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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Starlight Saturday

YA Author Spotlight Presents...
Tim Whitney
Tim Whitney!!!

Okay, yes, I’m late again. Well, this week it’s not completely my fault. My anti-virus software had run out I had to do something about it before I could safely get on the Internet and make this post. Plus, I was up late reading, decided to take a nap before posting and well, overslept. Hey, it happens, a lot, to me anyways.

It also doesn’t help that I have been so enthralled by Rachel Caine’s Morganville Vampires series. I thought book one good, but book two is even better! So far The Dead Girl’s Dance, like the last one, is a real page-turner! Definitely worth the read!

Okay, that said, I obviously didn’t get to read the entire book, Thanksgiving at the Inn, by Tim Whitney. However, I did manage to read just enough to know that I want to because it will be a good story.

Thanksgiving at the Inn

How do I know that?

Well, because Thanksgiving is more than just a title in this book.

How so?

It starts with a classic father-son rift, which is repeated from one generation to another, except that one father wants to fix it. Senior wants to fix it, but he is quite devious in his methods. He waits until he’s dead.


Yeah, you read that right. Senior, the patriarch of the family, waits until his death to fix a father-son rift that started with him. Sure, he tried unsuccessfully to fix it while he was alive, so you could call this his “last-ditch” effort. Senior stipulated in his will that his son, Junior, had to successfully run Senior’s Bed and Breakfast with his grandson [Junior’s son], Heath, for three months.

Three months? What’s three months? Well, to a father and son like Heath and Junior, it might as well be a lifetime. Three months could make or break this particular relationship, and determine the fate of their inheritance.

Devious. Very devious. Somehow, I think, Junior and Heath will be thankful for more than just the turkey this year!

Sound like you might want one? Well, read the rest of this blog, leave a comment, and you could win a copy. On to the interview!

Let’s start with some trivia about you:

1. Do you have any favorite Thanksgiving movie or program that you enjoy watching every year? If more than one, tell us all of them!

Ok if you asked me about Christmas I could have given you a dozen, but I honestly can’t think of anything we watched on Thanksgiving other than the traditional NFL games! I used to love listening to John Madden and watching good football!

2. What, if any, Thanksgiving traditions (decorating, gathering with friends and family for a meal, etc.) do you have?

When it comes to Thanksgiving I think I have a really traditional family. We focus on the turkey dinner with all the fixings and homemade pies for dessert. These days my daughters also play violin for everyone as well. They are Suzuki violinists and have been playing for about 3 years.

3. What was your most memorable Thanksgiving and why?

I have two memorable Thanksgivings - one was when I was 7 or so and both sets of grandparents were still alive and all together at my parents’ in Maine. We had so many people over at our house that we had to set up extra tables in the basement. The other favorite was six years ago, the first Thanksgiving with both my daughters.

4. Which do you choose: white or dark turkey, white potatoes or yams, green beans or corn, bread rolls or crescent rolls?

Love this question! Turkey (both white and dark), mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole topped with onion crisps and squash (no room left for corn!), bread rolls, and add some stuffing and cranberry sauce- the jelly kind not the kind with the whole berries. The day after, I love a nice turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce sandwich! Yum! This is making me hungry!

5. What, in your opinion, was the oddest food served at a Thanksgiving dinner you’ve attended?

Sweet potato casserole, the one with marshmallows. Weird until you try it!

6. Tell us 3 things you are thankful for this year, please.

My family and friends, my health, and all the positive and kind reviews I’ve received so far in the first month since the book launched. It has far exceeded my expectations and the kind letters I receive regularly make it worth all the time and effort I spent writing it!

7. Just for fun, if you could be among any of the original members of that first Thanksgiving, who would it be, the Pilgrims or the Wampanoag (Native Americans)? Why?

Definitely one of the Native Americans. My great-grandmother was a full blooded Native American so I think that would be far more interesting than being on the Pilgrim side.

8. Considering that feast, what do you think that first harvest celebration meal would be?

This is a great question! I never really thought about this, but I believe it would consist of venison or wild fowl. I would assume that the meal was more centered around meat than supported by vegetables and certainly would not imagine there were any homemade pies!

Now, let’s get to your writing:

9. Why YA Fiction? What’s the draw?

I’ve always loved YA fiction. I think the biggest draw for me is that a YA story isn’t usually just a good story with great characters; there is usually a positive message or life lesson woven in for good measure. Great YA stories also have the ability to anchor positive memories that can last a lifetime.

10. If you could describe your writing with a word or phrase, what would it be? What do you want readers to take with them when they've finished reading your story?

Character driven. I think at the end of the day if I can create unique characters that readers either relate to or simply would love to meet, then I know the book will be entertaining and a success. The main message I would like the reader to take away is we have a choice in life, to either be grateful for all that we have or be bitter for all we don’t. Even though the colorful characters in the book have been thrown a curve, they still manage to carry on living life with a positive message rather than simply going through the motions. No one has the perfect family and we all have flaws. If you can learn to see past that, life will be a lot more enjoyable. If you focus on everyone’s flaws, you’ll miss out on a lot of life.

11. Have you ever written Thanksgiving into your stories before Thanksgiving at the Inn? Why or why not?

To be honest, no. I never really thought about writing Thanksgiving in to a story before this one. In the case of Thanksgiving at the Inn, its working title was actually The Sleeping Inn, but it became evident the central theme revolved around Thanksgiving and that really became the anchor point. Stories have a way of taking a life of their own, even for the writer. I didn’t intend to write a Thanksgiving focused story, it’s simply where the characters took me as it unfolded and my muse took over!

12. Who decides what you write about, you or your muse? What kind of influence do you have over your story, or is the muse always the one basting the turkey?

It’s actually a unique combination of the two, in essence this is a right brain/left brain project with both the analytical and creative sides partnering for the best outcome. I like to outline a story at a very basic level and then turn my muse loose.

Think of this like taking a vacation where you know the destination and have a rough map, but your muse is behind the wheel driving. The interesting thing is sometimes your muse takes the best detours!

13. Have you ever based a character on a real-life person? If so, why? Was it simply to immortalize them or was there more to it than that? If you can, tell us the name of that person, please! We’re all curious here!

While I did not specifically base any of my characters on real-life people, I did capture characteristics of people that have passed through my life. Thanksgiving at the Inn has some flawed and unique characters. I tried to take bits and pieces from people I’ve known well and people I’ve observed or met briefly and combine them like Dr. Frankenstein’s monsterJ!

For example, I have met someone that was addicted to having their body covered with tattoos, but he was not muscle bound or a children’s book author. I have had numerous Jamaican friends and coworkers, but none like Winsted.

So whether it is a character’s stunning green eyes or a laugh sounding like a Disney princess, those are the bits and pieces that all come together to create what I hope are characters we’d all like to meet. In the case of Senior, I wanted him to be flawed, but at the same time, the grandfather figure that people would love, respect, and admire, even after his tragic death. I think it is very dangerous to base a character completely on a real life person and far more interesting to create one of my own.

It is so important to me to create characters that create a distinct visual image to each reader. I hope that I’ve accomplished this in Thanksgiving at the Inn and people can imagine what Thanksgiving dinner would be like at the Sleeping Inn.

14. Of all of the stories you’ve written, published or not, what character did you have the most fun creating and why?

Wow… another great question! I can’t pick just one! I had so much fun creating both Winsted and Sally. Both are imposing giants. One is soft spoken and reflecting and the other is so full of wisdom and kindness.

My goal was to develop two larger than life characters that were unique, interesting…and at the same time flawed and human. None of us go through life without making mistakes or being humbled. Winsted and Sally have been through both, have grown through the experience and dole out helpings of wisdom and knowledge while still allowing Heath to learn life lessons on his own and at his own pace.

15. If you had the opportunity to meet just one of your characters in real life, who would it be and why? Which of your characters would you never want to meet under any circumstance and why?

Senior, definitely Senior. He was a larger than life character, the grandfatherly figure that was humbled late in life and realized that he could potentially change his legacy and impact the lives of his son and grandson. It would be great to meet him and let him know his legacy became the basis for a great story of family, forgiveness, and gratitude.

Remember to leave a comment if you'd like to win a copy of Thanksgiving at the Inn!

6 Moonbeams (comments):

Unknown said...

Hi :)
Thanks for bringing Tim Whitney and his writing to my attention. Thanks also for the great interview. I enjoyed learning about him and Thanksgiving at the Inn.
All the best,

Carrie said...

Thanks for stopping by RKCharon! It's great to see you here!

How's the migraine?

Molly Daniels said...

Wonderful interview! Tim, love the premise of this book! Sounds like something my own grandfather would pull, lol!

Look forward to reading this!

windycindy said...

Evening! This book would be great for my niece's Christmas gift.
Many thanks, Cindi

Carol said...

I love the idea of Thanksgiving story and this one really sounds good. Great interview!


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for the interview and the great teaser:) I just came back from two book signings in Maine, where they had just done a full page Q and A on the book. Let's just say it was AMAZING! So many people bought the book as a gift for a loved one- young and old alike are getting this book and I hope it will touch people and give Thanksgiving an extra special meaning this year. All my best... Tim Whitney