Since Tully I have been fascinated by coming of age stories, and since coming to America, I have been fascinated by America.
Tully was all about one place, Topeka Kansas, but in Road to Paradise I wanted to explore a different geography.
What if you didn’t know where your place was?
I had for a long time wanted to do a road trip story but with girls. That story has been done to death with men, and probably with good reason, because girls are a lot more vulnerable on the road, but it is this very vulnerability I wanted to explore—two young girls, Shelby and Gina, reluctant travelers, once best friends but no more, set out right after high school from east coast to the west, on what they believe is a two week journey. Shelby is going to find her mother who abandoned her and whom she hasn’t seen in many years. Gina is going to California to stop her BFF from marrying someone else. Shelby is a planner, a list-maker, and Gina is more of a fly-by the seat of her pants kind of gal. On the way, everything they know about themselves and have come to believe is turned on its head, and nothing is as they have expected or planned after they do the impossible and let a hitchhiker into their little car, who changes the path of their journey and their life.
Road to Paradise begins:
“Do what you like, Shelby Sloane, the bartered bride said to me, smiling like an enigma, just remember, all roads lead to where you stand. Back then I said, what does that mean?
Now I knew.”
Road to Paradise, among many things, is my love song to America, my adopted country, and to the shameless questions of youth—questions that can only be asked in a free country, questions youth doesn’t want to ask, but still desperately wants answers to.
Who am I?
Where is the place on which I stand?
Do I fit?
Who will love me?
Am my myself capable of love?
What is love?
I tell people you write historical fiction because of the TBH trilogy. Then I’ll remember that you don’t write a specific genre. Tully is a saga, Red Leaves is a crime mystery, Eleven Hours is a thriller, The Girl in Times Square is a contemporary love story, Tatiana’s Table is a cookbook. What similarities do they have that make them PS novels? What do you think makes your books different from others in their genre?
I write about things that touch upon my heart. Sometimes it’s a girl in Topeka, Kansas. Sometimes it’s murder. Sometimes it’s the isolation and terrors of pregnancy. And sometimes it’s first love. The similarities are always a certain real-time feel to them, the fullness of dialogue, the flood of emotion, the twisting of conflict that makes choices difficult if not impossible, and a touch of Russian over-the-topness.
(SKIP THIS PART IF YOU’VE YET TO READ TULLY.) Your debut novel, Tully, is like a storm. No, make that a hurricane. It builds up to this climax, lifts you from your feet and then drops you in the ocean to drown! Oh, Tully... I believe Jack is Tully’s uber true love. Why did you have her end up with Robin?
I’m not sure I can answer that in just one sentence. Will there be a spoiler alert for those who haven’t read the book yet?
Sure thing. *SPOILER, SPOILER, SPOILER ALERT!* Ye be warned, heathens!
Here goes. Tully chose to stay with Robin because he was the right choice. The point for her from the beginning was to find her life, her happiness in the place where she did not ever believe she could find either. And Jack was not Tully’s uber true love. Jennifer was.
Oho-kay. THAT I never considered.
Is there a favorite scene amongst your stories? A story that you had the most fun with, the most difficult time, or derived the most satisfaction from writing? Did you model any characters from someone you know in real life? How about the situations they’ve been in? Something you have experienced personally and just had to write about?
This can’t possibly be ALL question number 11. There are like seventy questions in there, all requiring a page to answer.
Heh! :P So sorry, I got carried away—I’m too excited! Actually, if it were up to me I’d ask you just about every question under the sun: from how you got into writing, how many mansions you own—WHEN CAN I VISIT?—to how many pairs of knickers you have and which ones drive your hubby wild. *rarr* But then I realized I should just settle with making this interview different while trying to pretend I’m a professional instead of a gushing cuckoo fangirl. How I failed on the latter... :/ Well, answer any questions you like then...
I will bravely try. I have many many favorite scenes among my eight novels and my cookbook. I love the 50 anniversary scene with the alternate universe in the cookbook. I love Tully falling in love with Jack at Lake Vaquero, I love Spencer and Kristina’s first “date,” I love Lilly falling in love with Spencer at Yankee Stadium. I love Lazarevo in TBH, escape from Sachsenhausen in T&A, and Bethel Island in The Summer Garden. I love the Dinner at Bobo’s scene in the Summer Garden. I love Reno in Road to Paradise. And St. Louis.
I have great trouble and great fun with all my stories. Because the number of drafts required for me to craft a story into something readable is like a number from a horror movie. Tully was draining to write, so was Lily, so was the trilogy. Nothing was harder than the trilogy.
As far as modeling after real people, yes, no, a little from everyone, nothing from anyone, most from me, much made up, some experienced, mostly imagined, felt, seen in the heart.
Are you working on another book right now? Can you tell us what is it about and will you be naming a character Harlot? :D I think you should! Shura would agree! Maybe even if it’s just a beloved cute pet bunny. Or, maybe, you could include a scene with Nutella-covered hot men: my biggest weakness. *drool* At least I’d know you’re thinking of me...
Ha. Okay, in the next book, there will be a Harlot who loves Nutella. Will it be okay if the Nutella-loving harlot is actually both? And yes, I’m starting work on a new novel.
Both Nutella-lover and a harlot? Of course it’s okay; I am that after all, heh. *ahem* Just so you know, with our readers as my witness, I will hold you to your word. *big tacky neon sign flashing here!* DON’T FORGET, PEOPLE; LOOK FOR ME IN PAULLINA’S NEXT NOVEL! SHWING!
Still grinning like an idiot, eheheheh... Erm, is it true you’re writing the screenplay for TBH movie? I have to admit I’m not very keen about the idea of a TBH movie. There is NO WAY it could do the book justice. I fear the movie would butcher the story or a particular scene I love and then I’ve to do the right thing and murder the director. :S Regardless, which actors would you like to see play the characters in the movie? And what will you wear to the premiere? A strapless D&G or a seductive Versace? Perhaps a hot Betsy Johnson with your hair in braids?
You’re right, no movie would or could ever do the book justice. Still, it will be valiant to try, and I shall, this year.
I haven’t thought about casting, but someone tall and dark and young for him, and someone little and cute and blonde for her.
I’m not a D&G kind of gal, and Versace pasties won’t work for me the way they did for JLO. Perhaps Carmen Marc Valvo with Zanotti strappy sandals?
Oooh, fabulous choice.
For our silly questions: have you been naughty or nice last year? Did Santa give you what you wanted last Christmas? What are your new year’s resolutions and/or wishes?
I’ve been excellently both this year. Santa has given me more than I’ve ever hoped for. I’m hoping to finish my TBH screenplay, get biker thighs, finish the next book, kiss my kids a hundred times a day despite vociferous protests.
What are the two things you should never do in bed? *g*
Eat potato chips and snorkel.
Good advice LOL. Paullina, thank you so much for your time. I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank you for your work, and for writing one of the most magnificent, exquisite, GLORIOUSLY EPIC love stories ever told.
Anything you’d like to add?
In conclusion I’d like to say that my main prayer from the time I was little and dreamed of being a writer, through to the years I started writing, to The Bronze Horseman and beyond was this: Please God, let somebody out there feel about this story, these people, this book, half of what I felt when I was writing it, please let this THING move, affect somebody, please let it make SOMEBODY out there cry. Please.
Isn’t it nice to know there is a God?
And thank you.