress. The month of July was big in the book-receiving end of my mailbox. They just keep coming—which is a good thing.

There was one I’d been expecting for quite some time. I cheered in pleasure when I walked out to the big gray monstrosity at the edge of my yard and found in it the last book in “The Company of Good Women” series, “Surprise Packages.”

Having read “Almost Sisters,” the first in the series, more than a year ago, I was thrilled and excited to finally have the chance to see how the lives of the three women turned out and if they fulfilled their twenty-five year pact to become Crusty Old Broads.

Turns out, in my opinion, those women were there in the beginning. They just had to know where to look inside themselves to discover it.

This book was a fun, easy read, that was hard to put down until the end. I did wish for more scenes showing the characters living certain areas of life, rather than narrative, but I can imagine how long this book would have been if they authors had done it all in scenes. It would be 700 pages long or more. Nancy Anderson, Lael Littke, and Carroll Hofeling Morris have done an excellent job of weaving the lives of the three main characters together intricately, showing how they each affect the others and those around them, and how their friendship is based on a deep and solid love of sisters.

It’s a great read, ladies. We should all wish for a group of friends like this. I am part of a similar group, which I think made this book all the more touching in my eyes. I saw parts of myself and my girlfriends in each of these women.

The three authors (yes, you read that right, there are three of them) have granted me an interview in one of their favorite meeting places, where we’re all eating giant scoops of ice cream as we watch the waves crash to shore on a white sand beach.

NG: So tell me, ladies, how much of your writing time has been spent together as opposed to working separately?

Nancy: We spent the majority and easier time writing individually. When we get together we spend non-stop hours of intense focused time meshing the story lines.

Lael: And scarfing lots of M&Ms. It’s easier to work separately when we’re developing our own character’s plot line, but it’s Synergy City when we get together.

Carroll: That’s when we write the common scenes. I’m the scribe in those sessions, sitting with my feet up and a soda near at hand, typing away on my laptop while Lael and Nancy work their way through a scene. Yes, I do put in my two bits worth, too.

NG: What advice would you pass on to other authors who are considering collaborating on a project like this?

Nancy: Don’t do it? The sane need not apply?

Lael: I say, if you have a good idea with somebody else and don't mind spending a lot of time with that person (or those persons), go for it!

Carroll: But don’t even think about it unless you’re confident that you and your co-author(s) can work well together and are equally committed to the project.

3. How many years have you three been vacationing together?

Nancy: Ask Lael. She is the keeper of all things mathematical for us.

Lael: Since 1991. And oh, the places we’ve been!

Carroll: Pretty amazing, when you think about it.

4. Is there somewhere you have never been that you are dying to visit?

Nancy: Some place decadent and tropical.

Lael: With gobs of chocolate.

Carroll: That sounds like it could be Hawaii, which is on my short list.

5. What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Nancy: This time of year? Daiquiri ice.

Carroll: All-time favorite is plain old strawberry!

Lael: I’m a very vanilla person.

6. Do you have a favorite restaurant where the three of you might eat dinner when vacationing together?

Nancy: Lael, what’s the name of that terrific Mediterranean place we eat at in Carlsbad?

Lael: The one with the belly dancer? Can’t remember the name, but it’s right on the beach and has unpronounceable—and delicious—dishes.

Carroll: When we’re at Nancy’s in Sandy, Utah, there are a couple of Tai restaurants that are high on our list

NG: Yum, Thai food? Sounds tasty.

NG: How did you come up with the idea of writing together?

Lael: We were vacationing together in Moab, Utah, when Nancy said, “Why don’t we write a book together?” We sat down right then and brainstormed about what we wanted the themes of our novel to be. We still have the notes that Carroll wrote in aqua ink!

NG: It sounds like you three have vacationed togeter a lot. What’s your favorite vacation spot?

Our favorite place is Carlsbad, CA, but Moab, Utah, and Sedona, Arizona, are right behind.

NG: I love any and all of those places too. Ladies, I really appreciate you all taking the afternoon off to sit with me on the beach eating ice cream. It’s been great chatting with you. Thanks so much for giving this series such a satisfying ending.

To see more from the "Crusty Old Broads" click Here

View the website

Buy a copy of "Surprise Packages"


Carroll said...

Thanks for the ice cream on the beach--and the nice words about Surprise Packages. This virtual book tour is a lot of fun!

I think what you said about the characters in Surprise Packages is true of all of us. We have a kernel of Crusty Old Broad inside, but we might not recognize it until we look back at how we've handled what life has sent our way.

About the scenes we didn't have space for. I recently re-read Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. According to his website, it's 400,000 words long! And we had to be at or below 114,000!

Nancy said...

Nichole, Thanks for participating in our very first virtual tour. And thanks for liking our book.

Keith Fisher said...

Great Job Nichole. as always you have done a perfect review and interview. Thanks for doing so a good job for the book. it's a good book and everyone needs to read it.