Thursday, August 26, 2010

Interview with Maddie Dawson and book giveaway

By Melissa Patafio

**Giveaway is now closed**


Maddie Dawson is making her debut on the chick-lit scene with her compelling book “The Stuff That Never Happened” (which was published on August 3rd). She grew up in the south with relatives that she describes as “outrageous storytellers” and really, what better environment to breed an eventual future storyteller? She held various careers in her life but soon realized that writing was her calling. Maddie currently resides in Connecticut where she spends part of every day writing on her screened-in back porch overlooking a willow tree, rose bushes, and a family of cardinals.

I recently had the good fortune of interviewing Maddie, who immediately won me over with her openness and honesty. I am sure she will do the same for all of you and I hope you will enjoy getting to know her just as much as I did! She also offered to give away two copies of "The Stuff..." to some lucky readers in the US and Canada.


1. How long did it take you to finish writing “The Stuff That Never Happened”?
It took me about 18 months to write this book once I really buckled down and got serious about it. Of course, for the first few months, I was walking around with Annabelle’s voice in my head, as she explained and explained what her life was like, while I simply took notes. But then, once I started writing and figuring out the story, it all came rather fast.

2. What was the journey to publishing like for you?
I was so fortunate to have an editor who immediately loved the book and gave it her full support. I’ll never forget the evening that I got her voice mail two weeks after I’d handed in the manuscript. I was riding home on the train and checked my messages—and there was her voice screaming, “I love love love LOVE this book!” (Truly one of the great moments of life.) Unfortunately, however, before the book was published, she moved to another publishing house. But then fortunately, (isn’t this like one of those yay-boo stories?) her wonderful assistant shepherded the book through all the shoals and narrows of publication and publicity, and stood by my side every step of the way. Publishing is a harrowing adventure, but I’ve been so lucky that the entire staff at Crown has given me lots of help and support every step of the way. Really, I couldn’t have asked for better friends!

3. You grew up in the south and you currently live in Connecticut, how did you end up there and would you ever move back to the south?
I grew up in Northern Florida, which is more like Georgia than anything that comes to mind when you hear the word “Florida.” (No palm trees, mai tais or retirees.) When I was a teenager, my parents divorced, and we moved to Southern California where I spent most of my truly formative, trouble-making years. I got married young, and my husband and I moved to New Haven so that he could attend Yale grad school. Soon after that, our marriage ended and he left Connecticut…but I have never managed to make my getaway, either back to Santa Barbara OR back to Florida. I miss both of those places every single winter, but I seem to have put down roots here and am stuck here like quicksand.

4. Do you have a specific writing routine?
I write every day—but not all in one fell swoop. I like to dabble a little bit in the morning, then come back to my book in the afternoon—and then, in a habit I would LOVE to break, I get a full second wind at about 10:30 at night. If I’m not careful, it’s 2 or 3 in the morning before I quite know what has happened. I love the way time just disappears when I’m really writing—how five hours can feel like five minutes. But if I could truly manage myself better, I’d be a strictly daytime writer and would wrap up my work at a reasonable hour and then do other things for the rest of the day and evening. I seem to be stuck with a brain that likes the late nights best!

5. If “The Stuff That Never Happened” were made into a movie, who do you see playing Annabelle, Grant, and Jeremiah?
Hmmm, I was just having this conversation with a friend yesterday. We decided that Richard Gere should play Jeremiah, with Gary Oldman playing Grant…and perhaps Annette Bening or Laura Linney being Annabelle.

6. Did you experience any challenges while writing “The Stuff”?
Actually…the book presented lots of challenges. (Don’t they all?) One of the main ones was taking a character who is flawed and who makes mistakes and having her be someone the readers would still love. It’s always hard to present a fully three-dimensional person who steps off the page and yet does hurtful things to other people—and still make her sympathetic. Grant was also a challenge. I loved his character, but I was mad with him for his coldness toward Annabelle. And it wasn’t until I was probably three-quarters through the book that I realized that he wasn’t a cold person; he was simply furious with his wife and expressing it the only way he knew how, by withdrawing from her. It was also a challenge—but lots of fun—to write the book in two parts—the chapters from the 1970s when they fall in love, and the chapters in 2005, when they fall out.

7. Who are some authors that have inspired you?
I love so many authors. I’m inspired by Alice Munro and Anne Lamott. I love Lorrie Moore and Laurie Colwin, Jane Smiley, Anne Tyler, Sue Miller, and Mark Haddon, among many others.

8. What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
I love cooking and gardening and reading…and getting together with my friends. One thing that is hard for me about the writing life is that it’s a solitary life. When you’re deep in a book, you have to sequester yourself for whole hours of the day, for MONTHS. It turns out that books don’t get written if you only devote an hour or so to them every now and then, or only when you happen to feel inspired. (I’ve had to learn this the hard way!) So when I’m not currently in a novel I’m wild for social life—lunch, long walks, phone conversations, facebook.

9. You posted a bit of the back-story of how the novel came about on CarolineLeavittville, have you seen the “once-loved” man since that day on the train?
I haven’t seen him since that day. It’s a funny thing about that kind of thing. I believe that we run into the people we truly need to see, and after all those years, it was important that he and I have some sort of closure talk, one that we couldn’t have had earlier perhaps. But then once that had happened—well, there’s simply no place we have in each other’s lives anymore. It was as though we released each other permanently that day.

10. What is your favorite type of music?
I love the rock music that I grew up with in the 60s and 70s, and also lots of classical music. I love folk music and soft jazz. Can’t stand loud, jangly music these days—while I’m writing I listen to alto flutes through my headphones, or else music that has lyrics that helps me illustrate the characters I’m writing. I made myself a soundtrack while I was writing “The Stuff That Never Happened,” and whenever I sat down to write, I’d play some of the songs, just to get me in the mood.

Special thanks to Maddie for answering all my questions and for offering the books for the giveaway.


How to win "The Stuff that Never Happened":
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 was/is your first love?
OR
2. Please tell us: Who was the "one who got away?"
3. Follow this blog and post a comment saying you are a follower (if you already follow, that's fine too).
4. Post this contest on Facebook or Twitter or in your blog, and leave a comment saying where you've posted it.
5. Join Chick Lit Central on Facebook. (If you're already a member, let us know that too.)

US/Canada only. Giveaway ends Monday, August 30th at 6:00 pm EST.

69 comments:

Jonita said...

I would definitely love to win this one. I love the cover!!

jonitathebookchick(at)gmail(dot)com

Jonita said...

Hmmm....I don't really want to get into my first love, because he sucker-punched me emotionally, BUT I can say that my first real romantic moment (not with my first love) was in Grade 9, when E. kissed me at a school dance while "Kissed By A Rose" was playing.

jonitathebookchick(at)gmail(dot)com

Jonita said...

I am a GFC follower.

jonitathebookchick(at)gmail(dot)com

Jonita said...

This contest has been posted on my sidebar at http://book-chic.blogspot.com.

jonitathebookchick(at)gmail(dot)com

Jonita said...

Already a Facebook member!

jonitathebookchick(at)gmail(dot)com

Sarah said...

I would love to read this book!!!

foxchick0323@live.com

Sarah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarah said...

I would have to say my first real, true love is my husband:) He is my rock and he gave me the two greatest sons in the world!

foxchick0323@live.com

Sarah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarah said...

I am a GFC follower.

foxchick0323@live.com

Sarah said...

I follow you on facebook!!

foxchick0323@live.com

Sarah said...

I posted this giveaway on twitter.
@happymama82


foxchick0323@live.com

Heather said...

I am a follower.
ra6352 (at) gmail (dot) com

Heather said...

I am a member of Chick Lit Central.
ra6352 (at) gmail (dot) com

Heather said...

I posted to facebook! Thanks for the chance to win!
ra6352 (at) gmail (dot) com

Luanne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Luanne said...

And belong to Chicklit Central

luanne dot ollivier at gmail.c0m

Luanne said...

Looks like a great read! I'm a follower

luanne.ollivier at gmail dot com

Colleen Turner said...

So cool Ms. Dawson said she grew up in North Florida which is more like Georgia than what people think of Florida. I am from Tallahassee, FL and totally agree with that! Her book sounds wonderful and I will keep my fingers crossed I win a copy!
candc320@gmail.com

Colleen Turner said...

I have to say that my first "true love" ( I am excluding what I call puppy love, which just doesn't compare in my opinion) was my husband. I had never experienced anything like it before. I don't really have one that got away and am so happy I just found my husband and we are healthy, happy and thriving!
candc320@gmail.com

Colleen Turner said...

I am a GFC follower.
candc320@gmail.com

Colleen Turner said...

I am already a Facebook member.
candc320@gmail.com

jen said...

My first true love is my daughter's father

Can't wait to read this book

jen161(at)hotmail(dot)com

Marilyn Brant said...

I've heard wonderful things about this novel, Maddie, and the premise really intrigues me! Plus, I share your love of music (oh, those '70s songs... ;) and your appreciate of both Anne Lamott and Sue Miller. Congrats on your release!

MarilynBrant AT gmail DOT com

Anne R. Allen said...

This sounds like a marvelous book. We share a lot of favorite authors.

annerallen.allen@gmail.com

Tiffany said...

I would love to win! I have been wanting to read for awhile!
schlarmette[at]gamil[dot]com

Tiffany said...

My first love was Adam. I met him in first grade, he was in second. He moved and we stayed in touch as pen pals... how romantic is that? The letters continued but obviously were less frequent as we got older. We are both married with kids, but still keep in touch.
schlarmette[at]gamil[dot]com

Tiffany said...

I am a follower!
schlarmette[at]gamil[dot]com

Tiffany said...

Already a facebook memeber!
schlarmette[at]gamil[dot]com

Tiffany said...

posted contest on the side bar of my blog ... its about 1/2 way down under the "fellow blogger contest"
schlarmette[at]gamil[dot]com

Tiffany said...

oops... http://acozyreaderscorner.blogspot.com (sorry forgot in the last post)

Ruthie said...

Sounds like a good one. Please enter me, thanks.

ruthiekb72@yahoo.com

Ruthie said...

I met my husband when I was 15 & he was 18. Happy ever after story since we are married 38 years today (happy anniversary honey!).

ruthiekb72@yahoo.com

Ruthie said...

FB follower

ruthiekb72@yahoo.com

RosieC said...

Awesome contest! Thank you!
rlconnolly01[at]gmail[dot]com

I'm a new follower.

https://twitter.com/rosieanabelle/status/22207876925

And the one who got away? We dated for about a month, but his friends hated me and my friends hated him. We parted ways because we didn't want to lose our friends, but it took me years to get over him. I still have a ring he gave me 15 years later and 8 years married. (don't tell my husband!)

DarcyO said...

Sounds like a great read. Please include me.

dlodden at frontiernet dot net

karenk said...

would enjoy reading this fabulous novel...thanks for the chance :)

karenk
kmkuka at yahoo dot com

karenk said...

i'm a follower :)

karenk
kmkuka at yahoo dot com

karenk said...

my 'first love' was kenny b...in the first grade :)

karenk
kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Bonnie said...

My first love was actually my second husband, who was the love of my life. He died at the age of 42 of cancer. I had known him since I was 5 and loved him my whole life, and when we re-connected and married, we were only married eight years.
I am a follower!
intrepid9923@yahoo.com

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

No need to enter me, babe. I'm dropping in to say this was a great interview. Oh, yeah. Thanks for the e-mail. I've got this posted at Win a Book for you.

Moridin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Moridin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ChristyJan said...

Please enter me to win a copy of this book.

hawkes(at)citlink.net

ChristyJan said...

My first love is still my one and only love ~ 32 years now. ;)

hawkes(at)citlink.net

ChristyJan said...

I'm a follower

hawkes(at)citlink.net

ChristyJan said...

I just joined Chick Lit Central on Facebook

hawkes(at)citlink.net

Maddie Dawson said...

Wow. Thank you to all of you who entered to win my book! I wish that all of you could win! I was so touched by the wonderful things you said.
Jonita, sorry about the sucker-punch. But that 9th grade memory sounds wonderful.
Sarah: Thank you. And thanks for advertising this giveaway on. Congrats on having a great husband and the two greatest sons.
Colleen: Ah, a fellow North Floridian native! Nobody ever believes anyone was BORN in Florida. It's where you're supposed to go late in life.
Jen, Luanne and Heather: Thank you for entering.
Marilyn Brant: Oh, thank you so much! I LOVE those 70s songs. My kids make fun of me, but I don't care.
Anne Allen: A love of the same authors is so important, don't you think?
Tiffany: I love the story about you and Adam. Pen pals are so romantic--and over a whole lifetime! Wow!
Ruthie: Happy anniversary! And many more!
RosieC: Aw, such a sweet story about the ring.
Karenk: Thanks! Love the story of Kenny B in first grade--we never forget our firsts.
Bonnie: I am so very sorry for your terrible loss. How lucky to have had a great reconnection. I know you wouldn't trade those eight years for anything.
Moridin: Here's wishing you love!
ChristyJan: Congratulations on such a long-lasting love.

Thank you all for entering. I'd love to hear your comments after you've read the book, if you'd like. I'm at maddie@maddiedawson.com.

AmandaSue said...

I would love a chance to read this book, thanks!

unforgetable_dreamer_always(at)hotmail.com

AmandaSue said...

My first love was the first guy I ever dated, then I ended up marrying him.

unforgetable_dreamer_always(at)hotmail.com

baileythebookworm said...

This looks like a great read! Please enter me :)

baileythebookworm[at]gmail.com

baileythebookworm said...

My first love was my recent ex -he's an amazing person, but the timing is wrong, etc. (sucks to talk about). He is the sweetest and most sensitive person I've ever met, and I'm lucky to have had him in my life.

baileythebookworm[at]gmail.com

Sarah E said...

Please enter me in this giveaway!

saemmerson at yahoo dot com

Sarah E

Sarah E said...

My first "love" was C. in 3rd grade.

saemmerson at yahoo dot com

Sarah E

Sarah E said...

I follow.

saemmerson at yahoo dot com

Sarah E

Sarah E said...

Tweeted: http://twitter.com/saemmerson/status/22355620028

saemmerson at yahoo dot com

Sarah E

Sarah E said...

Joined Chick Lit Central on Facebook (Sarah Emmerson).

saemmerson at yahoo dot com

Sarah E

Susan said...

How cool that she made a "soundtrack" to listen to while she was writing the book. A great idea!

safoga at gmail dot com

Susan said...

My first love was Adam. He broke my heart in two at the tender age of 13. Recently found his FB profile and know that we would have never made it!

safoga at gmail dot com

Susan said...

The one who got away ended up being the one who came back and became my husband. Thank God for second chances! We're celebrating 10 years of marriage in November.

safoga at gmail dot com

Susan said...

I'm a follower.

safoga at gmail dot com

Anita said...

I would love to win this book, the author sounds like a woman of my time.
Extexgirl2@aol.com

Anita said...

My first love,real almost adult love?.....was a man I met while in college. He was older and somewhat wiser and he stirred in me something that I'd not felt before.

Extexgirl2@aol.comd

Anita said...

The one that got away............was also my first love. His name was Sam, and we and many obstacles to our love. He was older, and our racial differences lead to distress in my family, and I fell to social norms and let him go. For me it has always been about the path not taken, what may have been. While I met my husband many years later, I've never forgotten Sam.

Extexgirl2@aol.com
I have been a follower for a while ;)

ikkinlala said...

I'd like to enter, please.

ikkinlala AT yahoo DOT ca

Vera said...

Please enter me! vvperesk@gmail.com

Vera said...

My first real love was my amazing husband :) vvperesk@gmail.com

Vera said...

I'm a blog follower! vvperesk@gmail.com

Vera said...

I am a member of Chick Lit Central on FB! vvperesk@gmail.com