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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Story Secrets: THE SECRET LIFE OF PRINCE CHARMING by Deb Caletti

My adoration for Deb Caletti is no secret - she writes amazing books exploring difficult relationships and dark family pasts (and she said the nicest things about TELL ME A SECRET!). She is also the featured author over at readergirlz this month, so if you missed her live chat last night, go check it out!

I am honored to welcome her to talk about THE SECRET LIFE OF PRINCE CHARMING (which just got a lovely new paperback cover). Welcome, Deb!

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PRINCE is the story of a girl who sets out on a road trip with her younger sister and the step-sister they never knew to return the objects their father has stolen from the women he’s been in love with.

Deb's story behind the story:
When I was nineteen, I met a twenty-one year old young man who was dark and handsome, mysterious and moody. Three years later, after a long-distance relationship, we would marry, and that’s when he became the abusive husband I would live with for the next thirteen years. This one decision, this decision to have this particular relationship, would result in years upon years of devastation – emotional, physical, financial – complicated layers of pain and damage that would affect me, our kids, our families and friends.

As my kids approached the age when I first met their father, and as I got clearer over the ten years since I left, the need to write about relationship choices and self protection grew. Grew? Became urgent. The choice of a partner (even just a dating partner) is one decision has an impact and weight we can’t even begin to see at nineteen, and yet where is the guidance on how to make it? Where are the high school classes about healthy relationships? Even if a relationship does not evolve into a marriage with children, an unhealthy one can harm or haunt for a good long while. And… the letters I was getting from readers were telling me that many, many young women were in harmful places. I decided, then, to write a story where I could pull in everything I had learned about making good relationship choices – everything. From my own experiences, from those of many women I knew.

How did you sit down to write it?
I was sitting on my back deck one summer day when the idea came to intersperse the voices of the actual women characters throughout the narration. I was so pleased about this way of approaching the story, because it allowed me to convey the experiences of many people in their own, individual way, and because it supported the idea that we all make mistakes and have (or will have) these stories to tell. It created a fictional community of women. As a writer, it was also great fun to play with “voice” in such variety.


Was it strange to be so transparent in your fiction?
Well, it was the first time I’d ever been THAT honest in “public” about that part of my life. It’s a strange thing to write so personally, yet under the handy guise of fiction.


Biggest inspiration?
Great books, great writing – they always inspire me. I’m also inspired by the desire to make my kids and family proud. :)


I'm always curious to hear about authors' writing process - how do you get your brilliant novels on paper?
A book usually takes me about 12-18 months to write, and I go through too many drafts to count. Hopefully, as you revise, you take out the clunky noises and smooth out the bumps. You know how you sometimes turn the radio up when the car makes bad noises? (Okay, I sometimes do this.) That’s a first draft. But later, it’s time to face the problems. You fix them, you drive straight through, maybe you add a little extra scenery along the way.

Life experiences help build empathy. To me, empathy is what gets you to the heart of any story.


Are your ideas top secret, or do you share them?
Usually it’s top secret. Occasionally my husband or my kids or my mother will hear a bit of how it’s going. But even my agent, editor, and publisher only know a few, bare facts. None of us know what we’re going to end up with until it’s arrived. That’s trust on my publisher’s part!


Secrets about PRINCE CHARMING?
I think I told enough secrets in PRINCE! PRINCE is my most autobiographical story yet. That said, I’ll tell you guys what I told my kids and family members (who I knew would recognize some things in the book): PLEASE REMEMBER, I MADE A LOT OF IT UP, TOO!

*****

Thank you, Deb, for sharing a little about THE SECRET LIFE OF PRINCE CHARMING! And here is the adorable movie Deb shot for readergirlz:

3 comments:

  1. Wow. I appreciate Deb's honesty and will add PRINCE to my list. Thanks for posting.

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  2. Thank you, Deb, for your willingness to share something so personal. May readers find strength in your stories.

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  3. I'm adding this to my list. This is such a great interview. Thanks for sharing your story with us, Deb. You're amazing.

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