Today, I'm talking with Susan Ricci who is currently working on Dinosaurs and Cherry Stems, a post-divorce self-help novel that started life as a non-fiction project and now is being transitioned into a fiction project.
I asked Susan about her inspiration, her odd title, and the advantages of self-help via fiction.
My book first took substance with the experience of Internet dating after my divorce. It's truly an insane way to meet people, what with the weirdos, scammers from Nigeria, and guys who just want to enjoy the Friends with Benefits kind of thing. What transpired, though, was the evolution of a bitter, divorced woman, who'd rendered herself a recluse for nearly a year, then turned herself into a don't-you-dare-take-any-more crap type woman who took technology by the proverbial, ah, you know whats, and twisted them to her advantage--or so she thought. Because happy endings do happen and I'm a very lucky lady.
During that time, though, I learned much. I decided I wanted to share it with a self-help, get-you-through-it narrative, so people don't waste valuable time feeling regret regarding former relationships, or feeling leery of forging new ones. Stepping stones, baby steps, call them what you will, but all are learning experiences that bring us to the next, fantastic level.
I think we're all following the same equation. As writers, who have something to say with an audience that needs to hear what we share, no matter what genre' we've chosen. I am also working on a novel, called Slick Trespass. When I started Dinosaurs and Cherry Stems, I was flipping back and forth between the two, and each day when I began working, I wasn't sure what mood would drive me; either into the nonfiction arena, or the liar's club, because I do so love to make stuff up. One day, I realized I had to focus on one project, or I'd accomplish nothing. I chose Dinosaurs and Cherry Stems, because it's timely and I gravitate to the truth. Fiction never dies, or so it's been told.
Dinosaurs and Cherry Stems won an award at the Philadelphia Writers Conference this past June for nonfiction narrative. My workshop leader, author Ellie Slott Fisher, (our picture is on my Facebook home page), told me these type of books do well as memoirs, but only if you're famous or have a notorious character within, neither which was me. But I also gained the interest with an agent, who requested a book proposal, but I've been too busy editing and revising to submit it. Then I found IWU, and my thoughts have swung into a diverse and very welcome option.
As far as the title, the original was too cliche. I chose Dinosaurs, etc. because my kids think I AM one, (and maybe I am), and cherry stems because it relates to a very interesting, or so I think, chapter of the book. So, regarding your inquiry, that this may be based on personal experience: Well, yeah, sure it is. Write what you know. Isn't this to what Those Rules imply?
I imagine there's tons of folks out there, people of any age, who've experienced similar scenarios as mine, and perhaps have given up hope on a satisfying, loving relationship. I know I did. And If I can inspire anyone to never to give up, I think my message will have been delivered. Thus, I'll be satisfied I've done my best, as a writer, delivering that message.
Thanks for sharing, Susan.
If you want to see more from Susan check her site out at http://www.susanjeanricci.com/.