GAIL: Welcome, Florence, and thank you for visiting today. You said writing fiction is delightfully different than writing in your corporate career. Can you share with us a more detailed account of the novel and your research for The Coach House?
FLORENCE: The Coach House story begins in 1945 Chicago. Newlyweds Marie Marchetti and her husband, Richard, have the perfect life together. Or at least it seems until Marie discovers cryptic receipts hidden in their basement and a gun in Richard's desk drawer. When she learns he secretly attends a mobster’s funeral, her suspicions are heightened, and when she inadvertently interrupts a meeting between him and his so-called business associates in their home, he causes her to fall down the basement steps, compelling Marie to run for her life. Ending up in Atchison, Kansas, Marie rents a coach house apartment tucked behind a three-story Victorian home and quietly sets up a new life for herself. Richard soon learns her whereabouts and lets her know he is not out of the picture yet, but ironically, it is the discovery of the identity of Marie’s real father and his ethnicity that unexpectedly affect her life more than Richard ever could.
Being a first-time novelist, I was surprised at the amount of research that was required in order for the story to have complete validity, especially when it came to minor details. I can’t tell you how many times I created a scene only to say to myself, “Wait a minute. Were there phone booths back then?” Or “How long did it actually take to go from Chicago to Kansas City by rail?” Or “Would her legs have been bare wearing that dress, or would she have worn hose during that time period?” It was always something. Thank goodness for the Internet and Chicago Public Library.
GAIL: I also spend time at the Chicago Public Library doing research for my first novel. I agree that the Internet and libraries are indispensable in our jobs as writers. Is “the job” the most important part of your protagonist’s life?
FLORENCE: While Marie’s resourcefulness, creativity and discipline may have stemmed from her interior design position at Marshall Fields, it was the self-examination of her true self that forced her to let go of old conventions to forge new, healthier ones.
GAIL: Years ago, not quite as far back as 1945, I would stand in front of the Marshall Fields window in Chicago’s Loop and watch the window dressers at work. For many, the change of decoration was a form of entertainment. With so many books on the market, both in print and eBook format, what unique twist makes your novel, The Coach House, stand out?
FLORENCE: The protagonist lives the first twenty-four years of her life as white. She has no reason to believe she is anything but white--she has the same dark wavy hair and olive complexion as her late Italian-born mother. But when she discovers the identity and ethnicity of her real father, that changes everything. After all, how do you go from one day being white and the next day realizing you’ve been living a lie?
GAIL: How does your main character’s ethnicity draw her into suspenseful situations?
FLORENCE: Marie avoids telling Richard suspicions about her father until which time she has all the facts, so when he starts pressuring her to start a family, she doesn’t know what to do or say to him. She has dreamed of having a family her whole life, that is until she questioned her ethnic heritage. And then finally, when Marie confirms her true ethnicity, she is faced with what to do. She contemplates the potential consequences of adopting a new identity, how it will change her life and her choices. Confused and afraid, she vacillates between facing the issue head-on or keep living the lie.
GAIL: Is this book part of a series, and are you working on a sequel?
FLORENCE: The sequel to this book is titled, “Daughters,” and it is currently in production. I hope to have it released in the fall of this year. I’ve left it open to make it into a series, but whether I do that or not will depend on reader interest.
GAIL: This isn't so much a questions as an “if/then” scenario: If Paris is not an option, then where would you most like to spend your time writing and why.
FLORENCE: I LOVE living in downtown Chicago and have found there to be no shortage of inspiration here—the beautiful and interesting lakefront, wonderful parks, remarkable culture, and an endless source of intriguing characters. No…I think I prefer to stay right here.
Again, I want to thank Florence Osmund for visiting today and for sharing an insightful view of her novel, The Coach House. For more information on this Chicago based author and her novel, please visit her Internet sites: