Today I would like to introduce you to a wonderful novel, Moon Over Alcatraz by Patricia Yager Delagrange. Before you read my review, let’s get to know the author a little bit. Patricia, welcome to Novel Moments.
Patricia, tell us a bit about yourself
I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, specifically in the small city of Alameda (80,000 people). I studied at the University of Madrid for my junior year abroad, transferred to U.C. Santa Barbara where I received my B.A. in Spanish then I went on to acquire my Master’s degree in Education at Oregon State University.
I returned to Alameda where I live with my husband and two children - ages 13 and 17 - and two large 95-pound Chocolate Labs. My horse lives in the Oakland hills with a million dollar view I wish we had here in Alameda.
What keeps you writing?
I love writing. I love creating worlds peopled with characters I’ve created. I never dreamed I’d be an author or that I’d even be able to write an 80,000-word book, but here I am and I’ve done it! After writing my first book I also never thought it would ever be read by anyone other than my daughter and sister. But the editor at Musa Publishing read it and offered me a contract. I will forever be grateful for Musa and their fantastic team of uber-knowledgeable staff, headed by the indomitable Celina Summers. I think what keeps me writing is the hope that I will stir the emotions of those who read my books. When someone tells me they cried or laughed after reading something I’ve written, I know it was all worth it.
Can you tell us a little more about your novel?
Moon Over Alcatraz is a women’s fiction novel about a couple, Brandy and Weston, who lose their child at birth. It centers around Brandy and how she overcomes her depression, struggles with a deteriorating marriage, and other life hurdles. She manages to find happiness because she’s a strong woman who never gives up.
What inspired you to write this novel?
I wanted to explore the experience of losing a child. We’re constantly bombarded with Amber Alerts and news stories about children who are kidnapped and murdered. I cannot imagine going through that and wanted to write about it. But, although it’s never happened to me, I am a mother. I know what it feels like to love a child so much you would die for them. So, I dug very deep to examine just how it would feel if it did happen to me.
How did you come up with the title?
There is a scene at the beginning of the novel where Brandy recalls a night when she and Weston are in their home in San Francisco and they look out the window at the moon over the island of Alcatraz. She’s reminiscing about a time when they were both so in love and happy.
How long did it take you to research and write the novel?
I wrote Moon Over Alcatraz in about three or four months and then the editing (by myself as well as with my personal editor) took another 3 to 4 months.
Is there a certain message you would like readers to get out of this novel?
The message I hope people get out of Moon Over Alcatraz is that no matter what life throws at you, you’re strong enough to break through to the other side and find happiness again. Attitude is everything. If you believe in yourself, you can do anything.
Do you experience writer’s block? How do you deal with it?
Oh, I was so arrogant at first because writing three books just flew out of me. The ideas flowed and I felt I could write forever. Suddenly, after the third book, I was idea-less. I had no clue what to write about. That went on for months. So, I had a long conversation with my personal editor who reads and critiques all my work, and we threw out a bunch of ideas. But, what did it for me was her suggestion that I write a synopsis and chapter outlines after I came up with an idea for the book’s theme. That helped me immensely. I didn’t have to completely stick to the outline but it guided me from start to finish.
Are you a full time writer? If not, how do you make time to write?
I do not work outside of the home. After I got pregnant with my son in 1993 I quit my day job and have been a full-time mom ever since. Then my daughter came home from school one day in 2009 and said her friend asked her why her mommy didn’t have a job. It got me to thinking how I had more time because both of my kids were more independent and in school most of the day. So I went to the Apple store, bought a MacBook, and told myself I was going to write a book.
What does your daily writing schedule look like?
I wake up with my husband’s alarm clock at 5:30 in the morning and get out of bed at 6:30 when he leaves, feed the dogs, wake up the kids, eat breakfast, drive the two kids to school, return home and take a shower and get dressed then sit down and either write or edit or send out query letters in search of an agent. I also spend a bit of time on Facebook and I write a blog every Wednesday, along with following many other writers’ blogs and commenting.
What does your marketing schedule look like?
I spent three months, from February through April of this year, on a blog tour for Moon Over Alcatraz, and I began a second tour on June 4th for three weeks. The only way people can know my book exists is if they find out about me on the internet because Moon Over Alcatraz is in e-book form only.
Which avenues do you use to market your books?
Blog tours, connecting with people on Facebook, reading other people’s blogs and commenting, and I belong to four online writing groups.
What books can we expect from you in the future?
The very first book I wrote, Passing Through Brandiss, will be published sometime later this year by Wild Child Publishing in e-book form only. It’s about a young woman whose husband dies and she takes her young son and leaves the San Francisco Bay Area to escape the haunting memories. As they’re driving through Central California they stumble upon the (fictional) town of Brandiss, near Santa Barbara, and decide to make Brandiss their home. The book has a “happily ever after” but they have to overcome quite a few of life’s hurdles before getting there.
What was your best ever moment as a published author?
My best ever moment I think was when I finished writing my first book. I never truly believed I could do that. I’d never believed in myself up until then. When I finally wrote “The End” I was over the moon.
What other question are you dying to be asked? And the answer is?
A question I’m dying to be asked? Umm...My favorite hobby in the whole world is riding my Friesian horse, Maximus. He’s 1,425 pounds of very dramatic beauty and strength. The most challenging experience of my life has been learning to ride him because I had to conquer a humungous fear of his strength and impulsion. I’m still working on that.
Do you have a message for your readers?
My message would be: if you like romance with a bit more meat to it in terms of hurdles thrown in the main character’s life, women’s fiction is a genre you might want to read. It doesn’t have to have a happy ending, but all my books have HEA’s.
Thank you so much for telling us a little more about you and your novel. I appreciate it.
MOON OVER ALCATRAZ
by Patricia Yager Delagrange
Following the death of their baby during a difficult birth, Brandy and Weston Chambers are grief-stricken and withdraw from each other, both seeking solace outside of their marriage; however, they vow to work through their painful disloyalty. But when the man Brandy slept with moves back to their hometown, three lives are forever changed by his return.
Moon Over Alcatraz was a bittersweet read, in terms of the emotions one feels while reading it. The novel is about a married couple (Brandy and Weston) who were looking forward to a new baby only to discover they can never share the joy of having that baby in their lives. The baby dies and leaves Brandy and Weston crushed and their marriage crumbling. Instead of helping each other through the painful process, they push each other away. Then a great job opportunity for Weston causes them to spend time apart for a few months.
This pulls their hearts even further apart and when they have a chance to speak on the phone, all they do is argue. This causes their marriage to weaken to a point that leads both husband and wife to have an affair. But as secrets don’t stay hidden forever, Brandy and Weston are finally forced to confess what they did. At first they think they are strong enough to swallow what happened and move forward, to forgive and forget. But some things are easier said than done. Despite the deep love they still share and their determination to keep fighting, there are immovable obstacles in the way of their happiness. Can they circumvent those obstacles? Do they even want to? You have to read the book to find out.
I really loved this novel. The story was so deep and the people and settings so real that I felt as if I were watching a movie. I’m often drawn to novels which focus on issues that people deal with in the real world. I also appreciate novels that are more than just a story, they give the reader something to take away. Patricia Yager Delagrange gave me that and more. Patricia, you are a brilliant author and I look so much forward to reading more of your novels.
If you’re a reader debating whether to buy this novel, I encourage you to go ahead. You won’t be disappointed.
Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, I attended St. Mary’s College, studied my junior year at the University of Madrid, received my B.A. in Spanish at UC Santa Barbara then went on to get my Master’s degree in Education at Oregon State University. I live with my husband and two teenage children in Alameda, across the bay from San Francisco, along with our two very large chocolate labs, Annabella and her son Jack.
My horse lives in the Oakland hills in a stall with a million dollar view.
Patricia will award a $25 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour.
follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: http://goddessfishpromotions.blogspot.com/2012/04/virtual-book-tour-moon-over-alcatraz-by.html