Here’s the situation…You go against the grain and decide to write a book about practical female relationships. You share a story about women facing real-life situations, but continuously supporting each other regardless of the circumstances. As a new author, you push your characters to their limit, while demonstrating the beauty of friendship. The result is a following of readers who not only believe in your brand of sisterhood, but who have also created a demand for a follow-up novel to cure their curiosity.
With the release of “Where Did We Go Wrong Again?”, Monica Mathis-Stowe hopes to do just that. The Situation Room with Michelle Cuttino caught up with Monica to discuss the secret of her success as well as what’s coming next from this over-night sensation.
Monica: Where Did We Go Wrong? is women’s fiction with a romantic suspense twist. It is about best friends Gabby, Maxine and Joy who protect each other at all costs, even if it means keeping secrets that turn their lives upside down. Gabby has no boundaries when it comes to getting what she wants. She pulls out every trick in the book to keep her daughter’s married father out of their lives, but keep his money in her bank account. Maxine lives for her family, but when her husband’s excessive spending lands them in more debt than they can handle, the stress takes a toll on their perfect marriage. After Joy’s loyalty to her controlling mother causes her to lose the only man she’s ever loved, she marries a man she barely knows. When the wedding is over, she quickly realizes she made the biggest mistake of her life and it puts everybody she loves in danger. Unfortunately, someone will have to pay the ultimate price with their life.
Michelle: Do you think you share the personality traits of Gabby, Maxine or Joy—if so, in which way?
Monica: Definitely! I have something in common with each character. I love Gabby’s aggressive, go get what you want personality. I act like her when somebody tells me I can’t do something I know I’m capable of doing. I respect Maxine’s commitment to her family. I’m the same way with mine, but I would never tolerate what she did in her marriage. Joy’s relationship and loyalty to her mother reminds me of my relationship with my mother. For a long time, I didn’t share my writing with anyone because I didn’t want my mother to be embarrassed by my spicy, drama-filled stories.
Michelle: You are also an Investigator in the metropolitan Washington area. What does that job entail?
Monica: I handle a great deal of classified information. Therefore, I’m unable to discuss my job as an Investigator.
Michelle: How do you juggle motherhood, marriage, and your two careers? Do you feel that any facet of your life suffers?
Monica: I constantly struggle with trying to balance motherhood, marriage, and my two careers. I don’t make a move or schedule anything without now looking at my calendar. When Where Did We Go Wrong? was released last year, I often double and triple booked events for the same day. It burned me out. Now, my wonderful husband keeps me organized and speaks up when I’m doing too much.
As far as any facet of my life suffering, it would have to be my waistline. Because I wasn’t working out as much and eating on the run, I gained a few pounds. Now, I make sure to take an hour each day to exercise and joined Weight Watchers to lose the weight I gained.
Michelle: This year you followed up with the sequel, “Where Did We Go Wrong Again?” What’s new in this novel?
Monica: Where Did We Go Wrong Again? continues immediately after the shooting. One of the beloved central characters is critically wounded and another is murdered. The bonds of friendship and love are tested after the tragedy causes all involved to make irrational decisions that complicate their lives even more. Gabby, Maxine, and Joy are forced to make monumental, life-altering decisions. New characters, Bo, Osaki and Christian were added to cause more jaw-dropping drama that will keep your eyes glued to the pages.
Michelle: Will there be a third installment, or has all loose ends been tied up in the sequel?
Monica: At this time, I don’t have any plans for a third installment. I tied up all loose ends with the sequel, but readers are asking for more of these characters so maybe after I finish my current project.
Michelle: Where did you get the idea for the storyline?
Monica: The relationships I have with my girlfriends inspired me to write this book. I wanted to tell a story about everyday women going through issues and difficulties in their lives and how their girlfriends helped them through it. I read so many novels and hear about reality television shows that focus on creating chaos and conflict between women and that’s not good. I wrote this book to show the positive side of true friendship between women.
Michelle: Having a husband who is a firefighter can be frightening to say the least. How do you cope when he is called for duty?
Monica: In the beginning of our marriage, I used to be terrified when he would hang up on me to respond to a call. Constant prayer got me through his shifts at the firehouse. He was recently promoted to Battalion Fire Chief. Instead of fighting fires, now he runs the fire ground. I still worry about him, but now as much when he was a firefighter.
Michelle: Is he your inspiration for the novel you’re currently working on, “The Firefighters’ Wives”?
Monica: The inspiration for “The Firefighters’ Wives” are the women I’ve met over the years who manage their families and home life while their husbands are chasing flames and saving lives. These women are married, but often times alone. They’re proud of the work their husbands do, but sometimes hate it. It takes a special kind of woman to be married to a man who risks his life to save others and I want to tell their stories.
Michelle: Give us an idea of its premise. Will we be introduced to new characters?
Monica: The characters in “The Firefighters’ Wives” deal with individual problems with universal appeal. Cancer, divorce, infidelity, and chauvinism are some of the issues the characters deal with while juggling their love life and marriages. Although you’re not married to a firefighter, you’ll still be able to relate to what these women are going through. All new characters will be introduced, but a character or two from my first two books may pop up in a scene or two.
Michelle: Do you free write, or do you prefer to use an outline when you’re writing?
Monica: I free write. Every time I try to use an outline, I get writer’s block. Freestyle is my preferred method when it comes to writing.
Michelle: It took you a long time to get through edits and rewrites with your first novel. Do you regret taking so much time on editing, or was it the best money you ever spent? Please explain.
Monica: I don’t have any regrets when it comes to editing. To me, that’s just as important as writing the novel. Paying a good editor is always worth every penny. It’s the editor’s job to make your work more polished for the readers to enjoy. I will take as long as needed to make sure my books pass my editor’s eagle-sharp eye.
Michelle: Tell us a secret or fun fact about Monica that no one knows.
Monica: Shhh. Don’t tell anybody, but I try out all my sex scenes on my husband before, during and after I write them. By the time I finished Where Did We Go Wrong?, he told me he was going to need a Viagra IV if I didn’t finish my book soon.
Michelle: What has been the best lesson learned thus far when it comes to the book industry and being an author within it?
Monica: The three lessons I learned my first year as an author:
1) Being an author requires a lot of work. You have to get your book in the readers’ hands and to do this takes a lot of hustle. Attending events, conducting interviews, and doing book signings are some of the things I learned to do to get my books to readers.
2) Reviews sell books. I’m thankful for the positive reviews as well as the negative ones. Both help my writing and tell me what readers like and dislike about my writing.
3) Stay humble and be thankful for every book sale. Over the past year, I’ve met some authors with huge egos and attended a few book club meetings where other authors were talked about because of their arrogant behavior. I can see how it happens. You wrote an incredible book and people are leaving you great reviews, asking you to attend their events and contacting you for information about your next book. Don’t let it go to your head. I’m an avid reader so I know an author is only as good as their next book.
Michelle: Please let us know how we can follow, get in touch with and/or learn more about you.
Monica: You can visit my website at www.MonicaMathisStowe.com. I’m on Twitter @MMathisStowe and Facebook @ Author Monica Mathis-Stowe.
“Where Did We Go Wrong Again?” Synopsis:
The most anticipated sequel of the year…Where Did We Go Wrong? left readers asking, “Who got shot?” Where Did We Go Wrong Again? continues immediately after the shooting. One of the beloved central characters is critically wounded and another is murdered. The bonds of friendship and love are tested after the tragedy causes all involved to make irrational decisions that complicate their lives even more. Nothing will ever be the same as everyone is forced to make monumental, life-altering decisions. Can relationships be salvaged in time to help one another through the consequences of poor judgment?
Monica Mathis-Stowe is a native of Washington, D.C., and a graduate of Nyack College with a degree in Organizational Management. When she’s not pounding the keyboard crafting her next novel, she works as an investigator in the metropolitan Washington area.
At age ten, she was introduced to the world of romantic fiction by an older cousin who worked at a local library, and it was “love at first read”–She simply couldn’t get enough. Reading for fun opened her mind to a whole new world.
As a teenager, she decided to become a writer on a hot, summer day while reading and sweating profusely in her bedroom. She had just finished reading a chapter where the author described a ski resort in the mountains so vividly, she got up from her bed and looked out her bedroom window expecting to see snow and feel frigid temperatures. She wanted that power. The ability to make people feel and experience life through her words and stories.
Instead of just reading novels, she studied them, determined to join the ranks of the many published authors whose work she enjoyed. A few of her favorite authors include Jackie Collins, Terry McMillan, Mary Higgins Clark and Carl Weber. She enjoys reading all genres, but her favorite is contemporary and romantic fiction with strong, independent women as lead characters.
Her novels describe the drama in relationships among families, lovers, friends, and colleagues. She likes to take her readers on a roller-coaster ride of emotions that will make them laugh, cry, gasp, think, and question people and the actions and decisions they make.
Her first novel, Where Did We Go Wrong?, is scheduled to hit bookstores in April 2012. In the meantime, she is busy at work on future novels. There is nothing more exciting to her than creating a fictional world with flawed characters who take over her mind and tell her how they want the story to play out.
Monica is a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA) and several writer’s networks and groups.
She currently lives in Prince George’s County, Maryland, with her brave, sexy firefighter husband and their loving, handsome son. In her free time, she travels as much as she can, but when she’s home, she’s surrounded by her family and friends who live nearby.
Life is good!