Ana: Today we have Dee Ernst introducing their novel, "Better Off Without Him". I haven't read this book myself, but Dee was kind enough to agree to guest blog about their book to any readers who might be interested in the subject. Dee, how would you describe your novel to your prospective readers? In broad terms, what is your novel about?
Dee: This book is about Mona Berman, a successful romance writer, wife, and mother, whose husband walks in one morning and announces that he's leaving her for a younger woman. Mona may be crushed, but she's also lucky - she's got great friends and a supportive family who help her make the journey from abandoned wife to triumphant single woman with humor, spirit and dignity. And more humor. This is a funny book.
Ana: What themes does your novel explore and what do you hope the reader will take away from the experience? Is there a particular feeling or experience that you hope to evoke in the reader? Essentially, do you hope your novel will mean to a reader?
Dee: I wanted to write a book about a woman who is NOT twenty-something, skinny, with lots of clothes, but is more real - older, wiser, with a history of work, family and friendships to support her when the going gets tough. I think that sort of experience happens all the time - women of 'a certain age' are tough, funny, and aren't afraid of getting their hands dirty. Pulling yourself up and reinventing yourself happens all the time, and it doesn't have to be the worst thing that can happen - sometimes it's the best thing.
Ana: What prompted you to write this novel and did you have a specific inspiration in mind? Were you influenced by a certain author or work that inspired you to add your voice to this genre? Besides the boatloads of money and rockstar fame, what motivated you to write this book?
Dee: I liked the idea of a writer whose life parallels her work. The original idea was for Mona, a romance writer, to end up writing a non-fiction book, true stories about women who have been left by their husbands but built better lives because of it. Mona's story would then run counterpoint to the stories of those other women. But it was pointed out to me that, in the real world, a non-fiction book like that would take years to write, and I wanted the story set within a certain timeframe, so I changed Mona's book to fiction, but totally outside her usual genre. Then I added the little 'Romantic' flashes to balance her real life and her fantasy life.
Ana: If you could compare your novel to any other existing works, which ones would it be and why? If the one thing you could say to a prospective reader was, "If you like X, you'll love my book!", which work would be invoked so that a reader could judge whether or not your novel is their cup of tea?
Dee: One of my reviewers said my 'voice' was like Susan Isaacs, and I was thrilled, because I've been reading her forever and she's one of my favorite writers. So I feel comfortable with comparing myself to her - without the mystery element. Or maybe Jennifer Cruise without the sex.
Ana: Is this your first or only published work, or have you published other novels? If you have published other novels, how do they compare to this one? Do you have any more novels planned, either as a follow-up to this one, or as a completely different novel or genre?
Dee: This is my third novel written, but the first published. I'm currently working on a sequel to Better Off Without Him, and a Young Adult novel. The YA is for my daughter, because although there are teen girls in my book, none of them were actually based on her, and she was a little upset by that. So the YA is all about Carrie!
Ana: Where can readers obtain a copy of your novel for them to enjoy? How can they contact you with any thoughts or questions? And do you have a means by which they can "sign up" to be notified when your next novel comes available?
Dee: My book is available everywhere: Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Smashwords. And I have a blog where I'll hopefully be posting excerpts of the new books, as well as announcing release dates.
Here's the first chapter - if you don't laugh at least three times, you don't have to buy it!