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Home » Books & writing, Q & A

Nerd Chat with Author Sophie Littlefield + Giveaway

Submitted by on June 8, 2010 – 12:06 am 37 Comments

Last year, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sophie Littlefield when she exploded into the publishing world with her debut novel, A Bad Day for Sorry, featuring her take-no-prisoners heroine, Stella Hardesty, illicit protector of abused women. Since then, Sophie’s been blasting her way through Badass Town, racking up Edgar, Anthony, Macavity and Barry Award nominations faster than you can pump a shotgun, winning the Romantic Times Book Reviews Best First Mystery Award.

Today sees the release of Sorry‘s sequel, A Bad Day for Pretty, and I’m thrilled Sophie has agreed to another chat. Last time, she brought beer and fried chicken for everyone; this year she’s giving away free books! (Details below the interview.)

PCN: How has your life changed since you became a published author last year? Do your kids have rock ‘n’ roll tees with your picture and tour dates on them?

Sophie Littlefield: Oh, PCN, you silly. My kids take pains every day to let me know that to them, I’m still the same old Mom they have always known and loved. They make sure I know I’m welcome to do all the same chores and errands I always did. At 9:45 p.m on a recent school night: “Mom, I need to you to go to CVS and get Wite-Out and those pretzels with the cheesy stuff. I’m kinda waiting for the new South Park to come on so I’ll just stay here.”

I’ve definitely been enjoying getting out and traveling a little more, though I was in Times Square a month ago, trying to hail a cab, when my cell phone rang and it was my son. “Mom? Lacrosse practice ended. Where ARE you?” I suggested he ask his dad, which got me an indignant “But Dad’s working!”

PCN: I suppose you wouldn’t want to respond you were also working on the streets of Times Square.

Sophie (in red) with her publicist Sarah Melnyk (L) and editor Toni Plummer (R)

SL: Ha! No, probably not. There’s been lots of glamour, too. I texted my daughter a snapshot from a dress-up awards banquet and she texted back “wht is goin on w ur boob?”

They’re not really picking up on the whole “Mom’s got a life now” thing, but there have been some sweet moments. Like when my last ARC of PRETTY vanished.  I was searching frantically for it when my son said, “Oh I gave it to this girl at school who had a seizure.” I think what I love most about this story is that he doesn’t even know her very well, but his first thought when he found out she had to go to the hospital for tests was “I know just what will cheer her up—a book about a vengeful housewife!”  (She’s doing fine, by the way.)

PCN: I love that story! What has surprised you the most about your post-publication life?

SL: In all seriousness, it surprised me how right I was about something you and I talked about last year. Remember how I told you I was getting a lot of, erm, unsolicited advice on how to run my career?

PCN: Uh huh. And I instantly disliked the people giving it.

SL: Well, I stuck to my guns and did what I thought was best, keeping my fingers crossed, and in EVERY instance, going with my intuition turned out to be exactly the right thing to do. I’m not saying I have any answers for anyone else, but for me, trusting myself and my few carefully chosen advisors paid off.

PCN: Hooray! There’s a line in Pretty: “The less a woman has to lose, the quicker you better get out of her way.” At what points in your life have people had to get out of your way the quickest?

SL: For a long long time, no one had to get out of my way at all. I’d come upon them blocking my path…and I’d be all “Oh, I’m sorry, I’ll just go around you and try not to make too much noise and can I make you some coffee while I’m here?” even if it meant a detour that cost me time, effort, even pride. I really, really wanted everyone to like me, too, and I allowed their censure or criticism to devastate me.

Then a few things happened. I got sorta middle-aged. Teenagers appeared in my house. A series of reversals required that I earn some actual cash. Suddenly I didn’t have the time or patience to go around making sure everyone was comfortable and happy, that everyone’s feelings were being taken care of, that everyone’s slice of pie was exactly the same fucking size. Oh yeah, deciding my kids were old enough to hear the occasional cuss word might have been a part of it. Uh, that one kind of snowballed.

PCN: Will we ever see a prequel dealing with Stella living with her nightmare husband and leading up to the moment she snapped? I’d like to see how Stella became STELLA.

What happens to household members when they make Sophie mad

SL: Oh, wow! I never thought of that! I would have to wait for a day when I was having a “rage spike,” and just channel it into the story. The only problem is that rather than being a nice “bondage cozy,” it would be more like a Tarantino film, with those scenes where you’re looking around the theater at the other folks wondering if it’s okay that you just laughed or if you’ve just outed yourself as the kind of person who shouldn’t be allowed around children.

PCN: We should go to movies together and laugh at all the wrong stuff! You’ve said Stella is a lot like you. Now that you’re less frustrated with a thriving career, will Stella continue to mellow or will you have to dig deeper for her fury?

SL: It’s kind of funny that everyone—all my pre-pub reviews—seems to agree that Stella is a lot mellower in Book Two. But they also seem to agree that’s a good thing.  One reviewer said that dialing back the action somewhat allows the book to focus more on character development.

I’ve been telling my agent that once I’m raking in the big bucks and am missing that adrenaline surge from wondering when they’ll be turning off the lights, I won’t be able to write any more. Gotta stay lean and agile…

PCN: You’re at least staying busy. Besides Stella, you’ve got a YA novel, Banished, coming out in October and Aftertime, a zombie post-apocalyptic story due in March next year, the first in a three-book deal. It’s being published by Luna, Harlequin’s sci-fi/fantasy imprint, so does that mean we’re gonna see some zombie lovin’?

SL: Ahhh, those zombies! Folks either love ‘em or hate ‘em. I have to say that for me, they are merely an interesting way to introduce drama into a character-driven story.  (e.g. “I love you Maud,” “I love you, too, Gerald-oh-my-god-what-is-that-thing-taking-a-bite-of-your-leg-aaaaahhhhhh!”) In both my young adult and my Luna series, the zombie plot takes a back seat—a very far back seat—to the human drama.

In Banished, it has to do with growing up feeling isolated and alone, and what happens when you reach the brink of adulthood and you have to step up and face your fears while discovering who you really are.

In the Luna books, the post-apocalyptic world, with all of its challenges—yes, including creatures who want to eat you—is just a dramatic backdrop for a story having to do with loss, grief, and reinvention of the self. And there are some really hot ummm…love scenes, NOT with zombies because everyone knows that zombies don’t have sex (S.G. Browne’s wonderful Breathers notwithstanding).

PCN: I didn’t know that! It would’ve been a great excuse when a friend asked me to play a hooker going oral on a zombie in his movie and I really, really didn’t want to (I’m not joking and no, I didn’t do it). What other genre-busting mash-ups would you like to tackle?

Steve Hockensmith & Sophie. Photo: Jen Forbus

SL: Oh, PCN, have I told you about the collaboration I’m doing with Mr. Zombie Boy (aka Steve Hockensmith)? Steve is convinced that swamp creatures are the new black, and I’ve become laser-focused on Malcolm Gladwell’s economic analysis. We’re doing some awesome things with that, kind of a bayou-legend-meets-Tipping Point story with a lot of heart.

Alternatively, I have this insanely good idea for a book that I plan to start writing on January 1 of next year. I just get so excited thinking about it that I can barely get my trembling fingers to type words. It’s something new and different and it’s either brilliant or leaden and unreadable, I can’t decide which.

PCN: I can’t wait to see how these Frankenstein babies turn out. Now, “sorry” and “pretty” have had their bad days. What adjective is next in Stella’s sights and when is that day happening?

SL: The next two Stella books are scheduled for spring 2011 and 2012. The third one’s turned in and the fourth is “in development.” As for titles…PCN, I have this great source who comes up with brilliant title ideas, but she demands secrecy. So let’s leave the cloak of mystery unmolested, except to say that she is a lady of a certain age who may or may not have ties to the Polish mafia.

PCN: I normally enjoy molesting mystery cloaks but for you, I’ll leave it alone for now. Thanks so much for chatting!

For more about Sophie, visit her website. Click on “blog” from her adult section (not THAT kind of adult) and you’ll be directed to the 79 other sites she writes for. Her tour dates are here.

Now for the giveaway. Sophie has graciously offered to give away one paperback copy of Sorry and one hardcover of Pretty. The first name randomly drawn will get Pretty, the second winner will receive Sorry, both books will be signed. If you haven’t read Sophie yet, better jump on the bandwagon now while there might still be room. Otherwise, you’ll have to walk alongside and get kicked by the donkey pulling the wagon.

Rules:

  • be e-mail subscriber or Twitter follower (current subscribers/followers automatically get 2 entries; if you tweet about this, you’ll get 3)
  • leave a comment about a bad day you had that ended up being pretty
  • have U.S./Canada address

Giveaway ends Monday, June 14, 5 p.m. PST. Winners will be randomly chosen via Random.org and announced here and on Twitter. Winners will have 48 hours to claim the prize before alternate names are chosen.

Let’s get some pretty in here!

37 Comments »

  • Jen Forbus says:

    Awwww, two of my favorite West-Coast ladies…well, o.k., just two of my favorite ladies…chatting together on release day. How much fun!

    Sophie, your kids crack me up. I think there are stories galore between the two of them and Dog! And that picture of Dog still makes me laugh. So funny.

    Have a great release day.

  • DarcyO says:

    Great interview! Gotta love those kids. I subscribe to your feed in Google Reader and now follow on Twitter. Here’s my tweet: http://twitter.com/darcy1956/status/15702623667.

  • Fabulous interview, ladies! Can’t wait to read A Bad Day For Pretty. And congratulations on all your success, Sophie. Wishing you more and more and more. XOXOXO

  • Marjorie says:

    The cover is fantastic and I would really like to win and read this book.
    A super review.

    • hey Marjorie, I’ve gotten so incredibly lucky with my covers. They are by a super talented guy named David Rotstein over at St. Martins. He’s won lots of awards and stuff for his work. The amazing thing about him is his range…he can do a fun cover like mine and then do a beautiful atmospheric cover for someone else. (for mine he probably has to have a drink first, i’m thinkin.)

  • Too much fun! Do it again, do it again! What? I have to wait ’til next year? 🙁

    Can’t wait to read PRETTY. Congratulations, Sophie dear, on the release!

    (PCN, don’t enter me, I’m planning on buying it.)

  • Elizabeth says:

    “The less a woman has to lose, the quicker you better get out of her way.”

    I absolutely LOVE that!

  • Novelwhore says:

    Great interview, PCN! I’m glad Sophie was so nice to you, even though she already publicly admitted that I’m Stella’s favorite (which I’ll *graciously* share with you and Jen Forbus). Sophie, I love the little morals you work in to your stories. I’ve made a few underlines (in pencil, no worries) in PRETTY of these little quips that are actually morals and the “golden rule” in the disguise of a cussing, kick-ass quip.

    Sophie I also love that your son turned to your book to give his classmate comfort. Can’t wait to read more from you! And what is this fifteen hour lunch date you mention above? I want to join!

    • Novelwhore says:

      PS from your interview last year, Geena Davis is genius for Stella! She was amazing in “League of Their Own” and I can totally see her as a vigilante treading the line of the law.

      • Oh my NW, you are formally invited to the next endless lunch. Except I think last time it was dinner. It’s where we get to talking and the only way anyone gets a word in is when the others have a mouth full of potato chip chicken. (I have no manners so I don’t even stop then, i just spray crumbs.) Seriously I LOVE my smart, amazing girlfriends. If you don’t know SueAnn yet, def. put her on your list, she is hilarious!

        Hey write all over the damn thing! When my kids were little they used to color in their books (not library books!) and I thought that was nice. Now I look back at their scribbles and think “sigh, look at the little genius scuppers!” I’m either screaming at them or over-complimenting them, i like to think it keeps them on their toes.

        PS Geena is gorgeous! Maybe too pretty for Stella but for sure she could bust some ass.

  • Gina says:

    Great interview…I must say PCN you know how to keep it lively and focus in a readers attention. Both books sound like fabulous reads. Glad to see the author taking a stance in her writing career….moving aside for others is nice, but making a place for yourself in that world without getting pushed over is even nicer. KUDOS to you! Ahem, the puppy though? Seriously… –shakes head–

    • oh dear Gina – I just have to let you in on a little secret….Dog put the box on her own head. I mean I’m tempted most days to put her in a box and send her to my sister because she is the most destructive 18 pounds of hellbent you ever saw, but we treat her nice for the most part. She also stuck her head in one of those nut jars from costco after stealing it from my husband who was napping outside…ate the last of the crumbs and ran around the yard with it on her head. We rescued her and she tried to put it right back on. She’s my girl for sure…

  • Brad Parks says:

    Ah, Soph. You got a bigger fucking slice of the funny pie than most folks. Great interview as always, PCN!

  • EIREGO says:

    Great interview with Sophie! Read Bad Day for Sorry and consider myself a fan. Will be picking up Pretty over the weekend. BTW: Sophie’s pretty cute, but I wouldn’t want to get on her bad side. Don’t want to end up like the dog. LMAO when I saw that picture! I printed it out and tacked it to my wall.

    So… I guess I’m the first person to do an actual Bad Day Turned Pretty story. Here goes:

    It happened in college. Every weekend I would hitchhike home to see my much missed girlfriend. While the trek from New Hampshire to southern Maine isn’t exactly a Appalachian Trail, it can be pretty tough when you are on foot and no one feels like stopping. The Friday afternoon exit from my dorm went well and I made it to Diane’s house in time to hit an early movie with her, but it began to rain on Sunday morning and I waited too long to start out in hopes the downpour would abate. Six hours later it was getting dark and still raining. I spent the last 4 miles walking. Did I mention the backpack?

    Anyway, I was miserable and soaked to the bone and I had just turned up the long road leading to campus. A fellow student and his pick up truck picked me up as I entered the last quarter mile and handed me a ham sandwich his mother made him for the trip. Evidently, he hated ham. I tore into it while dripping all over his front seat.

    He dropped me off outside my dorm, we bumped fists and I started dragging my pack behind me up the stairs and down my hall. My college didn’t believe in elevators. Something about building character.

    My hallmates were gathered outside my door. Hushed laughter and suddenly I am pulled into my neighbor’s room. My ugly (and I mean ugly!) roommate had gotten lucky with a couple of female truck drivers while I was away. It seems Bruce was a virgin no longer and the ladies were still in there making sure he stayed that way. I just needed a shower and my own bed, so I broke up the party by opening the door. Lots of naked, an invitation to join them and plenty of shouts of “Get the hell out of here!” from me later and I had taken a hot shower and donned warm, dry clothes.

    My roommate returned from the parking lot with a big smile on his face, cracked open a couple of cold ones and spread a hot pizza between of us. We toasted, we laughed and it’s still a good memory.

    • Okay, I truly truly adore this story, and may in fact try to steal it and use it for my own, but I’m a little nervous about why mentions of me made you think of it. Am I, like, the roommate or the truck driver in this story? I’m good with either, just curious!!!

      • EIREGO says:

        No, Sophie, you are the ham sandwich! Oops, that sounded wrong…

        I’m doing the contest. Hey, PCN, if the author responds directly to me do I get a T-shirt as well as a signed book?

    • Oh, waiiiitttt. I get it. It was your bad day that ended up nice 🙂 I still want to be in the story though.

      • EIREGO says:

        Don’t know where you fit in, Sophie. You may have the mouth of a trucker, but these ladies were NOT attractive. You can’t be my college roommate, Bruce, unless you are lying about your gender and your picture was severely airbrushed. But you have my permission to make it your own. Hell, add a zombie or two!

        Glad you liked it (HEAR THAT PCN??)

        I love these contests!

  • Yara Santos says:

    Great interview!

    Here is my twitter link : http://twitter.com/TwilightsDance/status/15729688667

    My bad to pretty story I will make it short. Went to NY to meet Taylor Lautner on today show , so didnt have exact date or time or if even he would be allowed outside. So I took a chance and after 36 hours of no sleep and standing in a line under heavy rain and freezing temps, I was able to Meet and talk and take a picture with Taylor Lautner. SO that was my bad to pretty!

  • Deep Eddy says:

    This is absolutely true (and highly embarrassing; hence I’m using my Twitter ID). My ex-wife and I were living in Colorado Springs. She commuted to Denver daily and left for work no later than 5:00 a.m. I got to sleep until 7:00 a.m. usually. One sub-freezing morning, I heard the garage door open around 6:30. It couldn’t be her! (By the way, I sleep in my underwear).

    I impulsively grabbed a baseball bat from the closet, ran downstairs and into the garage, whereupon I pulled the door into the house closed. Unfortunately, it had an impregnable dead-bolt lock. The garage door was wide-open, the sun was coming up, people were leaving for work, and the button that lowered the door was up by the front of the garage.

    Realizing that were I to close the garage door, I would be stuck in the garage until my ex returned some twelve hours later. Given that I was inappropriately garbed for 28 degree weather, I sprinted out of the garage, around the house, and into the backyard. Since the neighbors’ houses in back were higher up the hill, there was little likelihood that I wouldn’t be spotted in my underwear carrying a baseball bat. Believing I had little choice, I shattered the picture window on the backside of the house and climbed in, managing to cut my arms in several places (although not seriously).

    I knew that I couln’t leave the window wide-open, so I called my boss and leveled with him. After laughing hysterically for close to five minutes, he told me to take the rest of the day off. I doctored my wounds, put on some sweats, arranged for a glass repair service to come out later that afternoon, and crawled back into bed for several hours of well-deserved sleep.

  • le0pard13 says:

    One GREAT interview of one GREAT author and person. Getting a chance to see SL once again at April’s Festival of Books was one of the highlights (for me and the family). Congrats on the release of the new book (everybody I know who has seen the first cover, loved it — I expect nothing less from them when I show them the new one). Same goes for those who’ve read it. I’ll see you both on the 19th at The Mystery Bookstore book signing! Thanks for this, Elyse and Sophie.

  • debbie says:

    Well this interview made my afternoon. I’d like to put my 2 cents in for a prequel to Stella when you get the chance sometime this millenium. I have a completely huge favor of you Sophie and PCN, I have school on the 19th when you’re signing at The Mystery Bookstore. Think you could write me an excuse to get of class? I’d much rather be talking Stella than Kafka. Ooh maybe I can just buy my Prof a signed copy of Pretty—yeah that should work. You two are quite the Thelma and Louise of the blogosphere. Kudos!

  • debbie, i would be proud to write you an excuse any time! I was a terrible student and always on the lookout for any excuse to skip class. Thanks for popping in – you made me smile

  • PCN and Sophie, have you two considered going on the road together with a stand-up routine? I’m like Sophie in her pre-kick-ass state, but I’m hoping to undergo an osmotic metamorphosis of sorts through reading the Bad Day for… books.

    Sophie, I love Dog, your son sounds very kind-hearted, and your daughter is a hoot.

  • hey shell (is that really your first name, it’s BEAUTIFUL – I am tempted to steal it!) – – you are welcome to go on the road with us. we just have to finish fixing up the winnebago. PCN wants to wallpaper it and stuff, i’m in charge of the cooler.

  • Huma says:

    Yay! I just followed you on Twitter (@huma_rashid) when one of my friends tweeted about this. As for my bad day that ended up being pretty, it was about two years ago, the day of my Property law final during my first year of law school. Property law is NOTORIOUSLY difficult and our professor was a rambling, ex-Marine jackass who made everything 10x more difficult than it had to be. And the subject matter is already really hard. The exam was on a drizzly day, and he said it was a 4 hour exam. He lied. It was more like a 6 hour exam, and that was if you knew your stuff. As far as exams went, it was more like an 8 hour exam with all the planning and stuff you needed to do.

    I sat down, answered 60 difficult paragraph long (some were PAGES long) multiple choice questions, and then moved on to the 8 essays. After that many MC questions, most professors only give 2-4 essays. This genius gave us 8. I wrote from the first minute to the last minute, and finished exactly on time with no time to edit or check answers or anything. It was grueling, exhausting, and some of it was just tedious (thankfully! that was what kept me from shooting myself in the face!). And then I got on the train home with my law school BFF and it rained the whole way there, and I was exhausted but happy to be done, so I was operating at a 5 on the happiness scale.

    Then I got home, and it was one of our two religious holidays that day, so when I got home the whole table was covered in my mom’s amazing food and our house was full of people that I generally liked and I spent the rest of the evening playing Wii bowling. And then I was at about an 8 or 9 on the happiness scale, because at that point I was pretty sure I ACED that stupid exam.

    So, yes. Bad day that turned out pretty well. 🙂

  • Carol Wong says:

    My bad day started off with forgetting that I had a doctor appointment. It was hot and humid out so I really didn’t want to go out. Then there was a very long wait in the waiting room. Then the tide turned, a gentleman offered me his chair so I could finally sit down. Then I got my results back from the last time. I am still OK, no Multiple Myleoma yet. Have another three month appointment so I am good until then.

    Also, I am a confirmed e-mail subscriber!

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