Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss
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…

Jennifer Vido | Jen’s Jewels: INSTAMOM BY CHANTEL GUERTIN
Author Guest / June 25, 2021

Jen: What inspired you to write INSTAMOM? Chantel: Years ago, I fell in love with a single dad. After not really knowing whether I wanted to have children or not, I was thrown into a situation where, if I decided to date this guy, I’d be putting myself on the path to becoming a stepmother. I wanted to explore this idea in a novel, and how my heroine would cope if she was proudly childfree by choice and led a very public life, yet fell in love with a single dad. I’m very interested in the role social media plays in our lives—this idea that strangers know about us, that there’s a version of ourselves that we curate and that we try to make consistent so that people will “like” us—but is that really always the whole picture of the real us? And if it’s not, how does having two personae—an online version and an IRL version—affect the way we live our lives? Let’s talk about Kit Kidding and her love/hate relationship with social media. Please describe the impact it has on her professional and personal life. Kit is well-known for her role as the author of Kid-Free Forever, a…

Jennifer Vido | Jen’s Jewels: THE INVISIBLE HUSBAND OF FRICK ISLAND BY COLLEEN OAKLEY
Author Guest / June 11, 2021

Jen: What inspired you to write The Invisible Husband of Frick Island? Colleen: A few years ago I ran across a newspaper article about a woman in Australia whose husband had died, and she was in such denial about it, she left his body in their bed and continued to live her life as though everything were completely fine. It wasn’t until a neighbor noticed an… odor, that people found out. I know that’s so morbid, but as a novelist I found it fascinating—the idea that grief can make us do such strange things, and that no two people grieve the same way. And that woman’s story was the initial spark of the idea for The Invisible Husband of Frick Island, about a woman who is in such denial about her husband’s death, she wakes up every morning and lives her life as if he is right there beside her (fortunately, without the rotting corpse in the bed). Let’s talk about Piper and Tom Parrish. Who are they and what’s their connection to the island? Piper and Tom are high school sweethearts turned young newlyweds who live on Frick Island, a tiny strip of land smack in the middle of…

Jennifer Vido | Jen’s Jewels Interview: THE SEVEN DAY SWITCH BY KELLY HARMS
Author Guest / May 28, 2021

Jen: What inspired you to write THE SEVEN DAY SWITCH? Kelly: My contemporaneous parenting friends and I all have different varieties of lifestyles, with some of us working full time out of the home, many working from home, and a few working as stay-at-home mothers. I noticed that though we all had a lot in common, the grass always seemed a bit greener in someone else’s backyard. I had to explore this and the body swap genre was the exact right way for me to find my way into the story. How does Celeste Mason view motherhood? Celeste takes it as something natural she was born to do, and as something no one else could possibly do as well as she does. So, she brings a lot of confidence to the party that I personally have never felt, but with her daughter poised on the brink of teendom, we can be sure some of that confidence is about to be challenged. What is Wendy Charles’ take on being a working mom? Wendy is that frantic side of us who is going to do it all and be the best no matter what, even if she never sleeps again. She’s been…

Jennifer Vido | Jen’s Jewels Interview: DON’T MAKE ME TURN THIS LIFE AROUND by CAMILLE PAGAN
Author Guest / May 14, 2021

Jen: What inspired you to write DON’T MAKE ME TURN THIS LIFE AROUND, the follow-up to Life and Other Near-Death Experiences? Camille: Of all the characters I’ve ever created, Libby, the protagonist of Life and Other Near-Death Experiences, has always been my favorite—her wry but optimistic outlook is arguably the closest to my own—and I knew even before finishing the first novel that I’d write about her again one day. Even so, the ending of Life and Other Near-Death Experiences was deliberately ambiguous, so I didn’t want to pick right back up where she left off, which was finding the courage to begin cancer treatment and start a new family. I wanted to wait a while and find her at a different stage of life. Jen: What is happening in Libby’s world at the beginning of the novel? Camille: Thirteen years have passed since Libby’s cancer diagnosis; she’s now 46 and by all accounts, her life is going swimmingly. Though she suspected her cancer had returned, she’s just received a clean bill of health. Her marriage is happy, if a bit routine, and one of her 12-year-old twins, Charlotte, has been successfully managing her own health crisis. Yet if Libby’s…

Jennifer Vido | Jen’s Jewels Interview: UNDER THE SOUTHERN SKY by Kristy Woodson Harvey
Author Guest / April 30, 2021

Jen: What inspired you to write Under the Southern Sky? Kristy: I was at a party and one of my friends pulled me aside. She was visibly upset because she had been to the doctor that day and he had told her that she and her husband needed to make decisions about their leftover frozen embryos. She said, “When we were freezing these embryos, all we could see is the babies we wanted. We never thought about what would happen next. We never thought about what we would do with the ones we didn’t have.” And then she said the magic words. “A lot of people are going to be going through this. You should write a book about it.” I remember where I was standing and how I got chill bumps all over, as a sure sign that she was, indeed, correct. I knew there was a story there. Only, I didn’t exactly know what that story was What happens in Amelia Buxton’s professional career that brings an old friend back into her life? Amelia is researching for a story about what people do with their unused, frozen embryos when she is sneaking around and accidentally finds out that…