Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Author interview – Bridget Foley – Hugo & Rose

I love bringing debut authors front and center on the forum and today I'm pleased to welcome Bridget Foley whose new novel Hugo & Rose hits store shelves today.

  • ISBN-13: 9781250055798
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 5/5/2015
  • Pages: 352


Rose is disappointed with her life, though she has no reason to be - she has a beautiful family and a perfectly nice house in the suburbs. But to Rose, this ordinary life feels overshadowed by her other life - the one she leads every night in her dreams.
After a childhood accident, Rose's dreams take her to a wondrous island fraught with adventure. On this island, she has never been alone: she shares it with Hugo, a brave boy who's grown up with her into a hero of a man.
But when Rose stumbles across Hugo in real life, both her real and dream worlds are changed forever. Here is the man who has shared all of her incredible adventures in impossible places, who grew up with her, even if they aren't what either one imagined. 

Hi Bridget, welcome to The Reading Frenzy.
Tell my readers about Hugo & Rose.
 The elevator pitch is it’s about a woman named Rose who, as a child, spent a week in a coma after a bike accident.  During that week she dreamed she was on a fantastical island with a boy about her age, named Hugo.  After she came out of the coma the dreams persisted:  every single night of her life she’s returned to the same island with the same boy.  She’s grown up with him, had wonderous adventures with him.  Now she’s a happily married woman with three children and a loving husband… but every night she still returns to the island, a leaner and more adventerous “idealized” form of herself.  She should be happy with her “real” life… but it certainly pales in comparison to the “dream” life she’s led for so long.  And then one day the kids’ soccer game is rained out and she’s waiting in line at a fast-food restaurant, and the man who hands over her order is Hugo.  Thirty pounds heavier, far less hair… but it’s undoubtedly Hugo.  And when he also recognizes her, it leads to… well, all sorts of complications.

Congratulations on your debut novel, and what a premise it is, it sounds as ethereal as it is worldly. Was that your intention?
Thank you! It’s been exciting and quite frankly strange.  I wrote a book about shared dreaming and in the past few months, ever since the book went out to early readers,  strangers on the internet have been talking about things that were previously confined to my imagination! It’s uncanny how similar this experience is to the connection that Rose has with Hugo. It’s made me recognize that books and films are a form of shared dreaming… or at least as close as most of us will ever get.

In answer to your second question, yes, the contrast between Rose’s real world and her dream life is absolutely by design. I think we all struggle with what we envision to be our “ideal” selves,  it’s just that Rose’s ideal self just happens to be a little bit more present in her life than it is for most of us. But I would argue not by that much.
I wrote “Hugo & Rose” because it was the kind of book that I wanted to read. I craved something that was honest about how difficult parenting and marriage and just maintaining a life you’ve already built can be.  But I also wanted to contrast that  reality with a more mythic ideal. If you think that it’s only teenage girls who are reading the current trends of kick ass females in YA you’re missing a huge section of the audience. Grown women are fans of Divergent and The Hunger Games.  It’s possible to identify with Katniss while still making sure everybody’s got their homework packed and their teeth brushed... but the contrast between the typical YA /Fantasy heroine in those books and the older reader is just a little starker than its intended readership.  “Hugo & Rose” bridges the gap between fantasy and the reality and uses that bridge to ask questions about the nature and purpose of dreams and fantasy.

Is it a morality tale?
Oh, gosh, if it is, that wasn’t my intention.
Of course, if you scratch the surface there’s certainly a ‘moral’ to the story… but if it isn’t first and foremost a cracking good read then I’ve failed.

What gave you the idea for this novel?
I’m a bit embarassed to say, but the idea came from a dream, wherein I found myself in a small, round wood space talking with a young man.  It was clear rom the way we were talking that we knew and loved each other in a deep way.  He seemed very real to me, as if he were someone I remembered from another time in my life.  Just before I woke up, he opened a door in the ceiling of the enclosed space.  I followed him and was granted a view of a vast swath of coral beach and a glowing city in the distance. 
Over breakfast with my husband, I kept thinking about this man – I knew for certain that I had never been close to anyone who looked or sounded like him (his name, for the record, was not Hugo)… but because he seemed so very real, I wondered about what it would be like to meet him and what it would mean.  It seemed to me that at that juncture in my life – in love with my husband, my son and the life I was leading – that it would be awfully inconvenient to meet “the man of my dreams.”

Who was your favorite character in your novel?
None of my characters are perfect people, not even the children.  We’ve all read books (and seen movies) in which the protagonists were basically perfect with the exception of one very minor (and usually easily fixable) flaw. And while there are times that I personally crave that kind of character and story, it’s not what I built into “Hugo & Rose.”
What I tried to do is create characters who were more like the people we know in our actual lives. People who have flaws, big flaws, but are good people worthy of love in spite of them.
Rose is depressed and feels guilty that she’s unappreciative of her ‘wonderful’ life. Josh is vain. Isaac has a mean streak. Adam is inattentive. Even the toddler Penny is stubborn.  (Since Hugo’s flaws are a bit spoilerish, I’ll leave them out, but suffice it to say, he has them.)
That sounds like a list of people no one would want to spend any time with.
But you have to balance Rose’s ennui with the fact that she desperately loves her children and husband and is thrust into an extraordinary circumstance. Josh’s vanity is balanced by his work ethic and love for his family. Isaac, Adam and Penny are children, and like children in real life they are sometimes frustrating (read infuriating) but they are also lovable.

So, back to the question. I have two favorites; I loved writing Josh’s combination of arrogance and affection, but if I were to pick a character to spend the afternoon with it would be Adam.

I noticed in your bio that you’re a wife and mom, ie the hardest job on the planet.
Where and when did you write?
Oh, my gosh, so much to unpack in that question. Your statement about motherhood being the hardest job on the planet makes me think about something that occurred to me when my oldest son was about 6 weeks old. All the newness and adrenaline of his birth had worn off and he was just settling into what turned out to be an eighteen month long bought of waking up three times a night. I was exhausted and he was relentless. At about four o’clock in the morning on one nearly impossible night,  I had an epiphany that parenthood is the only job that you do not get to clock out of. Every other tough job, from roughneck to the president, eventually gets to punch their time card. Parents never stop being parents. Not even when their children are grown.
As for the second question, I’m lucky. My husband is a professional screenwriter, which means that not only does he work from home (and so can pick up any slack) but that he understands the writing process and is supportive of my work.

But  what I think most people are interested in it the how… How do you work? The short answer is, I have help. When we lived in LA and I was hacking as a screenwriter, I managed to eek out 35 hours a week by combining 20 hours of paid childcare, 6 hours of a “Daddy Saturday” and sitting down to my computer the second I turned out the lights in my son’s room and working until I went to bed.
I think it’s important to be honest about what it takes and what my privileges are, because it’s hard to work even with all of those advantages.  Childcare, even mediocre childcare,  is expensive and I am damned lucky we can afford it. My husband spends a lot of evenings alone. I’ve lost friends because I’ve turned down one too many playdate or coffee invitations. And our kitchen is dirty… a lot.  

Bridget I read that you once danced the rumba with Tony Curtis.
Ok spill!
Isn’t that fun! I know that’s such a strange piece of information to put in a bio, but I love weird personal ephemera like that. It’s so much more interesting than knowing what colleges people went to.
If you live in Los Angeles long enough you end up with a list of surreal celebrity interactions. Things like getting into a fender bender with Shaquille O’Neal or sharing a manicurist with Beverly D’Angelo.  These chance encounters lend L.A. a dreamlike quality since it’s the sort of place where movie stars can make cameos in your everyday life.
I danced with Tony Curtis at about 1 am on July 5th, 1999.  At the time I was twenty one and working as a waitress Merv Griffin’s Beverly Hills Hilton.  Mr Griffin had an epic Forth of July party every year. As the party was winding down… fireworks over, guests shuffling out… Mr. Curtis and his wife were still having fun on the dance floor. They gestured for a few of the wait staff to join them and we did. He took my hand and did a few steps with me (for the record I’m not a good dancer)  but regardless he called me his Rhumba Queen. It sounded precisely like a bit of dialogue from “Some Like It Hot.”  He was such a quinessential old school movie star and it was such movie star thing to do, it immediately went into my personal lifetime highlight reel.

Bridget I read that you’re the “middle” child. Do you suffer any of the middle child prognostics?
I’m the middle of five children.  My parents are saints, flat out.
I absolutely suffer from chronic middle child-itis. In fact I talk to my therapist about it every week.  The first step in my recovery is to stop telling people I’m a middle child.  Whoops.

What are you reading right now?
I’m always balancing a few books at once, so on my nightstand at the moment are:
            This book is a bit like “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” mixed with all the spookiness Shirley Jackson novel. It’s terribly well written and great fun for me since I’m a big Shirley Jackson fan.
“Gummi Bears Should Not Be Organic” by Stefanie Wilder Taylor
            Wilder-Taylor slays me. I made the mistake of opening this book in the parking lot of the book store and forty minutes later I was still there,  laughing and marking all the bits I wanted to read to my husband later. She’s a master of mommy comedy.
“Prater Violet” by Christopher Isherwood
Isherwood wrote “A Single Man” and this is his account of working as a screenwriter on a film in London during the ramp up to WWII.  It’s political and funny and a sad,  a great companion piece to “The Loved One” by Evelyn Waugh about another British screenwriter.

Fifty Shades of Grey-
Thumbs up or down?
This is quite controversial isn’t it?  Black or white. For or against. I do have an answer but it’s nuanced.
I think a lot of writers and well, people, really, get stuck in what I think of as an “Art School” mentality, which means we believe that we are defined by the things we like. We broadcast these choices as social signals to let people know who we are “I AM THE TYPE OF PERSON WHO READS FRANZEN” or “I LISTEN TO COUNTRY MUSIC.”  We do it to sort ourselves into tribes and it’s useful to a certain social extent, but extremely limiting. You can enjoy both Jonathan Franzen and EL James. You can listen to Country Music and Hip Hop.  And you shouldn’t be ashamed of either.
I decided about five years ago that I was going to seek to understand every media phenomenon from the view point of its greatest fans. What is it that people love about Kim Kardashian?  Or the HBO show Girls? Or The Fast & The Furious?
It’s actually a radical idea to seek to understand rather than to critique since we live in a culture that rewards negativity. It defies easy, dismissive answers. You can’t say, “Well people who like this sort of thing are stupid.” You actually have to recognize the humanity in all fans and in all the creators of content you might not like or “agree” with.   The fact that 50 Shades sold millions of copies means it had something to offer a tremendous amount of people; the fact it was reviled by the literary community smacks of unfairness and jealousy.
We should all support anything that gets people to read, to buy books, to talk about them and to convince their friends to to read. I am in support of anything that makes readers think about their lives.
I’m also in support of authors. There are now dozens of writers who owe their careers to EL James. She single handedly jump started erotica for the modern era, it is a huge part of the industry now, one that is quite possibly underwriting all those “important books” for the publishers- you know the ones we’re not supposed to be too embarassed to read.
So… Thumbs up.

Bridget I noticed you don’t have a website.
(I will have a website up by the time of publication, www.wonderfoley.com )

Do you have novel number two in the works?
Isn’t that a bit like asking a woman her weight?  You know there’s an answer but she may not feel like sharing….
Eh, what the heck. Yes, at the moment I am working on a memoir while outlining my next novel. And this morning I weighed 159 lbs.
Bridget, thanks so much for taking the time to answer these questions. Good luck with the novel. If fans want to stalk meet you.
Do you have your events listed?
I do! They can find all my events and info at www.wonderfoley.com
Connect with Bridget - Website - Twitter - Goodreads

Photo by Angela S. Torchia
MEET BRIDGET:Bridget Foley grew up as a middle child in the suburbs of Denver, Colorado before attending New York University's Tisch School of the Arts on an acting scholarship. Following that she was less an actor than she was an auditioner and an obtainer of expensive degrees. After attending UCLA's School of Theater, Film & Television she made a habit (rather than a living) of writing screenplays. She once danced the rumba with Tony Curtis. Now she is mostly a wife and mother just outside of Seattle. She should probably be folding laundry. Hugo & Rose is her first novel.

Praise for Hugo & Rose
From the Publisher
"Gripping from the start, HUGO & ROSE seamlessly intertwines the real and the subconscious into an exciting and engrossing tale teeming with imagination." -- Sheldon Turner, Oscar-nominated screenwriter of Up In The Air
"Vibrantly imagined and flawlessly executed, Bridget Foley's HUGO & ROSE is a book that will stay with the reader long after finishing it. Unique and heartfelt, this story is riveting and unexpected in its examination of what happens when dreams and reality collide. Buy a copy for you mom, your sister, and your best friend because HUGO & ROSE captures the kind of magic you'll want to share." --Jen Lancaster, New York Times bestselling author of Bitter is the New Black
"An ambitious, haunting page turner that you can't stop thinking about long after you finish reading. Beautiful, lyrical writing, great characters and someone drives a minivan. What more could you want?" --Stephanie Wilder-Taylor, bestselling author of Sippy Cups are Not for Chardonnay
"I devoured this tale of dreams and waking life, and I’m still deliciously mulling it over—the ideas inside the ideas inside the ideas. It's wonderfully constructed, provocative, and beautifully written. Smart book clubs are going to love it!" --Jennie Shortridge, national bestselling author ofLove Water Memory

Today's Gonereading item is:
Another Mother's Day Must
The Book Shaped Cake Pan
Click HERE for the buy page


  1. The book sounds magical and very whimsical. Congrats on the debut novel! I give you props for managing to squeeze writing in while raising a family!

  2. This is completely new to me but I love that you spotlighted it today Debbie with a great interview. I need to look into this one more I think. :)

    1. I know Ali, I wasn't impressed with the cover but I do like less is more but the premise really got me and it's on my tbr pile LOL

  3. Well that would be quite the surprise to discover over lunch.

  4. This sounds lovely and I like that the two worlds collide.

  5. Wow, this is fantastic. Thanks