Folks, today I've got Tracie Banister on the blog, author of the brand new novel, In Need of Therapy. I've just finished reading her first one, Blame it on the Fame, and let me tell you, it's a hilarious tale of five very different Academy Award nominees during the run-up to their big night. Packed with LOL moments and a few oh-no-she-didn'ts, I loved it and I can't wait to read In Need of Therapy. And now, without any further ado...
LM: Welcome, Tracie. Please tell us a bit about your new novel, In Need of Therapy.
TB: I think my book blurb says it best:
Lending a sympathetic ear and dispensing sage words of advice is all part of the job for psychologist Pilar Alvarez, and she's everything a good therapist should be: warm, compassionate, supportive. She listens, she cares, and she has all the answers, but how's the woman everyone turns to in their hour of need supposed to cope when her own life starts to fall apart?
While working hard to make a success of her recently-opened practice in trendy South Beach, Pilar must also find time to cater to the demands of her boisterous Cuban family, which includes younger sister Izzy, an unemployed, navel-pierced wild child who can't stay out of trouble, and their mother, a beauty queen turned drama queen who's equally obsessed with her fading looks and getting Pilar married before it's "too late." Although she'd like to oblige her mother and make a permanent love connection, Pilar's romantic prospects look grim. Her cheating ex, who swears that he's reformed, is stalking her. A hunky, but strictly off-limits, patient with a bad-boy appeal and intimacy issues is making passes. And the sexy shrink in the suite across the hall has a gold band on his left ring finger.
When a series of personal and professional disasters lead Pilar into the arms of one of her unsuitable suitors, she's left shaken, confused, and full of self-doubt. With time running out, she must make sense of her feelings and learn to trust herself again so that she can save her business, her family, and most importantly, her heart.
LM: Sounds fabulous. Have you worked as a therapist? If not, what was the research process like?
TB: I seriously considered psychology as a career and took several fascinating classes on the subject in school, but in the end I decided that I didn't have the patience to be a good therapist (I always want to tell people what to do and get very frustrated when they don't follow my excellent advice!) I've also been to therapy myself, so I know how psychologists operate and what the whole therapeutic process is like. So, the only research I really had to do was into specific psychological issues like Transference or Hypochondria or Sudden Wealth Syndrome.
LM: Hm. I wouldn't mind having Sudden Wealth Syndrome. Tell me, did you find it challenging to write from the POV of a Latina?
TB: Not really. I thrive on writing for characters who have different backgrounds, family dynamics, personalities, and careers than mine. Putting myself in someone else's shoes is fun! With Pilar, I enjoyed turning the whole Latina stereotype (loud, brash, vulgar) on its head and making the character really smart, grounded, career-oriented, and classy.
LM: Inquiring minds want to know: who would play Pilar in the film adaptation?
TB: I always pictured Pilar as Eva Mendes because Eva is sexy and pretty without being intimidating. Plus, Eva has this lovely, warm smile and kind eyes, just as I imagined someone as nurturing as Pilar would.
LM: How is In Need of Therapy different from Blame it on the Fame? How are the two novels similar?
TB: Both novels have humor and romance; they just vary in tone. The humor in my first book, Blame it on the Fame, is more biting as that story is set in Hollywood where there's a lot of competitiveness going on. And In Need of Therapy, the humor arises more from the situations the heroine finds herself in both personally and professionally. One big difference in the books is that Blame has some spicy language and love scenes while Therapy is much tamer in that regard. I'd like to think that books one and two are equally fast-paced and fun.
LM: I'm sure there are. Tell us - how long ago did you start writing?
TB: I can't remember a time when I didn't write! I was writing plays when I was in elementary school, multi-part stories in junior high, and literary analyses in high school. I started work on my first novel (Historical Romance if you can believe it!) when I was 20. So, writing has always been a very big, important part of my life.
LM: Did you always want to be an author or did you get there by a roundabout way?
TB: I always considered myself to be a writer, but I didn't think about writing to get published until about 8 years ago when my long-time job came to an end. Friends and family encouraged me to devote myself full-time to my writing and really make an effort to get my work published. Once I started down that track, there was no turning back!
LM: I hear ya. Do you have any wild or wacky writing quirks?
TB: I don't know about any of my quirks being wild or wacky, but I am a creature of habit. I always write in the same place (at my desk in my office), I always wear my Old Navy hoodie cardigan (which I call "my writing sweater"), and I always drink the same thing when I'm working (Lemon La Croix - I'm convinced that the carbonation stimulates my imagination!) Oh, and I always touch the head of my Shakespeare paperweight, which my brother bought for me in Stratford-on-Avon, before I started writing. For luck or inspiration, I'm not sure which.
LM: Cool. Who are some of your favorite authors?
TB: Of all time? Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, Georgette Heyer, and Shakespeare. The author who made me want to become a writer was Kathleen Woodiwiss. I discovered her in my late teens and fell in love with her strong female characters and the well-developed romances in her books. The modern-day authors who inspire me are Lauren Willig, Gail Carriger, Elizabeth Peters, Nora Roberts, and Janet Evanovich.
LM: What's your all-time favorite opening line?
TB: It doesn't get any better than Pride and Prejudice: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."
LM: I totally agree. What a brilliant opening line. What's your ultimate professional dream? Bestselling author status? Hollywood film adaptation? Total world domination? All of the above?
TB: Since I'm such a visual person and a lifelong fan of the movies, I'd say that seeing one of my books brought to life on the big screen would be the biggest thrill I could imagine. Heck, I'd be thrilled to see one of my books turned into a Hallmark Channel movie! :-)
LM: What's your next project? Can you give us a little teaser of what's to come?
TB: My next project is a still-untitled Chick Lit novel about two sisters who are polar opposites and live in San Francisco. I can't say anything more without getting spoilery, but I can promise plenty of comedy, romance, cute guys, and even cuter dogs.
LM: Ooh, I can't wait to read it. Now let's move onto a little something I'm calling "pick one".
Plotter or Pantser?
TB: I'm both actually, so call me a "Plotty Pantser!"
LM: Character first or Plot first?
TB: I almost always start with a premise first, then the characters just naturally spring to mind.
LM: Mac or PC?
TB: I used a Mac way before it was cool, but they're too pricey for me now. So, a PC is this struggling writer's computer of choice.
LM: Edit as you go or Power through and edit later?
TB: Edit as I go.
LM: Morning person or Night owl?
TB: I've always been a morning person.
LM: Coffee or Tea?
TB: Tea. Must be the British blood from my grandmother's side of the family.
LM: Coke or Pepsi?
TB: I live in Atlanta, which is where Coca Cola headquarters is located, so I'd probably be ejected from the state if I didn't say Coke. I'm drinking a Diet Caffeine Free Coke right now.
LM: Sandals or Stilettos?
TB: Neither, really. I'm more of a sneakers girl.
LM: Diamonds or Pearls?
TB: Diamonds. They're my birthstone!
LM: Snow-capped mountain or Sandy beach?
TB: Snow-capped mountain all the way. I'm a big fan of cold weather.
LM: Cowboys or CEOs?
TB: CEOs, definitely. I love a man in an expensive designer suit.
LM: Ginger or Mary Ann?
TB: Ginger. She had a better wardrobe!
LM: Superman or Batman?
TB: Batman. Superman is too much of a goody two-shoes!
LM: Alpha heroes or Beta heroes?
TB: It really depends on the story. I like to read and write about both.
LM: Austen or the Brontes?
TB: This is like Sophie's Choice! I'll go with Austen as she's my all-time favorite writer.
LM: Mr. Darcy or Captain Butler?
TB: Captain Butler, of course! I love a snarky bad boy! :-)
LM: Tracie, thank you so much for stopping by and telling us about your new book.
TB: Thanks so much for having me on your blog today, Libby!
Where you can find Tracie Banister:
Purchase In Need of Therapy:
Barnes & Noble
Purchase Blame it on the Fame: