It is my great pleasure to welcome author Diane Chamberlain to Colloquium today! This time last year, The Midwife’s Confession, consumed me and I am happy to relate that Diane’s newest book, The Good Father, is equally engrossing.
The Good Father is the story of Travis Brown who decided, at the age of just nineteen, to raise his daughter, Bella, alone. Now Bella is nearly four years old and Travis has lost his home, job, and mother, who doted on Bella and cared for her so that Travis could work. Travis is completely devoted to Bella and believes that a job offer is the answer to all of their problems. But it turns out to be just the beginning of real trouble.
Q & A with Diane Chamberlain
How did you come up with the character, Travis Brown?
The character of Travis was inspired by a young father who would bring his little girl into the coffee shop where I write each morning. I saw the tenderness and love with which he treated his little girl and was touched by it. At the same time, with the economy in terrible shape, I wondered if he was out of work, since he always came in on weekdays as though he had no place else to be. How would a single dad support his precious little girl if he didn’t have a job? I could imagine his desperation leading him to make a terrible decision that he would never be able to undo.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in the book?
I don’t think so. If someone told me I had to change something, I might draw the ending out a little longer. I tend to write very “tight”—my greatest fear is boring my reader, so I don’t add a lot of extraneous detail. But I know that, when a reader has fallen in love with my characters, they don’t want me to end their story too soon or too abruptly. That’s why I added an epilogue to The Good Father, showing how the characters fared after their story ends. So if I had to change something, I might draw that epilogue out a little longer to give my readers a little more time to say good bye.
How much, and what kinds of research went into creating this novel?
I do a great deal of research as I write a book. I’ve probably Googled at least one small item per every page of the novel. But some things require more intensive research. Although I was a stepmom to three teenaged girls, I’d had no children of my own so four-year-old little girls like Bella were not very familiar to me. I loved spending more time with my grandkids that age, observing them carefully as I created Bella. Bella’s mother, Robin, also required a good deal of research, since she’d had a heart transplant and I needed to learn what she would have gone through. I loved spending a few days in Beaufort, North Carolina—the beautiful little waterfront town where Robin lives. And finally, I had to learn more than I ever wanted to about the relationship between cocaine and baby formula!
What are you currently reading?
I’m deep into nonfiction right now as I research my work-in-progress, a story that takes place on a North Carolina tobacco farm in 1960. As someone who grew up in New Jersey, I feel as though I’m learning about a foreign country in another era and it’s an eye-opening experience. As far as fiction goes, my favorite recent read was Stephen King’s 11/22/63. What an extraordinary page turner! I love King when he doesn’t do horror, but instead focuses on a human story with a twist, and this book really fits the bill.
Prolific and popular author Diane Chamberlain grew up in Plainfield, New Jersey, and spent summers at the Jersey Shore. She says she was “an insatiable reader as a child, and that fact, combined with a vivid imagination, inspired me to write.” She began writing some “truly terrible ‘novellas'” when she was twelve, but her education took center stage and writing had to wait.
Diane was a special education major at Glassboro State College in New Jersey, but moved to San Diego prior to graduating. San Diego State University conferred both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work and, after graduating, she worked with youth counseling agencies before focusing her career on medical social work. After serving at Sharp Hospital in San Diego and Children’s Hospital in Washington, D.C., Diane launched a private adolescent psychotherapy practice in Alexandria, Virginia. But she reluctantly gave up her thriving practice in 1992 upon realizing that she “could no longer split my time between two careers and be effective at both of them.”
For me, the real joy of writing is having the opportunity to touch readers with my words. I hope that my stories move you in some way and give you hours of enjoyable reading.~ Author Diane Chamberlain
She sold her first story, Private Relations, in 1986 and it was published three years later, garnering Diane the RITA award for Best Single Title Contemporary Novel. She also wrote briefly for the now-defunct ABC daytime soap “One Life to Live,” and published a few newspaper and magazine articles.
Diane’s love of writing, however, has always been directed toward novels that characteristically “tug at the emotions. Relationships – between men and women, parents and children, sisters and brothers – are always the primary focus of my books. I can’t think of anything more fascinating than the way people struggle with life’s trials and tribulations, both together and alone.” She is now the author of twenty books, including The Lies We Told, Keeper of the Light, and Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes.
Diane continued residing in Northern Virginia until 2005, when she relocated to North Carolina with John Pagliuca, a photographer. She has three grown stepdaughters, two sons-in-law, four grandbabies, and two shelties named Keeper and Jet. Being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in the mid-1990s has not impeded Diane’s literary efforts. She happily reports that her condition is managed with medication, enabling her to “usually type for many hours a day.” When necessary, she utilizes voice recognition software.