Amidst the 1960-1990 Phoenix transformation, the Prince family struggles to create what we now call a "blended family" before they ever heard the term. When a prosperous gentleman convinces her to marry him, Bella's arduous existence suddenly holds the promise of enchantment. Thus begins twenty-eight stories, some in the style of a romantic fairytale, others of a comedy or a tragedy. Together, the stories explore the role of make-believe in a dysfunctional stepfamily trying to make sense of their lives in the changing community around them.Games of Make-Believe brings to light and seeks to answer some tough questions:· What might happen if Cinderella marries the king¹s son, who brings into the union a daughter who rejects her new stepmother?· How do residents adapt as their small fairly kindred community becomes a huge metropolitan area of diverse peoples?· What lifelong consequences besiege this adult survivor of child abuse?· What is the role of religion and pop psychologies for someone whose life is bewildering?
Q. What inspires your writing?
A. I enjoy interacting with people face-to-face, but I continue to think of all those I’d like to invite into my world to share a creative experience. I welcome the opportunity to reach some of you online.
Q. What is your favorite thing about being a writer?
A. I recall once at a book festival a woman interviewed us authors about this question and none had my answer. I most like the opportunity to be alone to think and create. I’m never lonely when I’m creating characters who take me into their lives. In fact, it’s exhilarating.
Q. What is the toughest part of being a writer?
A. Enforcing my time to be alone and write. It’s been awhile since I’ve been involved with other writers who share this peculiar desire to put words on a page designed for reading by those we’ll likely never meet. My friends, family, and acquaintances seem confused by my desire to be alone so I can create.
Q. If you could not be writer, what would you do/be?
A. For over thirty years, I was a college professor where I administered the department, taught classes, did workshops, conducted research, wrote books and articles, and shared my work at academic conferences. These days, I continue to do many things besides write. I still occasionally mediate disputes, run a book club, and coordinate a group that volunteers at an elementary school (where I read with children). Also, I’m politically active. Are you beginning to see why I need to fight to be alone?
Q. What would the story of your life be entitled?
A. “Girl From the Other Side of the Tracks Gets It All: Thanks to Those Who Helped Along the Way”
Q. What is your favorite book of all time?
A. This is a tough one. I looked over my bookshelf, accumulated a small pile, then forced myself down to three. “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez is a book I’ve read several times and think it’s time to read it again. I love Louise Erdrich’s books and “Love Medicine” is my favorite. How to select just one of Alice Munro’s short story collections? I settled on the Everyman’s Library edition of “Carried Away: A Personal Selection of Stories.” It took me awhile to appreciate Munro, but now I want to read everything she’s written. I’ve managed only 52 of her 176 stories. So little time.
Q. Which character from ANY book are you most like?
A. When I first met Scout in Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird,” I wondered if the author had known me. I was a tomboy with four brothers. I seemed to have questions and opinions about everything, and I took guff from no one. My mother once told me I was not an easy child.
Q. What character from all of your book are you most like?
A. Hmm… In “Games of Make-Believe,” which character is most like me? All, I guess, since I created Bella who looks for ways to make sense of life; Renata who is driven to excel at her art; Doris who needs to care for others; the daughters who stick together as I try to with my own sister; even Hal who is a workaholic. I’m all this and more.
Q. Which book would you love to take a weekend vacation inside of?
A. Okay. I've decided. I’m going to search out more Munro short stories. I’ve read all her collections, so I’ll have to search. I can hardly wait.
Q. What is your favorite season?
A. I live in the Phoenix desert where our seasons are unlike most places. Winters are spectacular, summers dreadful. We pretty much have no spring or fall. So, my husband and I leave for the mountains when the summer heat comes, and we enjoy the wonders of spring, summer and fall. Gads! I like them all.
Q. What inspired your book cover(s)? Or what is your favorite book cover and why?
A. I have no sense of how to create visuals. There are artists in my family, but none of that talent graced me. So, I need to depend on professionals and we argue back and forth a lot. It’s true. I don’t like the cover of “Games of Make-Believe.” I’m never happy with book covers, but I’ve no idea how to improve them.
Q. Tell me something funny that happened while on a book tour or while promoting your book.
A. A woman told me she selected “Games of Make-Believe,” without reading the associated information. She thought it was a book of make-believe activities for children. Not until she began to read did she check out the description. She also said once she read the first few pages, she was hooked and surprisingly pleased she’d made the mistake. I couldn’t have been happier. We had a great discussion about the fairy tale retelling of Cinderella in “Games of Make-Believe.”
Q. Are you working on something new?
A. Of course. I’ve created several short pieces, but they haven’t yet come together. I never worry about that. It’ll come when it comes. I’ve learned to not push it.
Q. Anything you want to say to followers of this blog or those that are just stopping by?
A. I wanted to set “Games of Make-Believe” in early Phoenix because I knew how stressful it was for people to come to Phoenix from elsewhere to build a new life—rather like their ancestors who came to America had done. A woman from the Midwest whose sister moved to Phoenix asked me, “What do you do for holidays when you have no family in Phoenix?” I told her we learn to create families. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it can be very satisfying.
A retired college professor whose publications were primarily academic, Dr. Julie Ann Wambach offers her first work of fiction, Games of Make-Believe. She was born in Wisconsin to a large family and has always been interested in the dynamics of both her own family and those of her friends and acquaintances.
Having lived in Arizona for 50 years, Wambach knew Phoenix when it was a sleepy community and she watched the changes in size and population makeup as it grew into a huge metropolitan area. How these changes affected families led Wambach to create a work of fiction wherein a family with roots from outside Arizona struggled to make sense of who they were and how they might fit into the this complicated new world.
While their two grown children have settled elsewhere, Dr. Wambach and her husband still live in the Phoenix area.