Cover photo courtesy of Rattlebridge Farm
Teeny Templeton finds her life turned upside down when she discovers her fiancé in a very compromising position, but things get even worse when he is found dead a few days later. Her only hope is the man who broke her heart a decade before and a detective with some very rough edges. Gone with a Handsomer Man is a great read, with characters you immediately identify with and a fast-paced positively addictive story line. The twists and turns in the plot meant I really couldn’t put it down. I can’t wait for the next book in the series, A Teeny Bit of Trouble, which is being published on April 10th.
The author of these two great books, Michael Lee West, very kindly agreed to an interview and I am so pleased to include it here.
April: Thank you so much, Michael, for being a guest here at The 21st Century Housewife. Teeny’s newest adventure, A Teeny Bit of Trouble, is I believe, your ninth book. You also have a beautiful blog, Rattlebridge Farm, and Teeny, the heroine of your latest books, has her own blog The World According to Teeny as well. Have you always been a writer, or is it something that you discovered about yourself as time went by?
Michael: I always wanted to write. I kept a battered typewriter on my mother’s dining room table, but she loved to entertain, so I moved the old Royal quite frequently. My family thought writing would be an impossible career choice so they encouraged me to become a registered nurse. However, I couldn’t turn off the need to put words on paper, so I wrote in a closet – literally – beneath the staircase. I papered the walls with rejection slips, but I refused to get discouraged. After ten years of daily work (all the while raising a family and working as an RN), I finally got published.
April: I love the character of Teeny. She is quirky, entertaining, upbeat and optimistic, even in difficult circumstances. Did you think of her as a complete character or is she an amalgamation of interesting people you have come across in your life?
Michael: Teeny isn’t like anyone I know. She is probably closest to Jo-Nell in American Pie (my third novel) but Teeny isn’t as coarse as Jo-Nell. Miss Templeton showed up fully formed, an assertive character who refused to listen to my suggestions. I finally gave up.
April: The detail in your stories is part of their huge appeal. For example, Teeny’s own blog has photographs of key properties in her life, recipes, and even her cookbook nd scrapbook. Do tools like this help when you are writing, or are they just a lovely way of really involving your readers in the stories?
Michael: Yes, the scrapbooks and videos help me go deeper into a character. But I also enjoy seeing what Teeny will do next. She seems quite real to me.
April: I have to say she seems very real indeed to me too. Animals also seem to play a key role in your books. For example, Teeny has a lovely bulldog, Sir. I know you based a character in your book Mermaids in the Basement on your dog, Zap. Are Sir and T-Bone based on anyone?
Michael: A former neighbor’s son raised bulldogs. I love the breed. T-bone started out being a Lab, but as I got to know Coop O’Malley (T-Bone is Coop’s dog), I realized that he would have rescued a dog. After I figured that out, T-Bone developed on his own.
April: Of all your books, which is your favorite so far, and why?
Michael: I love A Teeny Bit of Trouble. The book just seemed to write itself, and I had a blast. This isn’t to say it wasn’t work – I did three revisions over a two year period. Every time I’d sit down to work, a wacky character would show up, such as a tarantula breeder. ATBOT is a Wizard of Oz story, and readers will hopefully have fun with the symbols. For example, Teen begins her journey when she drives away from Charleston in a yellow van. I also had fun building the town of Bonaventure, Georgia. It’s a smaller, more eccentric version of Savannah.
April: Savannah is one of my favorite places in the United States, so I can’t wait to read about Bonaventure! I would love to see the Teeny books on screen. If you could cast Teeny in a movie or television series, do you have a shortlist of people who you might like to play her?
Michael: Teeny is short and slightly overweight. I can’t think of any actress who is short and curvy (at least they wouldn’t be by choice) 🙂
April: I’d also love to know who you might like to cast as Coop!
Michael: That’s easy – Henry Cavill from The Tudors.
April: Wow, that is almost exactly how I pictured him! Thank you so much for ‘talking’ with me today, Michael. I look forward to the publication of A Teeny Bit of Trouble on April 10th!
Shared with Inspire Me Monday
The 21st Century Housewife has not been paid for this post. I received free review copies of Gone with a Handsomer Man and A Teeny Bit of Trouble.