Happy Friday my fellow bloggers! Today I have a special guest taking over here at Quill or Pill. Let's welcome Monica Epstein! First, give me some dish on your new book!
When she moves to London following her divorce, Michelle Loeser has no interest in looking for love. She needs to focus on surviving without her ex’s six-figure income, coping with a severe fear of heights, and rebuilding her confidence. And if she keeps her promise to her best friend, she’ll pursue her passion for writing too.
Will Sheridan found his passion early in life. At age eleven, he was cast in the starring role in a film series. Now, at the age of 25, he’s a celebrity at a crossroads in his career. He has no time for women who don’t understand his priorities.
When Will offers to help Michelle acclimate to the unfamiliar city in exchange for cooking lessons, she figures what’s the harm? But jealous fans and coworkers, eager paparazzi, and a distrustful mother see it differently.
That sounds great Monica (keep reading for an excerpt!) But first, I turn over my beloved blog to Ms. Epstein to talk to us about using real places versus fictional places in a novel...take is away Monica!
What’s in a Name?
I’ve read books that are set in real towns and cities that I’ve lived in or travelled to, and I enjoy not only recognizing names of streets, restaurants, etc. but actually being able to picture in my mind where these places are and what they look like. So it was important to me make my novel, WHERE THERE IS WILL, authentic.
Because the story takes place primarily in London, and I haven’t been there in over twenty years, I spent weeks researching on the Internet. I began with the apartments of my hero, Will, and my heroine, Michelle. First I researched what parts of the city they might live in. Will is wealthy; Michelle is barely getting by and can’t afford much more than a studio apartment. Once I had their locations narrowed down, I searched real estate websites for flats that met their needs. I went as far as selecting places for the two of them, so I had photos in mind as I described their dwellings.
But I didn’t stop there. If Michelle was going to visit a coffee shop, for example, I chose a real coffee shop near her flat and used its name and possibly its street location. I did the same for all the businesses my characters frequented. If Michelle and Will were walking around Regent’s Park, for example, and they got hungry, I was certain to send them to a real deli nearr Regent’s Park. Once I finished drafting the manuscript, I even considered making a trip to London to verify that all of the locations were accurate. The cost of such a trip kept me from following through, which turned out to be was a blessing in disguise because my publisher didn’t want me to use names of any real establishments.
Now I was faced with new problem. How did I rename places and make them sound authentic? Once again, I turned to the Internet. (What did authors do before the Internet?!) There are random name generators for all sorts of things. Need a male name of Scottish descent? Use Charles Campbell. Want to name your vampire? Try Constantine Vonderheide or Dante Delacroix. I needed a name for a threatening group from a fantasy movie. After generating many alternatives, I settled on Xoids in a Mateo’s Curse movie.
I needed place names too. Name generators didn’t prove quite so valuable here. For my coffee shops I got suggestions like Java Wizard and Brewopoly. In the end, I made up my own: Brewster’s and Cuppa Coffee. For the name of the synagogue Michelle joins in London, I followed the old city custom of naming synagogues for the streets on which they resided, and I gave a nod to my deceased parents, Max and Bernice. I made up the name Maxbern Road Synagogue. And I tipped my hat to a neighborhood near my previous home by naming a pub The Greenbriar.
Although I am disappointed that my story no longer carries the authenticity I desired, I believe devising imaginary names stirred my creative juices and it gave me a chance to honor people and places special to me.
Here's an excerpt from her new book: WHERE THERE IS A WILL
While he [Will] stirred the noodles, I leaned over his shoulder to watch. I lingered there so I could take in a few more whiffs of him. When he turned to look at me, I backed away.
“Did you sniff me?”
“You did. I saw you.”
“I was watching you stir the noodles.”
“Liar. I heard you too. You owe me a sniff.”
I screwed up my face.
Beckoning me with his index finger, he said, “Come here. It’s my turn to sniff you.”
I stayed put, so he stepped forward, put his hand on the back of my neck, and drew my head close to his face. He leaned in, and, with his nose in my hair, inhaled deeply. He took a handful of my curls, brought them to his nose and sniffed again, and then a third time.
I swayed as goose bumps formed on the nape of my neck under his hand. They traveled down my arms, my spine, even my legs. I closed my eyes and concentrated on the pleasure he was bringing me.
I forced my eyes open. “What?”
“Does your shampoo have lemon in it?”
“Maybe orange, or some other citrus?”
I managed to return to my senses, although my cheeks were warm. “Mango.”
“It smells good.”
He turned his focus back to the pot of macaroni. “Lunch will be ready soon. Could you get me the strainer from that cupboard?”
I wobbled to the cupboard on legs weak from Will’s touch. I returned with the strainer and handed it to him. While he finished preparing lunch, I busied myself with my back to him, afraid he’d spot my flushed face.
After lunch, Will went off to set the table while I washed dishes and thought about the fact that he and I had definitely been flirting.
More about Monica:
Monica Epstein writes about topics that appeal to women like herself—over 40 and nowhere near ready to throw in the towel and call it a life. Her first novel, Where There Is Will, is published by The Wild Rose Press.
Monica lives in a suburb of Washington, D.C. with her husband, their teenage daughter, and a small collection of hats and fascinators. She dreams of being the Queen of England in her next life.
Learn more about Monica at the following:
Where There Is Will is available at HTTP://AMZN.COM/B00HJE46UA.
Thanks for joining us Monica and I wish you TONS of success with your new book! --Kat