Welcome to the second and final day of Got Books?, a celebration of books and the wonderful bloggers that tell the world about them. This event is designed to celebrate book bloggers around the world by shining a light on their efforts and spreading the word about their sites to increase readership! And what better way is there to celebrate books than by hosting some fun contests and giveaways?!
Meet Margo Candela
It is my honor and privilege to welcome best selling author Margo Candela to Colloquium! Not only did Margo graciously consent to participate in an interview, she has provided one copy of her just-released novel, Good-bye To All That, to be given to a lucky reader — and even agreed to autograph the book! (Entry details below.)
Margo Candela was born and raised in Northeast Los Angeles. She moved to San Francisco to attend college and ended up staying for a decade before moving back home in 2005. Her first three novels, More Than This (Touchstone, Aug. 2008), Life Over Easy (Kensington, Oct. 2007) and Underneath It All (Kensington, Jan. 2007) are set in San Francisco. More Than This was a Target stores Breakout Book and an American Association of Publishers national book club selection at Borders Books with Las Comadres.
Her new novel, Good-bye To All That, published by Touchstone, is her first novel set in her native Los Angeles.
About Good-Bye to All That
Raquel Azorian, 25, has worked her way from temp to executive assistant and is close to a promotion at Belmore Corporation, the media behemoth she’s devoted herself to. All she needs is for her boss to sign her promotion memo. Instead of putting pen to paper, he suffers a very public meltdown that puts not only his future at Belmore, but also Raquel’s on the line.
It’s not just Raquel’s professional life that’s a mess, her whole family is in turmoil and Raquel is forced to become the intermediary—all while trying to figure out how to save her job and not derail her office romance with the man of her dreams.
When the chaos of juggling so many lives reaches a breaking point, Raquel realizes she’s going to have to choose—success at work or happiness at home. Whatever choice she makes, Raquel knows it going to cost her, but part of her is still pulling for her very own Hollywood ending.
In one recent interview, you described Good-Bye to All That as “Working Girl meets Mad Men with a dash of Entourage.” That description totally fits. How did you get the idea for the storyline?
I knew I wanted to write about office politics and how one woman lets her job become the sole focus of her life. There’s a certain freedom people enjoy at work even though they have to be there to get paid. A person can be one way at work and another at home and lots of people use their jobs to escape from home lives. Raquel, the main character, uses her ambitions to succeed at work as a way of replacing any sort of life outside of the office. Her hyper-focus on her professional life comes at the expense of her personal life, but real life keeps interfering with Raquel’s work. This is where the fun was for me as a writer. How can she figure out what’s more important if both are equally screwed up? It’s a great question to try to answer as an author.
When it came time to boil down the concept of the story for myself and my editor, I had to think of the themes that I wanted to touch on. The movie Working Girl was spot-on because Raquel is convinced that if she just works hard enough, things will fall into place. The company she works for is very rigid in its hierarchy and archetypes like on the show Mad Men. And because it’s set in Hollywood, I got to have fun with some Entourage like situations. When I put that sentence together, “Working Girl meets Mad Men with a dash of Entourage,” it was a true ‘a-ha!’ moment for me and allowed me to move forward with structuring and writing the novel. It also gave my editor a clear indication of what kind of manuscript she could expect to me. Lucky for me, she loved the concept and from there it was just a lot of writing and revising under a tight deadline.
In another interview, you said “I’m fascinated by it and can listen for hours when friends talk about their lives at the office.” As someone who resides in an office many hours per week, you’ve totally nailed what it’s like in Goodbye to All That, but I have to know what you find so fascinating about office culture!
I’m suffering from a severe case of office life envy. I work from home and alone which might seem ideal to someone who’s stuck in an office for 8-plus hours a day. What I miss is the routine and knowing there’s somewhere I need to be and I need to be dressed accordingly for it. At the same time, I know I’m very fortunate to be able to do what I do. I still like to indulge in the fantasy of having a good office job where I know what’s expected of me, there’s some financial security and there a people around who I can commiserate to in the break room. Since I had to find a way to scratch that itch, I wrote Good-bye To All That. Writing the novel allowed me to listen to friends talk and, yes, complain about their jobs and put a little more reality into my fantasy. As bad as some of the stories I heard were, not one of my friends said they’d give up what they do. Maybe they’d like to change certain things, but they all were committed to their jobs.
What was the worst job you ever had on your way to becoming a published novelist?
Honestly, being an aspiring novelist is the worst job I’ve had. There is tremendous uncertainty, frustration and a good measure of hopelessness that goes with trying to crack the publishing nut. You not only have to write the best novel you possibly can, you then have to convince strangers to feel the same way about it. Actually, being an aspiring novelist isn’t so different from being a published novelist.
That’s the hard truth, but there has to be some reason we do it. For some writers it’s because they have a burning desire to be successful, others feel compelled to write. In my case, I don’t consider myself a masochist – I truly enjoy writing fiction. What keeps me going is that there is a new idea to explore and I’m curious to see if I can pull it off. This is what keeps me at my desk.
Do you read the reviews for your books and, if so, how do you keep from being discouraged if a review isn’t entirely flattering?
I try not to take bad reviews personally. I read books as a reader and expect a certain experience. If the writer fails to deliver, I feel cheated out of time and money. As a writer, I understand that people feel the same way. Of course, there is a difference between a review and someone just going off on a writer or their book. I’ve had plenty of blah reviews and I shrug them off. The ones that have gotten to me are those where the reviewer gets personal. That’s so easy to do on the Internet because people can hide behind anonymity. In the end, my hope is that readers enjoy what I’m offering and that I do it well enough so I end up with more happy customers than not. I celebrate the good and try and learn from the bad.
Without revealing too much, Good-Bye to All That does not have a classic Hollywood happy ending. As a writer of women’s fiction, do you feel pressured to provide a more traditional happy ending to your books?
I could write tidy and happy endings, but I don’t think they’d be in keeping with the stories I tell or the type of writer that I am. My endings are more about a hope that there is potential for a happier tomorrow and I do that on purpose. Not that I have a problem with happy endings. I read books where you know a couple of chapters in that she’s going to end up with him and everything is going to be just great. I enjoy them for just that reason. For me as a writer, it’s much more challenging to try to convey to the reader that not all endings have to be in your face happy. My editor, who has worked with me on all four of my novels, has always been supportive of how I structure my books and my point of view, it’s just a matter of finding readers who are willing to go along on the ride with my characters. My endings will never be conventionally happy but I do like to joke that my next book is going to be full of enough happy to choke a depressed horse.
The way books are sold has changed dramatically in the past decade or so, this interview and the blog tour that inspired it being prime examples of that fact. What do you think about virtual book tours and reviews published on blogs by folks (like me) who are not professional book reviewers? I assume this type of promotion involves a lot of work for the author . . . is it effective? Do these new marketing techniques really sell books? In the end, are they worth the effort?
Marketing and publicizing a book are above and beyond my expertise and comfort zone, but I have do whatever I can to get the word out on Good-bye To All that and my other three novels. Tooting your own horn is a reality most authors have always faced, but it’s now a fact of publishing life. Publishers are drastically cutting back their marketing and pr budgets and that leaves the bulk of the responsibility on the author’s shoulders. Personally, I enjoy interacting with readers because that’s the whole point of this endeavor-to reach out to readers and build a strong word-of-mouth reputation as a writer whose delivers a good read. I’m always tremendously flattered when someone takes the time to write a review, ask a question or recommends my books. Writing and reading is a passion and it’s always heartening to share the experience with someone who understands.
Enter to Win an Autographed Copy of Good-Bye to All That
In order to enter to win an autographed copy of Good-bye To All That, leave a comment discussing something you learned from my interview of Margo.
Leave a separate comment for each bonus entry –
- Follow me on Google Friend Connect
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- Follow me on Twitter — be sure to leave your Twitter name in the comment
- Subscribe to Colloquium via RSS or Email and confirm your subscription
- Tweet about this giveaway & leave the link to your Tweet in a comment
- Promote this giveaway on your own site and leave the link in a comment
Books can only be shipped to United States addresses (no P.O. boxes).
Sunday, July 25, 2010, at 11:59 p.m. (Pacific time)
The winner will be selected at random and announced on Monday, July 26, 2010, when I publish my review of Good-Bye to All That!
My thanks go to Margo for accepting my invitation to participate in an interview and generously donating an autographed copy of Good-Bye to All That!