1. You made the jump from Hollywood actress to writer. Had you always wanted to be a writer?
I have always been a writer. I can’t even remember the moment. I was born with stories in my head. I have always been a writer, a storyteller. I’m from the Deep South—we’re all storytellers but the best part is that when I am observing the world, my head and heart are always creating stories. My earliest memories are of me writing, even just love notes to my mom that were so flowerey and went on and on. I simply just loved writing. I entered every contest and even won some awards! I stopped when I became a talk show host and literally talked for a living, but storytelling was a hobby to me, and so I diligently enforced my goal of becoming a wordsmith. I admired those literary writers who always had just the perfect word up their sleeve and could pull it out without thought, like drawing a breath. Eventually the characters took over and I listened. I love telling their stories.
2. How much of your acting career goes into your books? Can you tell us a bit more about your background?
The biggest part of the acting career that goes into the books are the fact that I love to write in first person narrative and “become” the character. First person narrative is what comes easiest for me. And I do have a sense of tension because of my time on Day of Our Lives. Actually my favorite career was my talk show on the radio. I LOVED being LIVE for 4 hours a day, controlling my environment behind the mic and asking all the questions. I think everyone has a story to tell, and I loved getting their story out there to my audience. Writing is just the same, except I’m telling all the stories and my characters are my guests on my “show” All of my previous incarnations are alive and well in my new career as an author! And I love it!
All of it has influenced me in such a positive way. The soap was living the written word and I absorbed that like a sponge! I know I wanted to write, but at the time I was thinking of TV and movie scripts. Somehow, I always came back to novels. It allows me to paint better pictures. But most importantly, I just love people! I love listening to stories and then re-telling them. As a radio talk show host, I got to listen and talk with people for four hours a day and more! It was fantastic. I could always imagine what they were saying to me as a novel or a movie. And in my head I was writing it as a novel. Life in general plays out in my head with words, telling stories like from a novel. In the Deep South, storytelling is part of our culture. On a warm summer night, the front porch beckons as the fireflies glitter around the yard, and we gather under the porch light to tell stories.
I have had so many funny great moments! I was in a studio in LA when we had a small earthquake. I was actually a guest of Larry King watching him do his show. That freaked him out so bad as the mic began to swing while we were live on the air! Then there was the time that I ran into Oprah at Spago! Oh my
gosh, I nearly died! I had just interviewed her by phone on my radio show and so when I saw she was there, I sent her a note but the host said, just go over and see her, she is so easy.” I was still so star-struck. I went over to her and she asked me and my husband to sit down with her for dessert! It was thrilling as we sat together and had a chat…WITH OPRAH! I’m still not over it!
But, the funniest thing that ever happened to me was a time when I was on The Young and The Restless. I have always been a tad, well…plump. A size 8-10 is supersized in Hollywood so I decided I needed an all-in-one girdle for my big day. JUST AS THE DIRECTOR SAID, “ACTION” I walked to my mark and felt my left breast pop out of my girdle and swing for sweet freedom! The girdle had snapped under all that pressure. Needless to say, one side of me was “bouncier” than the other!
3. Some of the characters in The Sassy Belles are hoots! Growing up in the South, how many of them are based on people you knew?
All of these wonderful funny women are an amalgamation of my favorite women in the south.my mom, my best friends, my grandmother, and my aunts. They are so hilarious and out-spoken. I love writing them into my characters! And in the novels, the reader will enjoy the women all gathered around the old kitchen table with their Krispy Kremes or Keebler concoctions and support each other and laugh. In times of crisis or celebration, we always ran to my grandmother’s kitchen table and talked and laughed through everything. Those memories really inspired the novels. I can’t recall a memory to this day that soothes me and makes me happy like those days growing up down south sitting around that table with my mother, grandmother, aunt and my life-long girlfriends. The reader is really in for a treat because they will get to “sit” at that table with us!
4. Having feet in both places, what made you write about the South vs. Hollywood? Will you continue to write about the South after the Belles Trilogy is finished?
Oh, absolutely! I love the SOUTH like no place else on earth! Writing The Sassy Belles was my attempt at curing a huge bout of homesickness. I was needing my Sassy sisters and my mom and so I began—writing about Tuscaloosa so I could be there. The south is a place that is so different form anywhere. The culture is of people who are so close, and warm and welcoming. An open-door-and-food-on-the-table kind of place. Plus the people are so funny. They just say what they think, like my character, Vivi. The women I know there are the strongest of women and still always act and dress like a lady. That is appealing in itself! Tuscaloosa is a college town, with a rich pre-civil war history. It’s full of gorgeous antebellum homes, a fabulous old wide river, great restaurants and of course, the national champion college football team, the Alabama Crimson Tide! It is my Disneyland, my nirvana! I love it there and that passion, I hope, will come through the writing! I do love my Tuscaloosa!! I always said, Hollywood’s got nothin’ on the Deep South. We have our own brand of everything there, food people hospitality. I write what I know and love, so that’s Tuscaloosa for sure!
5. Word has it that your books are now going to have recipes included in your books. Care to share one?
Sure! Here is my very favorite southern dish!
Fried Green Tomatoes
3-4 large green tomatoes
1 cup corn meal
¼ cup flour
1 cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup canola oil
Slice tomatoes and mix meal and flour together with a fork to make sure it is blended well.
Salt and pepper tomatoes and dip in milk. Next batter them in the flour and meal mixture.
Pour enough canola oil in large saucepan to cover the bottom of pan but not the tomatoes.
Don’t put too many slices in pan at one time. They should never overlap or touch each other.
Fry over medium to high heat until golden brown. Place on paper to drain and serve hot.
6. Please tell us about your new release Wedding Belles.
Wedding Belles is a super fun and funny story all about trying to get Vivi to the alter BEFORE she pops! She is seven months pregnant! But first she and Blake along with a funny cast of characters have to do something about the fact that there is “another woman” in the grooms life! Here is the description we used on the back of the book:
Seven months pregnant and head over heels in love, Vivi Ann McFadden is busy pulling together the final details for her wedding to Lewis Heart, famous play-by-play announcer for the Crimson Tide. But with two wedding-planners-gone-wild and a psychic giving her advice, a missing wedding ring and the ceremony happening on the same day as the wildly popular Crimson Tide kickoff game, chaos reigns supreme. Luckily, maid of honor Blake O’Hara Heart is on the job. She’ll tackle this wedding if it’s the last thing she does! But not everyone is cheering for the happy couple. News of the upcoming nuptials has brought Lewis’ old flame back to town and she’ got a secret that could mean the end of Lewis’s marriage… before it even begins.
Wedding Belles on Goodreads
Wedding Belles on Amazon
THE SASSY BELLES TRILOGY