The Woman America Loves a Latte
by Holly Tierney-Bedord Genre: Women's Fiction
From the best-selling author of Sweet Hollow Women comes a quirky new thriller for fans of Megan Abbott, Liane Moriarty, and Carl Hiaasen.
Veloura has never stood a chance. Raised by a junkie and orphaned as a teen, she's settled for a life of low expectations. She spends her days sprucing up the shack of a has-been bull rider and washing hair down at the local salon. But when it turns out her fiancé doesn't have her best interests at heart, she's forced to come up with a new plan for herself.
An opportunity to be the spokesperson for a coffee chain means a bright future could be hers, if only she can stay ahead of her dark past.
“Suzie,” Vee was saying, “my life is finally coming together. Can you believe I’ve got a wedding to plan?”
Suzie wrapped her finger through the phone cord in her kitchen a couple of times. Her two-year-old daughter Britney was sick with the flu, down for a nap, so she’d taken personal days from both her jobs. Unfortunately, she still had to pay the daycare center, but it was nice to be home on a Monday.
“No, Vee, I can’t believe it. Have you totally given up on that guy who works at RadioShack?”
“God, yes, I’ve totally given up on him.”
“What about the guy at the frozen yogurt place? Or maybe just try being single for a while.”
“I can’t be single. Where would I live? Back in some rooming house with twenty other people?”
“I thought you liked New Horizons?”
“It was a halfway house, Suzie, which would have been okay, but when you’re the only person not recovering from an addiction, everyone gives you the coldest shoulder.”
“I guess you could stay here with us,” Suzie said. She held her breath, hoping Vee would say no.
“No, no. Don’t be crazy. I’ve got everything with Thunder. He’s a man. He owns his own home.”
“I hope you’re not marrying him for his dinky little house.”
“Gimme a break. I’m not that materialistic. I would never marry some guy for his house,” said Vee. “I’m just trying to tell you that, unlike every other guy I’ve ever dated, he’s an honest-to-goodness adultwith things like a bad back and real pots and pans. I need this kind of stability and support. Doesn’t everyone deserve that?”
“Yes, but I thought you said he stays out all night? How does that feel stable to you?”
“I think you get that with all guys, at least early on before they’re fully committed.”
“No, Vee, not all men are like that,” said Suzie.
“Anyway,” said Vee. “Let’s focus on the positive. Like how fast Thunder’s trying to make it all happen.”
“Really?” said Suzie. She was still doubtful whether Vee and Thunder were even engaged or if this was some kind of massive misunderstanding on the part of her friend.
“Really!” said Vee. “I asked him about an engagement ring on Monday—the day after he proposed, you know, wondering when we might want to go to the mall and try some on, and just like that, he disappeared. Left the house. Drove away. I was like, ‘Hey! Where’d he go?’ I thought maybe he was going to bail on me! But then later that same day he showed back up and gave me a ring! Can you believe it?”
“Barely,” said Suzie.
“I can’t believe you haven’t seen it yet. I’ve had it a whole week. It’s a little loose, but I figure I can wear it on my middle finger instead.”
“You could get it resized, you know,” said Suzie.
“Yeah, that costs money. So, on Tuesday I told Thunder I want to go dress shopping with you. And guess what?”
“He presented you with your wedding dress,” Suzie guessed. She lit a cigarette—one of her few guilty pleasures—and blew the smoke out the open window so it wouldn’t drift back to Britney’s room.
“Close,” said Vee, “and I’m going to ignore the sarcasm in your voice.”
“Okay, I give up. What happened next?” asked Suzie, feeling a little guilty that she wasn’t even faking being enthusiastic about any of this.
Holly Tierney-Bedord is the author of several novels and novellas including Sweet Hollow Women, The Woman America Loves a Latte, The Port Elspeth Jewelry Making Club, and Surviving Valencia. She's also an artist and miniaturist, creator of the mid-century dollhouse restoration blog flipthisminihouse.com, and the author of several non-fiction books about creating miniatures. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.
What is something unique/quirky about you?
Along with being an author, I’m a miniaturist. That means I make mini furniture and accessories. I have a blog called Flip This (Mini) House (www.flipthisminihouse.com) all about a mid-century dollhouse I fixed up. I show people how to do things like install little ceramic tiles in their dollhouse, recover tiny furniture, make little rugs on a weaving looms, etc. I’ve also written books about these things. You can follow along with my old project (mid-century dollhouse flip), or new projects (room boxes and a farmhouse style dollhouse flip) on Facebook or Instagram too under FlipThisMiniHouse.
What kind of world ruler would you be?
I would be really stressed out, LOL! I’d want to surround myself with a great team of really kind, intelligent, caring people who are hard-working, calm, and serious. There’d be a lot of rules. It probably wouldn’t be very fun having me in charge. Citizens would have to do things like pick up stray garbage on Saturdays, learn several languages, recycle everything, and adopt all the stray animals (I realize I’m being hypocritical considering I’m currently pet-less). On a positive note, I’d put little pubs featuring live music everywhere. I think I’d get overthrown fairly quickly.
What are you passionate about these days?
Sleep. Healthy eating. Watching The Bachelor.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Do you have any “side stories” about the characters?
I do! I have a novel called Little Miss Eyes of Blue coming out soon, featuring stories about Veloura’s parents when they were first married, her and Suzie when they were younger and first became friends, and other characters. It’s the prequel to The Woman America Loves a Latte (but it works fine to read The Woman America Loves a Latte first).
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
I really loved writing The Woman America Loves a Latte because Veloura, to me, feels so real and likeable. I often write stories with rather unlikeable characters, and while it can be interesting, it’s sometimes a little heavy. This book was a lot of fun to write.
How did you come up with the title of your first novel?
The first novel I published is called Coached. Author Jacquelyn Mitchard was kind enough to read an early version of that book and she suggested the title. I was originally going to call it Lessons from Coach Class.
Who designed your book covers?
I design my own covers. In most cases, I license the cover photo though.
Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Thank you. I always dreamed of being an author, so to everyone who buys my books, reads them, reviews them, and supports me: THANK YOU!
Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
My characters have complete control over the story and never cease to surprise me.
If your book had a candle, what scent would it be?
Coffee bean, naturally ?
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?
I like to write in complete silence. However, sometimes I’ll listen to certain songs that evoke the right mood for a scene. In The Woman America Loves a Latte, since there are so many references to the 1980s and 1990s and to music from those decades, I found myself listening to lots of music. I can’t write with background noise or conversations taking place, though. That’s why I usually write at home instead of at coffee shops.
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
I usually have many going at a time. I’ve accepted I have more books started than I’ll ever finish!
If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose?
I remember feeling that way the first time I read The Bell Jar and The Handmaid’s Tale. Probably lots of other books as well.
Pen or type writer or computer?
What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first? What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Starting with an outline doesn’t work very well for me because it feels like one degree away from writing a research paper. For me, writing a book or story is like starting a journey with no itinerary. If I’m going to keep on that journey, it needs to be fun and surprising. Since I often have very little idea where a story is going, I look forward to getting back to a work in progress the same way I look forward to catching up on some TV show I’ve DVR’d.
My books start with a character and a setting. It’s often some intriguing woman who’s in the midst of a personal crisis. Sometimes she’s likable, other times she isn’t, but she’s always up to something that makes me want to know more about her. I’m interested in people and relationships. While I usually have little or no idea about the plot when I start writing, the mood or “voice” of the story or novel is already there.
In The Woman America Loves a Latte, for instance, one of the opening scenes introduces readers to Veloura, the novel’s main character. She’s waiting for a job interview. We’ve all been there before and can relate to her nervous excitement. Before long, I discovered she was on the run from her ex-fiancé. Exciting, right? It certainly kept me wanting to write more!
I think this free-form writing style works for me because I had writing teachers in grade school and then again in college who encouraged us (made us, actually--not that I was opposed to it) sit down and write, without letting the pencil stop moving for more than a second or two. There wasn’t time to overanalyze our work or get self-conscious, and the writing wasn’t meant to be collected or seen by others. I HIGHLY recommend this technique to people who want to be writers, and even to people who couldn’t care less about being writers. It’s a great way to clear your mind and develop confidence in your writing. It’s also similar to the advice given in one of my favorite books on creativity: The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.
With that being said, writing isn’t purely creative craziness. Turning casual writing into a full-blown novel requires self-discipline and a plan. In my case, after I’ve gotten partway into my novel (maybe around the halfway point), I make notes about what has happened and what still needs to happen in order to loop things around for closure. From that point on, I’m writing with more intention and sometimes even a list of scenes that have to be checked off. It’s also common for me to go back to the first half and tweak it as necessary. Slipping in little clues if it’s a mystery, or little connections and symbols to build a theme.
If you’re interested in being a writer, some of the best writing advice books I’ve read are by Stephen King (On Writing) and Natalie Goldberg (Writing Down the Bones and Wild Mind).
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