Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Welcome Malena Lott!

Attention readers: Another fun book suggestion for Christmas!

Just noticing something. When I blog, I use the word "welcome" a lot. Does that mean I'm a welcoming person? Maybe. But I'm also still behind on my Girlfriend Cyber Circuit posts, but the good news about that is that Malena gets some blog attention long after all the other girlfriends have shown their love.

Malena Lott says Dating da Vinci is a Texas-based version of two of my favorites: Under the Tuscan Sun and How Stella Got Her Groove Back. You can read the first chapter at

The premise:
A young widow, 36-year-old Ramona Griffen, searches for joy with the help of a handsome younger Italian immigrant named Leonardo da Vinci. Her humorous and heartwarming journey takes her on some unexpected adventures of body, mind and spirit as she learns to let go of her grief to make room for a wholly new life.

How did you get the title of your book?
The title came pretty quickly, early on. I love alliteration and really wanted to incorporate da Vinci since he’s the catalyst that starts Ramona’s renaissance. Since publishers have final say, I don’t get too attached to my working title, though. I do like getting credit for this one, though! Of course the book isn’t just about da Vinci and romance is only a part of the story, but I think it’s catchy and hopefully it will catch people's eye to learn more about the book.

What pulled you into this story, and as a writer made you think ‘I have to write this’?

 What do you consider the heart of your story?
Women, especially mothers, tend to put themselves last on the list. I wanted to share the story of someone who has lost the love of her life and has focused on just “getting by” each day, but is ready to find a way to be joyful again, even through the pain. The heart of the story really is, is there love after death, and the courage it takes to not only survive but to build a great life again.

How do you come up with the names for your characters?
I spend a great deal of time with character names, even when I snatch them from real life. I used a lot of word play in Dating da Vinci. For Ramona Elise Griffen, you can pull “Mona Lisa” and “Grief” from her name. Leonardo is of course named after the real da Vinci and shares a lot of common traits with the genius. Pretty much all the characters have meanings in their names since Ramona is a linguist and it fits with the theme of the book.

How do you go about choosing a setting for your novel? Does it, like New York in Sex and the City, almost play the part of another character in the book, or could the plot be transported to another setting and work?

Picking the setting is one of my favorite parts of brainstorming upfront, because I do think it's so important. I selected Austin, Texas as the setting for Dating da Vinci because I wanted a college town and Austin is the home of UT (rival to my beloved Sooners), because I needed Leonardo da Vinci to be in America on a student visa and Ramona is finishing her Ph.D. And I've actually been there several times, so that helps, too.

Any tried and true tricks for beating procrastination?
I have to say, I'm pretty lucky. Hugh (Jackman) typically promises a shirtless steak dinner (him, not me) if I meet my word count goal. If that's not enough motivation, Brad's aromatherapy massages usually get me in the mood, though sad to say, it's not for writing. Heck, usually my imagination can trick me into getting back on the laptop to write away into the sunrise. Like, "finish this and you'll be as famous as Sophie Kinsella and you'll never have to buy groceries again and you can spend all your time lounging on the beaches drinking frozen Flirtinis!" I'm so easy.


Carleen Brice said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
shelia said...

Good interview. My book list is getting long. I will be adding this one too my list.

Malena Lott said...

thanks for hosting me! Happy holidays!