Thursday, July 29, 2010
Interview with Eve Marie Mont and book giveaway!
Eve Marie Mont is an English and Creative Writing teacher who lives in suburban Philadelphia with her husband and her adopted shelter dog named Maggie. She recently wrote "Free to a Good Home," which was released July 6th. Melissa Patafio (who also grew up with a dog named Maggie) and I had the opportunity to ask her a few questions. Plus, she has two signed copies to give away to some lucky readers in the US and Canada.
MP: You rescued your dog Maggie 13 years ago, how did that experience help you to write "Free to a Good Home?"
EM: I am a firm believer that love can be found anywhere, so throughout "Free to a Good Home," there’s a strong theme of adoption, whether it’s adopting a dog, a child, or even a surrogate daughter at the age of sixty-three. We adopted Maggie from a no-kill shelter in Maryland. She had already been “adopted” three times before, and each time she’d been returned as a “problem dog”: she hoarded, she chewed, she wouldn’t stay in her crate, etc. But once we brought her home, she was never a problem to us—she was awesome! Since that day, Maggie has become such an integral part of our lives. She’s experienced all our joys and sorrows right along with us, ready to offer support and love whenever needed. I think it’s that idea of unconditional love that inspired Free to a Good Home. Many of the characters in the book feel like they’re “damaged goods” because of what they’ve been through. But by reaching out and having faith in second chances, they each find a measure of happiness in a place they never expected.
MA: What was the biggest challenge you faced while writing "Free?"
EM: Besides Maggie, the other inspiration for the book was my mother-in-law, Anne Mont, who just passed away this May after a courageous battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease. I created her fictional counterpart, Margaret, who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis, as a way to deal with the feelings my husband and I were experiencing as we struggled to provide love and care to his mom. For anyone who’s read the book, you’ll know that Margaret is bitter and ornery and not very good at accepting her lot in life. Fiction diverges greatly from truth because my mother-in-law was the sweetest and most selfless person I have ever met; as someone described her at her funeral, she was “grace personified.” Watching her condition progress as I wrote the book was definitely the most difficult aspect of writing it.
MP: Any plans to make your book “required reading” for your high school English classes?
EM: No. As an English teacher, I am sorry to say the book has no educational value whatsoever.
MA: What was the journey to publication like for you?
EM: I knew absolutely no one in publishing, had zero contacts, so I had to start from scratch. I wrote a book that I thought was pretty good, agonized over the query letter, did research on women’s fiction agents, sent queries and sample chapters to dozens of them, then got ignored or rejected for the better part of a year. So I wrote another book: rinse and repeat. I was so frustrated that I followed up with some of the agents who hadn’t responded yet. One of them said, “Hey, we must have missed this the first time around, but I like what I see.” (I’m paraphrasing here.) That person ended up becoming my agent, the lovely and talented April Eberhardt from Kimberley Cameron and Associates. From there, she and I worked to polish the manuscript, and April sold it in four weeks to Jackie Cantor at Berkley Books. Cue the cartwheels and caviar! (Kidding… too old for cartwheels, too poor for caviar.)
MA: If “Free to a Good Home” were made into a movie, who would you want to star as the main characters?
EM: While I love this question in theory, I am wary about linking a celebrity face with a specific character in the book. I intentionally left the description of Noelle vague so people could imagine her however they wanted. I just did my first Skype book talk yesterday, and readers’ perceptions of what Noelle looked like varied widely, which I liked. I didn’t have anyone in mind as I wrote the characters, so I hope people can use their imaginations and insert whomever they like. (I know this is a lame answer…)
MA: What is one of the most interesting or remarkable things about Maggie?
EM: She is one of the spunkiest dogs I’ve ever met. Even though she was relatively small as a young dog, she went up to this huge German Shepherd and was like, “You wanna piece of me?” Actually, she’s gotten into several scraps with larger dogs and has come out no worse for wear. At thirteen years of age, she still surprises us every now and then with a random burst of puppy power. And, she has a white lightning-shaped patch on the back of her neck, like Harry Potter. She’s the coolest!
MP: Do you plan on adopting any more animals in the future?
EM: Yes, yes, yes! As I’ve said, Maggie doesn’t always play nicely with others, so we have no plans to get another dog now. This is a good thing, as I’m such a sucker for dogs I’d probably have adopted five or six by now. But we know at some point she will pass on, and we definitely plan on adopting more dogs, probably two together this time so they can be pals and keep each other company while we’re at work.
MP: Many people are not able to rescue an animal because of allergies, landlords, time, etc. Can you recommend a way for the people in these situations to help even if they can’t adopt?
EM: Yes, this is unfortunate. I would never advocate adopting a dog if you don’t have the time or space to give that dog an excellent quality of life. But for those who love dogs and can’t have one themselves, most shelters welcome volunteers to come play with their animals, take them for walks, help with grooming, etc. There are so many great charities and rescue groups, too, so donations are a great way to lend support. And I find half a Benadryl does the trick for my cat allergy (without making me too sleepy).
MA: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
EM: Well, reading, of course. Lots of reading. My husband and I are also big movie buffs. And lastly, cooking and eating. My husband does the cooking part, and I do the eating. No, that’s not entirely true. I really like cooking, but my husband’s so much better at it than I am. But I’m learning. Right now, I’m working on a women’s fiction novel about a woman who reluctantly takes a cooking class with an ex-boyfriend turned chef, so I plan to have fun experimenting with recipes and eating my creations, whether they are failures or triumphs.
MA: What is your favorite book of all time?
EM: Jane Eyre! I am currently revising a YA book inspired by Jane Eyre, so I’ve had to read the book very closely several times, and it’s just so romantic and atmospheric and swoony. All these paranormal books on the market right now owe a nod to Charlotte Brönte.
Thanks again to Eve for her very thoughtful and interesting answers to our questions and for offering the books to give away.
Thanks to Melissa Patafio for the terrific and thought provoking questions she brought to the table.
How to win "Free to a Good Home":
Please comment below with your e-mail address.
(Please note: Entries without an e-mail address will NOT be counted.)
For additional entries (each as a separate comment including your e-mail address, as well):
1. Please tell us: Who is/was your favorite pet? (If you've never owned a pet, talk about an animal you know through someone else.)
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3. Post this contest on Facebook or Twitter or in your blog, and leave a comment saying where you've posted it.
Open to US/Canada residents only. Giveaway ends Monday, August 2nd at 6 pm EST.