Even though I typically don’t read romance novels, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to interview fellow NC writer Abby Cavenaugh. Before I get to my chat with Abby, here’s a quick look at her book Going Home Again (published by Swoon Romance).
Review: It’s not every day a girl gets a second chance with a high school crush. But that day finally arrives for Alyssa Jones twenty years after she first set eyes on Michael Day, who went from popular guy in school to pop star sensation. He’s returned to Wrightsville Beach, NC, and Alyssa is assigned to interview him for Wrightsville Magazine. The old feelings bubble back to the surface when she lays eyes on Mike, and Alyssa is surprised to find she’s still carrying a torch for him after all these years. But there’s one big obstacle standing in her way: Michael Day is married.
After an awkward meet-cute, the sparks begin to fly between Mike and Alyssa. During his interview Mike admits he’s escaped to Wrightsville Beach to get some space from his marriage. Alyssa learns that things aren’t always what they seem and finds out the truth behind Mike’s career and marriage to Tina. The two bond over failed relationships (Alyssa is divorced), and while Alyssa tries to help Mike navigate his way through his crumbling marriage, she finds it impossible to keep her own feelings out of the equation.
The story is told from both Alyssa and Mike’s point of view, and takes place partly in Wrightsville Beach and in New York. By telling both sides of the story, the reader is able to see exactly how Alyssa and Mike feel about each other, and how their decision to be together will impact their lives.
Interview with Abby:
Diana: What made you pick the setting of Wrightsville Beach for your novel?
Abby: I grew up about half an hour from Wilmington, which neighbors Wrightsville Beach, so when I went “out” as a teenager, I’d often go to Wilmington, and when I went to the beach, I’d go to Wrightsville sometimes. Plus, I worked at the newspaper and magazine in Wrightsville Beach from 2004-2007, and it was such a positive experience for me. I loved going to work at the beach! All of my stories are set in Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach. It’s just such a beautiful, interesting area.
Diana: What’s the story behind your story?
Abbby: I know it may sound kind of crazy, but in all honesty, my first encounter with my favorite New Kid, Jordan Knight, inspired the story. I am a huge New Kids on the Block fan, or Blockhead. In October 2008, there was an insane “mutual attack” between fans and Jordan Knight and Donnie Wahlberg after the concert in Charlotte. Somehow during the madness, I happened to get a quick hug from Jordan, and I remember how he looked me right in the eyes and said “Hey!” and I was just amazed because back in the day, I could never get his attention at concerts or anything. After that, I got to thinking how awesome it was that Jordan finally knew I was alive (at least for those few seconds) after 20 years of me crushing on him. I never even got close to meeting any of the New Kids back in the day. And then I thought wouldn’t it be amazing if that unattainable guy you crushed on in high school was suddenly attainable 20 years later? From there, the idea just grew.
Diana: Tell me a little about Going Home Again‘s journey from your imagination to publication.
Abby: Wow. It’s definitely been a journey! I’ve been working on this manuscript since late 2008. I finished the first draft late in 2011, and it was WAY too long. After more rejections than I’d like to admit, I decided it was best to cut a lot of the story. There’s an epilogue that readers will never see, and a lot more detail to Alyssa’s history of crushing on Michael, but I had to delete those things in order to make the story stronger. Several agents were interested, but ultimately passed on it. I was ready to give up, and I shelved Going Home Again for a few months while I wrote a new, completely different story– a YA paranormal. I happened to see on Twitter one day that Swoon Romance was taking pitches, so I thought, “What the hell? I’ll give it a shot.” I pitched this: “Reporter Alyssa always dreamed of pop star Michael Day. But is he worth her name in the headlines rather than the byline?
#PitchSwoon” Swoon requested a partial and just a few hours later, asked for the full manuscript. After that, things went fairly quickly and I received an offer. Next thing I knew, Going Home Again was being published and my dream finally came true!!
Diana: When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
Abby: I think I was about 12 years old. I read a book by Dean Koontz, and I wanted to create characters as wonderful as his. Although, obviously, I ended up writing a completely different genre from the man who inspired me to become a writer!
Diana: What do you find to be the hardest part about writing? The easiest?
Abby: The hardest thing for me is not to use adverbs and passive voice. I’m an adverb addict but it’s something I’m working on. 😉 For me, creating realistic characters and dialogue comes easily. It’s the story part that I sometimes struggle with.
Diana: Based on your experience, what advice would you give other writers?
Abby: Do not EVER give up. I often quote legendary N.C. State basketball coach Jim Valvano, who said, “Never, ever, ever give up!” Also, don’t compare yourself to others. Their success isn’t yours. Your success will be different; it just might not come as quickly as you’d like. Believe me, I know. I’m one of the most impatient people on the planet.
Diana: If you could spend the day with a fictional character, who would it be and why? And what would you do?
Abby: I think it would be Michael Day in Going Home Again, because I created him and I know he’s awesome. 😀 I think I’d spend the day at his house on Wrightsville Beach!
Diana: Do you plan out your stories, or do you sit down at your computer and see where your story takes you?
Abby: I am a total pantser!!! I wish sometimes I could be more of a planner, but I just can’t work that way. I sit in front of my laptop and figure it out from there. I may know what’s going to happen in the middle or the end, but I hardly ever know the in between until I write it.
Thanks so much for the interview, Abby! You can learn more about Abby by following her on Twitter (@abswrites) and checking out her blog: http://abswritesalot.wordpress.com/
And if you want to get your own copy of Going Home Again, you can find it at the following places:
And be sure to check out what others are saying about it on Goodreads! http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18242120-going-home-again