Work in Progress. I reviewed Work in Progress recently and was captivated by the emotional journey of character Reese Morgan in her story of friendship, grief, and falling in love. You can find my review here. I'm so pleased that Christina agreed to stop by today and answer a few of my burning questions about Work in Progress, as well as share her thoughts about romance, cats, and a good cause.
From the Blurb:
Psychologist Reese Morgan is a feisty workaholic who has devoted her life to helping seriously ill children. But the work is just one of many walls she has put up to protect herself from a childhood trauma and heart-wrenching grief. When the family support program she has struggled to build at the local hospital is threatened, Reese must find a way to face her past, accept her grief and embrace her future. Sparks fly when she comes face to face with a handsome visionary: the contractor who is set to demolish the children’s wing. Can Reese break down the walls of her own heart to let love in?
I love that this novel had more about the heroine's friendships than many other romances. Why did you decide to do it like this?
I’m glad you liked the heroine’s friends! Me too. :) When I first started the outline for what became Work in Progress (seven years ago…), I didn’t intend for the minor characters to have such a major role. But I think it worked. Reese, the main character in Work in Progress, is struggling. She has issues managing her anger and tends to fly off the handle easily. She’s a passionate person to begin with and, based on what she was going through in the book, was a little more hot-tempered than normal. In order for her to get through that dark period, and for readers to get to know the other, more tender, funny, and loving sides of Reese, she needed a good support system. Enter her best friend and roommate Nikki, and her coworker, Julia. Once I got writing, I fell in love with Nikki and Julia and decided to give them their own stories. I’m almost finished writing a short story featuring Julia, and she’ll have her own opportunity to find her Happy Ever After in the next book in the Westwood series, “Poetry in Motion”.
After reading Work in Progress, I'm totally in love with Josh, but the other boys of Westwood, Chase and Drew, have their own tales and romances going on (and I presume we will see more of them in later Westwood novels). Who's your favorite guy and why?
What? I have to pick?? I thought the benefit of having book boyfriends was that I could have more than one. *wink* I like all the guys for different reasons, and hopefully as you continue to read, you’ll get to know them better and have crushes on them too. I would have to say though, my favorite guy is Josh. I like Josh’s more sensitive side and thought it would be fun for him to pursue Reese, instead of the other way around. And hey, let’s be honest, who doesn’t like a guy who is both emotionally available and good with his hands? (Guys?? Are you reading this? Are you listening?)
What sort of research did you have to do for this novel? While it isn't a medical romance exactly, there is quite a bit about Reese's psychology work in it. Do you have a medical background or did you do research to make these parts accurate?
I have a background in psychology, but I still had to do some research for this book. While I have experience working with people who have experienced grief and trauma, I haven’t worked in a hospital setting. I spoke with social workers and psychologists who have worked in a hospital setting, including having involvement with psychiatric wards, to flesh out those elements of the story.
This was a very emotional book to read, both funny and sad, was it difficult to get into the emotional mindset to write it, particularly the parts about Reese's loss?
Sometimes, yes. It’s hard not to write about a character’s dark, or sad moments and not feel it. But at the same time, I was able to channel those feelings into writing. The challenge is to be able to remember that those feelings are the character’s, and not my own. In those moments I took time after writing to do something enjoyable, or relaxing – like soak in a hot bubble bath.
The cats are characters in their own right in Work in Progress, can you tell us a little about the story behind those feline rascals?
Yes, The Godfather stealthily skulked into my heart, and into the hearts of the characters. The Godfather, a big, furry, black and white kitty (see picture below), is very protective of his “pets” Resse and Nikki. I liked the idea of a mob-boss cat. Inspiration for this rascal, as you say, came from my life. I was living on a very small street years ago and we had a “neighborhood” cat. He looked exactly like the one pictured below and he had thick, white whiskers. He was aptly named Whiskers, though I preferred to call him Mr. Whiskers, because, to me, he was someone you didn’t want to mess with. Mr. Whiskers didn’t own anyone on the street and, as far as we knew, he was a stray. But the woman across the street fed him, cared for him, and made sure he had somewhere warm to sleep in the winter. He seemed to own our neighborhood and always was in the thick of things as if he was the foreman. Mr. Whiskers never wanted to miss out on events. When I first moved in, he somehow made his way into my house even before my boxes and furniture! Digging a hole in the yard to plant a tree? Mr. Whiskers was there. Mr. Whiskers was there right in the way of the shovel, but he was there. Moving something heavy? Mr. Whiskers was there, right under your feet. Standing still for too long? Mr. Whiskers would rub up against your leg and then sneeze, leaving a trail of green boogers on your pant leg.
A lot of scenes centering around Mr. Whiskers ended up on the cutting room floor – he’s a scene stealer, that one! But I am going to rework them into short stories because he is just too irresistible.
My inspiration for “The Godfather”. Sort of looks like Brando a bit, non?
Holly, aka Holly-Go-Lightly was inspired by a friend’s cat. She was a very social cat, always looking for attention and approval. If you weren’t paying attention, she’d do something to make sure all eyes were on her. She was a small cat, but had a huge personality.
Work in Progress is part of a series. What can we expect from further Westwood stories, and when?
I’m working on a short story right now. It’s almost done, so I’m hoping it will be out in a few weeks – just in time for Christmas! It will be available for all those sparkly new e-readers and tablets.
In the New Year, I’ll get cracking on “Poetry in Motion”, Julia’s book. There will probably be a short story or two (or three) after that and then our dear Nikki will have her day in the limelight in “Missing in Action”.
What other fiction do you write?
I write mainly contemporary romance and women’s fiction.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Shameless plug for a good cause alert! If you are looking for a gift for someone who loves to read, but may not have a lot of time to dive into a book, you may want to consider getting them a shorter length novel like a novella, or a collection of short stories. May I suggest this one? ORANGE KAREN: TRIBUTE TO A WARRIOR is a collection of 39 stories that explore the strength and resilience of the human spirit. From the monster in the basement to the teddy bear on a young woman's pillow, each story uses the color orange as a thematic element, revealing the power of love, friendship, and the will to live.
Karen DeLabar is a friend, author, and mother. In June of 2012, she was stricken with Toxic Shock Syndrome.
One hundred percent of the proceeds from the anthology will be donated to Karen and her family, to assist with her medical expenses, and ongoing recovery.
Orange Karen: Tribute to a Warrior is available from Amazon.
www.christinaesdon.com and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
Work in Progress was published by Booktrope in 2013 and is available from Amazon and Book Depository.
You can find my review of Work in Progress here.