Saturday, July 21, 2012

Beatrice Munson by Lorena Bathey: Interview & Review

In Vista Heights, the women of the neighborhood have started to look like their homes, varying shades of beige.

Lost in this world of suburbia, Marissa Lyons learns her high school nemesis has bought the house right across the street from her. Afraid that her arch enemy, Beatrice Munson, will arrive with Marissa’s high school crush as her husband and cause Marissa to relive the insecurity of high school in her forties she decides to face the music and heads to Beatrice’s house with warm cupcakes. But what Marissa finds is something she never expected.

How will Marissa and the rest of the women of San Martino deal with someone like Beatrice Munson, whose defining moment in her life was to get a boob job or go on a trip to Egypt.

This story is about friendship, love, learning to look at things differently, and great parties.

Step into the world of Vista Heights where you might recognize the women, or you might be one of them.

4 Stars 

Even though I had very little in common with any of the characters in this delightful book I got hooked early on and became easily engrossed in their lives.  The women in this Yuppie neighborhood reminded me of the “Desperate Housewives” ladies to a degree.  Flamboyant Beatrice Munson moves in across the street from her old high school acquaintance, Marissa.  Marissa has harbored a deep resentment and primal dislike of blonde, bouncy, beautiful Beatrice ever since those long-ago high school days when Beatrice stole her almost boyfriend Jeffery without even trying.  However, once Beatrice moves in, the neighbors, most especially Marissa, are in for a surprise.  

This book is sneaky in that it takes you down roads and into situations that you may never have even thought of.  It was, for me, a fun journey, filled with laughter, that also explored many deeper, less mainstream ideas and lifestyles.  There were so many wonderful glimpses of people – people and relationships.  As the story progresses, secrets are revealed, and in the process, attitudes are changed for the better.  This is an enjoyable read that somehow manages to align diverse personalities, attitudes, and lifestyles into a non-stereotypical story that will surely tug your heartstrings.  

Reviewed by Laurie

Hello and Welcome!  I'm so happy to get this chance to find out more about you, especially after reading and enjoying Beatrice Munson so much.  :)  How did you start your writing career?

I actually began after a lot of loss. My mom had died of cancer, my dad remarried too quickly, and then my husband left me. All of a sudden I found my entire foundation gone and I really had to discover WHO I was. That led on a journey of transformation and my first book, Happy Beginnings: How I Became My Own Fairy Godmother. I call it the "real" woman's Eat, Pray, Love 'cause I did go to Italy but only for ten days not six months. From there I began writing a novel, but I never finished it. I picked it back up in 2010 when I met the love of my life and he asked me what I really wanted to do with my life. I've been writing ever since.

Where do you dream of traveling to and why?

I love Italy. It was a place where I really found out who I was and what I had in me. So I'd like to be able to live six months of my life there at some point in time. Traveling is not something I want to more like need to do. I get stir crazy if I don't go somewhere. I think that comes from traveling a lot when I was young. My father worked for an airline so I was able to travel a lot. It kinda imprints in you the wanderlust for other places. Luckily my fiancée and I want to travel to the same locations. Our first trip will be our honeymoon.

What was the scariest moment of your life?

Probably what I intimated to above. Losing everything you know and having to start over is the most scared I've ever been in my life. The fear grows and the worry that you can't make it, won't be able to survive, will have to change. It is a heavy burden. But facing that fear down was also the strongest point in my life. Deciding to be better and to be more than I had been....well that was worth the scary moments.

Have you attended a high school reunion? What did you learn?

Yes. Actually my first high school reunion was the first year I was divorced. It really was weird 'cause I was in a totally different place than many of the attendees. I was in kind of a wild phase in my life. What I found out is that I was hotter than I thought ;) Meaning, while I had felt awkward and unattractive in my teens, many guys actually had crushes on me in high school. Why are they only able to say that when they're married twenty years later?

But it was fun to see people you spent a lot of time in your youth as grown-ups. It taught me to really value those memories of being a kid of being free and thinking anything was possible. I felt like I was getting a second chance at life after my divorce. I wanted this next part of my life to be different and I could see that many people at the reunion, while they probably would never admit this, were kinda of jealous of where I was going.

At what point in your life did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

It was when the person I love asked me point blank, "What do you want to do with your life?" He counted to three and it only took me to one to say, "Write."

The minute I did that it seemed like the flood gates opened and I kept getting book ideas. And it's been that way ever since.

I think when you follow your dreams you unleash a part of you that has been waiting for you to get brave and do it. I highly recommend it.

Describe what it’s like to be an author in three words.

Intriguing. Engaging. Loquacious.

Entice us, what future projects are you considering?

Well, I have nine books or so in my writing queue. But the next one I think people will find interesting. It's about Marilyn Monroe. I've always had a fascination about her and always thought she was much smarter than people realized. So I am going to write a novel about her coming back to solve her murder.

It's a different style for me because it takes research and all my stories so far were invented in my head. With a character as big as Marilyn Monroe, you gotta get your facts straight.

Then there is a historical book about Thomas Jefferson and his wife.

Then I have either a trilogy or one book about three Chinese women.

Then a comedy called Two Dates. The premise is how we are all weird and just need to find someone who gets our weirdness.

You just won a huge lottery what is the first thing you'll buy?

Oh mind just started checking off the list ;)  I guess first thing I'd buy is two tickets to Italy, first class of course.

What do you find most rewarding about writing?

For me it is the joy of falling into another world. This world is made up with characters that can be anything. It's marvelous really. And as I write I find that my stories get better, the characters become wiser, and I find that I want to push myself.

But I guess the single most rewarding moment is when you hear from a reader that they not only loved the book but they learned something too.

I try to impart some of the things I've learned in my stories. When a reader finds that and comments on that, it confirms that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing.

Growing up in Northern California, Lorena Bathey attended St. Mary’s College in Moraga graduating with a degree in English. 

Lorena Bathey found characters were visiting her mind and wouldn't leave. She was introduced to Marissa, Andrea, Lily, Deidre and Beatrice and her first novel, Beatrice Munson, came to life. After finishing that book she was inspired to write more novels and she knew that pursuing her passion was the best way to live her life. So a writer she became.

After meeting the love of her life, they embarked on the thrilling life to follow their dreams, bringing their families along for the ride. Today Lorena has nine novels in her writing queue. 

But writing isn't the only muse that inspires Lorena. She has become a passionate photographer and likes to push the envelope taking avant guarde shots. Travel, walking, enjoying new restaurants, and Italy are other loves and things she makes sure she has time for.

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This giveaway ends August 11th 11:59 PM Central Time.

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