Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss
Jennifer Vido | Jen’s Jewels Interview: SOMEBODY’S HOME by Kaira Rouda
Author Guest / January 21, 2022

Jennifer Vido: What inspired your new release, SOMEBODY’S HOME? Kaira Rouda: Actually, although it doesn’t mention the pandemic, the idea was inspired by those lockdown times early in the pandemic where home felt like the only safe place to be. And then I thought, but what if it isn’t. Let’s talk about Julie Jones. What’s happening in her life that sparks a new beginning? Julie realizes her daughter, Jess, is about to leave home for college and she is running out of time to find a real connection between them. Her marriage is a sham, and she is longing for a more genuine life. It’s time for a fresh start: A new home for herself and her daughter. Who is Tom Dean, and what’s his connection to the house Julie and her daughter desire to call home? Tom Dean is a lost twenty-something. He and his father, Doug, are estranged, his father’s wife, his stepmom Sandi, has tried to reach him without success. When Sandi and Doug sell the family home, Tom feels the last connection to his real mom slip away. Tom decides he won’t move from the carriage house in the back, despite the fact the new owners…

Jennifer Vido | Jen’s Jewels Interview: BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE GREEK TOWN by Kate Collins
Author Guest / December 3, 2021

Jennifer Vido: What is the premise behind the Goddess of Greene St. Mystery series? Kate Collins: After a tough divorce, Chicago investigative reporter Athena Spencer returns to her roots in the tourist town of Sequoia, Michigan, to live with her big, noisy Greek family in the rambling family home. Named after the fabled goddess of war and wisdom, Athena takes a job at the family’s garden center on Greene Street, where she encounters a mysterious stranger who entangles her in a murder mystery. Her love of investigating catapults her into danger, and her success at capturing a killer earns her the title of Goddess of Greene Street. The stories have mystery, mayhem, romance, and lots of fun thanks to Athena’s crazy Greek family. Let’s talk about your latest installment, BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE GREEKTOWN. Please share with us the inspiration behind this new caper. The murder mystery in this book centers around a photographer who shows up at the town’s art festival on Lake Michigan to take photos for the local newspaper and is found dead on the dunes with his camera missing. My inspiration for this plot came after I attended a fund-raising art fair crowded with shoppers. I…

Jennifer Vido | Jen’s Jewels Interview: THE ATTIC ON QUEEN STREET by Karen White
Author Guest / November 19, 2021

Jen: THE ATTIC ON QUEEN STREET is the seventh and final book in the Tradd Street series. How did you arrive at the premise? Karen: The best part of a series is that it’s basically one long book with multiple plot lines that get resolved throughout the series.  Since I knew THE ATTIC ON QUEEN STREET would be the last, I knew that for the first time that loose ends weren’t a possibility.  Every single unanswered question, mystery, plot, character arc had to come to a complete resolution.  And, of course, the conclusion of the major cliffhanger at the end of the previous book, THE CHRISTMAS SPIRITS ON TRADD STREET.  This gave me the main guide I needed for this book’s premise.  The second, but equally important guide, was the spin-off series that will follow the Tradd Street Series.  Nola Trenholm will be the main protagonist, as will a new character, Beau Ryan, who is introduced in The Attic on Queen Street.  Beau is from New Orleans which is where the new series will be set, and there is a lot of mystery surrounding him and his family.  This is why at the end of the book, Nola is headed…

Jennifer Vido | Jen’s Jewels Interview: ONCE UPON A WARDROBE by Patti Callahan
Author Guest / October 22, 2021

Jennifer Vido : What inspired you to write Once Upon a Wardrobe? Patti Callahan: It’s so hard to answer what inspired me for this novel and yet that very fact is what inspired me to write this book! I often wonder what inspired some of my favorite tales, and when I interview other authors for Friends and Fiction, I ask other authors, “What is the origin story of your story?” And even I am often asked, “Where do you get your ideas?” And the answer changes with time because we might look back and see where a story originated in hindsight. So this novel, Once Upon a Wardrobe, is a story that grew out of many other stories. When I was writing the novel Becoming Mrs. Lewis, I realized that the year that C. S. Lewis and Joy Davidman met through letters was the same year that The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe was released. During research, I would often see small crumbs of Narnia in C. S. Lewis’ young and middle life. Those crumbs stayed with me and I wanted to show them in a story. I wondered — What made Lewis start and then stop and then…

Jennifer Vido | Jen’s Jewels Interview: OTHER PEOPLE’S THINGS by Kerry Anne King
Author Guest / September 24, 2021

Jen: What inspired you to write OTHER PEOPLE’S THINGS? Kerry: Get ready for a two-part answer! The first hit of inspiration is thanks to the wonderful people who come in and clean my house every other week. I hate cleaning, so this is a little gift I give myself. The Viking and I go out for breakfast, and when we come home it’s like the magical elves have been there. Anyway. This one morning as I was putting my key in the lock and thinking about the cleaners, this little blip of an idea flitted through my brain: What if there was a cleaning person who could read the energy on objects in a person’s house that let her know things about the people who lived there? So I sort of filed that away somewhere in my brain. Much later, I was ready to start writing a new book but didn’t really have any good ideas. So I sat down, opened my journal, and wrote on a blank page: Auditioning for New Ideas. And then I started scribbling and Nickle, the main character in OTHER PEOPLE’S THINGS, showed up and started talking to me. Not that she told me much…

Jennifer Vido | Jen’s Jewels Interview: PAPER DOLL LINA by Robyn Lucas
Author Guest / September 10, 2021

Jen: What inspired you to write PAPER DOLL LINA? Robyn: After Charlottesville in 2017, I pulled back from social media and the news because it was such a horrible event to witness. I had a difficult time reconciling the fact that something like that was happening in 2017 vs 1950. In unplugging, I turned to writing and quickly discovered these characters. I didn’t realize what I was writing about until I was well into revisions. Please describe Lina Henry and the life she leads. Lina Henry is a forty-something at-home mom who lives a Pinterest-perfect life. To the outside world, she and her family are #familygoals. When we meet Lina in the first chapter, she feels one-dimensional and likens herself to a paper doll— something to be dressed up and seen, not heard. Lina spends the novel learning how to breathe life into her paper doll existence to where she is a multi-dimensional, fully formed person who thrives. What happens to Lina that causes her to take matters into her own hands? Lina’s children develop a website that goes viral. Through their handwork and determination, Lina begins to fight for them and eventually for herself. She also reconnects with her…

Jennifer Vido | Jen’s Jewels Interview: THE SHOW GIRL BY NICOLA HARRISON
Author Guest / August 27, 2021

Jen: What inspired you to write THE SHOW GIRL? Nicola: Well, the truth is I had no idea I would be writing about a Ziegfeld show girl when I started thinking about my second novel. I had written article for a travel magazine about a hotel in the Adirondacks called The Point that was originally built by William Avery Rockefeller II to use as his family’s summer compound. Today it’s a five-star resort that promises guests a taste of times gone by while “roughing it” in extreme luxury. Through my research for this article, I learned about several of these “Great Camps” along the rugged lakeshores of upstate New York all built by Guided Age magnates and I knew that there was a story hiding out in those woods that was begging to be told, I just didn’t know what that story was yet. So, on a chilly Friday afternoon my husband, my son and our two chihuahuas loaded into the car and drove the five-and-a half hours from Manhattan to Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks where we stayed at one of these “Great Camps” called White Pines Camp. The next morning we were given a tour of the 13…

Jennifer Vido | Jen’s Jewels Interview: THE RECEPTIONIST BY KATE MYLES
Author Guest / August 13, 2021

What inspired you to write THE RECEPTIONIST? I started writing THE RECEPTIONIST while on maternity leave. It was an interesting time because I was busy with a newborn, of course, but it was a different type of busy than I’d experienced in my working life. Parenthood seemed gentler on the mind than my job as a television producer. I compared who I’d been just a few months prior – a little harder, maybe a little more cynical – with motherhood, which demanded more softness from me. It got me thinking about the role of vulnerability in women’s lives. This led to the first version of Chloe, the title character of THE RECEPTIONIST. I’d initially conceived of her as being a bit like Cinderella – a fair maiden type from a fairytale. I pictured her embodying all these antiquated feminine ideals of humility and meekness, waiting for someone to notice her innate goodness. What would happen if you plopped someone with zero savvy into 21st century Los Angeles? I figured it wouldn’t end well for her. Chloe changed quite a bit from this initial concept. I had to make her less passive as the plot picked up, but the first seeds…

Jennifer Vido | Jen’s Jewels Interview: A WOMAN OF INTELLIGENCE by Karin Tanabe
Author Guest / July 23, 2021

Jen: What inspired you to write A WOMAN OF INTELLIGENCE?  Karin: I really liked the idea of writing about a struggling mother against the backdrop of the Cold War. I was dealing with my own postpartum depression and identity loss and wanted to channel that into a book. Admittedly, at first, I wanted her to be an assassin with a LOT of anger, but my editor talked me out of that one! So she is a spy with a LOT of anger instead – ha. While I was starting to piece together the story, a friend told me about Elizabeth Bentley, a Vassar College grad like me. She graduated in 1930 and went on to study Italian, earning a master’s degree in languages from Columbia University. While at Columbia, she joined a Communist Party cell and then fell madly in love with Jacob Golos, a Ukrainian-born revolutionary who conducted Soviet espionage. While Elizabeth Bentley certainly inspired the book, I did not follow her story that closely. She wasn’t a mother, and she didn’t live a gilded life in New York. But I loved the idea of giving a struggling mother a secret life and a sense of purpose. What leads…

Jennifer Vido | Jen’s Jewels Interview: LADY SUNSHINE BY AMY MASON DOAN
Author Guest / July 9, 2021

Jen: What inspired you to write LADY SUNSHINE? Amy: One of my favorite albums is “Mermaid Avenue,” a project between the folk singer Woody Guthrie’s daughter, Nora, and modern singers Wilco, Billy Bragg, and Natalie Merchant. Nora Guthrie found a trove of her father’s unrecorded lyrics and worked with these artists to set them to music. I’ve been intrigued by that project for decades. In LADY SUNSHINE, my main character, Jackie, inherits a gorgeous piece of land in California called The Sandcastle—as well as the recording studio in the home’s basement. We know that she spent one life-changing summer there with her cousin Willa as a teen in 1979, when it was a mecca for musicians, artists, and free spirits who’d descend on it every summer to bask in the glow of her musician uncle. But we don’t know what happened to make her run away. In 1999, she reluctantly agrees to host musicians for the summer so they can record a tribute album to her late uncle. The place comes to life again and she’s drawn into their world…and forced to confront the truth of her 1979 summer. Another major inspiration was the setting of The Sandcastle. I’ve always…