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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Interview with Becca Wilhite, author of My Ridiculous, Romantic Obsessions

Today I'd like to welcome Becca Wilhite, author of My Ridiculous Romantic Obsessions, a book about a an extremely lovable girl named Sarah Howard who is entering her first year of college. Sarah doesn't not realize how smart and fun she really is and she just might lose out on a great relationship with Ben, a boy who is everything she wants.

In My Ridiculous Romantic Obsessions, there’s an important distinction between how Sarah sees herself and how the rest of the world does. Can you discuss this aspect of the novel more with us and why girls often underestimate just how great they really are?

I think this is an interesting part of so much in fiction, and in life. We think we know how something is, because that's how we see it. But everyone has different filters to see life, and I think girls and young women tend to use the harshest filters on themselves. (Am I projecting?) We girls see other people's strengths against our weaknesses. We see their best points against our biggest flaws. Besides, it's not cool to draw attention to how great you are, right? It's arrogant. It's conceited. But really, what if it was just Right? What if it was fine, great, cool to be able to say "I'm doing this thing pretty well." Or "I look great." Or, even, "I like this about me." I was in my thirties before I could really say any of that, and I missed years and years of time I could have been enjoying my own company.

Sarah is deeply humiliated by a former crush, and determined to never get hurt again, she plays hard to get with a guy who really is crazy for her. For girls like Sarah who feel unprepared for the dating world and can’t believe that a nice, good looking guy would ever really be interested in them, do you have any advice?

Once there was this song by a guy named Baz Luhrmann that talked about, well, a lot of things, including the wearing of sunscreen, but he said this: "But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked….You’re not as fat as you imagine." I don't think it matters how often we tell girls things like this, nobody is going to believe it until later. But here's my version: Girl, you are priceless. You have got that thing (whatever it is, your thing) going on. If you could locate that thing, define it, pinpoint it, and then allow yourself to see it every day, you would give a generous gift to the world - the gift of your confidence. Apply that to dating, or school, or sports, or whatever matters, and watch good things happen.

Sarah is a lovable character. Lacking a little self confidence in herself, often puts her foot in her mouth though and holds two sided conversations in her head (in British accents no less). Where did you get the inspiration for Sarah’s character?

Oooh. I was sort of hoping to keep this quiet, but I don't think it's likely. Sarah is me with curly hair. Right down to the British-accented voice in my head. Okay, not really. But I certainly feel her pain. The day I wrote the first scene for this book (the scene where Ben and Sarah are dancing at his sister's reception) her neuroses and her charm were all sort of spilled out around me, for me to pick up and make a story out of it. I love characters that make me laugh, and Sarah generally makes me laugh (until I want to smack her - you understand).

Do you have any rituals when you write (such as a favorite cup of coffee to drink, music to listen to, or cozy nook to tuck yourself away in, etc)?

I write in the "office" in our house - the office I share with my husband and all our kids. Since I'm not really very good at sharing, I get up pretty early in the morning (like 5:30) and work until kids get up and decide they need me. Then I can sneak in time during the day, but I"m more effective early than I am later.I am not a coffee person. I drink water. And occasionally, fresh-squeezed juice (I'm partial lately to a grapefruit-orange combo). And I can't listen to music when I work, or I either write the lyrics into my scene or get all off-track by singing/humming along. A person with more character could certainly make it work. Alas. I am a person of very little character. But I'm learning to be okay with that.

Do you have any advice for all the aspiring writers out there?

Writers write. Do the work. A woman I know (who writes books and runs obscene distances) said that you don't train for a 50-mile run by thinking about it. You run. Similarly, you don't become a writer by thinking about writing. You write. And you read, lots and lots of good and different books. And you let people read what you write. First, let someone who adores you read it, because every writer needs a dose of "Oh, you are BRILLIANT!" (for me, that's my dad.) Then let a reader read it. Someone who reads lots of good writing, who can tell you how yours stacks up. Then, incorporating all the good changes you made from their suggestions, rewrite and polish it again. Then let someone else read it. Someone who doesn't care if they hurt your feelings (someone else's English teacher might be a good place to start - yours probably doesn't want to hurt your feelings). Let them tell you where it's strong. Let them poke at it where it's weak, allowing you to see how to make it better. Repeat that step about a thousand times. Meanwhile, write something every day, even if it's just a list of what you found while you were cleaning out under your bed. (Which, by the way, is great novel material. Character Study, we call that. Or maybe we just call it Gross.)

What can we look forward to next from you? Can you give us any inside scoop on what you are currently working on?

Because I take my own good advice, I try to write every day. I'm really good at starting new projects, but less great about finishing them. I'm working on another romantic comedy now, about a girl who might be falling for her boy-best-friend... but you'll have to wait and see if I manage to finish it!

Becca Wilhite graduated from Brigham Young University and then lived, among other places, In Indianapolis and Oklahoma City. Now she lives in a little valley in the Rockies where she can see mountains out of ever window. Every day she discovers miracles of every shade where her husband and four kids. Her debut novel, Bright Blue Miracle, released in February 2009.
Official Website of Becca Wilhite

15 comments:

Book Crazy Jenn said...

Great interview - LOVE learning about authors - and her book sounds wonderful.

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Fantastic advice!

Bere said...

Awesome interview! Loved reading it.
I'm looking forward to reading
My Ridiculous, Romantic Obsessions =)

Bianca said...

"Writers write. Do the work. A woman I know (who writes books and runs obscene distances) said that you don't train for a 50-mile run by thinking about it. You run. "

As an inspiring writing and cross country runner, I can't help but find this very inspiring! Wonderful interview!!!

My Ridiculous, Romantic Obsessions sounds wonderful!

pirate penguin said...

I love her advice on writing AND real life. Fabulous interview! :)

misskallie2000 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
misskallie2000 said...

Loved your interview. Becca Wilhite is really a funny person who writes. Sounds like a very good book to read.
Good advice on how to start writing that I will take to heart.

misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

b + j = calculus said...

loved the interview! thanks!

Dar said...

Hi Kim, I've got the interview posted for you at Win a Book.

Cherie J said...

Wonderful interview! It is always fun to learn about a new to me author.

purplg8r said...

Great interview! I can't work with music on either. In college, most of my friends always studied with music on, but I never could!

Brenda said...

Good interview!

dancealert at aol dot com

avalonne83 said...

Please count me in. Thanks!

avalonne83 [at] yahoo [dot] it

Bhumi said...

Thanks for the advice, and great interview!

Book Addict Girl said...

Oh wow. Great advice! Thanks for the awesome interview!