I'm thrilled to welcome Lorraine Zago Rosenthal back to The Hiding Spot for the second time, as well as feature her third novel. I first talked about Rosenthal's books back in 2011 when her debut novel, Other Words for Love was released. Then, last year, I featured a review of her sophomore novel, New Money, and an interview. Today Rosenthal is back with a new novel, Independently Wealthy!
Independently Wealthy is the sequel to New Money, the book in which readers were first introduced to Savannah. Does this book stand alone or is it important to read New Money first?
I think readers will enjoy Independently Wealthy more if they read New Money first. Reading the first book before the sequel will provide familiarity with the characters, their histories, and their relationships with each other—which evolve throughout New Money and continue changing in Independently Wealthy. Several events from the first book are mentioned in and affect the sequel, so it’s important to be aware of these events to fully understand Independently Wealthy.Although it’s certainly possible for a reader to enjoy Independently Wealthy as a stand-alone novel, I would compare doing so to beginning a TV series—like The Walking Dead—in Season 2. You might still enjoy it, and you might also sympathize with Rick Grimes. But you wouldn’t completely understand him and the other characters—or know why they act as they do and how they ended up where they are—without seeing what they went through in the past. Rick changes in Season 2, and so do his relationships with other characters—but you wouldn’t know that if you didn’t see what Rick was like in Season 1. So—I think it’s always best to experience a TV, film, or book series in order.
What aspect of this novel was most difficult for you to write? Easiest?
Writing a novel is always challenging, so I can’t say that anything was particularly easy; however, one of the most fun parts of writing Independently Wealthy was depicting NYC during the holidays. The story begins right before Christmas, and I enjoyed writing about the decorations, parties, etc. And I would say that the more challenging aspect of writing this novel was crafting the mystery surrounding the death of Savannah’s father.
Tell me a little bit about your writing process: Do you outline? Start at the beginning? The middle? The end?
I don’t create an extensive outline, but before I begin writing I always have a firm idea of the storyline and the major scenes. I usually write down the main plot points in advance. However, the details within that plot often change while I’m writing. I see the novel more clearly while I’m working on it—things tend to come up that I hadn’t planned, and those things usually improve the story. I always write a novel from start to finish. I never jump around in the manuscript because I get to know my characters better if I start from the beginning. Sometimes I’ll think that a character is going to do or say something in chapter ten, and by the time I get there, I find that whatever I was planning isn’t going to work based on that character’s development in the narrative. I do map details about the relationships between characters, but they evolve as I’m writing.
What jobs did you have on your way to becoming a published author? Is there a certain work experience that has shaped your writing or provided inspiration?
I have worked at law firms, where I did a lot of editing and writing—but not creative writing! I have also taught English composition and literature on the college level. I believe that my work experience affected my writing in a practical sense. It taught me to be professional, self-disciplined, and to meet deadlines. When I’m working on a novel, I treat it like a job—which is what it is. I write during regular business hours, but I often work overtime—lots of nights and weekends.
What can readers look forward to next?
I’m always writing, so time will tell!
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