Review & Author Interview: PERFECT TIMING by Laura Spinella
Release Date: November 5, 2013
There’s rock, there’s a hard place, then there’s Aidan & Isabel
What’s a Jersey girl to do when she moves to Catswallow, Alabama? Isabel Lang finds the answer in friendship, an unlikely bond with the musically gifted Aidan Roycroft. The two share everything from a first kiss to startling family secrets. But when Aidan is accused of a violent crime, the inseparable pair flee to Las Vegas. The move seems like a jackpot win as a long-awaited romance ignites and a major recording label offers Aidan a deal. But Vegas luck doesn’t last when circumstance interferes and Isabel’s future comes tumbling down.
Seven years later the past is history. That includes any yesteryear bond with Aidan Roycroft—an entity better known as Aidan Royce, Alabama’s own Springsteen. Isabel is busy running a radio station and closing in on a commitment with Nate Potter, a guy who defines ideal. Life seems cozy until new station management demands a sudden-death ratings grabber. It puts everyone’s job on the line and Isabel’s perfectly timed future in jeopardy. What should be a simple solution leads to a stunning revelation as Isabel is forced to call on the past and the only rock star she knows.
Our Interview with Laura
Hello Laura, Thank you again for agreeing to an interview with Up All Night Book Blog. We look forward to the opportunity to spotlight you on our blog. You’ve recently released the book, Perfect Timing and Nicole loved it! (see her review below)
For someone not familiar with your book, can you give our readers a brief idea of the story?
At a glance, readers will see a romance with a rock star as its protagonist. That part is meant to make the heart flutter and it’s definitely designed to take the reader out of the ordinary. In his element, I think Aidan Royce earns his ovation. But that’s not what this story is about. It’s about the rhythm of lasting friendship, and the beat of a love story subject to incredible odds. It’s about family and figuring out what makes you truly happy, then being brave enough to embrace it. PERFECT TIMING is relationship fiction set to the sometimes extraordinary and always precarious tempo of life.
How did the story for Perfect Timing come to you?
By way of a desk drawer. And by that I mean Perfect Timing was a “trunk novel.” I’d written the rough draft a few years ago. After seeing readers react to the relationship aspects in Beautiful Disaster, my first novel, I knew I needed to open the drawer. In terms of inspiration, I saw a Goo Goo Dolls concert years ago—when I was a lot younger and so were they. I remembered thinking Johnny Rzeznik was so pretty he made your teeth ache. It was just a passing thought, the kind everyone has about somebody like that. In my case, from there, little pieces of this story filtered in, and I started to play the “what if” game. Well, what if a guy like that came from a place where rock star dreams didn’t come true. And what if that guy was in love with his best friend, but could never find the gumption to tell her. What if they were together for a brief moment before circumstance tore them apart, and so on…
In your writing process, do you outline or plot where you want your story to go or is your process more organic with you following the story wherever it takes you?
Oh, I wish I were a plotter. Try as I might, I’ll always be a pantser. When I start a new book, the characters are sketched but not defined, as is the basic premise. Anything can happen from there and usually does. Revision changes everything and then changes it again, so a work in progress is always just that, at least for me.
Perfect Timing is your second novel. How was the experience different/same, more difficult/easier than your first novel, Beautiful Disaster?
Hmm, that’s an interesting question. I don’t know that the writing process was much different. In fact, the evolution of the story and characters were quite similar. My agent, Susan Ginsburg, always makes the biggest difference. When I give her something I think it is fairly finished, she gives it back, letting me know (ever so nicely) that it’s only half-baked. We did this with Beautiful Disaster, and it’s the most difficult part of the process because you’re taking direction from someone else and crafting to their vision. When it came to Perfect Timing, I had an inkling of what was coming, and I really looked forward to incorporating her ideas. Her point of view is singular, and really makes the book. A second novel is more difficult in that a bar has been set and you’re expected to exceed it—to my delighted surprise, Beautiful Disaster was a RITA finalist. That means Perfect Timing has something to live up to. On the other hand, this time around I have much better grasp of the promotional requirements of a published book.
Are some characters more challenging to write and why?
Some characters are more fun to write than others, but they’re all challenging. It’s particularly true for female characters—Isabel in Perfect Timing and Mia in Beautiful Disaster. Women require a precise level of fine tuning. In my mind, mistakes regarding women in stories tend to stick out. They really have to be true to themselves and resonate with the reader. Male characters come more naturally, and I see their complexities as straightforward, obvious. I can’t tell you why, but a good therapist probably could. 🙂 A great example of this is a character in the book I’m currently working on—tentatively titled Color Outside the Lines. Missy Flannigan is not the main character, but she’s the catalyst for all the other characters in the story. Crafting her personality has been like solving a Rubik’s Cube in the dark—her background and present day actions are an intricate mix, getting it all to gel is a challenge. That said, in Perfect Timing, I had the most fun writing Fitz Landrey. He’s the villain and the villains in my books always get the best lines. You can really get away with outrageous things when writing a good villain.
When you write, are there any “must-haves” that keep the creative juices flowing…music, snacks, beverages?
No… no… and yes. I’d never write a sentence if music were playing; I’m not a great multitasker. But I do walk and listen to my iPod while thinking about my characters. No food at the computer. It’s just messy. I’m a morning writer, so hot tea is a must have. I’ll drink four or five cups while writing. On a good writing day, I’m surprised when it’s noon—and hungry!
How are Aidan and Isabel? Any updates on them for us?
I love this question because they do “live on” in my not quite right mind. You know, I think Isabel and Aidan spend time at the farmhouse when they can. But Isabel has adapted very nicely to traveling with Aidan, who’s not as driven as he used to be. (He’d rather play his guitar on the front porch of the farmhouse.) This, of course, has made him an even more successful artist, as fans anxiously await his next album. Patrick ended up relocating to California where he’s dating Geoff, a great guy who heads up Isabel’s West Coast Grass Roots Kids facilities.
Since we read a lot of books that keep us up all night, what are you reading that keeps you reading late into the night?
My nightstand would probably surprise you. I really read around. I just finished Alice Hoffman’s latest, The Museum of Extraordinary Things. I also had a huge dose of romance in that I was asked to judge books for this year’s RITAs. I loved The Rosie Project and I’ve been pecking away at Stephen King’s Under the Dome for about six months now. If the story is good, the genre doesn’t matter, and it will keep me up reading into the night.
Do you have anything in the works that you can share with us?
See the aforementioned Color Outside the Lines. I’m just past the halfway point with the major revisions. It’s the story of Aubrey Ellis, a woman with an extraordinary gift who is determined to live an ordinary life. Of course, extraordinary gifts are hard to shun, and the man in the picture, Levi St John, might very well keep her from doing just that.
Thank you so much for having me! This has been fun, and thank you for featuring Perfect Timing!
Our pleasure, Laura! We loved having you stop by Up All Night!
Nicole’s Review 4.5 Stars
When I read Laura Spinella’s book, Perfect Timing, we were in the midst of a polar vortex. It was the perfect time to curl up in my favorite chair, hot cocoa and book in hand, as I sure wasn’t going outside in that crazy cold!! What a great book to do exactly that! Perfect Timing met all of my “curl up with a good book” criteria. It was funny, sweet, and soft like my blanket! It had great flow, a solid story and characters that I really enjoyed. Perfect!
Isabel Lang and Aidan Roycroft have spent most of their teenage years as something more than just best friends. They are each other’s solace, sounding board and greatest love, though they are too young to really see that in each other. Their friendship is absolute and unconditional. They see each other as they really are. How refreshing! Through flashes from the past and views of the present, we find out what happened when their world tilted on its axis and their absolute friendship and love for each other was shattered. It isn’t until years later, when Isabel has to reach out to Aidan, that their world is righted.
Spinella weaves a story that shifts seamlessly from past to present. In doing so, we get to see both Isabel and Aidan grow up and evolve into more than just characters in a book. It was as if I was watching them grow up not just reading about it. Add in a supporting cast of colorful characters that are funny and insightful, and you have yourself a darn good story!! Perfect Timing is NOT an angst filled romance. It doesn’t have hot, steamy sex. It does have a sweet boy meets girl love story that often has you sighing at its simplicity and honesty. It also has moments of sadness and loss and even betrayal…So don’t think Perfect Timing is a candy sweet story. It isn’t even close. It is a 4.5 star read for me, and quite honestly, one that I will re-read on a cold, winter day with hot cocoa in my favorite chair!
ARC provided for honest review
Read Chapter One of PERFECT TIMING: http://lauraspinella.net/books/perfec…
**BEAUTIFUL DISASTER, RWA RITA FINALIST, BEST FIRST BOOK, 2012!!**
Golden Leaf WINNER Best First Book NJRWA
Golden Quill WINNER Best First Book Desert Rose RWA
Biographies are a tough sell. John Nash, Joan of Arc, Helen Keller—people who led very readable lives, and yet the movies did better. I’ll tell you now, I have no big-screen moments, not even the hint of a Lifetime movie. That said, here we are.
I grew up on Long Island in the 1970s, the daughter of 1940’s parents. I was fortunate to have older sisters. They were more convincing in the part, following rules, politics, and parental advice. I bucked the system. I wanted to be a singer, devastated to learn I couldn’t carry a tune in a trough. Instead, I wrote. This was something I had an aptitude for, something that pressed boundaries, and I liked that. Looking back, my pedestrian childhood was probably a good thing, having spent more time making up stories than anything else.
Life picked up pace as I went off to college, outlining the idea for my first novel, Beautiful Disaster. Interestingly, I wouldn’t write the book for another twenty years. I attended the University of Georgia where I fell in love with a boy, a friend, and the South. It fashioned me into a chameleon of sorts. The North is home, but that evocative place changed me, giving me license and a classroom far beyond J-school where they actually did give me a degree. The South plays an integral role in Perfect Timing as well, though it’s a Jersey Girl who wins the day. I suppose it’s “write what you know,” coming to fruition, and certainly geography has influenced me.
One of my favorite book club questions is, “When did you finally decide to write a novel?” I know there’s a dreamier answer than: “When public education took over childcare.” But that’s the truth. Novel writing is demanding and success is relative. So for now, I’m happy to be in the game and excited for the chance to bring a second novel to readers. An older wiser me says real success is more about heading to my laptop every morning, content and grateful just to be there. In between those marathon writing sessions, Matt and I continue to live with our three exceptional children, two dogs, and two cats in a 100-year old house outside Boston, where there’s always a book in progress.