Angie Dickerson is the author of women’s fiction and her debut novel, Friends at Forty, is the first in the Friends series with book two underway titled Friends at Sea. She is new to self-publishing and was previously a literature and creative writing teacher for fifteen years. Angie decided to risk it all and retire early to make her writing dreams a reality. She is, like her main character, a misunderstood forty-something wife and mother of three who has recently been demoted to the role of empty nester. Her novels are for anyone who’s ever felt lost and had the need to find their way again. She currently lives in a gorgeous, over-priced unit overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Newport Beach, California with her critic, editor, website designer and cheerleader-husband of twenty-two years. Is your recent book part of a series?
Time to chat with Angie!
My debut novel, Friends at Forty, is the first in the Friends series. It starts with a marriage in trouble after they inherit the painful role of empty nesters. The series is not to be confused with a trilogy. I have designed it so each book stands on its own without the need to read them chronologically. These will be the misadventures of married life, family ups and downs and much more. I am currently 40% through book 2 in the series titled, Friends at Sea. In this second book, Samantha and Daniel pack their marriage troubles and head for the high seas. The entire book takes place on a luxury cruise ship and has exciting ports-of-call adventures, as the couple continues their journey.
What are the special challenges in writing a series?
The worst part about writing a series, at least at a fast pace and without the perks of an agent, professional agent or publisher, is that I have had very little feedback from the first book from readers. I am lucky to have a couple of wonderful book clubs reading my novel right now, but as I continue to wrap things up with book 2 I have to be confident that what I am delivering is what readers expect and will want to see from the next evolution for these two complex forty-somethings. But who knows? Maybe it’s all for the best that I don’t have lots of feedback. In that way I can just write the story the way I see it developing.
How did you choose the genre you write in? Or did it choose you?
The women’s fiction/chick lit genre absolutely choose me. I have many YA dystopian novels outlined and ready to go but this inexplicable attraction to flawed characters and marriage misadventures has a grip on me. I’m probably going to have to get countless of these women’s fiction novels out of my system before I even consider exploring other genres.
Are your characters ever based on people you know?
Every single character I create is autobiographical: based on someone I know well, someone I somewhat know, colleagues from my fourteen years in education, or my husband. The main characters are all mostly me: me on a bad day; me on a great day; me on my crazy; me at my best. The many faces of me.
If you were to advertise your book on a bumper sticker, what would it say?
“If our love life was a dishwasher, we could fix it!”
Some authors, like me, always write scenes in order. But I know some people write scenes out of order. How about you?
I must always write scenes in order otherwise I make a mess. I am horrible about continuity. My girl may be wearing a red cocktail dress and drinking a Margarita at the beginning of a scene and seconds later the drink magically morphed into a beer and she’s adjusting her jeans. Ouch! Yeah, no, I could never write out of sequence.
Is it important for you to know the ending of a book before you write it? The title?
Absolutely. I always outline. I had a creative writing professor who suggested that outlining can suck the creativity out of the narrative but I find without one my story meanders with little to objective or goal. I must know the main story arch. Now, once I start mashing those keys and scenes develop, “all is fair in love and war.” I don’t expect I’ll ever stop being surprised at the end of writing every chapter. They absolutely take on a life of their own while at the same time adhering to the big ideas, themes and story ending.
Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of the editing. How about you?
Thanks to my loving, supportive and ever-present husband/in-house editor, I managed to finish my debut novel April 2016. I know where it to me I would still be editing and revising and editing over and over and over. Yikes! I also need to thank the wise words of Stephen King when he encourages beginning authors to just keep writing through “the crap” (I am paraphrasing here in other to keep this interview PG-13). Thank Mr. King!
Have you received reactions/feedback to your work that has surprised you?
Yes. I think every author does at some point. Mine came with every rejection notice I received from countless agents about how my main character was just not likeable. Apparently, Samantha Blake is the forty-something, mother, wife and empty nester you’ll love to hate. I think if you are bothered by Sam, I have done my job because, honestly, we are all so very annoying, aren’t we? One recent review said: The main character was annoying and loveable all at the same time.
Are you an early bird writer or night owl? And do you have any must haves like coffee, chocolates, wine, music or something else?
Night owl. My brain doesn’t function properly until after 6 PM. I need tons and tons of coffee, sugary snacks (lemon bars are a recent favorite) & music!
A lot of authors are frustrated by readers who don’t understand how important reviews are? What would you say to a reader who doesn’t think his or her review matters?
I would say: To save an author, readers must write reviews. On Amazon and Kindle. On Barnes & Noble. On the author’s web page. On Goodreads.com and similar blogger sites. On their Facebook page and other social media venues. Anywhere and everywhere the novel is listed. Review! Review! Review please!
Please, tell us about your experiences with social media. What are your favorite and least-favorite parts of it?
At first, I was quite apprehensive and skeptical. But I read many expert articles suggesting any self-respecting author must be on Twitter, have a Facebook page, a professional-looking author website and be ever present on social media so I followed their advice. I can’t say enough great things about my experience with Twitter and the like. I was carefully to only “Follow” like-minded people who shared my passion for books and authors. This community has become an incredible asset for marketing. But the best thing isn’t what I get out of it but the great feeling you get when you can retweet another author’s work or novel and promote them. I always start my SM day by posting a reminder of the Twitter Author Challenge to promote three authors before you post—I’ve done it everyday and have quite a few “followers” turned “partners-in-crime” as we all help promote each other. The best of those examples is you featuring little-old-me on your site through this wonderful interview opportunity.
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