Victoria Bernadine (a pseudonym) is, as the saying goes, a “woman of a certain age”. After twenty-something years of writer’s block, she began writing again in 2008. She began with fanfiction about a (now-cancelled) TV show called Jericho and particularly about the characters of Heather Lisinski and Edward Beck. From there, she expanded into writing original fiction and she hasn’t stopped since.
Victoria enjoys reading all genres and particularly loves writing romantic comedy and post-apocalyptic science fiction. What those two have in common is anybody’s guess.
She lives in Edmonton with her two cats (The Grunt and The Runt). A Life Less Ordinary is the first novel she felt was good enough to be released into the wild.
AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR
Was the character of Rose "Manny" Mankowski based on anyone you know?
Manny was based on certain characteristics of a variety of people I know, including myself. Those characteristics were then “massaged” (improved or exaggerated or skewed) for the purposes of the story. But there’s no one person I can point to and say “Manny’s based on that person”.
What inspired you to write a story about a woman starting over at the age of 45?
I started writing this story when I was 45 and feeling exactly like Manny at the beginning of the book. I was doing ScriptFrenzy (a now-defunct writing challenge) and I decided to write something that was intended to be purely wish fulfillment. It morphed into something a bit more complex than that!
The second reason I wanted to write this story was because, at the time, I’d also been on a bit of a binge of reading romances and chick lit novels, and I was a bit burned out from all the beautiful young heroines whose biggest concern was the fact that they were still single and in their mid-twenties. Now, don’t get me wrong: I love romances and chick lit, but at the time I just really, really, REALLY wanted to read about a woman I could identify with...so I decided to write it.
What inspired the imaginary friend, Harvey?
Well, I was given a “cast list” by a friend on LiveJournal, and I was trying to think of roles for all the actors on the list. I was fangirling very hard for one of them, so I “cast” him as Manny’s Perfect Fantasy Man, and he was originally intended to be a silent character, just someone Manny would fantasize about along the lines of the Old Spice commercials: “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” - LOL. He was intended to be humorous but also rather sad – an anthropomorphic personification ((tm) Terry Pratchett) of Manny’s emotional isolation.
As the story progressed, however, Harvey eventually changed into someone she truly interacted with, and became the personification of that part (I hope) we all have that’s constantly observing and commenting on things as they occur – and that part of (again I hope) all of us that tends to push us into doing/trying different things.
Tell us about Zeke - what motivates him and why his role was essential to the plot.
Zeke’s purpose at the beginning of the book is to do a job: he’s hired by his e-zine to go on the trip with Manny for the purpose of writing blogs about her journey without her knowledge and drive traffic to the site. His motivations in the beginning are really that basic. He’s not a drifter, but he’s not really connected to anyone/anything either except for his friends, TJ and Leah. The character’s role is to represent that “how others see us” viewpoint, and to illustrate how our first assumptions about people aren’t always correct.
And, of course, he represents a potential “romantic”interest for Manny – it’s light-hearted chick lit, after all! :)
Is there a message in your book for women (or men) who have reached mid-life and find they expected more at that point in their lives?
I wrote the book hoping it would entertain the reader (who was only going to be me in the beginning). That said, if there’s any message at all, it’s the idea that “it’s never too late” to make changes for the better, no matter how old you are. We can’t all quit our jobs and hit the road for six months to decide what we want to be when we grow up, but wouldn’t it be great? :)
What's next for you? Will Manny and Zeke return in a future book?
Yes, I’m currently writing a sequel tentatively entitled A Year in the Life with the goal of having it ready for publication by the end of the year. I’m also reviewing another novel (post-apocalyptic sorta-romance) to determine if it’s worthwhile re-writing, as well as working on a novelization of a science fiction movie script I’d written a couple of years ago.
ABOUT THE BOOK
For the last fifteen years, Rose “Manny” Mankowski has been a very good girl. Now, at the age of 45, she’s questioning her choices and feeling more and more disconnected from her own life. When she’s passed over for promotion and her much younger new boss implies Manny’s life will never change, something snaps. In the blink of an eye, she’s quit her job, sold her house, cashed in her pension, and she’s leaving town on a six month road trip.
After placing an ad for a travelling companion, she’s joined in her mid-life crisis by Zeke Powell, the cynical, satirical, most read – and most controversial – blogger for the e-zine, What Women Want. Zeke’s true goal is to expose Manny’s journey as a pitiful and desperate attempt to reclaim her lost youth – and increase his readership at the same time.
Now, armed with a bagful of destinations, a fistful of maps, and an out-spoken imaginary friend named Harvey, Manny’s on a quest to rediscover herself – and taking Zeke along for the ride.
“All I ever wanted was a life less ordinary.”
Manny lay flat on her back, eyes wide, staring at the ceiling while she waited for her clock to hit 6:00. Another day of work, she thought. Another day older and deeper in debt.
She had the alarm timed to the millisecond. The jarring noise had barely begun when she clicked it off. She sighed then threw back the covers and got out of bed.
She padded into the bathroom, glanced without interest in the full-length mirror that doubled as her shower doors and took her morning inventory.
Plain face? Check.
Looking tired? Check.
Thirty pounds overweight? Check.
Dark circles under deer-caught-in-headlights eyes? Check and check.
She shook her head at her limp, mousy hair and wondered when she’d gotten so old.
She sighed in resignation then conjured up her Perfect Fantasy Man–or Harvey, as she liked to call him–to give her a morning lift. She cocked her head to one side as she stared into the mirror and imagined him standing behind her. She smiled at the handsome man, and he smiled back, putting his hands on her shoulders. Everything about him was warm, in stark contrast to the cold shades of grey in which she lived her life. He had warm brown eyes, warm brown skin, and a warm smooth voice that always reminded her of golden honey. Today his hair was black with greying temples, and yes, even that seemed warm to her.
He was perfect, everything she considered ideal in a man–and extra-perfect, of course, because he was a fantasy. Just the thought of trying to establish a relationship with an actual man felt too much like work.
She sighed and Harvey disappeared.
LEAVE A COMMENT - AND WIN A PRIZE!
Victoria can be contacted through Love of Words Publishing Inc. () or through her brand new blog at http://victoriabernadine.wordpress.com/.
A Life Less Ordinary is available for sale on Amazon in both Kindle and hard copy formats at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AMJBOSQ.
Victoria will be awarding a $25 (grand prize) gift card with two gift cards for $15 each; the cards would for either Amazon or Smashwords (winner’s choice).
Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: