TODAY TODAY TODAY begins the Who's the Girl in the Fat Suit? Blog Tour and April (A.L. Elder) is doing an AWESOME giveaway exclusively with me. You can check out my thoughts on the book over in the post on My Pathway to Liberation. And make sure you enter that giveaway at the bottom of this post :)
Hi, April. Thank you for joining us here on The Gal. Let's start off with you telling us a little bit about yourself.
I am your average thirty-eight year old wife, stepmother, college student, author, career girl and avid "concoctionist" in the kitchen.
I was a skinny chick when I got married at the ripe old age of twenty. It took me nearly ten years to pack on 117 pounds and finally get the courage to lose the fat suit. I was a diet failure waiting to happen. Every single diet I tried, I failed miserably. It got old, but I never found myself attractive living inside the fat suit. I never fully accepted: "This is what I am."
What is the first book you remember reading?
Where the Red Fern Grows. At the time, my grandparents had an Irish Setter, Shilo. I remember reading it to her in the yard every afternoon after school. Until I came to the end and I read it to myself. You know, I didn't want to upset her!
What made you decide to begin writing?
I never felt like I had a choice to write or not to write. I can remember writing short stories and plays when I was nine. I wrote in a journal every night from the time I was twelve through twenty. I have always loved seeing the clean white paper fill up with words. Life got busy after I married Wes, and writing was less important. I took about seventeen years off from writing. I went back to college, took a creative writing class, and rediscovered my passion for storytelling. In 2012, I picked up the pen and began the next chapter of my life.
Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?
I prefer to write the first draft by hand in a spiral notebook. I use fountain pens when I write. (I guess that is pretty quirky.) If I use a ball point, I find that my hand tires quickly because of the amount of pressure I apply. With a fountain pen, the ink flows smoothly and it is dark. Strange, I know. I usually begin at the beginning of the book and end when I run out of words. I have never written a plan or had notecards. But, for the most part, I write about myself, so I know that character pretty well.
Do you have a special place you like to write?
I do. I am so fortunate to have a husband who believes in my dreams and support me as a writer. Last year he remodeled a bedroom in our house. It is complete with dark hardwood floors, grey subtle walls and black crown molding! He customized the desk using two 2x8x10 and one 2x12x10 pine boards. He burnished the wood with a blow torch and viola! I have a desk that is ten feet long by twenty-eight inches deep. I love it! My laptop is plugged into a 32" television, which is so much easier on my eyes than the 17" screen I used to use to transfer my written word to the computer.
Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?
Not having enough time to do it is the most challenging thing for me! Honestly, between school and work, husband and family, there really isn't enough time in the day. I would love to spend a whole weekend carrying my notebook around and scribbling chapters. In fact, when we go camping ... that is exactly what I do! I write like a crazed animal.
I also find proofreading my own draft to be challenging. I know what's coming, so I don't see or recognize mistakes. My first draft is usually riddled with errors and misspelled words. Thankfully, I have some wonderful people who love to mark the drafts up with pink pens. (My editor receives the third draft!)
Patience! Oh dear, I lack them! It is so difficult for me not to publish the first draft online. Yes, I know it's filled with errors and I know the reviews would be horrific! But, trying to convince myself not to publish is often more difficult than writing in a blacked out room.
What do you think makes a good story?
I enjoy reading stories that take me on a journey. I like to be emotionally stimulated whether with fear, anticipation, sadness or happiness. I want to believe the characters. I want to escape my little world for a short time and venture to a place I would not normally experience. I like books that tell me a story and allow me to imagine myself inside the pages of the book. I want to get to the last chapter and debate whether or not I really want to finish it right then, or savor it for after dinner! If an author can do that for me, well, I am a fan for life!
What book(s) have most influenced you?
Oh my, this could be a very long list, Meghan! I will name a few and not in any order.
- Lost: One Pair of Rose Colored Glasses by Shay Ray Stevens - I laughed, cried, and completely related to nearly every chapter in this book. She wrote with an honesty that I adored. Shay could easily be a woman I have coffee with and share life experiences.
- Clean by Alexandro Junger - This book hit home and completely changed the way I look at my own health.
- Bossypants by Tina Fey - Tina has the ability to twist words and throw in an unexpected curve ball. I got caught laughing aloud far too many times reading this book. I absolutely love her ability to twist the most common things into a comedic story.
The people I have met on this journey have inspired me the most. I have friends on Twitter, on Facebook, Goodreads and more! I am fortunate to have people in my life who inspire me to reach for the stars. I would not be here today, where I am, without the encouragement and support of all of my friends and family. It was quite a process of posting chapters online and receiving feedback from my fans. They would relate and write back with other events they experienced similar to mine. Each time I would have a rant about a skinny salesclerk, they would rant alongside me! When I had a breakdown, they were there to remind me that I didn't acquire the fat suit overnight.
Where do the ideas for your book come from?
Finally! An easy question. Phew.
Ideas come from my life. They come from the past thirty-eight years. All of my trials, tribulations, lessons and moments where I thought Murphy's Law was singling me out. It wasn't until after I had published Hey Lady, Are These Your Underwear? that I decided I really loved the genre of non-fiction.
What do you think makes your book different from other books in this genre?
Who's the Girl in the Fat Suit? is not a diet book. I don't tell you what you need to do to lose weight. Instead, I share everything I did to try and mask the suit. I express my feelings and what it finally took to look into the mirror and change. It is a book filled with comical chapters, but there are a few dark ones too. I am honest in my written words. Probably too honest sometimes, but it is all true. My emotions are all over the map and I include them when I write. I don't want to tell a story. Instead, I want to share a story with you. I write in first person and I speak to you as if we were sitting across from one another in our favorite coffee shop. I don't hold anything back.
What have you learned creating this book?
So much! I learned that I am not the only woman out there who has a false reality of self-perception! I learned that many people hide behind their computer and order clothing rather than venturing into a dressing room! I learned that no matter how hard I tried to cover up my fat suit ... it was always there to remind me when I walked by a reflective surface.
Along those same lines, what did you learn about YOURSELF while writing this book?
When I began writing this book, I wanted it to be funny. I wanted the reader to find my "situation" laughable. It wasn't until I had completed the first draft that I handed it over to a friend to proofread and realized ... there was so much more to my story. Yes, I find humor in life and yea, I have done a number of ridiculous things to disguise the fat suit ... but, there was a darker side to living in the fat suit. I had tried so hard to mask how I felt that I lost my perception of reality. I imagined and presented myself to others as I felt. (A size 5.) The reality? I had gained even more weight while writing the book! I saw my reflection for what it was. It was a startling and humbling moment!
I started making changes to my lifestyle, my eating and researched everything I could on health. I still struggle to see the "real me" in the mirror. It's a work in progress, for sure. I am, as probably you are too, harder on myself than anyone else is. I have learned that I am not the only woman out there who struggles with self-acceptance! I have learned that all-in-all, I am pretty normal. (Phew! honestly, there were a few chapters that I almost left out of the book, because I was afraid they were a little too narcissistic! I wrote from my heart and, at times, put words on the page that I dared not speak aloud. Not even to my best friend!) I think the most important thing I learned was to truly look into the mirror and smile at my reflection. I have a feeling that I will continue to learn as I lose the fat suit and even after the weight is gone. Once I allowed myself full disclosure and cried alligator tears, I finally decided to commit to my own health ... I haven't looked back.
What do you think your readers will take away from this book?
I hope they see that they are not alone. There are so many women who struggle to accept themselves as what they truly are. We all have the power to change ... regardless of the times we have failed. There are no limits other than the ones we place on ourselves. We can re-write our story and live happily ever after if we choose to.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I am working on another memoir! I love writing in this genre so Aw. The next release will be a book about our adventures remodeling our 1920s farmhouse. If you have ever remodeled a room in your house, with your significant other, this will be one you will relate to! The title? One D.I.Y. from Divorce
Wes and I were on our third room remodel when he turned to me and asked, "We are one D.I.Y. from divorce, aren't we?"
Five years later, we are still married and the house ... gorgeous! When I talk about all the things "we" have done, Wes corrects me. "We" is now code for Wes ... the "s" is silent! (He did all of the work while I did some of the cleanup.)
What amazing answers. THIS is why I love to do interviews. Thank you so much for being here and you are welcome back any time :)
Meghan, thank you for having me on your blog. I cannot express my gratitude enough. You are a wonderful, supportive, and beautiful woman. You have brightened my days with glitter and I thank you!
Aww *blush* I couldn't have said it better myself haha. And, as I put up at the top of my blog, "She who leaves a trail of glitter is never forgotten." :D
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