Monday, November 1, 2010

Author Chat: Erin McCahan

We have with us today Erin McCahan, author of I Now Pronounce You Someone Else!

-For starters, could you give us a brief bio?
Have you ever noticed how all bios begin with when and where the subject was born?  I was just about to do that but started to bore myself silly.

Here’s something fun.  I have a certain relative – to whom I will merely refer, so as not to get sued, as The Queen of the Universe – who disputes where I was born.  I was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Lived there until I was nearly five.  Then I moved to Columbus, Ohio, but I am FROM Grand Rapids.

So when Facebook asked me for my hometown, I wrote Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Fast forward to last year.  The Queen of the Universe, whom I had neither seen nor spoken to in years, saw this on Facebook and sent me a really malicious piece of e-mail in which she wrote,  “You’re not even from Grand Rapids.” There was more to the nasty-gram, but I didn’t keep it since it wasn’t exactly the warmest nor the most coherent e-note I’ve ever gotten.  Then, right after this, she sent me a friend request, which cracked me up.  So, thanks for the laugh, but no thanks to the friend request, which I not only declined but blocked.

So – here is my bio:         
Erin McCahan is from Grand Rapids, Michigan, and is actually related to The Queen of the Universe.

-What was your inspiration for I Now Pronounce You Someone Else? 
It evolved from the collision of three elements:

1.      My shameless fascination with weddings.  From black tie to blue jeans, I love weddings.
2.      My own alias, which I gave myself in the event I ever need to leave the country in a hurry.  Phoebe Lilywhite – sounds English, which I long to be, and also sounds like someone who has never been tan in her life.  That’s definitely me.
3.      My relationship with my step-dad – who died before I had a chance to tell him how much I loved him.

-What made you decide to write a novel instead of just keeping the idea in your head?
This is such an interesting question.  No one has ever asked me this before.  I have to say that I write because I can’t imagine not writing.  I am ALWAYS writing – even when it looks like I’m staring out the window.  So, I wrote a novel because I had a novel to write.  Does this make sense to anyone but me?
-Were you ever engaged or married at a young age, like Bronwen? 
Uh – yes.  And yes.  And oops.  And really big oops.  I was in my early twenties, but still – oops.
Would you say that a bit of your personality influenced Brownen’s character? Does she remind you of yourself at all?
No, I can never be the main character of any YA novel since I was so pathologically shy in school that I rarely talked.  And I’m pretty sure I’ll need my heroine to say something at some point during the novel.  If it’s me, I’ll have to stare back from the pages, crying  and silently pleading with myself as author to just write me out of this scene. 
I Now Pronounce You Someone Else is your first novel. Do you think it was worth all of the time and effort?
This is my fourth or fifth novel.  First one published, though, and yes, it is still definitely worth all the time and effort, including the years and tears that went into those previous, unpublished works.

-Do you have any writing quirks or interesting habits? 
I have no idea.  I think it’s hard to assess your own quirkiness, don’t you?  I have issues with ill-aligned socks, but I’m pretty sure that doesn’t affect my writing.  

-What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Be patient. Keep writing. Learn from constructive criticism.
-What are some of your favorite books or authors?
I love everything by Nathaniel Hawthorne and especially at this time of year.
-In your opinion, what are the most essential elements in any great story?
Characters who are both interesting and believable.

-What’s up next for you book-wise? Any new books I might want to look into?
Oh, you’re so nice to ask.  Thank you. I am currently working on a second YA novel, tentatively called KISSING MR. GLASER.  In it, brainy sixteen-year-old Josie Sheridan falls in love with a guy who falls in love with Josie’s older sister, who is engaged to a man Josie hates.  When Josie’s sister starts to fall for Josie’s love interest, Josie finds herself armed with all the ammunition she needs to break her sister and the fiancé up.  But Josie hesitates and must determine just how pure her motives are, where her loyalty lies and just what this love business is all about.

-Anything else you’d like to add, Erin?
Yes, I’m so sorry this is late.  I’d like to blame the Queen of the Universe, but the truth is that I had a rotten sinus cold for the first two weeks of October, and I’ve fallen behind in everything.
Thank you so much, Erin! To check out my review of I Now Pronounce You Someone Else, click HERE.