Follow the tour HERE
Caroline Burau is a blogger, two-time author, and a 911 dispatcher. Her first book, Answering 911: Life in the Hot Seat was a Reader's Digest Editor's Choice and a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award.
Connect with Caroline @ http://www.carolineburau.com/
I slept through Roatan. Just as well. Somebody told me there’s a sand flea issue on the beaches. That’s all I need to add to my resume: Alcoholic, sugar addict, sand flea carrier. Maybe there’s a meeting for that out here on the swinging seas.
I got up around 2 p.m., took a long shower in our tiny stall, and rummaged around for something to wear.
The TV was still on of course, and some little spa-tart with purple fingernails was giving a demonstration on how to perform your own, at-home Caviar Facial. She smeared a blob of black mess onto an eager old woman’s face while others looked on, nodding feverishly about the healing benefits of fish eggs.
Fish eggs. Fingernails. Paris Hilton sunglasses. Who was that girl with Bill? Who cares? I sure as hell don’t.
Still. What to wear?
After some looking, I found a rather comely sundress I’d forgotten I had: kind of a tie-dyed number with pleats and gatherings all in just the right places to promote maximum sin concealment. I slipped on a pair of strappy leather sandals and checked myself in the mirror. Today, I figured, would be a good day to act human for once. I’d had my little melt-down. I’d said some really fascinating things to some basically innocent people, and I’d more than made up for lost drinking time. I’d spent so much time at the sundae bar that the lady behind the counter already knew my name, my cat’s name, and my preferred ratio of hot fudge to scoops of ice cream.
Purple fingernails rinsed all the sludge off the old lady’s face, who suddenly beamed like a new bride. “Don’t forget ladies,” spa-tart hissed. “Join Lauren tomorrow at 9:30 for a Detox Seminar in the fitness center! Learn the secret to lasting weight loss once and for all!”
I found my brush and turned on Roxanne’s curling iron. I rummaged in her makeup kit for some foundation, some lip gloss. Just for today, I vowed, vaguely remembering the old post-it note affirmations that used to frame my mirror, just for today I will be different. Just for today . . . I’ll act normal.
About the book:
If her life is a box of chocolates, acid-tongued, sugar-obsessed Estelle Brown should learn how to pick them better. Her boyfriend’s left her for a bulimic hand model, her roomate’s skipped town, and her boss is in love with her. Fed up and In the middle of her latest of a lifetime of doomed diet attempts – cutting sugar cold turkey – Estelle decides to quit quitting for good, pack her bags, and lose herself on a 7-day Caribbean cruise. But even on a floating monument to binge eating, the diet industry follows her. Across from every buffet is a studio full of treadmills. Next to every plate of fried calamari is a large diet Coke. As a ship full of wary passengers ducks for cover, Hurricane Estelle wages her own personal war against moderation. But the consequences land her in the belly of the beast: broke, alone, and forced to take a job as –of all things-- a detox consultant for the ship. Is Skinny the answer to Happy? Is Sweet n Low the new black? Is that Denise Austin chick … for real? No, no and yes, oddly. But for a Sugarfiend, it’s not the destination that matters, it’s all the cupcakes you get to eat along the way.
Q. What's your pre-writing process? What planning goes into your story before you sit down to write it?
Sugarfiend started as a short story, then got completely out of control because Estelle's character was so incredibly flawed I knew it would take way more than twenty pages to fix her. When I realized it was becoming a novel, I wrote out a rough summary of how I wanted things to go and where they already were, so I didn't lose track or repeat myself. But I wasn't chained to that, and as I wrote, I remained open to going where the mood hit me. Part of the reason I chose to write a novel was that I could just be spontaneous. I had just finished a memoir, which had required a lot of planning, research, and interviews. It was lovely to just sit down and be silly with Sugarfiend.
Q. What inspires your writing?
Whatever I'm feeling passionate about is what inspires my writing. With Sugarfiend, I was feeling ready to write humorous fiction because I'd just finished a somewhat serious memoir, and I was inspired to write about food/body image issues because they have always been so present in my life.
Q. What's a typical day in your writing life?
Because of my odd work schedule, no two days ever really look alike, writing-wise. But a really hard-core no-bullshit, I'm going to get some writing done type of day usually means packing up my laptop, heading to the local coffee shop, ordering a waffle and a house blend, and just going at it with no interruptions.
I've gotten so many good lines and inspiration from conversations I've overheard at the coffee shop. There's a ladies' knitting group that meets weekly, and they have the most incredible arguments. Somehow, they will be in my next book.
Q. What's the best and worst writing advice you ever received? What advice do you have?
The best advice I've received is just to keep writing. Don't let up. Take only short breaks. Even bad writing has its purpose because it's keeping your chops up.
The worst advice I've received is to concern myself with what's selling or to focus my efforts toward any particular market. My feeling is that writing designed to sell is uninspired, and will bring you and your readers no joy.
My best advice to writers is to read a lot. Read from many genres, and respect the effort that goes into it. Even when you don't like the writing, there's something to learn from almost any book.
Q. How do you motivate yourself to keep writing?
a: I remind myself how good I feel when I'm producing versus when I'm not. Writing gives me a sense of pride and purpose, and it helps me connect with people. When I'm gone, what's left will be how I treated people and my writing, and I want to be proud of both.
Q. What is your favorite thing about being an author?
The best thing about being an author is the feedback you get when somebody relates to the story. Plus, writing is way more fun that real work.
Q. What is the toughest part of being an author?
The toughest thing about being an author is all the work you have to do to be able to truthfully say, "I am an author." Then of course there is the work of marketing your book. Don't even get me started.
Q. If you could not be author, what would you do/be?
I don't make my living as an author, but if for some reason I couldn't write, I'd have to find some other way to express myself, and it would likely be really terrible, because writing is all I've ever done in that regard. Perhaps pancake art.
Q. Can you tell me a little about the inspiration behind your book cover(s)?
I'm actually really proud of the cover. The plastic girl drowning in cupcake is Estelle, of course. Once I had all the cheesy cake props together, my husband, who is a photographer, lined everything up and took the shot. He also ate the cupcake afterward because I was on some ridiculous detox that week.
Q. What would the story of your life be entitled?
The story of my life? I actually started a memoir tentatively called "Big Boned" then realized there's already a novel out there with that title. "Sugarfiend" would work, but that's also taken, which leaves "Pancake Art for Dummies."
Q. What is your favorite book of all time?
My ONE favorite book? I can't cope. Okay ... "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" because Hunter Thompson's writing was so unlike anything anyone had ever seen at that time, and so utterly fearless and honest.
Q. Which part of your book(s) was the easiest to write?
The last third of "Sugarfiend" was the most effortless because I knew at that point exactly what I wanted Estelle and the gang to do, and I had been writing in her voice long enough that I didn't have to think about it anymore.
Q. Which part of your book(s) was the hardest to write?
I think the first fifty or so pages of any book are the most difficult because so much has to be established, and so much is riding on them. If you can't grab the reader in those first pages, the rest doesn't seem to matter.
Q . Which character from any book are you most like?
In Sugarfiend, Estelle is based on me at around age nineteen. I'm having a hard time convincing my mother I was never as wild as Estelle, but she still won't finish the book.
Q. What is your favorite season?
Summer is my favorite season. It never lasts long enough in Minnesota.
Q. Tell me something funny that happened while on a book tour or while promoting your book(s).
I once got scheduled to give a reading at a Borders in Madison, Wisconsin at the same time that the Packers were playing on Monday Night Football. You could almost hear the crickets chirping.
Q. Are you working on something new?
Right now, I am blogging a lot in support of both Sugarfiend and Answering 911, and having a lot of fun. I do have a memoir idea in the works, but it's TOP SECRET! At least for now.
Q. Anything you want to say to followers of this blog or those that are just stopping by?
If you've already endured this much of my interview, you might as well just go ahead and buy a copy of Sugarfiend. You clearly have a lot of free time on your hands.