Welcome to Readers Write to Know! I asked you, my readers, what questions they would ask their favorite authors if given the chance, and the authors visiting my blog answered them! This week, I am so pleased to have Gail Pallotta as my guest. My mom’s mom used to go to her hair stylist – Charlene – every Thursday. I remember when I got my first perm when I was 13 and how grown up I felt having my hair “done” by Charlene just like grandma. When I started writing, my grandma and Charlene were two of my biggest fans. Listening to Gail talk about the inspiration of her latest novel really brought about a feeling of nostalgia for me. It sounds so fun! Read on to see how you can enter to win a copy!
Tell us a little bit about yourself. I’m a wife, Mom and swimmer who loves beach sunsets and God. I like to bargain shop with my daughter because we have fun talking about everything under the sun while we try on clothes. We usually spend several hours and come away with one purchase each. I also enjoy writing and am humbled and honored as a 2013 Grace Awards finalist, a Reader’s Favorite 2017 Book Award winner and a TopShelf 2020 Book Awards Finalist. I’ve published six books, poems, short stories and several hundred articles. Some of my articles appear in anthologies while two are in museums.
I’d like to thank Hallee for having me and to wish everyone a Merry Christmas filled with many blessings.
Tell us about your current release. My mother’s beauty shop inspired Hair Calamities and Hot Cash. It doubled as a social center, counseling service and gossip mill while hair flew. It takes on the camaraderie of my hometown and many other yesteryear American communities where residents treated every sickness with casserole dishes. They squabbled, broke confidences, offended, and irritated one another. They had close friends, acquaintances and folks they avoided, but they respected each other and stuck together in a crisis. In the event of a huge catastrophe, such as a fire, everyone came to the rescue of the unfortunate family whether they were close friends, acquaintances or someone to avoid. They were one of God’s children to be honored and cared for.
I wanted to recreate that spirit of community in Hair Calamities and Hot Cash. It seems even more important today than it did when I wrote the book. In the story New York stockbroker Philip Wells crashes his rental car into Eve Castleberry’s beauty shop in Triville, North Carolina. On the same day the young widow’s defective hair products cause wild hairdos. Philip’s attracted to the distraught top-notch hairstylist and asks her out. She starts dating him, but stops because she falls too hard for a wayfarer who’ll leave and break her heart. When there’s another catastrophe in the shop, Philip comes to Eve’s rescue and convinces her to go out as friends. Later he solicits her help to find the thieves who stole his client’s cash. Then they trail two of the FBI’s most-wanted criminals. Romance blossoms amid danger, suspense and Eve’s hair-brained plan to get back the money.
What is the first major news headline that you can remember and what do you remember? Sadly, it’s “God Is Dead.” I saw it in the 1960’s, and thought “No, God’s not dead, but whoever wrote this is.” Unfortunately, from then until today signs an evil force in our society seeking to destroy Christianity stick out to me like red flags. However, God’s still not dead.
What inspired you to start writing, or did you always want to write? I’ve written stories as long as I can remember, but I didn’t consider it seriously until I took a professional writing course in college. I learned I could probably make a living working on a newspaper or magazine, at an advertising company or in a public relations department. That’s what I did for many years. When I married and started helping my husband with his business, I sent out freelance articles, but I’d always wanted to write a book. When he semi-retired and my daughter left for college, I decided to try it. However, I didn’t actually start working at it until later when I joined American Christian Fiction Writers.
How did you determine whether to self-publish or seek a traditional publisher? That was easy for me because I’m horrible with computers. After formatting a novel and a book of poetry, I was pretty convinced I needed a publisher. Then, I tried creating a cover and that sealed the deal. I’ve considered paying for a cover and trying it again, but I haven’t braved that yet.
Do you have your plotline and character development already laid out before you begin writing a book, or do they develop as you write? A little of both. I create a brief outline for the plot and write character sketches. Then I write my characters into a few situations to get to know them better. However, as I work on the book the plot changes and the characters grow.
What is your preferred method of writing? That’s an interesting question. I started out writing scenes, possibly even a chapter or two of a book on paper, but as I got more familiar with the computer I wrote more and more with it. Now, I only use paper and pen for the initial outline and character sketches.
Who were some of your favorite authors as a child? Of the books my mother read to me, I most enjoyed The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. As a teen, I loved the Nancy Drew mysteries by Carolyn Keene. My father read Aesop’s Fables to me anytime I was sick. I especially remember looking forward to them during the mumps and measles, and I read the classics, including Pride and Prejudice and Anne of Green Gables. My grandmother sent Zane Grey westerns.
I’m always intrigued by how writers get started…did you always have these books inside you and knew that you wanted to write them or did the idea just pop in your head one day and you decided to put pen to paper? I usually see, hear or experience something that catches my eye, or my heart. Later if I ponder it from time to time, I’m likely to write about it. For instance, while I’m a fan of healthy competition, which pushes us to do our best and often achieve more than we thought we could, I’ve had the misfortune of knowing young people whose inability to cope with being less than number one resulted in devastating results. They range from youngsters who had difficulty coping because they didn’t come in first in a race or receive all A’s to young people who attempted or committed suicide. The drive seemed to originate from different sources, parents, siblings, peers or within. After seeing this, I kept thinking young people needed to know they don’t have to be number one for God to love them. He’d given each of them a gift or gifts to use for Him. There’s a huge difference in doing one’s best and having to be the best. This eventually became the theme for my teen novel, Stopped Cold.
Here is where you can find Gail online:
Website – http://gailpallotta.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/AuthorsandMore
Blog – https://gailpallotta.blogspot.com
BookBub – https://www.bookbub.com/profile/gail-pallotta
LinkedIn – https://www.bookbub.com/profile/gail-pallotta
Gail is giving away a copy of Hair Calamities and Hot Cash to a reader! See below how you can enter to win:
Gail, what a great interview. I love your statement about doing your best as opposed to being the best. Great wisdom for those of us who write. And I also loved Nancy Drew books. I wanted to be her.
Thank you for coming by. I wanted to be Nancy Drew too. (:
Wonderful interview, Gail. Merry Christmas to you both.
This book sounds good, and like it has a lot of humor and heart. Thanks for sharing about it! I also appreciate what you are saying about competitiveness- more people truly need to think about it in a positive and inspiring way like you do.
Hope you have a happy holiday season!
Thank you for coming by and reading about Hair Calamities and Hot Cash. It was a fun book to write.
Wishing you blessings for the season.
Thank you for sharing this interview. I really enjoyed learning about Gail and discovering a book I want to read.
Thank you for stopping by. Merry Christmas to you also.
Thank you for coming by to learn about Hair Calamities and Hot Cash. I hope you will enjoy it. It was a fun book to write.
Oh, what memories you stirred of an old fashioned beauty shop/community watering hole. Those were great times!
Thank you. I’m glad the post brought back some good memories. I agree, they were great times.
Thanks for the nice post and Merry Christmas!
Thank you for stopping by and Merry Christmas to you as well.
My publisher created the cover and I agree. I think she did a great job.
Thank you for stopping by to read about Hair Calamities and Hot Cash.