Welcome to The Secret Sisters Club Audio Book Tour! Saddle up and get ready for a rollicking ride in this enchanting tale of two scheming country girls who want nothing more than to become sisters.
I was honored to interview the author, Monique Bucheger, about the book and her writing process. Read through her answers, then enter the giveaway below for your chance at some cool prizes!
Twelve-year-old BFF’s Ginnie West and Tillie Taylor, want to be sisters. Ginnie’s widowed dad plus Tillie’s divorced mom could equal a lifetime of round-the-clock girl talk and slumber parties. Too bad Dad vowed to never marry again.
Ginnie and Tillie come up with the perfect scheme to change his mind: ‘Operation Secret Sisters’ (aka OSS). After all, if they can’t get Dad to move on, Tillie can’t move in.
An Interview with Author Monique Bucheger
Growing up, was there a particular book or series you adored?
My favorite books growing up were anything by Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume, Laura Ingalls Wilder and Louisa May Alcott.
What is the first book you read that made you cry?
The first book that I remember making me cry was Bridge to Terabithia. I was Leslie as a kid, my imagination worked like hers. When she died, I was devastated. It took awhile to comprehend that kids could actually die. That really shocked me.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
My favorite under appreciated novel is: In The Company of Angels by David Farland. It’s an incredible book about pioneers traveling west by foot pushing wooden handcarts that held all of their belongings. The courage, faith, loyalty, perseverance shown is inspiring. It is based on real people in their real journey. It is historical fiction at its finest. You travel with them through their tough times, crying with them through their sorrows, rejoicing with them as tender mercies and miracles happen. People finding strength to persevere against all odds. This book shows humanity at its finest–and occasionally at it’s worst, but the unconquerable human spirit wins out in the end–even as the company faces many trials and tribulations. I couldn’t put it down–reading consecutively from beginning to end. I love stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
When did you first know you wanted to become a writer?
I knew I would become an author as a tween. As a teen, I had an amazing teacher, Mrs. Johnson, who told me outright that I needed to be an author. She wasn’t happy that I became engaged just before my 18th birthday. When I asked her why she wasn’t happy for me, she rolled her eyes and said “I was too smart to get married that young.”
When I asked her what that meant, she said she thought I would get married, have a bunch of kids, and not write my books. Then she pointed her finger at me and said, “You need to write your books.”
I promised her I could do it all because I was almost 18. I could be a wife, a mother, and an author. 🙂
She wasn’t impressed. So I promised her that yes I would write the books. It took a few years to keep that promise. But I did. And there’s no going back now. 🙂 And spoiler alert, Mrs. Johnson inspired me so much that I made her a character in my second novel, Trouble Blows West.
How do you select the names of your characters?
I have a fascination with names. Ginnie and Tillie were named years ago. I don’t remember what inspired their names other than I had a friend named Virginia in seventh grade who has beautiful and looks a lot like Ginnie. Matilda was a unique name to me at the time and I liked it.
Recently I met a man named Teverus. I asked him where he got that name and he said his mom made it up. I said it reminded me of a wizard’s name, and I asked him if he would mind me using it as such. He laughed and said “No, that would be really cool.”
So I think somewhere in the future I will have a fantasy novel with a wizard name Teverus. All because I heard a unique name that made a picture in my head.
What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
I think the hardest part of my writing process is to stop thinking about what I want to write and sit down and actually write it. I was a daydreamer as a kid and I would come up with all these cool things in my head. I find if I stop thinking and start writing it comes together well. But I can’t type as fast as I can think. 🙂 So lately I have been trying to talk to text, and then go back and edit because that seems to work better.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
The time it takes me to write a book varies. I will tell you that The Secret Sisters Club was the fastest book I have ever written and published.
I wrote it in two months from start to finish and got a full request shortly after I submitted it to a publisher, on November 1, The first year I had decided I was going to enter NanoWriMo.
For non-authors out there, NanoWriMo happens in November every year. I have never done a NanoWriMo in November. I did write a different book in a month, however. It’s not published and needs some revisions.
Are any of the characters or settings in The Secret Sisters Club inspired by the real world?
Heart of the West farm is set on a real farm I spent a lot of time at as a teenager. I used to babysit for 7 kids raised on that farm and 2 of their cousins that live on Chandler’s Crossing, Toran’s best friend, Austin’s home, in my series.
Ginnie’s mom, Queenie was inspired by the mom at the farmhouse. I loved her personality. She was fearless, outgoing, fun to be around and a little outrageous at times. Those qualities make Queenie a fun character, whom we get to know mostly through her journal entries.
And the most recent fun fact is that the girls on the cover are the daughters of two of the boys I used to babysit for. Gracie (Ginnie) looks like her grandmother, who I base Queenie‘s personality on.
Jessie (Tillie) is her cousin. I can’t tell you how amazing it is to see these beautiful girls on the cover of The Secret Sisters Club. I feel like life has gone full circle. It is mind blowing to me that the little boys I loved so many years ago are grown men with families of their own.
But like Ginnie’s Uncle Ben says, “Sometimes the best family is really friends you choose to be part of your life.”
What was the hardest scene to write in The Secret Sisters Club?
The hardest scene in Secret Sisters Club to write is a spoiler. So the second hardest part is writing in a way that is authentic to Ginnie and Tillie and the emotions they are feeling as the harder parts of their stories are told. When I was 12 years old, 2 of my friends were being abused in their homes. I didn’t know how to help them–because I was 12, I suppose. So I grew up to be a foster mom–and now I write books with a child abuse arc in them–not so much about child abuse–but to let kids know that they can overcome hard things. Tillie is always more timid at the beginning of my books–and always more confident and courageous at the end. I want kids (and adults) to realize that even though they can’t always change bad things that happen to them–they can choose how to respond and overcome difficult things.
Did you hide any “Easter eggs” in The Secret Sisters Club that only a few people will recognize?
I don’t know that I have actual Easter eggs, but I do love a comment one of the boys who grew up in the farmhouse told me once. He said, “I always know where I am in the farmhouse, but it feels like a TV crew has come in and changed out all of the decor of our home.”
Get your copy of The Secret Sisters Club on Amazon!