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Behind The Words with Author Nancy Crochiere


Behind the Words sits down with Nancy Crochiere to talk about her latest release , GRACELAND, a multi-generational novel of women, hope and family. Welcome Nancy!

Thank you! It’s a pleasure to be here!

First, tell our readers a bit about yourself. 

I live in a small town north of Boston where, as in the Cheers theme song, everybody knows your name—the bank tellers, the librarians, the police officers. (This has its plusses and minuses.) My husband and I raised two daughters: one is a nurse practitioner; the other is a college professor. Since neither has ever tried to knock over a convenience store, we count ourselves successful parents. My husband and I now keep busy by obsessing over our two grandsons. Important work. Has to be done right.

How long have you been writing and is it your full-time job? If not, what is your ‘real world’ job? 

I’ve been writing since I was ten. I blame my fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Baevsky, entirely. She praised my poem, “A Thermometer’s View of Winter,” and that was that. My career was decided. Even during the many years I worked as a development editor for educational publishers, I wrote. For over a decade I wrote a humor column about family life. Then my girls grew up and I ran out of material. I had no choice but to turn to fiction.

What does your typical writing day look like? 

Oh, how I wish there were a typical day! I get up quite early and think about writing, then realize I need to check email and social media. I sit down and plan to write, but gosh, are we out of milk again? I open a document, but drat, I’d better pay those bills. Finally, when I realize there’s only twenty minutes before I need to leave for spin class: write, write, write, write, write.

Tell us about your latest release. 

Graceland is a humorous and heartwarming novel about a single mom forced to chase her Elvis-obsessed mother and pink-haired teenaged daughter to Memphis to stop them from revealing her long-held secret. It’s being published by Avon/HarperCollins on May 30, 2023.

What inspired the idea for this book? 

I was a shy child who longed to be more outgoing and ebullient—someone like my older sister, who regaled my parents with funny stories at the dinner table. I wanted to write a novel that centered on this deep need to please others, often at the expense of our true selves. So Graceland became, at heart, a story about identity: the tug between who we truly are and who we want to be—or, perhaps more often, who we feel others want us to be. All the main characters grapple with this issue on their road trip to Memphis.

Which of the characters do you relate to the most and why? 

I have three protagonists—a single mom, Hope, her teenaged daughter, Dylan, and her flamboyant soap-star mother, Olivia. I relate best to Hope, the introvert and people pleaser, who has always longed to please her mother in the way that her older sister, Beth, did.

Would you and your main character be friends? 

Hope and I would definitely be BFFs, and I adore Hope’s best friend, George, who proudly cross-dresses as Jordan. I’d have more trouble with Olivia and Dylan because they are so direct and opinionated. But they also bring the party.

What part of the book was the hardest to write? 

With my two daughters grown, I’d lost touch with teenage slang. I had to hire the daughter of a friend to go through my manuscript and suggest words, expressions, and cultural references that seventeen-year-old Dylan would use.

Did you model a character after someone you know?

Jordan, Hope’s best friend who helps chase Olivia and Dylan from Boston to Memphis, is based on an acquaintance I had who cross-dressed. Jordan provides a great foil for Hope, because in the past, she struggled with pleasing people, but has learned to embrace her true self. Consequently, Jordan is in a unique position to push Hope to do the same.

If you’re planning a sequel, can you share a tiny bit about your plans for it?

No sequel plans. I’m writing another novel, but that’s classified information. (Which, as we’ve all learned, means nothing…)

Could you share one detail from your current release with readers that they might not find in the book? Perhaps a juicy bit of back-story, or something only you know about a character?   

Olivia, who played a TV soap-opera villainess for over thirty years, had a famous date with Elvis after his 1970 L.A. Forum concert. What happened on that date…well, discretion prevents me from saying. But the book gives hints.

Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write?  

I love snappy dialogue. As such, I’m a huge fan of Richard Russo, Gabrielle Zevin, and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin.

Any writing rituals? 

I pray a lot. To the writing gods. Please don’t make me have to rewrite this paragraph again….

What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel? 

Straight Man by Richard Russo. I’ve never recommended it to anyone who didn’t love it. If you don’t laugh at the scene where Hank is stuck in the ceiling crawl space, we can’t be friends.

Do you have a secret talent readers would be surprised by?  

I’m not sure that this qualifies as a talent, exactly, but I sometimes act as an extra in Boston-based movies and TV shows. We don’t get to chat up the “stars,” but it’s given me a wonderful opportunity to stare unencumbered at Bradley Cooper’s backside.

Your favorite go to drink or food when the world goes crazy!  

Pinot Noir and chocolate in winter. Sauvignon blanc and chocolate for summer. In a pinch? Straight chocolate.

And what is your writing Kryptonite? 

My iPhone, social media, and an obsessive need to respond to email immediately.

What is the one question you never get ask at interviews, but wish you did? 

Q: How in the world did you manage to write such a brilliantly plotted, witty, heartwarming, novel that also includes great topics for book groups discussion?

A: Aww, shucks. Thanks for that question, Mom…

HAHA! That was fun Nancy! Thank you for joining us today. 

Readers, GRACELAND is releasing TODAY! Here’s a look:::::

People-pleasing Hope Robinson can’t seem to please anyone lately–not her slogan-spewing boss, not her pink-haired teenage daughter, and especially not her mother, the flamboyant soap-star, Olivia Grant. Olivia loves Elvis more than Jesus, and now that she’s on oxygen, she insists Hope take her on a final trip to Graceland. Unfortunately, that’s the one place Hope can’t go. Eighteen years earlier, pregnant and distraught, Hope fled Tennessee with a secret agreement: to never reveal her baby’s father and never return to Memphis.

Olivia, though, has never learned the word no. After she wrangles Hope’s impulsive daughter, Dylan, to drive her from Boston to Memphis with the promise of meeting her mystery father, Hope has no choice but to chase after them. She must stop them before they ambush Dylan’s father, exposing Hope’s lies, breaking the NDA, and igniting a political and media firestorm.

Along the road to Memphis, as the women encounter former soap actors, free-range ferrets, and a trio of Elvis-impersonating frat boys, everyone’s long-held secrets begin to unravel. In order to become the family they long to be, Hope, Olivia, and Dylan must face hard truths about themselves and one another on the bumpy road to acceptance, forgiveness, and ultimately, grace.

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