Today, Laura Bowers is with us, to answer all our hard-hitting questions about her debut novel, Beauty Shop For Rent, which officially hits bookstores tomorrow!
Here's what the book's about:
Abbey Garner has a plan: to earn a million dollars by the time she's thirty-five. Financial independence will allow her to break the cycle of unhappiness endured by the women in her family. Determined to fulfill her dream, Abbey works at Granny Po's struggling beauty shop, where the feisty Gray Widows go to primp, polish, perm . . . and, of course, gossip. There, among the hair dryers and perm rods--and with the help of a new friend--Abbey finds the courage to open her heart and take risks required for her to live life to its fullest. Debut author Laura Bowers creates a funny and touching first novel about family--both the one we are born to and the one we create ourselves.
And now, on with the questions...
Laura: In my late twenties, a stylist convinced me to ditch the same hairstyle I've had for at least ten years. You know the look--long, one length hair that's trimmed every ten weeks and teased bangs. She gave me this fantastic cut with long layers and a side part. A few strangers even complimented it!
What inspired you to set the book around a beauty shop?
Laura: I love the feeling of a home beauty shop, and the camaraderie with other women. They tend to let their hair down, and talk a bit spicier than they would around other crowds. I wanted to capture that feeling in this book and really, in all my books!
You create a unique relationship that not many girls have with their great-grandmother. What's your great-grandmother experience?
Laura: My great-grandparents died when I was young, so I can't remember them. Abbey's relationship with Granny Po is more similar to the one I had with my mother both as a teen and now. Mom could be strict at times, and we may have argued more than they do, but we've always had the same easy compatibility with each other and we always had each other's back!
Granny Po says that people spend too much time dancing around the truth. What's your take on this statement?
Laura: Ah, my girl Granny Po. She tells the cold, hard truth that you may not want to hear. But in her mind, if you're only pacified with false positives, then how are you going to grow? I do agree with Granny Po . . . although she could be a bit more sensitive. ;)
Hypothetical Question: Your best friend gets a horrible haircut. What do you tell her?
Laura: That I like it because there's nothing she can do about it until the cut grows out, so telling her I hate it wouldn't do any good. Once her hair starts to grow back, I might casually mention how pretty it looks a bit longer. But, if she knows her cut is truly heinous and there's a chance it could be salvaged, then I'd tell her the truth.
What's the long and the short of Beauty Shop for Rent: when did you decide you wanted to write it?
Laura: I was first inspired to write the book from a rusted sign that was posted in front of an old but charming house. The thought of bringing together this diverse, vibrant crowd of females--both young and old--was enough to make me abandon a young adult mystery I was working on at the time, plus the drafts of two other books I've written. This was the first story I ever felt truly passionate about, so I haven't yet tried to get the others published.
Why did you decide to write YA?
I first fell for the genre after reading HOPE WAS HERE by Joan Bauer. I love how every chapter and every scene in a well-written young adult novel has a purpose and moves the plot forward, leaving very little waste. Plus, I'm basically still a kid trapped in the body of a 38 year old!
At what point did you realize you wanted to be an author?
Laura: It's so funny how I can remember the exact day I made this decision. It was in 1998 after I was hospitalized by a severe migraine brought on by stress. When I came home--half zombied on pain killers--I realized the migraine was God's way of telling me I needed to put on the brakes and take a different direction in life. Before, I used to fanaticize about
being a writer, but on that day I decided to finally become one.
The Grey Widows love Wheel of Fortune. What's your game show or TV show vice?
Laura: Around our house, we stop what we're doing if someone puts on CMT's Trick My Truck. It's the coolest show about down on their luck truck drivers who get the ultimate make-over on their trucks. I love how the Demolition Man always yells, "Let's tear 'er down," and the emotional reactions the truckers have during the big reveal.
Gena has a five-year policy for worrying about stuff. Do you have the same policy? How's it working out?
Laura: Gena's character is based on my husband, Bob, who first told me about the five-year policy. Whenever I would get uptight or stressed, he'd ask, "Is it going to matter in five years?" Most times, the answer was no, it wouldn't, so why waste time stressing? This is something I try to keep in mind at my boys' sporting events. Five years from now, no one will remember or even care about a baseball game so the way some parents scream and get all bent out of shape really is stupid. Relax!
Top 5 things you worry about...
1. My kids.
2. What the world will be like for my kids when they're older.
3. How quiet my house will be when the kids go to college.
4. My nonstop, monster-sized To-Do list.
5. Not writing enough.
In Canada, we don't have Black Friday (because we don't have Thanksgiving the same weekend) so the idea of Black Friday is somewhat lost on us, though we envy the sales! What's your Black Friday tradition?
Laura: I retired from Black Friday shopping after having a panic attack in Wal-Mart when my shopping cart was blocked on all sides and I couldn't move. Seriously, it's not for people like me.
Here's how it works: First, there's the store sale fliers. You start collecting them a week prior, circling all the great deals. Then, you strategize your store route after Thanksgiving dinner. First stop? Target to get that digital camera. Second? Kohl's, then Home Depot, etc. The morning of, you throw your hair in a ponytail, slap on some lipstick and dress for comfort. Sneakers, light purse with a shoulder strap, and layered clothing 'cause you're going to sweat your rear off
in the store. Heels? Oh please. Stay home, amateur, you'll only get in the way.
You then arrive at your first stop at least an hour early, (two for the die-hards,) wired from coffee and a set game plan with your shopping partner. You make for the TV; I'll fight for the Play Station DS. When the door opens, adrenaline starts pumping like mad and you jostle your way through the crowd with your focus on one thing and one thing only.
Get that deal.
It's vicious, Chantel, vicious. ;)
Did you have a plan when you were 14 for your own life? What was it, and how did it work out?
Laura: My dream was to be on the US Equestrian team and ride Dressage in the Olympics. But, seeing how there's no gold metals on my mantle, that didn't exactly work out! I've since revised my plan. When my boys go to college, I'm going to get back into barrel racing or circuit shows.
Hypothetical question: If you had to have a bad trip to the Beauty Shop, which would you choose: Poodle Perm, Bleach Blonde with Black Roots, GI Jane Buzz Cut., and why...
Laura: Oh my. Well, my head is goofy-shaped, so I'll pass on the GI Jane. Poodle Perm? That brings up painful memories from high school, so I'll have to go with Bleach Blonde, even my light skin tone can't pull off the look. (And because you didn't say I couldn't quickly dye it back, hahaha!)
What's next? Can you give us a one-sentence sum up of your next book?
Laura: Four girls . . . eight ways to get revenge.
Final question: How do you get unstuck when you're in a writing rut?
Laura: Sit down, shut up and write!