In case you hadn't noticed, I review a lot of books. Some of them stick out in my memory as time passes, and other books sort of blend in to the overall hum in the back of my brain and I have to remind myself of the plot and characters if asked any specific questions a month or a year after the review is posted. "Spare Change" by Aubrey Mace is a book that caught my attention from the first and remains one of my favorite reads of 2008. You can read my review of it here.
I was tickled pink (which is not intended to be a pun on my name or on the color of the book cover) when Aubrey took the Whitney Award for Best Romance at April's award ceremony. I hunted Aubrey down (it was hard. The girl's like a chameleon) and asked her for an interview, which she graciously granted.
Tristi: Aubrey, how did you come up with the idea for the story found in Spare Change?
Aubrey: The idea for Spare Change came largely from working in an Infusion Center, and experiences I had with my grandparents growing up. Working at the Infusion Center has been a huge blessing in my life. It has taught me not to ever take a day for granted, because you never know when your life can change in an instant. Also, I have happy memories of scouting around with my grandpa and his metal detector on hot summer days, and I truly don't remember a time I've ever been in my grandma's kitchen when she wasn't cooking something. I learned a great deal about life from both of them.
There is a lot of me in Riley, (the main character) and it was fun to write about a girl who I felt people could root for. She started out very wrapped up in her own life, and by the end of the book, her small attempts to do something good have affected so many others and spiralled into something bigger than she could have ever imagined. I can relate to Riley's initial feelings of helplessness-- I think we all feel that way sometimes. How do we, as individuals, do something that will make a difference? Riley's mother tells her in the story that you don't have to move a mountain to make a difference, which is something I try to keep in mind when I get discouraged. I think that our attempts to show kindness to those around us, whether we see them as successful or not, are never wasted. So for me, it was about someone very average who accomplishes something extraordinary. I love that.
Tristi: How and when did you find out you were a finalist for a Whitney Award?
Aubrey: I found out I was a finalist when I got to work the morning the nominations were released. When I woke up, I had this tiny hope in the back of my brain that I was doing my best to crush, and I had plenty of time to look at the list before I went to work. But I wanted to live the dream a little longer. As long as I didn't look, I could keep imagining that I might have been nominated. I kept putting it off until I got an email at work from one of my critique partners, Melanie Jacobson. I wish I could remember the exact wording, but it was something to the effect of, "Have you seen this?!" with a link to the Whitney website. So I went to the website and started scrolling down, and there was my darling pink cover under Best Romance. I went to the next column, Best Novel by a New Author, and THERE IT WAS AGAIN! It was probably my most surreal moment since I got the email with the contract for Spare Change.
Tristi: What was it like for you when they announced the winner?
Aubrey: There was one terrible moment where I really thought it was a mistake, and once I realized it was real, I was afraid my legs wouldn't support me if I tried to stand up! I was stunned, terrified, humbled, and felt as though I'd been given wings, in that order. It was just so completely unexpected. I'd read the books that were nominated in my categories, and I have such a tremendous respect for the other authors. I am in awe of their talent, and reading their books showed me how much I still have to learn. I knew what I was up against, so I was content to wear my questionable heels and gorge myself on cheesecake because I knew there was no way I was going to have to get up there. And then I did. It was just an amazing, scary, incredible experience that I will never forget.
Tristi: Tell us about your next projects.
Aubrey: My next book was just released in April-- it's called My Fairy Grandmother. It's a middle grade/YA novel, and I'm so proud of it. I think it might be my favorite so far.(Sssshhh... don't tell my other books!) And I have a Christmas comedy/romance coming out this fall called Santa Maybe about a girl who finds something unexpected under her Christmas tree. It was my easiest book to write and a lot of fun because the writing just flowed. Which brings me to my current project; a novel about heaven. I'm about fifty pages into it, and I've been working on it for six months now. Needless to say, so far it's been my difficult child. But every time I try to put it away, something makes me try again. So I'm just going to keep at it and see where it takes me.
And I'm excited, too! Can't wait to read them.
Join me tomorrow as I discuss adjectives and chick lit, how they aren't evil, and explain what that all has to do with Aubrey Mace.