Our interview today is with Florence Osmund the author of The Coach House which is rated 4.9 stars on 11 reviews. Before we get to the interview a brief book description: Marie Marchetti has what appears to be the perfect life: she’s beautiful, smart, successful—and recently married to medical equipment salesman Richard, her equal in many aspects. But the idea of creating a perfect family halts abruptly shortly after their wedding. Mistrustful of her husband’s late night phone calls, cryptic receipts hidden in the basement, and the gun in his desk drawer, Marie’s suspicions of something amiss are confirmed when she inadvertently interrupts a meeting between Richard and his so-called business associates in their living room. Enraged, he causes her to fall down the basement steps, compelling Marie to run for her life. Ending up in Atchison, Kansas, Marie sets up a new life for herself as she meets Karen Franklin, a woman who would become her lifelong best friend, and rents a coach house apartment behind a three-story Victorian home. But her attempts at a new life are fraught with the fear that Richard will show up at any time—and who knows what he’ll do?
Interview with Florence Osmund
Q. What inspires you to write? What, in particular, inspired you to write your first novel, “The Coach House?”
A. The love of writing is all the inspiration I need to get up every morning and dig into my current project.
For years before I retired, I thought about writing books later in life, and every time a storyline idea would come to mind, I wrote it down. It didn’t matter when or where. I could be walking down the street and observe an incident and think, “Now that would make an interesting scene in a novel.” Then I’d pull out any little scrap of paper I had on me and make a note. Or I would be at work and someone would say something that sparked an idea. Another scrap of paper.
I collected all these scraps of paper in a box, and when I was ready to start writing, I pulled them all out (hundreds of them), categorized them, and put them into piles. As I was going through this process, a story emerged. And it wasn’t a storyline I had been thinking of before. It was brand new. That was how “The Coach House” was born.
Q. Give us a short synopsis of your book.
A. 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.
Q. What methods did you use to develop your characters?
A. Readers want to connect with the characters, so it’s important to create an image for them early on with at least the obvious–gender, weight, height, age, body build, hair, eyes, posture, voice and clothing. I gradually reveal other traits throughout the story by way of dialogue, actions and internal thoughts, likes and dislikes, their background, values, secrets, mannerisms, speech patterns, thoughts, dreams, opinions, obsessions, IQ, fears, sense of humor, lifestyle, needs, biases, profession, past actions, relationships, habits, flaws, desires, attitude, choices, idiosyncrasies and how they react to situations.
A tool I find helpful for developing characters is the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicators. Developed back in the 1950s when they still called them personality tests, it was used mostly in business for classifying temperament and behavior patterns in people. They identified four continuums of temperament when combined, resulted in sixteen combinations, each describing a person’s behavior. The four continuums are:
- · Introverted-Extraverted
- · Intuition-Sensation
- · Thinking-Feeling
- · Judging-Perceiving
I created a spreadsheet that lists the various personality traits for each of the sixteen types. Then I pigeon-holed each of my characters in one of them. As I’m developing a character I refer to the typical traits of that personality type and weave them into the dialogue or scene. For example, a character in one of my books is an ESTP (extravert, sensing, thinking, perceiving). Myers-Briggs describes this type of person as someone who loves people, gossip, social activities, and entertainment. My character was all that, but what I didn’t know is this type of person is also impulsive and a thought jumper, so I weaved that into the storyline as well.
Q. How do you maintain reader interest?
A. I have learned that it takes many things to maintain reader interest.
- · An interesting plot
- · Compelling characters
- · Conflict, suspense, drama, crisis and/or tension
- · Beginning and ending chapter hooks
- · Adequate pacing
- · Good quality writing
To shortchange your story of any of these elements will likely disappoint your readers.
Q. How much research was required for this book?
A. My book takes place in the 1940s, and I was surprised at how much research was required. In one scene, I had the protagonist going into a phone booth to make a call. Were there phone booths in 1945? Had to look that up. That’s just one of hundreds of little details I had to research.
Q. How long did it take you to write this book?
A. My first book took me almost three years to write, but I must add that at the end of that time period, two books emerged from my efforts.
Q. You’re a first-time novelist. How can you help other new authors get started?
A. I offer a substantial amount of new author advice (advice I wish I had had when I first started writing) on my website http://www.florenceosmund.com. My foremost advice is to educate yourself on how to write good prose before you start—it will save a lot of time in the end. There is no shortage of advice on the Internet, in books and in classrooms.
Q. What is your current project?
A. I am currently finishing the sequel to my first book. Titled “Daughters,” the sequel picks up where “The Coach House” left off when the protagonist is packing for a two-week visit with her newfound father and his family.
Q. Where do you write? Describe what you see when you look around.
A. I am fortunate to live in downtown Chicago on Lake Michigan. I have my desk tucked into a bay window where I have full view of the lake, boats and people. There’s something about water I find inspirational.
“A lake carries you into recesses of feeling otherwise impenetrable.” (William Wordsworth, 1770-1850)
Find The Coach House on Amazon