Thursday, March 26, 2015

Author Interview: Cece Cerano

About a month ago a buzz started going around our community. A mom had written a novel and was sharing it with other moms. The book is called If At First by author Cece Cerano.

Using our freecycling group, the book passed from one reader to the next. Since I love books, I couldn't wait to read it! I downloaded a copy to my Kindle (free for Amazon Prime members), then asked her if she would mind answering a few questions about her book for all of you readers.

Here is our conversation:

Tabitha's home in Madison
Q. How did you come up with the idea for your novel?

Honestly, it was just something in my brain that wouldn't let me sleep until I wrote it down.  It feels stupid to say, but I swear it happened that way.  
 
Tabitha has to Google "Grace Kelly"
Q. How would you describe your book to someone who hasn't read it? Love story/ coming of age(?) both seem like good descriptions to me.

Maybe a coming of age love story?  I'm not sure really, I wasn't exactly aiming for a category. Tabitha definitely finds a sense of herself but I'm a huge sucker for a love story.
 
The emerald necklace Tabitha's father gives to her

Q. What does the title If At First mean to you?

I suppose it means the universe usually has its own plans for things like love. And maybe to consider not succumbing to the provocation of a first impression.
 
Tabitha's grandmother's house
 
Q. Have you always wanted to write a book? How did you decide to do this? Did you participate in NaNoWriMo, for example?

Okay, so full disclosure; I have no idea what NaNoWriMo is.  But yeah, sure I participated in it.  Why not.  Actually, I wrote this for my sisters.  We used to spend hours talking about the stories we were going to act out with our Barbie's before actually playing with them.  A few years ago I wanted to take my sister's mind off of things that were going on with her, but had to wrack my brain for something I wouldn't hate doing.  Turns out I completely love staying awake until 3am making things up to entertain myself and knew it would entertain her as well. 
 
But before that it never occurred to me that I wanted to write something.  Reading, absolutely.  Writing, not so much.
 
The bedroom Tabitha's grandmother redecorates for her stay

Q. What do you like to read? Who are some of your favorite authors? Were you inspired by any of them?

I know everyone says Austen, because really, who doesn't love Austen?  But my absolute favorite is Georgette Heyer. I could read her books over and over and over.  And I do.  I love historical fiction, so Phillipa Gregory finds herself on my shelf, but I'm all over the place.  Also, anything Nora Ephron ever said or did.  But if anybody inspired anything in me, it was Georgette Heyer all the way. 
 
Grandmother's pink room where she plays cards (I love the crazy florals!)

Q. What was your writing process like? Did you aim to write a certain number of pages each day? What time of day did you write?

Well this is embarrassing.  I actually wrote this a few years ago when my kids were at the ages where they wouldn't leave me alone for thirty seconds so during the day it would just, like, brew in my head and the characters would have conversations, and things would happen until I could finally put the boys to bed and I'd sit down and write everything that went on in my head all day.  It wasn't easy to function, I wouldn't recommend it. 
 
The Lodge

Q. Where did you write (since this is mostly an interior design blog)? :) Was it a certain room in your home or did you go to a coffee shop or library?

Since life wouldn't do me the favor of pausing to accommodate my tendency to want to tell myself a story, I always kept an empty journal with me.  I would jot down ideas or words wherever I happened to be standing.  But mostly I was either on the couch or in my bed with a laptop while my family watched horrible TV or slept, and I would escape into my head. I dream about converting our shed into a little space for me but it's pretty full of the lawnmower so that likely won't work.  Probably a library or coffee shop would have been more productive, where were you with these ideas 3 years ago?
 
Inside the Lodge

Q. The public image of Haven Casey is not favorable, was his character influenced by anyone? I'm thinking Bruce Wayne, but do you watch the Bachelor?

Can't say I've ever seen the Bachelor, but I love love love the idea of Bruce Wayne.  No, Haven isn't based on anyone real, just a guy in my head. 
-And now I can't not think of Bruce Wayne. 
 
The Black and White Ball
Q. What else do you want us to know about you as a person?

There's not much to know.  Once I started writing, I challenged myself to finish an entire book.  I'm not saying it was easy, (because it wasn't) but I am incredibly happy to have accomplished it. I love my family, I love my job, I love living in East Lansing, and I had a story in my head so I wrote it down.  That's it, nothing special.

Q. Are you planning another book (I hope so!)? Can you tell us what it will be about? Any other subjects that you'd like to write about?

I do have something in my head, but at the rate I work it won't be anything readable for a while. Not too sure about other subjects, but there probably won't be anything to mind-boggling coming from me, I'm a read-to-escape type, and will doubtless stick with brain-candy. 
 
But we'll have to see what happens I guess. Anything is possible.

Q. Do you have any advice or words of encouragement for someone who wants to write a novel?

Maybe to find someone more qualified to take advice from?  I mean, everyone will have their own way of going about writing, it was a weirdly private experience for me. I never intended anyone else to read my book, it was only ever meant for my sisters.  It's not like I was looking to make it a job or answer to a publisher, I just wanted to do it, so I did.  When I got frustrated or blocked, I would stop. But it's amazing how much time you can find when you're sitting with your kids at the park, or waiting in the pick up line at school, or sitting on the grass at soccer practice.  That time can add up to a lot of words pretty fast if you want it to. I read somewhere that you should write 1,200 words a day.  Of course I read that after I was already finished, but even so it wouldn't have applied to me.  There's no magic formula for writing, I wrote when I had something to write.  Maybe that's not normal, but I think the trick is to just find what works and go with it.
 
 
***
 
Thanks so much to Cece for indulging my infinite curiosity! I really enjoyed the story and the characters and hope you will all pick up a copy of the book before spring break! It would make a great beach (or waterpark) read.

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Thanks so much for commenting! I love to read what you have to say. ~Carrie

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