Award-winning and prolific writer of sharp and funny books, Margo Candela, has a brand new novel coming out on July 13. Good-bye to All That (Touchstone/Simon & Schuster; $14/paper; 1-4165-7135-3) is all about Raquel Azorian, 25, who has spent the last three years working her way up from temp receptionist to full-time administrative assistant and is this close to getting her long-deserved promotion to junior marketing executive at Belmore Corporation, the media behemoth she’s devoted herself to. After proving she has what it takes in a contentious department meeting, Raquel is sure she’ll get her promotion. Instead, her boss suffers a very public meltdown, putting not only his future at Belmore, but also Raquel’s future on the line.
Work life is a mess. And home life isn’t much better. Raquel’s mother has decided to leave her father and move in with her. Now she spends her days boozing on Raquel’s couch and eating all her food. Her older brother is dealing with his own marital problems, her sister-in-law, Cricket, won’t leave her alone, and Raquel is forced to be the family’s intermediary.
Two men seem poised to change all this, however. Raquel begins sleeping with Belmore Vice President Kyle Martin, and discovers the very marketable hunk, Rory Tilley, from the little known film Fire House Hero. Raquel hopes that her relationship with Kyle and the unearthing of Rory will put her back on the fast-track to corporate stardom. But the clash of her personal and professional lives pushes her to the breaking point—starting over may be the only way out.
Margo's first novel with Touchstone, More Than This, was chosen as a Target Breakout Book, an American Association of Publishers BookClub selection with Borders Books and Las Comadres in 2008. It was the 2nd place winner for Best Novel in the Romance (English language) category at the 2009 International Latino Book Awards and the Latinidad List’s Best Chick Lit Book of 2008.
Recently Margo took some time out from her break-neck writing and movie-watching schedule to answer a few questions...
Describe your writing process.
There’s no excitement here. Most days of the week, I turn on my computer first thing in and turn it off when I can’t look at it anymore. Some days I do lot of writing, other days none, but I always know where I want to be by setting short and long term goals. Since I spend so many hours a day sitting, I make a point of getting regular exercise, at least an hour a day. As with anything in life, you have to find a balance.
A while ago you made the move from Northern California to Southern California. Any differences in the writing world and the writing life in SoCal vs. NorCal?
San Francisco is definitely much more laid back. I belonged to a writers group and we’d just sit around and chat. It was all very leisurely and more of an ‘enjoy the process and find your voice’ kind of thing. L.A. is different because everyone assumes you write for film or TV. And when they find out you don’t, they come right out and ask why you’re wasting your time on novels. That being said, I was born in L.A. and, while I loved living in San Francisco and wouldn’t mind living there again, this is where I’m from. While I’m not immersed in the TV or movie business, I do feel that there is a different creative vibe around here. It’s more about doing (or at least look like you’re doing something) than just talking about it.
You recently wrote a screenplay adaptation of your novel, More Than This. How was this process different from writing a novel? Would you like to write an original screenplay someday?
I’ve adapted More Than This and my second novel, Life Over Easy, and I recently finished a draft of an original screenplay. For me the difference between writing novels and writing screenplays is like going from writing a bike to a unicycle—same principles, but a different technique to get from point A to B. Script writing requires a whole other skill set that takes time and practice to get comfortable with. It’s not easier or harder than writing a 90,000 word novel, just different.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Besides reading, especially in bed, I love to go to the movies. My biggest guilty pleasure is to sneak away from my desk for a matinee on a workday. I watch a lot of movies and TV. When I’m writing, I usually have something playing in the background. When I was writing More Than This, I had Black Hawk Down in my DVD player the whole time. For Good-bye To All That it was The Departed. By the time I sent the manuscript off to my editor, I could quote entire scenes of dialog.
What and where is your favorite restaurant and why is it your favorite?
At the moment, I don’t have a favorite restaurant, but I’ve eaten some good food. The food scene here in L.A. is nothing like what I took for granted in San Francisco. I’m still trying out places, but nothing has stuck yet. Having easy access to great food is one of the main things I miss about San Francisco. I also miss my friends and being able to just walk anywhere and not feel weird about it. I try to visit at least once a year and all I do is eat, walk and hang out with friends. But it’s not all a bad in L.A. I’ve gotten reacquainted with my mother’s cooking and she’s more than worth the time and effort it takes to drive over to see her.
Thanks, Margo! And congratulations on your latest novel!
Visit Margo at her website: www.MargoCandela.com