I recently read and reviewed Margo Candela’s latest novel, Good-bye to All That which was absolutely lovely! Today, I have the extreme pleasure of welcoming Margo to the blog to talk about writing, her books, what she reads, and of course, desserts!
Margo was born and raised in Northeast Los Angeles and then moved to San Francisco to attend college, where she majored in journalism.
Her first three novels, More Than This (Touchstone, Aug ’08), Life Over Easy (Kensington, Oct ’07) and Underneath It All (Kensington, Jan ’07), are all set in San Francisco. More Than This was a Target Breakout Book and an American Association of Publishers national book club selection at Borders Books with Las Comadres.
Her latest book, Good-bye To All That (GTAT) (Touchstone, July ’10), is her first set in her native Los Angeles and was picked by Los Angeles Magazine for its 2010 Best of L.A. list.
She is currently at work on a book of short stories and a young adult series, as well as adapting her novels for the screen and writing original screenplays.
1. When did you first consider yourself a writer? What is your favorite part about being a novelist?
Sometime between my second and third novels being published, I realized I was legit. I come from a background that really values work and while writing is work, it’s not the kind my family thought could become a career. I’m very lucky that I’ve had the chance to devote myself to writing. What I most like about being a novelist is finishing a manuscript. Even though that’s just one stage in a long process, it’s a great feeling of relief to get to the end of a story
2. What inspired you to write GTAT?
Good-bye To All That was inspired by my love of work life. I’ve been out of a traditional office setting for so many years writing this book gave me the chance jump back into the drama, the politics, the romances that go on in an office. At the same time I got to intertwine a familiar theme from all my novels, balancing family obligations while a character is trying to find their own place in the world. Good-bye To All That is evenly divided between family and work life which still turns out to be more than the main character can handle.
3. What message(s) do you hope readers might take away from the book?
My main goal is always to entertain, make readers laugh and show another side of what might be a familiar story. I hope I did that with Good-bye To All That. I wanted to write about work, work in Hollywood and also about family. Raquel might work in a glamorous industry, but her focus is on doing the best job she can even if it means faxing documents and fetching coffee. That her family and job fall apart at the same time only ups the stakes for her, but I tried to find the humor in it. It’s just as easy to laugh as it is to cry and given the choice, I’ll go for laughter every time.
4. What’s the most challenging part of writing for you?
There’s always the issue of what project to commit to and then seeing it through. It’s very easy to start something and then set it aside if it gets boring or something else comes up. This is why I’m very careful to make sure that what I’m writing is not only what I want to write, but what I know I can finish. In the end, it’s just time and effort and there’s no getting around having to invest both of them in a manuscript.
5. What’s your best advice for aspiring writers?
Read and read a lot. Writing and reading are two different things, but a writer should have a healthy respect for the reading experience. As for the writing part, have a plan and a deadline. Both help keep a manuscript manageable so it doesn’t take over your life.
6. Are you currently working on anything new?
I have a list of projects in the works which have tested my time management skills. I’m writing my first young adult novel, polishing a screenplay and will be blogging for a new site that launches in February. I’m also co-writing a novel with my friend Heather Poole, plus keeping up with my own blog. I’m happy to be keeping busy and out of trouble.
7. What do you do when in-between writing books?
I write every day, but I know I can’t write all the time. I make a point to get away from my office to see friends and family. I exercise on a regular basis and I allow myself to take time to watch TV or go to the movies when I need to put my brain on cruise control. When I’m stuck on something and can’t take a break, I vacuum. A quick 15 minute trip around my house helps clear my head and keeps my space tidy.
10. Where is your favorite place to read/write?
I love to read in bed. My nightstand is covered with books and magazines. I like to listen to the radio when I read, too. I need back ground noise for both reading and writing since I grew up in a big, noisy family. Too much quiet stresses me out. I have a great office—very bright and airy with minimal clutter. It’s located at the front of our house so I feel connected to my neighborhood. I’ve tried to write at cafes, but I can’t. I can edit anywhere, though, but when it comes to writing, I have to be in my workspace.
12. What are you reading now? Would you recommend it?
Right now I have a lot of young adult and quirky novels on my to-be-read list. Since I’m deep into a couple of projects, it’s mostly magazines for me right now. I need to focus on what I’m writing and can’t commit to a novel, but a magazine article is just enough reading to get me through my day. I subscribe to everything from Us Weekly and Allure to The New Yorker and The Atlantic. Magazines are my vice.
13. If you could have dinner with any fictional character, who would it be?
It would have to be Milo from The Phantom Tollbooth—one dinner before he goes on his journey and another when he gets back. I love that book and recommend it to everyone. It’s one of the books I wish I could read for the first time each time I pick it up. I’m surprised I didn’t name my kid Milo.
15. If you were a superhero what would your name be? Your powers?
Being that I have a 10-year-old, I get this question a lot and I’ve put some thought into it. I wouldn’t want superpowers because I like being a relatively normal, mundane person. What I would like, though, is the gold watch from that 1980’s movie The Girl, The Gold Watch and Everything. The watch could stop time and there’s a lot I could do with it, mostly good.
16. Finally, maybe the most important question: cake or pie?
Cake. While I like pie, I stick to apple. With cake my options are almost limitless.
Please visit Margo’s website to learn more about her and her books: http://www.margocandela.com.
Thanks so much to Margo for agreeing to be here! Margo is so fabulous she’s agreed to answer any questions you all may have.
**Have a question for Margo? Just post your questions for her in a comment below!**
And now, for the awesome giveaway, a *signed* copy of Good-bye to All That (US only, sorry) so generously donated by Margo herself!
To enter fill out this FORM and if you can, please follow the blog on Facebook (if you have a FB account, that is).
There will be one lucky winner! Giveaway ends February 21, 2011!
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