I’m so pleased to welcome back Diane Solomon, author of 88 Guys for Coffee, to Linda’s Book Bag today. Diane previously wrote a smashing guest post about the rewards of creativity that you can read here.
88 Guys for Coffee is published today, 1st June 2017, by Eloquent Rascals and is available for purchase in e-book and paperback here
88 Guys for Coffee
Abandoned and feeling lost, her self-worth in tatters, Laura decides to try online dating sites. What an education. And what a long, five years she has ahead.
Hilarious and heartbreaking, soul-searching and spiritual, 88 Guys for Coffee shares Laura’s roller-coaster ride of experience searching for her soul mate, for her true partner in life. No matter how crazy it gets, no matter how
disillusioned she becomes, she can’t give up. She won’t give up.
Laura learns all there is to know about online dating, but she learns the most about herself.
An Interview with Diane Solomon
Welcome back to Linda’s Book Bag, Diane. Thank you so much for agreeing to answer some questions on my blog about your writing and your latest book 88 Guys for Coffee. Without spoiling the plot, please could you tell us a bit about the book?
This book is a fictional memoir taken from my own experience with online dating. My protagonist, 45-year-old Laura, is suddenly and shockingly abandoned by her husband. With her self-worth shaken and her confidence shattered, she creeps hesitantly onto online dating sites. The next five years are a roller coaster of hilarious, bizarre, hard-to-believe coffee dates with men she meets from these sites. These stories are true, word for word, except with identities masked, of course.
She searches tenaciously for her true partner in life and as crazy as it gets, she will not give up. This, too, is true, and paid off for me. I met my wonderful husband, Mark, on Match.com.
I hope readers will love Laura, whose big heart is broken, yet she keeps laughing, running, working, and pondering the reasons why human beings do what we do. Why we make such a mess of things, sometimes. Why we hurt so much. What it all means….
As I described my funny experiences to friends, several said, “You just have to write this down for a book!” So I did.
And please could you tell me a little about yourself?
I was fortunate to enjoy a successful singing career in England, with my own BBC TV variety show and many other TV appearances over the subsequent 15 years. Then, my career was destroyed by the infamous Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which left me bed-ridden for close to eight years. I suffered through a fog of pain and exhaustion that was just like living with the flu.
A homeopathic remedy was the cure, which launched me into a new career as homeopath and nutritionist. However, I’ve always wanted to write, as long as I can remember, and somehow knew that it would be my third career. (I think we should all have two or three careers – so much more interesting, perhaps!) Now I am retired from practicing, and fulfilling that dream.
I live in New Hampshire, with my husband Mark Carey, who is a brilliant, funny, insightful man. And I get to write with him! How great is that? We wrote a middle grade book called The Ravenstone: The Secret of Ninham Mountain, which we published in October 2016. Mark is a retired biologist, naturalist, and accomplished voice-over artist. We live on acres of woods, meadows and streams, and when not writing, we design gardens, sing, write, and watch wildlife. And play with our two English Setters!
(Readers can find out more about The Ravenstone: The Secret of Ninham Mountain here.)
Online dating is a minefield for many. Why did you choose to use it as the basis for your writing?
I took notes from the bizarre coffee dates I had over five years and realized it would make people laugh. How I love to make people laugh! Also, I knew many women would relate; I have heard from my beta readers that they have had similar experiences.
What is your view of the online world in general then?
I have a rather mixed view of the online world. While it has given a potential voice to everyone and has made the world a tiny place, considering the way we can now connect with souls all over the planet, it has also created a place of lies, cons, and mistrust. Look at the political situation, the doubt about the validity of our press, the very question of what is true or not. What is real. Or not. It worries me.
The online platform also seems to lower the level of discourse across the board. It allows unkindness, foul-mouthed antagonism, and lack of respect and dignity between people. Those who would never say anything nasty to another person in person feel free to drop those inhibitions online.
As for the online dating world, I think it really can work, and has been a gift to busy people who would otherwise have a hard time finding each other.
What advice would you give to those about to try online dating?
Be very patient, take your time, and lower your expectations. Most of the time, what you see is not what you get. People fudge the truth with regard to their age, weight, etc. Of course! It is a sales medium.
And just as you would meet a stranger anywhere, be careful! But also know that you CAN meet someone wonderful, someone perfect for you. I did! And married him.
(That’s a fabulous outcome – congratulations!)
88 Guys for Coffee marks a slight departure in your writing. Why is this?
I know! After ghost-writing and editing eight books for other people, my first book was Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: a guide to the homeopathic treatment of CFS/M.E. Non-fiction, it was well researched and referenced, yet written from the heart, since I hoped to offer to help others suffering this dreadful scourge. The next book was the wonderfully fun and magical The Ravenstone, a middle-grade mystery fantasy. What fun that was! And now a beach-read, a chick lit, a light, humor book for women. Go figure.
Agents have advised me to pick a genre and stick to it. I am contrary, I guess, since am not doing that. I write what inspires me and isn’t that what the creative path is? I had no desire to limit myself to books in the same genre or to treat writing as a business. Writing is not a business to me. It is art, creativity, entertainment, and spiritual and philosophical provocation. The joy of the creative moment to me is all-important.
(I think many authors will find that a breath of fresh air and it seems to me it’s why many are choosing to self-publish – so that they have the freedom to write what feels appropriate to them.)
How do you go about researching detail and ensuring your books are realistic?
Another advantage of the internet, the ease of researching! When Mark and I wrote The Ravenstone: The Secret of Ninham Mountain, we read all we could about the Stone Chambers of Putnam County, New York, which feature greatly in the book. We travelled there, and to American Stonehenge in New Hampshire. We read other books dealing with time travel. We studied and read up on the American Indian tribes present in pre-Columbian Hudson Valley, to be able to describe that lifestyle correctly. I love this sort of research, as I learn so much I didn’t know. For example, I learned all about Passenger Pigeons, which we featured in the book as well. Beautiful birds, hunted into extinction.
Which aspects of your writing do you find easiest and most difficult?
Easiest: researching, planning, laying it out, handling all the outline and pages, etc. Actually doing it doesn’t seem an issue for me, and I don’t struggle much with writer’s block.
Hardest: character development. I really work at this, to try to make a character feel real.
Also, I find it hard, as a writer, to believe I might be good enough. I keep wondering when someone will catch me out as a fraud! I read so many other authors’ books, am so blown away by their talent and wit, that I sometimes feel I’m a lightweight by comparison. Perhaps all artists, all writers, feel this from time to time.
(Oh I think they definitely do!)
If you could choose to be a character from 88 Guys for Coffee, who would you be and why?
Francesca. She is feisty, beautiful, warm, kind, practical, wise, all the characteristics I work hard at being or becoming. So I wrote my role model.
Finally, Diane, if you had 15 words to persuade a reader that 88 Guys for Coffee should be their next read, what would you say?
It will make you laugh, bring tears to your eyes, and make you think.
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions.
About Diane Solomon
Diane Solomon, author, enjoyed a wonderfully diverse career path that included her own variety show on BBC TV in England. As a performing artist, she opened for both Glen Campbell and Kenny Rogers during major tours of England, Europe and Africa. Her highly successful singing career was destroyed by Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and the story of her recovery via a homeopathic remedy is a book in itself!
Fully recovered, she is fulfilling her lifelong dream of being a writer. She has ghostwritten and/or edited many books in the last decade.