Jennifer Donovan, 5 Minutes for Books managing editor, shares an inside look into Dorothea Benton Frank’s new novel All Summer Long. Read the Q&A with the author below, and then be sure to read Jennifer’s review over at 5 Minutes for Books.
I sometimes feel as if I have a book in me, perhaps non-fiction/memoir, or a novel for women or children or young adults. The problem is that writing a book requires amazing focus and discipline, and right now, I don’t have it. For now, I am concentrating on being a die-hard reader, and I love it when I can get a glimpse into the writing life. This Q&A was fun, because it really conveys the love of the author for these characters that she created.
In ALL SUMMER LONG, many of the characters are struggling with money issues — some don’t have enough, others want more, some think money will buy them love and/or happiness. Can you tell us how you came upon this theme for your latest novel?
My husband has worked in and around the investment banking world for his entire career. As a result we have come to know people who are firmly in the one percent. I can say without reservation that money cannot buy you happiness but it’s better to have some than not.
You seemed to enjoy pushing the limits of bad behavior with some of the characters here, such as Ellen, the nanny from hell, and Dorothy, a conniving, back-stabbing clothes hanger, among others. Is it hard to push those limits yet keep the characters from becoming absurd? How do you keep from crossing that thin line of credibility? Are any of these unattractive people based on some you’ve come across in real life?
These terrible women in my novel are the bathroom mirror personalities of many people I know. What I have done is allowed them to do and say the things they think that they would never have the nerve to do or say in real life.
As the author, what do you think the odds are of Bob Vasile putting aside his adulterous habits in order to fully recommit himself to his marriage and life with Maritza? Do you think he can change?
I believe in the power of love. Many things happen in the name of it. Eyes are opened, countries change hands. I’d like to think that Bob is finally going to calm down and behave, not because he worries about Maritza cleaning his clock but because he discovered that he deeply loves her and their daughter. And I think the time they spend in the Nantucket house restores some kind of normalcy to their lives.
Which location did you enjoy writing about the most: New York City, Isle of Palms, or one of the fabulous locales visited with the Vasile party?
Even as a daughter of the Lowcountry of South Carolina, fully committed to its geography with all my heart, I absolutely enjoy other places too. I have spent almost half of my life in and around New York because it’s fabulous. The energy, the creativity, the availability of top drawer anything at your fingertips is like a drug. But it’s exhausting too. So I cherish the leisurely pace I find in the Lowcountry and vacations in other places as well because we all need time to refuel…