Today I have a guest who speaks to me personally every time I crack a cover. Please help me welcome Deb Caletti!
GC: Let’s dive right in! One of the most interesting aspects of The Secret Life of Prince Charming were the monologues you included, written from the perspective of each woman character. I personally wanted to tattoo Frances Lee’s words across my heart, but can you tell us if any of these voices found inspiration from your own experiences, or of those around you?
DC: Oh, man. PRINCE was one of my most personal books to date. The voices definitely came from my own bad experiences and from those of people close to me. But, that said, not everything in there actually happened! I got a little nervous when I finished writing the book. I told my kids, “Look, guys. There will be some stuff in here that you know to be true. But please remember – I also made a lot of it up!” I was really glad to put those bad experiences to good use. I wanted to put everything I could think of, every important thing I had learned about love, in one place.
GC: This next question seems so simple, but because of the intricate plot and the powerful truth-talk you had going on every page, I have to ask: What prompted you to write this story?
DC: When I was nineteen, I met a twenty-one year old young man who was dark and handsome, mysterious and moody. Three years later, after a long-distance relationship, we would marry, and that’s when he became the abusive husband I would live with for the next thirteen years. This one decision, this decision to have this particular relationship, would result in years upon years of devastation – emotional, physical, financial – complicated layers of pain and damage that would affect me, our kids, our families and friends.
I never talked much about this experience publicly, but several things happened before I began PRINCE. The first - I was getting a lot of letters from my readers about their own unhealthy relationships, and what struck me was that people were making the same old mistakes I had made, mistakes which all women (all people) had been making forever. But then, another thing happened. My own kids approached the age I was when I first met their father. My need to write about relationship choices and self protection grew. Grew? Became urgent. I was also finally at a place where I had gotten very clear about that relationship and others that had been harmful. I had so much to say. It felt very important. The choice of a partner (even just a dating partner) is one decision that has an impact and weight we can’t even begin to see at nineteen, and yet where is the guidance on how to make it? Where are the high school classes about healthy relationships? Even if a relationship does not evolve into a marriage with children, an unhealthy one can harm or haunt for a good long while. This was one book I felt compelled to write.
GC: My personal favorite quote of the whole book was this, “Listen, when what you want is a relationship, but not an actual person, get a dog.” Is there any one quote that means more to you than the rest? Do you have favorite quotes from all your books, and can you share?
DC: Hmm – it’s funny, because they’re all my own thoughts, you know? So it’s strange to quote your own quotes. I think in each book, there’s a major scene that really resonates for me, more so than a quote, where, for me, the heart of the book lies. In PRINCE, it is the scene where Sprout, Quinn’s sister, confronts Quinn about their father’s treatment of her. Quinn can’t face it, or even see it clearly. Sprout is pleading. Quinn is angry. And then Sprout whispers. “He doesn’t even see how beautiful you are.” The scene means a lot to me. It speaks to our blindness to our own value. How we give too much away sometimes to people who don’t deserve it.
As far as quotes from other books? One passage I’ve always liked comes from “Honey, Baby, Sweetheart,” and it is also about love. It occurs when the two old lovers are finally reunited and married cliff-side by the sea:
“Because what is more like love than the ocean? You can play in it, drown in it. It can be clear and bright enough to hurt your eyes, or covered in fog; hidden behind a curve of road, and then suddenly there in full glory. Its waves come like breaths, in and out, in and out, body stretched to forever in its possibilities, and yet its heart lies deep, not fully knowable, inconceivably majestic.”
There. I quoted my own quote.
GC: What is next for you as a writer?
DC: I am very excited about my newest release, STAY, coming out in April. It’s about a young girl and her father who run to a remote beach town to escape her obsessive boyfriend. Early readers are loving it, and I think it’s my best yet. And, I’m writing, writing, writing my next book, THE STORY OF US (April 2012).
GC: And finally, since this is an event to celebrate Love, would you share your most romantic memory, or share a story that epitomizes ‘Love’ for you?
DC: About four and a half years ago, at a time when I had lost faith in love, I met fell madly, passionately and (perhaps most importantly) sanely in love with a good, good man. As Brie in PRINCE says, “Character matters.” Neither of us could believe our astonishing luck. We just fit. We were so, so happy. And grateful.
And then my beloved was diagnosed with cancer. We went through the rough days of his treatment together. Then, practically the moment he was well enough, we got married. He has an excellent prognosis, and so we look forward to a long life together, but “grateful” – the word took on even deeper meaning. Ours is a love story. Every day, I count my blessings. PRINCE was dedicated to him.