Monday, November 3, 2014

CLP Blog Tour: The Fall of Our Secrets by Tracy Gardner Beno

Laura and Nicole, childhood friends separated by mysterious circumstances, meet again quite by accident and renew their friendship. 

Laura is a devoted single mom. She's stuck in a going nowhere relationship, but doesn't realize it until she meets Adam, her newly dubbed Airport Hottie, on the flight home after spending a whirlwind weekend with Nicole. 

Nicole is now married to the man of her dreams, but she carries deep wounds from a childhood filled with secrets, constantly afraid to trust any true happiness she encounters. 

Together these two best friends work toward uncovering the long buried secrets of Nicole's horrific past, ultimately freeing her to believe in and embrace the new life she's worked so hard to create. The friendship nurtures both women and Laura finds her own self confidence and the revelation that what she needs is within reach, hers for the taking. 

THE FALL OF OUR SECRETS takes the reader on a hopeful journey of love and discovery.

Author Bio

Tracy Gardner Beno is a Metro Detroit native who has lived in and around small, rural communities like those described in The Fall of Our Secrets. Her stories draw readers in with recognizable characters and real emotion, seasoned with intrigue and a dash of humor. She loves spending time with her husband and two children, reading, writing, and catching her favorite bands in concert as often as possible. She works as a Registered Nurse in her day job and when she's not writing novels she contributes short stories and articles to Verite Magazine where she's a staff writer.

Literary Counsel:

Hi Emily, thank you for having me today!

Q.  What inspires your writing?
Life. Everyday life. Little things I see, mannerisms, a mundane interaction between a dad and his daughter, a kid stopping to pet a stray dog, an argument between friends. Somehow these little things get incorporated into bigger ideas. My imagination plays “What If” a lot of the time.

Q.  What is your favorite thing about being an author? 
I think my favorite thing is the way the story begins to feel real to me. I know that’s happening when my characters start showing up in my dreams! When I’m in the middle of a manuscript, my characters truly seem like real people. It’s kind of like watching your very favorite TV show every week, but having total control over what happens next. (Well, usually having control. Sometimes my characters don’t behave the way I want them to!) 

Q.  What is the toughest part of being an author?
That’s relative. Now, I’d say making enough time to do the thing. A year ago, my answer would have been different. Then, I would have said: Being an author. Now that the book has been published, and I have another being looked at by my agent and another in progress, things have been dialed up a bit and it is challenging to find the time I need to devote. But somehow I do find it. I love this ride, so even the tough parts of being an author don’t feel tough to me at this point.

Q.  If you could not be author, what would you do/be?
I guess I’d be a Registered Nurse, since that’s what I am. Or an archaeologist. I always wanted to be an archaeologist.

Q.  What would the story of your life be entitled?
That’s easy. Don’t Tell Me What To Do.

Q.  What is your favorite book of all time?
Oh wow. That’s not a fair question. That’s like asking me whether I love my daughter or son more. I can’t choose one. How about my top three? 
The Art of Racing in the Rain (Garth Stein), for the profound messages it holds about life and drive and vision. (I actually have a few blog posts expanding on the themes in that book).
Good in Bed (Jennifer Weiner), since it’s one of the only books I’ve ever read cover to cover in one day due to the sheer inability to put the damn thing down.
East of Eden (John Steinbeck), for the poetry of the text and the disturbing, deeply human relationships portrayed.

Q.  Which part of your book(s) was the easiest to write?
The beginning and end. I always know where I’ll start and where I’ll end up.

Q.  Which part of your book(s) was the hardest to write?
The middle! Actually, that’s not quite true. The middle was pretty easy too, but as the mystery unravels in the story I had to make sure all of the details mesh, each little nugget of foreshadowing is well placed, that sort of thing.

Q.  Which character from any book are you most like?
I’ll fess up and admit I am a lot like Laura in The Fall of Our Secrets. The disclaimer here is that no character is 100% me … and every character is a little bit me!

Q.  What is your favorite season?
Fall. I live in Michigan, which means right now every tree is an explosion of reds and yellows and oranges. The air is crisp and clear during the day and chilly at night. Fall brings pumpkin spice coffee, fuzzy sweaters, much missed Converse boots, hot apple cider and donuts, and best of all, Halloween. I love Halloween like kids love Christmas morning.

Q.  Tell me something funny that happened while on a book tour or while promoting your book(s).
Shortly after the book release party, a friend of mine messaged me saying she was almost done with the book, and she just had one question.
“Sure,” I said, “what’s the question?”
Her response: “Is Airport Hottie real, and where can I meet him?”
Gotta say, I LOVE that!

Q.  Are you working on something new?
Yes! Two manuscripts. One is the second in a series, the first of which is a coming of age novel about girl who loses her twin, falls in love with the wrong man and then finds the right one. The other is a women’s fiction about a mother and daughter who are forced to start a new life far away from home in the stark beauty of Alaska, and must discover who they are each meant to be.

Q.  Anything you want to say to followers of this blog or those that are just stopping by?
Just thank you. As a debut author who has been writing, querying, submitting and flat out trying to be an author for many years, I am so appreciative of any support for not only my book, but every other book and writer out there. There’s a certain type of person who views fiction as a form of magic (paraphrasing Stephen King here). These are the people who frequent book blogs and author sites. These are my people. Thank you so much for reading!

Q. Can you tell me a little about the inspiration behind your book cover(s)?
The cover was absolutely inspired, mostly on the part of Literary Counsel’s Fran Black. There’s a scene described in the first chapter that has the two main characters, Laura and Nicole, huddled in pajamas on Nicole’s porch, sharing what turns out to be their last conversation before the girls are separated long into their adulthood. I think that moment on the run-down porch perfectly sets the tone for Nicole’s journey, past and present. Fran envisioned the porch, and artist Martin Blanco brought the scene to life beautifully, right down to the dying, vivid fall leaves. I put my two cents in, but my two cents mainly involved me saying, “YES, I love it!”

Thank you so much for hosting me and The Fall of Our Secrets!

To mix things up a bit, we thought it might be fun to let main character Laura from THE FALL OF OUR SECRETS take a turn at interviewing the author.

Laura: Hello Tracy! First things first. How did you come up with the idea for me?
Tracy: It’s great to speak with you, Laura! You are actually a unique and special character to me. You’re the very first character I ever created. The story, while about both Nicole and yourself, starts and ends with you. You resemble me in manner and appearance because you were my first, I think. I took an idea and then embellished and twisted and added to it, and got you!
Laura: Wow! I like that. I do feel special now. But listen. I have to ask this, because sometimes it drives me crazy. Why is it that Nicole gets to wear high end fashion while you dress me off the clearance rack of the local Shop N Save? I mean come on. You put her in Christian Louboutins and Chanel, and she looks stunning in everything she wears. Not fair.
Tracy: Laura. How could you forget about the beautiful Zac Posen gown I found for you on that shopping spree with Nicole? Your Texas Red Dress, remember? You just can’t wear those types of things often, it’s reality. You’re a single working mom. You have limited finances, your free time is in short supply, andwhen would you ever use a closet full of fancy high end clothing anyway? Besides on a date with your Airport Hottie, I mean.
Laura: Okay, fine. I guess that makes sense. And thank you for that dress--it did amazing things for my body! So now explain why I had to be the fat one.
Tracy: What are you talking about?! Laura, you are not fat. You’re a curvy girl. Sure, maybe you have a few extra pounds you’re not thrilled about, but you know what? You’re the only one who’s bothered by that. Adam loves every inch of your curves, and honestly, I think he loves that you aren’t afraid to indulge now and then. You and your sister Jenny would never dream of turning down a brownie sundae, and I like that about you. I like your lust for life, your high chocolate tolerance, and the fact that you’re just too busy living to try to fix something that doesn’t need fixing. You need to remind yourself of that now and then, Laura. You’re great just the way you are.
Laura:Nice answer. You’re kind of a smooth talker, y’know. I’ll accept that. Okay, now a heavier (get it? my play on words?) question. I’m really wondering how the hell I ended up getting pregnant so young, when it’s very clear I was raised by “Mr. and Mrs. Roman Catholic” themselves.
Tracy: That’s a good question. I go through a process in developing characters. I know you were a straight A student in school. I know your first crush was Tony Barzetti in 6th grade. I know you cried for a week when your pet rabbit died. When I chose to have you come from a Catholic background, I had a very clear vision of what that would entail. In my own experience, the Catholic faith can either be fulfilling and provide a strong foundation for morality and goodness, or it can be oppressive and stilting and bring out the tendency to automatically rebel. Or it can be both. In this story, Catholicism is painted realistically in that it does contribute to both sides of that coin. Your response, as you matured into an adult, was to rebel. You were always a good girl, Laura, but the teenage years are tumultuous no matter how stable your home life. You lost the person you’d called best friend since the age of three. You’d never had a real boyfriend when you left for college. Of course you were going to fall for the first guy who took an interest, and of course you were going to exercise your new status as an adult and defy everything your parents tried to instill in you. The end result, though, was Charlie, your amazing son. And none of what you went through changes the fact that you’re still a good person.
Laura: Jeez. Thanks for making me tear up. You really put a lot of thought into how I came to be me. What made you give me a sister?
Tracy: I love your sister Jenny. Honestly, the main reason you have a sister is because I love my own sister and can’t imagine life without her. We are night and day opposites in some ways, similar to you and Jenny, but that unique bond that sisters share is something I felt I had to include in my first novel. Jenny is possibly a little underused in this book, but she was so intriguing to me I actually wrote an entire follow-up book about her.
Laura: Oooh! I want to know what happens next! Plus I’d never complain about furthering my own story with my Airport Hottie. Which brings me to my last question. You know how hard I fell for Adam. Even with that, it was difficult for me work up the nerve to really make the right decision with Steve. As much as I was smitten with Adam, I’m still not sure why I had such a hard time trusting his feelings for me.
Tracy: I actually had a reader ask me that same question. I know it’s frustrating to be part of a novel in which your female counterpart is so confident and strong, as least outwardly. And your own sister is a tough cookie who takes no shit. Even though I laid the groundwork of who you are, Laura, you grew into your own person as the manuscript took shape. You tend to have a fair amount of self-doubt. Maybe it was becoming a mother at such a young age, or maybe it’s just hard-wired into your makeup. With Adam, you are constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. For a long time, you truly believed that you were only worthy of a love like you had with Steve. It’s no coincidence that Adam came into your life right after you reopened the door to your childhood hopes and dreams. Something in you shifted the day you found Nicole in Texas, a simpler, more idealistic way of thinking. It’s what made him notice you in the first place on that plane. And, as we all know how incredible and beautiful you find Adam, of course you doubted everything about his feelings for you. You’d already taken the first step into your future, you just didn’t know it yet. You had to figure it out the hard way, Laura, but I’m so happy you did!
Laura: Thank you so much, Tracy. I’d love to stay and chat, but I’ve got a date with Nicole. She’s going to help me find something fun to wear for the mystery trip Adam’s taking me on this weekend!
Tracy: Thanks for the great interview, Laura. Say hello to Nicole for me!
And thank you to Mrs. Mommy Booknerd’s Book Reviews for hosting us today.

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Emily, AKA Mrs. Mommy Booknerd

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