Monday, July 12, 2010

Welcome to Margo Candela!

Margo and me at the Sacramento Public Library Authors on the Move fundraiser which is hands down one of my favorite literary events of

the year. The booze flows free. The food rocks. You're surrounded by fabulous authors. It's a complete gas.

Today I'm thrilled to present Margo Candela. I met Margo several years ago at a gathering of Bay Area Chick Lit writers (this was when it was okay to call yourself a chick lit writer and not, say, a writer of post-feminist humorous literature). She's charming, witty and disarmingly pretty. Her newest book, Good-bye To All That, is being released TOMORROW by Touchstone. Publishers Weekly says that Margo "combines a cunning wit with a deep understanding of the office politics specific to the entertainment industry to create a frantic atmosphere and a near breathless momentum as the story barrels toward an ending that's anything but your focusgrouped happy fade-out."

Congratulations, Margo! Welcome, to Drunk Writer Talk. As always, the first thing we want to know here is what's your favorite drink?

I'll drink anything fruity. It's sad, really, how junior high my tastes are.I cried when I heard Zima was no longer going to be made. It delivered the alcohol and the fruity in one beautiful bottle. I should have stocked up. My new thing is the exact opposite of a drinky drink-- ice water. Worse yet, I've recently discovered ph balanced/enhanced water. While it tastes just like normal water, at $2 a bottle I'm sure it's much better for me.

This is the point where Maureen usually says something witty and funny about our guest's drink choice. But seriously, Margo? Zima? We live in CALIFORNIA, girlfriend! As God is my witness, next time we're together, I'm bringing you a bottle of Scribner's Bend Symphony. That's give you fruity, but in a good way. Now . . . tell us a little more about Good-bye To All That. Thisis your fourth novel, but your first set in Los Angeles rather than SanFrancisco, right? Why the locale change?

It was time for a change both in my writing life and in my real life. We moved back to L.A. in 2005 and while I truly miss San Francisco, Los Angeleshas opened up all sorts of writing possibilities for me. People are not like folks in the Bay Area. I'm still just enough of an outsider to be able to appreciate the differences. I visit San Francisco any chance I get and my

third novel, More Than This, is my version of a love letter to the city.

Good-bye To All That takes place inside the entertainment industry. What kind of research did you do to learn about what takes place behind all those closed doors?

People love to talk about their jobs and it wasn't hard to get friends who toil away at the kind of job Raquel, the main character, has to open up about their days. Names have been changed and situations have been fictionalized as I'd never sell a friend out even though I heard some juicy stories. Raquel's job and experiences are amped up and sometimes cleaned up versions of what I heard. For me, office politics are as interesting as the dynamics between family members and in this book I got to explore both.

I always find that each book has something specific that endears it to me. What's the special little something in this book that makes you love it?

I love that Good-bye To All That is honest. I'm not trying to sell anyone on a fantasy of what it's like to work in Hollywood. Not everyone can have a glamorous job that's worthy of half hour reality show. The truth is, someone has to do the filing and the fetching. Raquel takes her job very seriously and she expects her hard work to pay off, but is confronted with the consequences of her choices. Good-bye To All That may not have a happy ending, but it has a hopeful one. It was the best and most honest one for the book and I'm proud I had the guts to write it as such.

What's next for you?

I recently adapted my second book into a screenplay and I'm also working on my next novel which, yes, will be set in L.A. Mostly, I'm just seeing where life takes me. Some days it takes me to my local Target where I aimlessly wander the aisles and that's okay. I like Target. The people are friendly and the bathroom is always clean.

And now my little drunklets, we have a special treat! We'll choose one lucky commenter to win a copy of Good-bye to All That. Come on, you know you want a copy of the book that the LA Times put on its summer reading list!


Maureen McGowan said...

The dingo ate my baby again!!! I can't seem to post a comment.

Maureen McGowan said...

Okay, and then there it is. Some days I hate blogger.

Oh, well.

Stephanie Doyle said...

Margo, welcome!

So tell us how is this book being shelved? Now that chick-lit is the equivelent of a 4 letter word in publishing I would be curious how you transitioned yourself? Did the writing change? Or did you just put a different spin on it when selling?

Margo Candela said...

I miss Zima, but my productivity would take a serious hit if they started making that stuff again. I really miss SF but the move to LA was the right thing for the family, if you can believe it. (The kid wanted a dog and I wanted free babysitting from my family). My next book will also be set in LA and I'm using it as massive tax write off.

Margo Candela said...

I keep writing the same thing and let my poor editor figure out how to pitch it to the sales team. But I have noticed that some people have an issue with women writing funny, entertaining novels that don't necessarily end with a ride off into the sunset. As I'm allergic to horses and avoid that hour of the day, I'm kinda screwed on both counts.

Molly O'Keefe said...

Margo - I am so sorry I wasn't here earlier to defend you against the Zima haters! I drank my fare share of Zima and yes, it did taste like 7-up but made the world beautiful for a few hours in a way 7-up could only dream.

Your books sound fabulous Margo - I like anything that barrels towards an ending... welcome and I hope Los Angeles treats you and your family well!

Sinead M said...

I can't say that Zima ever really ended up on my preferred drinks list..

But the book sounds great, and right up my alley. Cannot wait to read it.

Margo Candela said...

Sinead and Molly:
I imagine that reading the book while drinking Zima would be an ideal combination, but I'll never know. The world is a far less sweet and drunk place since Zima was discontinued.

Sinead M said...

Margo, have you tried Strongbow?

Margo Candela said...


I haven't tried Strongbow. I'll put a six pack on my birthday list!

Molly O'Keefe said...

Margo - how was the process of writing a screenplay of one of your books? Was it learn as you go? And if so - what did you learn?

Or is that part of your background?

jeff7salter said...

Your stories sound very entertaining and your (interview)answers are witty.
Do you have a serious side?
Does it emerge in your novels?
[Sorry, I have not read one of yours yet].

Margo Candela said...


Adapting your own novel into a screenplay is highly inadvisable. The only way I was able to do it for Life Over Easy was because all the sentimentality over having written the novel had been beaten out of me. It's a completely different mind set and process, but I finally have a proficient beginners mastery of it. I read many, many books, wrote many, many drafts until I finally figured out a system that worked for me.

Same thing with writing a novel...but different.

Margo Candela said...

I think Eileen would out me as being kind of shy. (When we attended a Sacramento library event, I was basically holding onto the hem of her dress the whole time.) I have a good sense of humor, but I'd never laugh out loud at a funeral. Unless it was a funny one.

My novels deal with serious themes (family turmoil, self-identity, divorce), but with humor. I think shrinks call it a defense mechanism. That being said, I have written a novel that isn't ha-ha funny which might explain why it's been sitting on my editors desktop for months.

Chris Bailey said...

Margo, I'm charmed by the book review and your follow-up answers. (Wine is good, but I work better with Propel.) Going to try to find the book today!

Joy N. Hensley said...

Margo--sounds great! As an aspiring author I love reading about other writers' inspirations. Keep up the good work!

Margo Candela said...

This is fun for me because, usually, it's just me talking to me, but not out loud. Sadly, over the years I've become predictable so I know what I'm going to say before I say it.

I haven't had Propel but I'd be willing to give it a test drink. If only in the name of consumer science.

Margo Candela said...

I still think of myself as an aspiring writer. You just never know with each book how it's going to turn out or if its any good.

Well, that's a downer of an answer. Let me end on this note, I enjoy (immensely) what I do and feel very lucky to have been able to see four of my novels published. Wait, that's still kind of a downer...

Eileen said...

Yep. Margo's shy. It often surprises me, because in writing she's so funny and fresh and bold. She wasn't exactly holding onto the hem of my dress, but I was sort of squiring her around like my date at the library event. Of course, I hit the bar within about two seconds of arriving which might explain why I was wheeling around the room like that. :-)

Ken Woychesko said...

Great interview! I was wondering if Margo had a good "first sale" story that she wanted to share?

Also: there's a time and a place for all beverages, including Zima. Personally I think Mike's Hard Lemonade makes for a good summer breakfast on the deck. ;-)

jeff7salter said...

I was stationed in Sacramento for about a year in th early 70s (at McClellan AFB ... now closed) and I spent about 29 years in librarianship.
So, we're practically cousins!
Yes, I understand being shy in one context, while writing with 'brass'.
It sounds like you've achieved a wonderful blend in your books.
You sound like a hoot.
Where I come from, that's a compliment, by the way.

Margo Candela said...

Eileen is a hoot, a kind and thoughtful hoot.

Margo Candela said...


My first sale story is all about the internet and insomnia. My editor was up way too late one night late 2005 or early 2006 and stumbled upon my website. It was a very rinkydink self designed site that I dumped as soon as I could afford to hire a pro web designer. But it had the basics about me and what I was writing.

I woke up that morning not expecting much out of anything and then saw her email. About a month later, she called me to tell me that an official offer had been made. That was four books ago and it's my sincere hope to work with her on book five. She's a wonderful editor and a good person. I'm very lucky that she had insomnia that night.

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