I was given a sneak-peek of Malena's newest release early in fall, and loved it. (And isn't that a gorgeous cover?!) About the book:
What if you were sure you lived a different life?
Three generations of women. Four secrets. One stage.
When matriarch Maeve Apple receives a letter in the mail that Princess & the Pauper is being remade, she believes she's 25 again and ready to relive her stardom. Meanwhile, her daughter, Bess, is dealing with Maeve's dementia, her own divorce and planning her youngest daughter's wedding, on the Luxe Weddings reality show. Bess' eldest daughter, Kelly, has a secret of her own that could threaten her chance at love again. Curvy Gwen, the youngest, may be the star of Luxe Weddings, but she finds her heart belongs on the stage, attracted by the lights and her co-star, as they search for Maeve's long-lost pauper and the biggest secret of all.
Lott's most romantic tale yet, readers are sure to fall in love with Something New.
And now, a bit about Malena!
Something New features the musical, The Princess and the Pauper—did you grow up performing in musicals and plays? What about this particular musical inspired its inclusion in the novel?
My very favorite movie ever is Mary Poppins - a movie musical, yes, but I didn't get to see stage performances until I was an adult. What drew me to Princess and the Pauper was feeling confined to a life already planned out for you, including being married to the richest knight when the princess was really in love with a pauper so I drew on the original musical plus Maeve's history in 1949 when she starred at Princess and then again in modern day with her granddaughter starring in a luxe weddings reality show. The story is pretty timeless so I think it worked.
Maeve is such a memorable, colorful character; was she inspired by anyone in your life?
When I think of Maeve, I think of my grandmother, her sister, her mother around the table laughing together. They had so much fun. I remember as a child thinking that they were so much more than my label on them. They had opinions and bold personalities. None of them were stage divas, but I think it's great to have a sassafras in the family.
You did such a great job capturing the unique family dynamic between sisters, and I was especially affected by the fresh vulnerability of Bess, as she undergoes dramatic and unexpected changes in mid-life. Did you have any special routine or approach to writing in the voice of characters from different generations?
I'm not sure why, but I did hear each of their voices very clearly in my head, especially as I started the second draft and their individual stories were cemented. As for Bess, yes I felt a special sorrow for both she and Kelly because they were really at opposite ends of the marital spectrum - Kelly swearing she'd stay single forever but wanting a baby and Bess having felt like she was only a mother and wife and caretaker to her mother. I actually think Bess and the gardener Samuel are probably both character studies in my own grandmother, who raised three boys before raising three girls (me and my two sisters.) And she loved to sew and garden, but ever so often she'd say something like, "I always wanted to own a restaurant," and I'd feel panic that she'd leave us for a job and also surprise because I thought she'd be perfectly happy with the household and raising kids. A nice eye opener for me. And as a working mom, I get what she meant. Many women want something outside of the home that they can call their own.
If you could be one character in any book, who would you be?
At this time of the year, I think being Grinch would be pretty cool. Get that gratitude check and have my heart grow ten sizes that day. And I'm dying to meet the Whos down in Whoville.
Cilantro: hate it or love it?
If a chef used it, I'm not gonna kick it off my tastebuds. I do use it occasionally, but I'm a pretty lazy cook so I opt for the already mixed seasonings like "Southwest Spices!" or "5 Fiery Pepper" or "Molasses Bacon" or tonight's seasoning on the pork chops was "Steakhouse Onion." So I don't really know what's inside of all them, I just know it makes stuff taste a bit better.
Thanks so much, Malena; congratulations on the new release!!