*and I promise, I'll stop with the food-related lingo
Young Bernie (Bernadette) Maguire is in for the journey of a lifetime when her junior year abroad takes her to Fribourg Switzerland. Ripe for love and adventure she is seduced by a handsome Swiss banker. She is horrified when she discovers she's pregnant. Protected and befriended by those who help to keep her secret for as long as possible, this moving rite-of-passage tale will warm the heart as a young woman struggles with an all-too-familiar dilemma. Yet after the unexpected death of her father and the discovery of her pregnancy by her classmate Timmy, who believes the child to be his, Bernie’s life takes some unexpected turns that it will take decades to resolve.
LM: Welcome, Martha, and thanks for being here today! Now, I know Chocolate for Breakfast is loosely based on your junior year abroad. In what way is Bernie’s story similar to yours? In what way is it different?
MR: The truth in this story is that I spent my junior year of college abroad, at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland. I lived in a tiny closet of a room. And while I was there, my father died unexpectedly. The passage where I learn of my father’s death is pretty much word for word the way it happened. Other than that, my life was boring!! So I made up everything else.
LM: Oh my goodness, I'm so sorry about your dad. Okay, slightly altered question – how are you similar to Bernie and how are you different?
MR: I don’t have any children. I don’t have red hair. And I don’t have an Aunt Joan! I think I had some of the naiveté Bernie had at 20. And I was single until I met my husband at age 35, so I’d lived a heady life as a single girl in the 80’s. No regrets!
LM: That's fantastic. Have you done a casting in your mind? To put it another way, do you have specific actors in mind for a film adaptation?
MR: I always pictured Emma Stone as Bernie, even as I was writing. Another person suggested Amy Adams, and I could see that, too. Some of my friends had their own ideas on casting: Julianne Moore as the older Bernie, Michelle Pfeiffer or Jane Krakowski as Erika. I’d love to see Shia LaBeouf as Karl and Greg Kinnear as Fred Gordon.
LM: Cool. Since your characters are so young, are you aiming for the YA crowd or do you consider Chocolate for Breakfast to be more of a memoir for older readers?
MR: The book is classified as “contemporary women’s fiction.” I think it’s for both young and older women (ones who remember the late 70’s!). But I have to tell you, I know of at least a dozen men who have read it, too.
LM: Nice. How long ago did you start writing?
MR: I have been writing since I was a child. I fell in love with writing as a teenager, pouring out my angst and desires to myself. And I majored in English at college. My mom signed me up for a Creative Writing class at Brown University one summer. She always told me I could be a writer.
LM: Did you always want to be an author or did you get there by a roundabout way?
MR: It’s what I’d hoped for, but circumstances can send you in a different direction. The death of my father altered some of my dreams, and I worked at jobs I didn’t always enjoy. I’m very fortunate to be able to write full-time now.
LM: Do you have any wild or wacky writing quirks?
MR: Ha! I don’t know how weird this is, but I usually write while wearing ear plugs (no music). Some of my best ideas have come when I couldn’t sleep, which means getting up and typing for another half hour or so. My husband is used to it now.
LM: Oh, I do the earplugs thing too. Live on a busy street. Now... who are some of your favorite authors?
MR: There are many! Flannery O’Connor, Claire Cook, Tonya Kappes, Amy Tan, Anna Quindlen, the late Maeve Binchy. Oh, let me name some men, too. Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner.
LM: What’s your all-time favorite opening line?
MR: “You better not never tell nobody but God.”
LM: Good one! I had to Google it, I'm afraid, but once I did I remembered the context. Such a good book. Okay, What’s your ultimate professional dream? Bestselling author status? Hollywood film adaptation? Total world domination? All of the above?
MR: Definitely not world domination! I’ve had some great feedback on my debut novel, and I’m just so grateful for that. I don’t need the NYT Bestseller list to be satisfied, but I do want to reach as many people as I can. And if the reader is moved, I’ll feel that I’ve accomplished something.
LM: What’s your next project? Can you give us a little teaser of what’s to come?
MR: Yes! I’m working on a novel about a high school class of 1987, and their 25-year reunion. I’ve been listening to songs from that year to get motivated, but the story will take place over just five months in 2012.
LM: Sounds like fun! Okay, now it's time for a little something I call "pick one". Plotter or Pantser?
MR: Pantser, at least for Chocolate for Breakfast. I’m trying to plot some for this next novel.
LM: Character First or Plot First?
MR: Characters. They drive the plot for me.
LM: Mac or PC?
MR: I work on a PC, at a desk. But I keep a small notebook with me all the time.
LM: Edit As You Go or Power Through and Edit Later?
MR: I try to power through as much as I can, but sometimes I just can’t help correcting myself.
LM: Morning Person or Night Owl?
MR: Morning, after coffee.
LM: Coffee or Tea?
MR: Oops, answered that one above, I guess! Two cups in the morning. Decaf tea occasionally on a winter afternoon.
LM: Coke or Pepsi?
MR: Neither, although I lived on Diet Coke when I was younger.
LM: Sandals or Stilettos?
MR: Sandals. Wearing stilettos constantly led to foot surgery years ago. The best I can do now is cowboy boots!
LM: Diamonds or Pearls?
LM: Snow-Capped Mountain or Sandy Beach?
MR: Oh, man! Both! But I’m more of a cold-weather girl, so give me a mountain in Switzerland in winter, please.
LM: Cowboys or CEOs?
LM: Ginger or Mary Ann?
MR: Mary Ann. Although as a kid, I was in awe of Ginger.
LM: Superman or Batman?
MR: Superman, easily. Who didn’t want to be Lois Lane?
LM: Alpha Heroes or Beta Heroes?
MR: Beta, most likely. Alphas are great for fantasies, though!
LM: Austen or the Brontes?
MR: Austen. But only because I’ve read more of her books than either of the Brontes.
LM: Mr. Darcy or Captain Butler?
MR: Mr. Darcy, please and thank you.
LM: Thank you for being here today! And now here's a little something to get your tummy rumbling: the delicious cover for Chocolate for Breakfast!
*Sorry, peeps. But I did really well with
restraining the cheesy food references, non?
You can find Martha...
on her blog
And you can find her book on Amazon