I recently had the pleasure to read and review Thanksgiving at the Inn by Tim Whitney. This is Mr. Whitney's debut novel and he breaks out with a tremendous bang!! To catch my review, click here. Also be sure to check out the giveaway for one copy of Thanksgiving at the Inn, which is at the end of my review. Giveaway is open until October 14th, so act quick!
Now it is my greatest pleasure to share with everyone a fun and informative peek into Mr. Whitney's life and writing. Sit back, relax, enjoy the interview and then be sure to check out this wonderful seasonal book!
Can you please tell us a bit about Thanksgiving at the Inn?
TW: Thanksgiving at the Inn is a coming-of-age fable focusing on family, forgiveness, and gratitude. The story starts out with a 12-year old boy and his father inheriting a fortune, with one catch, they must run the family bed and breakfast by themselves without upsetting any of the eclectic residents. It is a timeless family story that I hope will become a holiday classic.
What inspired you to write Thanksgiving at the Inn?
TW: My inspiration for the characters and events came from all over the place, including various life experiences. The main inspiration for the theme of the book, however, came from working briefly with handicapped children over 25 years ago as a high school senior back in Portland, Maine. It was an experience that truly changed my perspective on life.
The inspiration for the setting came to me while living in an old farmhouse in Whately, Massachusetts, which has remained in one family since the late 1700s and would make a perfect Bed and Breakfast. The attic was filled with vast quantities of family history.
Who are your favorite characters in the book and why?
TW: I have two favorites really – Senior, the deceased grandfather who is present, even after he has passed on, and Mustang Sally. Senior was someone that faced the same difficulties we all do today – the work/life balance. He failed miserably and realized it was never too late in life for change. With Sally it is his entire character which fascinates me. There is something about the gentle giant that is such an entertaining contradiction in characteristics. That he has grown as a person and become ‘someone that makes things happen’ seals the deal for me as a favorite.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
TW: I enjoy creating characters that we would all like to meet. This includes all the endearing qualities with a spoonful of flaws mixed in for flavor. The more interesting the character, the further they will take the story.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
TW: Always! I can remember reading books at an early age and wishing I could create colorful characters and realistic landscapes, exciting enough to engage a reader.
Can you tell us a bit about your writing process? Do you have any particular habits or writing environments that help you in writing?
TW: Writing habits are really unique to the individual and in some cases to the story itself. In Thanksgiving at the Inn there was quite a bit I wanted to share in an entertaining fable, but I knew where I wanted to take it. I’ve learned to outline and stay more focused with my writing today. As far as habits go, there is nothing better than writing on a rainy day, but for me, it is essential that I have peace and quiet – no T.V., no radio, no distractions. When I’m revising or editing my favorite place was a quiet little Bed and Breakfast in Guatemala called Casa La Capilla.
What was the hardest part about writing Thanksgiving at the Inn? The easiest and most fun?
TW: The hardest part was not continually fighting the inner voice of self doubt. Beginning writers continually struggle with doubt and question whether it is good enough or not. It is like an artist that finishes a painting, only to find a small flaw and then paints over the canvas, starting over. The easiest part was definitely creating the setting which strongly resembles life in western Massachusetts. The most fun part, by far, is sharing the story with friends and family and receiving a kind response from someone that enjoyed the book.
I have to say that one of my favorite parts (among many) of your book was where you came up with the idea of each person having his or her own Secret Garden. Where did this idea come from?
TW: I've heard the premise of a secret place where we keep our innermost thoughts, dreams, fears, and sometimes guilt described by many people, but the best description I ever heard was that of a garden. I wanted to be able to convey a simple place we all have, something we all do, but with a repercussion if we do it too long. The secret garden became that place. The message I wanted to send is, it’s okay to keep a secret for a while, but at some point you need to dig those secrets up and address them or there are consequences. Of all the parts of the book reviewers like, this one seems to have touched people emotionally and that is a good thing!
Who are your favorite authors and books?
TW: I love most of what Stephen King has written, all of Tim Dorsey and Carl Hiaasen, Mark Twain, and Dan Brown. As for favorite books, I loved The Shining because of the character development and setting.
What are you reading right now?
TW: I am reading two or three books right now. Carl Hiaasen’s Nature Girl, The Shack by William Young, and The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling.
If you could have dinner with any author, living or passed on, who would it be and why?
TW: Mark Twain, without a doubt! He had such an amazing ability to tell stories and such an interesting outlook on life.
Who inspires you?
TW: My two daughters Dominique and Gabrielle!!
If you had to come up with a title that describes your life, what would it be?
TW: That is a very tough question, but I’d go with Grateful Days.
Wherever my travels take me I am grateful for every day of the journey and have a fond appreciation for all life has to offer.
Can you tell us a memory of one of your own Thanksgivings?
TW: My fondest Thanksgiving growing up was when I was seven and all four of my grandparents were still alive. It was special to have so much of our family in one place. We had so many people over at our house that my parents had to set up extra tables in our cellar. The funniest thing is, we moved out of that house years ago and coincidentally my parents actually just bought that same home after not living there for over 20 years. They proved to me you can go back home!
Are you working on anything right now and if so, can you tell us a bit about it? Perhaps give us a little teaser with a passage?
TW: I have several projects outlined right now and am just beginning to write. One is a book for middle grade readers and one is more of a chick lit romantic comedy. It is a little too early to share where these projects will go, but as soon as I have the rough draft knocked out I'll share a little!
Okay, I think that about wraps it up. In all honesty, I could go on forever, but will take mercy on you, Tim, lol! I adored your book and your style of writing. I simply cannot wait for you next release.
Thank you so much for your kind words and for reviewing and helping to spread the word on Thanksgiving at the Inn!!
Is there anything that you would like to add or let readers know?
TW: There are a couple things I'd like to add (hey, I'm a writer – it's tough to shut me up!!)
My deepest hope is Thanksgiving at the Inn will evolve by word of mouth into the first Thanksgiving Classic, a book that families and generations will want to read together this year and every year. A book that families and friends will share with other families and friends. The message is simple, clean, and timeless. I hope that readers will embrace it, even though it is a throwback to the simple holiday tales of yesteryear.
As I noted in the acknowledgments of my book and on my website, I had a life changing moment that really helped recalibrate my outlook on life. We all have similar moments in our life where we are humbled, or tragedy strikes and I think these are pivotal times to reflect. How we change our outlook or perspective and react from that pivotal moment is what builds the foundation of our own character.
As I was writing Thanksgiving at the Inn, there were so many life lessons I wanted to share with my young daughters as well as the readers, but I didn't want to come across as lecturing or too preachy. This is where I decided that the best way to make the lesson more memorable would be to have unique and unforgettable Inn-habitants and focus on a holiday that is symbolic of the main theme. I really wanted the reader to connect with these characters, be able to clearly visualize the Jamaican preacher and the tattooed grease monkey. I wanted everyone to envision Senior as the kindly old grandfather looking out for everyone. At the same time, like these characters, we all have our own flaws which make us unique, and that's okay too.
Life is short and fragile, embrace every moment with gratitude and as Mustang Sally says, you'll become someone that 'makes things happen.'
Best wishes for a Thankful Holiday season!
About Tim Whitney:
Tim Whitney grew up in South Portland, Maine and now splits his time between Dallas, Texas and Whately, Massachusetts. He completed his undergraduate degree in Business Administration at Northeastern University and has an MBA from Western New England College. He works as an international manufacturing consultant and vice president of operations for a growing company in Garland, Texas. His interests include fishing, camping at the Cape, snow-skiing, and spending time with family and friends. This is his first book. (He can be reached at www.thanksgivingattheinn.com )