On this warm Friday, I pick up this week’s featured author and ask her where she’d like to be interviewed. She’s pretty open since, as we shall soon read, she’s been all over the world. So, I take her back to my city, Des Moines. (Okay, technically I live in Carlisle, but work with me here.) I know a nice coffee shop down on Ingersoll that has some interesting non-coffee concoctions. There’s even an artist displaying some his projects. We ensconce ourselves at a corner table to start the interview.
1. Who are you and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city?
I’ve lived all over the world. I spent years in Nagoya, Japan and in Istanbul, Turkey. I loved those places, but now I live in the idyllic little town of Beaver, which is in the rolling green hills of Western Pennsylvania. I’m probably not the most fascinating character in our town (we have quite an assortment of oddballs here), but I think there are several things about me that are interesting. First of all, the fact that I did spend so much time abroad is a bit of a novelty. Secondly, because I’m a writer, I get a great deal of attention for that as well. I use it for good, however – by teaching classes to teens at our local libraries. Last of all, I blog about my dog on Facebook, and he is now the most famous (and fascinating) Labrador Retriever in the county. He has many followers, and he’s far more interesting that I am.
2. Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to), what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?
I think people would be surprised to know I speak three languages (Japanese, Turkish, and English) and that I studied Japanese and Economics in college. Also, I kind of “fangirl” over Neil deGrasse Tyson and George Takei. I got to see both of them in person (at two separate events). As soon as they walked on stage, my reaction was the same – a freakish and girlie scream. It was kind of scary. I hope they didn’t hear me.
3. What interested you to become a writer rather than something else such as rock star?
Well, first of all, I can’t sing, dance, or act, and I hate being on stage. What inspired me to be a writer is the pure joy and delight I find in the process of writing – and in the wonderful relationships I’ve developed with my readers.
4. Writers are readers. With which author(s) would you enjoy sharing dinner? Why?
Oh, gosh. Can it be a very big dinner party? I have so many favorites – Madeleine L’Engle (she wrote my first favorite book), Jane Austen (I loved all of her works), William Shakespeare (he’s brilliant and amazing), Mark Twain (I adore his dry wit), and Ernest Hemingway (mostly because I think he could tell us some great stories).
5. If I were stranded on a deserted island or suffering from a four hour layover at the airport, why would your book(s) be great company?
My books are a nice, happy, funny escape from reality – which is just what you need at an airport (or on a deserted island!).
6. Share your process of writing in regards to: plot and character development, story outline, research (do you Google or visit places/people, or make it up on the spot), writing schedule, editing and number of rewrites.
My process is to force myself to sit in a chair everyday and work. Sometimes that is the hardest part – making time to actually get it done. Also, I take classes all the time and I try to learn from other writers. I’m more of a “pantser” than a “plotter,” but I do have most of the story outlined in my head before I even begin writing the book. As far as research is concerned, if I haven’t seen the place with my own eyes, I do a lot of extensive research online. I write quickly, and I’m fairly prolific. As far as how many edits I do, that depends on my editor. Usually, we go back and forth about four times – if I’m lucky!
7. “I think I have a good idea for a story, but I don’t know where or how to begin. Your process may not work for me. Any advice?”
Not everything works for everyone, but there is one universal truth. You need to put time into it, and make time for it. I just spoke about this as the keynote speaker for the Pennwriters Annual Conference. If you’d like to read it, my dog shared it on his blog this morning. https://www.facebook.com/caponethewonderdog/posts/1827555237303820
8. I saw an amusing T-shirt the other day which read, “Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.” What is your philosophy of life?
Be kind. Find the good in others, because if you look for the good, you’ll see it.
9. Please tell me you’re not going to stop writing? What’s next for you?
I’m working on a book especially for the people who read my dog blog, and, at the same time, I working on the sequel to my newest book (“The Enchanted Garden Café”) and the fourth book in my Passports and Promises series, “Excess Baggage.”
10. Where can people find more information on you and your projects?
I have two websites, one for my young adult books (www.wendedikec.com) and one for my women’s fiction and other novels (www.abigaildrake.com). Also you can always follow me on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/abigaildrakewriter/).
The Enchanted Garden Café
South Side Stories
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Kindle Press
Date of Publication: May 1, 2018
Number of pages: 272
Word Count: 89,000
Cover Artist: Najla Qamber
Tagline: Something magical is happening in the garden.
For her sixth birthday, Fiona Campbell’s mother, Claire, made her a peace sign piñata filled with wishes for a better planet instead of candy. When she got her period, her mother held a womanhood ceremony at their café and invited the neighborhood. On her sixteenth birthday, they celebrated with a drum circle.
Fiona grew up trying to keep the impulsive Claire in check, and their struggling café afloat. She plans to move out, but first must find a way to stop a big corporation from tearing down their business and destroying her mother’s livelihood.
Claire thinks karma will solve their financial and legal problems. Fiona prefers a spreadsheet and a solid business plan. The last thing she has time for is Matthew Monroe, a handsome complication who walks through their door with a guitar on his back and a naughty gleam in his eye. But when disaster strikes, and Fiona’s forced to turn to him for help, will she learn to open her heart and find she can believe in something magical after all?
Falling in love is like baking.
Results may vary with experience.
I opened the box and stepped back, tripping over a pile of Himalayan wind chimes I’d left lying behind me on the floor of the shop. They clanked in a discordant melody as I untangled them from my feet.
“What the heck?” I asked, ignoring the chimes and focusing on the parcel that had arrived in the mail earlier that morning. Tiny stone phalluses in various shades of gray filled the container to the brim. Checking the return address, I noticed the shipping cost and wanted to cry. Most of our inventory budget for the entire month had been used to mail this one small box halfway around the world.
“Mom, what exactly did you order from Inuyama, Japan?”
My mother popped her head around the corner, a bright smile on her face. “Did they finally arrive, Fiona? I’ve been waiting for ages.”
“For stone penises?”
Why was I even surprised? This wasn’t the first time something like this had happened, and it probably wouldn’t be the last. My mother, Claire de Lune Campbell, had never been the master of impulse control, and she had a history of making very poor decisions. She’d been born Claire Campbell and added the “de Lune” in, what I can only guess, was a moment of pot-induced inspiration. The pot no longer played a part in her life, but the total inability to make common-sense decisions remained.
Mom picked up one of the stone penises, a happy twinkle in her eye. “Aren’t they lovely?”
On the outside, Mom and I looked alike. The same blonde hair, the same blue eyes, the same stubborn tilt to our chins, but there the resemblance ended. Mom was as happy and bright as a butterfly landing on a flower, and she had the same level of fiscal responsibility. I stressed about everything, especially money, but I had good cause.
My mom owned and operated the Enchanted Garden Café, where we served food, coffee, and specially blended teas and sold unusual items in our small gift shop. Nestled in the middle of the South Side, the funky hippie district of Pittsburgh, it was the perfect spot for my mom but a constant source of anxiety for me.
I wiped sweat from my face and brushed off my clothing. Dust covered my T-shirt and shorts, and some kind of stone powder had fallen out of the box from Inuyama onto my tennis shoes. Mom, glowing in a dress made from recycled saris, didn’t have a speck of dust on her, but she hadn’t handled the phalluses.
Kate, the girl who worked behind the counter, came over to us, her blue eyes alight with curiosity. “I want to see them,” she said. Mom handed her one, and she studied it closely, peering at it through the thick black frames of her retro hipster glasses. Her ebony hair was pulled off to the side in a low ponytail, and her colorful tattoos peeked through the crocheted black cardigan covering her pale skin. “At least they are anatomically correct. Look at those veins.”
My cheeks grew warm, and Mom smiled, putting a cool hand against my face. “Aww, Fiona is blushing.”
“No, I’m not. It’s hot in here.”
“Of course it is,” she said, making me feel twelve instead of twenty-five, but it was hot for early June, and the air-conditioning was broken. Again. Even with all the windows open, it still felt stuffy.
I ignored her and picked up a penis. “What are these things anyway?”
She beamed at me with pure, unfiltered happiness. “Fertility charms from a little shrine in the mountains of Japan. They have a big festival there every year. I went once.”
She sighed, most likely remembering happy times at the fertility festival, and went back to the kitchen. I looked at Kate and rolled my eyes, making her snicker, before getting back to work. The fertility charms came in all sizes and seemed handmade. I just wasn’t sure how to sell them or where to display them in our shop.
A Victorian eyesore, the café was painted on the outside in what once had been a mix of bright pink and various shades of green. The pink had faded to a dull rose, and the green looked like the color of old limes just before they rotted. It needed work and a fresh coat of paint, but instead of doing so, we spent our money on phalluses from Japan. That was how things worked with my mother. No planning. No rhyme or reason. No logic. No rational thought.
The bell above the door tinkled, and I turned, a penis in each hand, as a stranger walked into the shop. I couldn’t see his face at first because the sun was at his back, but he carried a guitar case. A sure sign of trouble.
“Hello,” he said as he came closer.
He had straight dark hair that brushed his shoulders, brown eyes, and a goatee. He reminded me of a sexy, naughty French pirate, and I knew his kind well. Close to my age, he was definitely one of the artsy, flighty types who always hung out around my mom. I could spot them a mile away.
“Holy guacamole, if he were any hotter, I’d need new underwear,” whispered Kate, taking off to the back of the shop and leaving me alone to greet the stranger.
About the Author:
Abigail Drake is the award-winning author of twelve novels, including three young adult books under the name Wende Dikec. She has spent her life traveling the world, and collecting stories wherever she visited. She majored in Japanese and International Economics in college and worked in import/export and as an ESL teacher before she committed herself full time to writing. She writes in several romance genres, and her books are quirky, light, and fun.
Abigail is a trekkie, a book hoarder, the master of the Nespresso machine, a red wine addict, and the mother of three boys (probably the main reason for her red wine addiction). A puppy named Capone is the most recent addition to her family, and she blogs about him as a way of maintaining what little sanity she has left.
She is a member of Pennwriters, RWA, Three Rivers Romance Writers, Mindful Writers, Women’s Fiction Writers, and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She teaches writing to children, and her non-fiction article about the life of a child in Istanbul was published in Faces Magazine (an imprint of Cricket Magazine) in February 2016.
5 autographed copies of The Enchanted Garden Café
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