© 2013 Clive Eaton
Although I grew up in a small town in Texas, I never really felt comfortable there. After college, I moved to Dallas and have lived in the area ever since. While it’s still in Texas, the big city has the culture and diversity I like. I came to writing late in life, but don’t think I really had anything to say earlier. From early childhood, I had an affinity for animals, so my novel is geared toward showing the lives of people who feel the same way I do. They are real people, living real lives, who just happen to be vegan, environmentalists or animal advocates. There’s no message except that people who care strongly about something, enough to completely change their lives, are the people who change the world. My heroines and heroes have to overcome tremendous odds in order to get what they most desire. They’re the people we love to read about
Book title: Diary of a Dieting Madhouse
Rowan Faine compulsively overeats to compensate for the big changes that have taken place in her life. Forced to cope with the death of her parents in a car accident, inheriting her rebellious younger sister to raise, and being constantly bombarded with free food at Knight & Daye, the Downtown Dallas law firm where she’s a secretary, Rowan gains 35 pounds. Her perpetually beautiful and skinny best friend, Madelyn Morrison, tells her that the book, Diary of a Dieting Madhouse—The Diet (available for download by the reader), is what keeps her thin and healthy.
Rowan deals daily with the erratic nature of the attorneys she works for, in an atmosphere where class distinctions, while subtle, still thrive even in this enlightened time. She is caught off balance by a new, lateral hire attorney, the proud and haughty Grey Faris. Grey and Rowan instantly clash, particularly when she overhears him call her “fat.” Rowan, who loses weight and shapes up while following the “Madhouse Diet,” soon becomes convinced that her prejudices against Grey are well-founded. But her outgoing, playful nature and impertinence have attracted his attention, and, in spite of himself, his admiration.
What do you do to relax when you are not writing?
I go to a movie every Sunday morning; am almost as crazy about movies as I am about books. Walk dogs, play with cats, watch TV (love Dexter, Justified, almost anything on HGTV).
What, or who, inspired you to become a writer?
Jane Austen and my sister.
What or who inspired you to write your current novel?
I’ve undergone several major lifestyle changes (i.e., becoming a vegan), and I wanted to put my personal struggles, epiphanies and discoveries into the mouths of fictional characters. It sounds a lot less like preaching and more fun when it comes from characters we like and identify with. I made Rowan an “everywoman” who’s just like the rest of us, or would be if we were all sharp-witted, brave and incredibly attractive to a tall, handsome, rich lawyer even though we’re 35 lbs overweight. Well, it is fiction after all!
Tell us three interesting facts about your book which are not covered in the synopsis?
1) The scene where the lawyer says to Rowan “Could you do that without talking?” actually happened to me. Unlike Rowan, however, I’m neither quick-witted nor brave, so I did not respond the same. That’s what I love about fiction—you can have characters say and do things you can only dream of.
2) Little Mountain, the small Texas town where Madelyn grew up, is loosely based on my home town. Don’t let that get around, however, or I’ll be run out of town on a rail the next time I attend a class reunion.
3) I’ve always had a romantic attachment to Hawaii, but I had never been there until two years ago. Went to Kauai, however, and don’t know anything about Maui (where the wedding in “Diary” takes place), except what I’ve read. Hope it doesn’t show.
What research did you need to do for this book?
Very little for the novel. I’ve read Pride & Prejudice once a year since I was 14 years old. The diet book is an amalgamation of all the books I’ve read about veganism—how so-called food animals are treated on factory farms, the health benefits of a plant-based diet, and how it saves the environment.
Are any elements/characters of your book based on real life experiences or people you’ve met/known?
I’ve worked in law firms for many years, so everything that takes place there is based on personal experience and/or people I’ve met.
Tell us a little about your current work-in-progress.
I’m editing my novel “Stealing Light from Shooting Stars,” which is the story of a heroin-addicted street derelict who cleans himself up to win the heart of a cold-hearted blond interior decorator. It’s the ultimate odd couple, beauty and the beast story. The novel should be out by Christmas. My next novel will be “A Small Town in Texas” which goes deeper into the “Diary” character, Madelyn Morrison’s, past.
What process did you adopt from inception through to the finished book
Rigorous outlining, constant editing, rearranging and rewriting. My sister collaborates with me, and she is a task master.
What do you need (or not need) around you whilst writing?
If I’m in the zone, I’m not easily distracted. I pretty much have the TV going 24/7.
What prompted you to self-publish your current book?
Being consistently frustrated and disappointed by the traditional route.
What were the three biggest challenges you faced when writing your book?
1) Not enough time—I work a full-time job.
2) Impatience—I want it done now and have to counsel myself to slow down and think.
3) My three rescue dogs always waiting to be walked.
Every author seems to suffer with writer’s block at some point. How do you overcome it?
I never force myself to write. If it comes, it comes. If it doesn’t, I take a nap.
What single piece of advice would you give to any aspiring writer?
Go to college, get a BA degree and go to work for Hunt Oil Company.
What genre does your book fall into?
I usually classify it as “Women’s Fiction,” but it doesn’t fit well into any genre. I tell my friends I’ve created a new genre called “the Addiction Love Story.” All my characters are addicted to one thing or another—heroin, alcohol or, in Rowan’s case, food.
How did you get interested in this specific genre?
I lived it (all except heroin—never been addicted to that).
You as a reader
Which three authors have inspired you the most, and why?
1) Jane Austen—can’t explain, just love her—always have, always will.
2) Lawrence Block—there is a layering to his writing that creates a multidimensional book; you can read his books for the action, or you can absorb the subtext as well. It works on both levels.
3) Dennis Lehane—same as with Lawrence Block. Lehane is great with similes, one of my favourite forms of conveying a feeling or impression.
What was your favourite book as a child?
Black Beauty-it was devastating but life-affirming.
What is the best book you’ve read in the last 12 months?
Diary of a Dieting Madhouse—HaHaHa, did you really think I’d say anything else?
What was the last book you recommended to a friend, and why did you think it was worthy of recommendation?
Gone Girl-a real page turner; I love psychological suspense, and this one is done on an extremely high level
Kindle (or other e-reader) or paperback, and why?
Kindle-it’s fast and easy, and I’m into instant gratification.
Hollywood is calling
You’ve had the call from Hollywood and they want your opinion on who should play the leading roles in the film based upon your book. Who would you choose, and why?
This is my favourite question. I’m thinking Emma Stone for Rowan. I can actually hear her delivering the funny lines. She’s cute, but not too beautiful, and lots of women can identify with her. She’d need to be five years older, at least, but you know Hollywood. It would take that long or longer to get it to the screen even if somebody bought the rights tomorrow. For Grey, the leading man, I’m thinking Henry Cavill. He’s also too young, but he’s very regal looking. Not very well known at the moment, but wait until the new Superman comes out.
The film of your book is now going to need a soundtrack. Which musician(s) would you want to write and play it?
Don’t really care, but it needs to be contemporary and dramatic.
Drink –Chocolate-Banana Smoothie made with almond milk
Meal –Indian vegetarian red curry
Holiday destination – Canadian Rockies (in the summer)
TV programme –Dexter, Justified, Homeland
Film – The Deerhunter—best movie ever made, with a fabulous romantic subplot
Method of travel – Plane
Sport – Surfing
How can people connect with you?
Where can people get a copy of “Diary of a Dieting Madhouse”?
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