Queenie D: How did your addiction get started?
Beth Harbison: Like any other addiction: the thrill of the first purchase, the bringing it home in a bag, taking the box out, moving the tissue, inhaling the smell of new.
Queenie D: So how did you research this book? And how in the world did you create a passion for shoes that is so believable?!
Beth Harbison: Researching the book was pretty much a non-issue, since so much of it came from experience. However, I am not much of a super-high-end shoe girl, because I havent found any that are as comfortable as my good ol Onex, White Mountain, or Reef favorites, so I did have to do a bit of research on the retail and Ebay prices of them.
Queenie D: Reefs are hard to beat! Lets get into the novel, shall we?
With which of your characters do you most closely relate? Lorna, the spendcrazy, witty, waitress with financial troubles? Helene, the statuesque beauty from the wrong side of the tracks, married to the wrong man and living a lie? Sandra, the agoraphobic phone sex operator who always struggles with her weight but has a bombshell personality underneath her shyness? Or Joss, the innocent, country girl looking for a better life than that of a plumber's wife who truly loves children?
Beth Harbison: Im a cross between Lorna and Sandra, which believe it or not made it harder to write them. Ive suffered from Agoraphobia, found help from the auricular therapy bar, all of that. But I have big spending issues still. In fact, my sister pointed out that in the end everyones issues were changed and solved, leading them on a new path, except for Lornas she just got rich! I hadnt even thought of it that way before but its true! Shameful of me!
Queenie D: Under the guise of being fun and flirty, these 4 women struggle with real problems. How do you keep the balance between light-hearted and dramatic so that the book ends up being fun and serious at the same time?
Beth Harbison: Because in my family, we always responded to drama with at least irony. I usually see the ironic and the twistedly-funny in bad situation. Thats what they say about the funniest comedians, isnt it? That they pull it out of really dark places. Im no Jerry Seinfeld, obviously, but I do think in most situations you can either laugh or cry. I usually do both.
Queenie D: I certainly did both right along with your shoe addict girls!
Out of all the secondary characters who is your favorite and why? I personally liked the Boomer, the bartender. We've all known a big scruff of a man with a soft heart at some point in our lives!
Beth Harbison: Thats a great question! I like Boomer too I had a Boomer a long time ago, and life took us in different directions, but I miss him. I also liked Sandras sister, Tiffany, because it was fun to think there was a lot more to their relationship and they were just scratching the surface of it. As a matter of fact, it was after I wrote the book that I decided to have Tiffany figure prominently in the second book.
Queenie D: Tiffany, thats right! She was interesting in a weve all known one of those types way. Ill be interested to see what role she plays in the new storyline.
Im intrigued by Helene. Why did you decide to have her end up pregnant after all?
Beth Harbison: Because I honestly thought it was the only resolution that would truly help heal her life, and I thought she would be one of those people who comes from a total crap background and ends up rising to the challenge and being an awesome parent who brings great people into the world.
Queenie D: Yep, I can totally see that. And Lorna, ending up with Holden the bank assistant manager, that was ironic. How do you see their relationship playing out?
Beth Harbison: I think about them a lot. I might have to revisit them someday. Because what I see is that she would continue to be a flake who charms him, while he continues to be on the straight and narrow, but tolerant. Her spending may get old, but I can see her personality in several amusing situations. For example, can you imagine her pregnant? Or maybe having to do business overseas?
Queenie D: Oh my, Ive known a pregnant Lorna. Im pretty sure that baby would be the BEST dressed baby in the world - right down to its shoes!
To be an author of fiction you have to be creative but also glean your ideas from somewhere. Where does your inspiration come from?
Beth Harbison: Oh, I dont know. I dont have much inspiration in the way most people imagine it. I think thats why I hate plotting so much. I could easily write a paragraph on pizza that would make you hungry, but coming up with all the threads and storylines is hard work. So thats what I do: I work hard. I always have the nugget of an idea, then I have to just take one little step at a time from there what if this happened? then what if THAT happened instead?
Queenie D: Well your hard work is definitely paying off. We all want to know - how did you get started writing?
Beth Harbison: Ive told this often, but its the truth: the first extensive writing I did was in Miss Muldericks 4th grad class at St. Bartholomews I re-wrote the end of Black Beauty (64 handwritten pages!) bringing all the horses back to life. It was a big series of It was all on big misunderstanding stories. After that, the next time I remember thinking about being a writer when I grew up was when I was thirteen and I was such a voracious reader, but I hated it when books I loved ended. I wanted to keep going and it occurred to me that if I were a writer, I could basically be anywhere, with whomever I wanted, whenever I wanted, just by diving into made-up stories.
Queenie D: I think youve just told many an avid readers hidden secret. Its awesome that you acted on that and ended up being a successful, published writer. And youve certainly covered the various genres!
You've written Romance novels and cookbooks. shoe addicts is your fiction debut. What is it like writing three such different styles of books?
Beth Harbison: Cookbooks were great fun to write they are such left brain activity that it was a breeze plus Im a total foodie so testing recipes was a joy. Romances are hard as hell to write but when I began writing novels the romance industry was the only one that was publishing anything close to the old gothic novels Id loved (Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt, Dorothy Eden, and so on) so thats how I ended up in romance. Dont let anyone tell you that you can just dash off a romance or that I love this the publisher gives the writers the story outline. If only!
So general fiction is a joy for me because I can go wherever I want with the story and with the emotions Helenes shoplifting and the things that led up to and away from it could never have fit in to a short series romance (or a cookbook). Plus, I honestly have the brightest, most creative, intelligent editor who ever lived, Jennifer Enderlin. I am convinced shell go down in history as the Max Perkins of this century.
Queenie D: I bet having a great editor makes your life that much sweeter. Well, Im dying to know, what's on your agenda next?
Beth Harbison: Well, my agoraphobia has been replaced by obsessive worry, so I think I need to go back to the doctor that put the auricular therapy bar in my ear
In June, Secrets of a Shoe Addict comes out, in which Sandra goes on a blind date with a puppet. Trust me. Apart from that, I DO have a book coming out about two childhood friends who meet up again at their 20th high school reunion and have to rekindle their friendship in order to save a mutual friend from complete destruction. Its called Hope in a Jar.
Queenie D: I cant wait! Youve definitely got yourself some fans here at Book Club Queen and we are totally excited to follow you on this writing journey youve undertaken! Thank you for your time.