Therese Fowler is represented by Pump Up Your Book Promotion, an innovative public relations agency specializing in online book promotion.
Therese Fowler has believed in the magic of a good story since she learned to read at the age of four. At age 30, as a newly single parent, she put herself into college, earning a degree in sociology (and finding her real Mr. Right) before deciding to scratch her longtime fiction-writing itch. That led to an MFA in creative writing, and the composition of stories that explore the nature of our families, our culture, our mistakes, and our desires. The author of two novels, with a third scheduled for 2010, Therese lives in Wake Forest, North Carolina, with her supportive husband and sons, and two largely indifferent cats. You can visit her website at www.theresfowler.com or her blog, www.theresefowler.blogspot.com.
Thank you for this interview, Therese. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?
Thank you for having me here!
I'm a novelist by trade, but I'm also mom to two teenagers and stepmom to two more – all boys who could hardly be less alike than they are. I love the outdoors (fittingly, my birthday is Earth Day) and am most content either puttering in the yard or exploring someplace during my travels. As for writing, I've been at it in one form or another for most of my life, but have only been writing purposefully for a little over eight years now.
Do you write full-time?
At what point in your life did you make up your mind you were going to become a published author?
I was in high school when I first imagined myself as a novelist, but I had no idea how to go about pursuing that goal. This was in the 1980s, before the Internet and the explosion of how-to information we've all grown so accustomed to. It wasn't until late 2000, when I wrote my first short story and was told that I had real potential, that I made up my mind to give the writing profession a try. That commitment was the key; five years later I'd written two novels, earned an MFA in creative writing, and gotten a literary agent, and nine months after that I had a publishing deal.
Was there anyone in your life that you can give credit to helping pave the way?
Absolutely. I credit author (and recent Nebula winner!) John Kessel for identifying my potential; I thank my husband Andy for pushing me to make the commitment to write; my agent, Wendy Sherman, gave me concrete validation by offering to represent me; and my editor, Linda Marrow, continually enables me to become the writer I am striving to be.
What was your favorite book to read as a child?
I loved the Little House series (and imagined myself as Laura Ingalls Wilder reincarnated). Similarly, I often felt I was Jo in Little Women — the outspoken tomboy who wants to be a writer — and found great companionship in reading, and re-reading, that novel.
What is your favorite book at the present?
Ann Patchett's Bel Canto.
If you could trade places with one author who you have admired over the years, who would it be and why?
That would probably be Anna Quindlen. Each of her novels takes on the same kinds of issues I explore in my stories: family, culture, choices and their effects, questions of what's right and how to accomplish it. In addition to being a bestselling novelist, she's a widely known, well-respected journalist, and has authored some lovely nonfiction books as well. In essence, she's doing everything I can hope to do in my career.
Can you tell us a little about your latest book?
My latest novel, Reunion, is at its most basic level the story of a woman from very humble beginnings who, at 19, gave up a child for adoption and kept the entire matter a secret. When she later becomes a celebrated talk-show host, she undertakes a search for the child – but not necessarily so that they can meet; rather, to assuage her need to know what became of him.
She's also trying to reconnect with the person she is behind the facade she's built—which she hopes will open up possibilities for new personal connections as well. There are risks, though; if the past she's hidden for so long is discovered, it may jeopardize her career and her efforts toward fulfillment. Ultimately, Reunion is a story about redemption, self-actualization, and love.
What was the inspiration behind your book? Why did you feel a need to write it?
For most of my life I've been fascinated by the concept of celebrity, and how it might feel to be the person inside the fishbowl. Coming from a lower-class background as I did, fame and fortune held great appeal – not so much for what it might give a me materially, but rather for the way it could remake me entirely. I wanted to be so much more than I was or could expect to become.
When I was in my 30s, I divorced and went back to school for a degree in sociology. I think it's the sociologist in me who continues to be intrigued with celebrity and with culture in general. So I tend to create characters who battle the forces of society as well as their own mistakes and shortcomings. What motivates us? What changes us?
At the base of all my stories is love, in all its forms. In my view, we need more stories about love's power to repair or remake us, when life is so challenging and happiness can be so difficult to find.
Why did you choose your particular genre?
I don't think I did choose a genre – though to date my novels are categorized broadly as “women's fiction.” What I'm writing are stories that involve particular themes, like family relationships, personal relationships, mistakes and consequences, the search for happiness, the possibility for redemption. These things make up the essence of our lives, and so I find them infinitely rich with possibility and infinitely interesting to explore in my stories.
How do you deal with a bad review?
So much of how a review affects me depends on who's behind the review. If the reviewer is someone whose assessment is well-informed and well-presented, I'm appreciative even of a “bad” review because it will help me learn how to do a better job in the future. What's more often the case, not just for me but for most novelists, is that the bad review is actually a poorly informed or very subjective opinion rather than an objective critique – in which case it should be taken with the proverbial grain of salt. You simply can't please everyone!
What’s next for you?
I'm about to turn in the manuscript for my 2010 release, presently titled Breakaway. Right after that I'll be heading to Chicago to speak at the Chicago Tribune Printers Row Lit Fest, which is a phenomenal event. Then I'll take a couple of months off from daily writing while I develop my next novel, which is also under contract. I'm hoping to use some of my “free” time to learn to golf (which really is just another excuse to keep myself outdoors all day!).
Thank you for this interview, Therese! Do you have any final words you’d like to share with my readers?
I appreciate this opportunity to be introduced to all of you. I hope you'll give my books a look, and if you do, drop me a line and let me know what you think. I love to hear from readers. You are, after all, the reason I have the job I do. Thanks so much, and take care.