Saturday, August 8, 2020

Heather Vogel Frederick

Heather Vogel Frederick is the award-winning author of the Mother-Daughter Book Club series, the Pumpkin Falls Mystery series, the Patience Goodspeed books, the Spy Mice series, and Once Upon a Toad.

Really Truly is the newest Pumpkin Falls mystery.

My Q&A  with the author:

How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

Really Truly is the third in my Pumpkin Falls mystery series, following Absolutely Truly and Yours Truly. I hope that the title serves as a welcome mat for prospective readers, inviting them to step back into a familiar world – and at the same time signals that they’re in for another rollicking good read.

What's in a name?

Truly Lovejoy, my main character, shares her name with a line of ancestors that stretch back to the original Truly, a German immigrant whose real name (Trudy) was misspelled by a dimwitted official and stuck. It’s a quirky name for a quirky young woman, and it fits her like a glove.

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your new novel?

I don’t think she’d be surprised at all – she’d be thrilled! I didn’t set out to do this on purpose, but it turns out I write books for the reader I once was. Teenage me read across genres voraciously, but I was always a sucker for the humorous, for the slightly offbeat, and for sprawling stories that encompassed a large cast of multi-generational characters. That sound you hear in the background is my teenage self giving me a high five.

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

Definitely endings, although paradoxically I usually wind up editing the beginnings of my novels more. Both have to be just right, and just right often requires many, many rewrites. That being said, the initial spark for a number of my books have come to me complete with a first line. This was the case for Really Truly: “There’s a mermaid tail hanging in my closet.” I had that first line long before I had a plot to go with it.

Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

I’m connected to some of my characters more than others – bookworm and aspiring writer Emma Hawthorne in my Mother Daughter Book Club novels, for instance, is nearly a dead ringer for me. Truly Lovejoy and I may differ in height (she’s over six feet tall; I’m tall but don’t stretch up quite that far) and hobbies (I love swimming but have never been on a swim team and birding isn’t my jam), but on the inside the two of us are kindred spirits. We both wrestle with insecurities (not so much now that I’m an adult, but definitely during the angsty teenage years), we both value our privacy, and we both love our families beyond measure.

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

All roads lead back to family for me. From the loss of my mother, which my main character grappled with in The Voyage of Patience Goodspeed, my first novel, to relationships with my wonderful sisters (I’ve mined our collective childhood ruthlessly for material), my grandparents, two much-loved six-foot-tall aunts and a great-aunt, and more. The inspiration for Truly’s father, Lieutenant Colonel Jericho T. Lovejoy, who loses an arm in Afghanistan, came from my grandfather and great-great-grandfather, both of whom lost limbs in accidents, and one of whom struggled mightily to come to terms with his new normal, just as Truly’s father does. “Family is everything,” Aunt True tells Truly at one point in Yours Truly. I heartily agree!
Visit Heather Vogel Frederick's website.

The Page 69 Test: Really Truly.

--Marshal Zeringue