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Author Interview & Giveaway: Gretchen de la O (The Wilson Mooney Series Book 1 & 2) Posted on February 17, 2013 by Smitten After reading the first two books in the fabulous student/teacher romance, the Wilson Mooney series, I caught up with author Gretchen de la O to ask her some burning questions. Here’s what she had to say…
Smitten: I thoroughly enjoyed the first two books in the Wilson Mooney series. Thanks so much for the opportunity to read them. What made you decide to write this story? Who or what was your inspiration?
Gretchen: Thank you Smitten for giving the Wilson Mooney Series a go! It is exciting to have this opportunity to answer some questions about my books. I can’t really say where Wilson came from. I was writing the second book in a series called Prototype, I was about 12,000 words into it, and it was getting super intense. One day I just opened a blank page on my laptop and started to write. I think Wilson’s story started as a moment of reprieve from the dark situations I was writing. I sent out a couple of pages to my girlfriends, who were expecting Prototype. They loved Wilson and wanted more! Eventually, I was sending out pages once a week or sometimes every day; that’s when I decided to put the Prototype Series on hold and focused solely on Wilson Mooney, Almost Eighteen. Maybe it’s different for me, I tend to have a lot of characters
that just pop into my head at any given time. But with Wilson, it was like a flood or river that rushed endlessly, and her story just saturated my mind. Luckily, my editor has Prototype, and once I publish Wilson Mooney Beyond Eighteen, I look forward to meeting up with the characters from the Prototype Series again. As far as my inspiration…sometimes I will be sitting somewhere or I will have a blank page open and I will just start typing. Words will pop into my head, and sometimes it’s just a feeling I will get and I will write about the feeling. Wilson’s story started out where she was talking about who she is, her high school and then the essence of Wilson was born. When I write it is a stream of consciousness, it’s as if these stories picked me to be the one to give them to the world.
Smitten: I always cast the books I read. You may have noticed that I do love a picture or two. Do you have a dream cast for Wilson and Max? Or any of the other characters?
Gretchen: OMG, just check out my Pinterest boards; or my Facebook page. I had Max cast in my mind, since he showed up in book 1. Ian Somerhalder, he has always been my Max. Although, by the time the book is a movie, we’ll have to go with someone a little younger. (sorry Ian). Until recently I didn’t really have Wilson cast. I wanted every reader to be her as they read the story, and that’s why I deliberately gave little description of Wilson in the first book. Now in WM18@L (the 2nd book), you get to know what she looks like through Max’s eyes when he describes her in the prologue. How her hair looks, her eyes, the way she moves. If I had to pick an actress to play Wilson, I think Jennifer Lawrence would make a great Wilson. Oh, and by the way, I really love the pictures you have up for the books. My girlfriends and I keep wondering where you found such great pictures! How did you find the picture with Wilson sitting in her
baby blue Shugga suit next to Max? It gave me goose bumps! Would have loved to have them for my book trailers!
Smitten: Did you write the book in order? What was your writing process? If not, what were the first and last scenes you wrote?
Gretchen: I wrote Almost Eighteen in order and in around 6 months. For me, allowing Wilson to tell the story and have it unfold through my mind and out to the keyboard was the most natural way. A lot of times when writing Wilson I would stop in the middle of a chapter and send it to my betas. Sometimes, I would stop mid-paragraph or better yet, midsentence; my poor betas went through the ringer with me. When the thought was gone, it was gone, when the thought flowed, it was prolific. Now, on the other hand, for Eighteen at Last…I wrote that book out of sequence, and, oh man, that was much harder for me. Early on, I think the first major scene I wrote in WM18@L, was the Frank scene. So trying to fill in from the beginning to that point was challenging. Scenes would pop into my head and I’d have to write them, not knowing where they were going to fit in the scheme of the story. So, when I had to go back and fill in the gaps I had to keep my wits about staying true to the characters and their worlds. The scene with Wilson
and Nick, oh my God, I paced the floor of my friend Becky’s house for an hour—no joke! That was one of the toughest scenes I have ever written in this series (Even harder than the hospital scene). The last scenes I wrote in WM18@L were the prologue and the epilogue in Max’s POV.
I decided to write Beyond Eighteen in sequence. Writing a series is tricky, because you must keep all the characters’ truth strung tight though out each book. Readers are smart, and they end up knowing your characters almost better than you do. You can’t slip or fudge any part of it.
As for my process, I don’t storyboard or try and work out what must happen or not happen. The characters experiences tend to come through me as I close my eyes and type. It’s a dynamic experience to write from that part of your psyche that is unaffected by criticism or fear and since it was Wilson’s story, I had no choice but to let her tell it.
Smitten: Was the ending of each always going to be that way? Or did you have a few different
Gretchen: Because I don’t plot or plan, I had no idea how each book was going to end. I was nervous about leaving the second book as a cliffhanger. Originally, the second book was going to be the last book in the series. So when it looked like the second book was going to leave readers hanging…yet again, I struggled with that quite a bit (pacing the floor). I didn’t intend to do that to my readers, for a second time! But that’s where the story ended up. Once I talked it over with Tiffany, my editor and Becky, one of my best friends, we all agreed that it was what needed to happen. Eventually, the decision was made to add the link at the end of WM18@L to give my amazing readers a sneak peek of the third book on my website. I couldn’t just leave them hanging like that, knowing that Beyond Eighteen wasn’t even close to being done at that point.
Smitten: So, why did I not have teachers like Max?! How amazing is he?! Can you tell us a little more about where he came from and what he represents? Please tell me he’s modeled on a teacher you had at school?! That would be brilliant!
Gretchen: Oh, well, I love him. With Max I was able to create those feelings of first love beyond any fantasy for Wilson…and my readers. He let us experience how it felt to fall in love for the first time, again. I think Max is the perfect balance of what most women want in their lives. He represents what I find appealing in a lover, a partner, and a provider—to me, he’s the perfect guy. A lot of women find themselves attracted to the bad boys, but in life; I think what women truly want is someone who can ignite that spark in our body and keep it burning—no matter what. Truthfully, yeah, ya’ know I had a crush on my government teacher. People ask me all the time if Wilson’s story is an autobiography. Sorry, ladies, but no it’s not. I never had a relationship with any of my teachers.
Smitten: There are plenty of new authors out there and lots of impending 2013 releases and works in progress. If you could give a new author one piece of advice, from your experience, what would it be?
Gretchen: Be patient. Patience has been a very tough pill to swallow. I have the same mentality as any other writer; I want instant success. I want everyone to devour my books; I want the invitations to book signing parties and interviews; I want to see myself on all of the Best Seller’s lists.
But we have to remember, writing is a journey; so allow the story to flow through you. Don’t block it up with grammatical concerns; get out of your head and enjoy the creative process. It’s your journey. Let’s face it, no two writers will ever have the same experience, so believe in your work, enjoy even the smallest of accomplishments, and celebrate every writer’s success!
Trust me, envy and jealousy will never take you anywhere but down. So honor another writer’s success, be happy that they are changing the world we write in, because it only invites that creative energy back to you. Write a damn good book and get yourself an awesome editor!
Smitten: What is your favorite book of all time? What are you reading right now?
Gretchen: Lately, I’ve been really investing in self and indie published authors. I think we are experiencing a pivotal point in the publishing world and there are some really amazing writers out there, who deserve to be known; like Becca Ann, who just released her first novel, Reasons I Fell for the Funny Fat Friend.
Before I really started writing, I got into the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris. She was one of the first writer’s where I had to go out and buy almost every book in that series. I found myself dog-earring the steamy pages. Before I knew it, I was writing my own novel that would make my friends want to dog-ear the good pages and escape the realities of everyday life. Truthfully, I love to read—but when I am writing and trying to get that next book out to my readers, I have to stay focused, buckle down and resist reading fiction.
My all time favorite book is This Thing Called You, by Ernest Holmes. I read it every day. It’s not a glamorous book, by any stretch; as a matter of fact it is nonfiction. It’s one of those books that you can open up to any page and you will find what you need to hear. It is an amazing book about your inner power and how to tap into it.
Smitten: And there’s a third book on the way!! I hadn’t realized this until I got to the end of book two and realized that my heart was still in little pieces on the floor, lol. Can you tell us anything about that?? Do you know what your ending is going to be yet?
Gretchen: Well, Wilson and Max are in it…LOL. I think this book will be the culmination of book one and two. Some of the relationships that are left open in Almost Eighteen and Eighteen at Last will finally have their closure they deserve. As far as how it is going to end? Well, I haven’t gotten there yet (I’ve heard everyone’s plea for a HEA). But until I sit down and hammer out the words, this journey is still a mystery to me too. It’s my goal to release Beyond Eighteen this summer, but self-publishing my own book is a process and such a creative collaboration. Between my editor, graphic designer, and my beta readers, we all would love to put it out tomorrow, but giving a quality novel to the world takes time and the first thing I have to do is finish writing it!
Thank you again Smitten, for providing me a place to talk about my process as a writer and my books!