I am thrilled to have best selling author, Rochelle Weber, on Penny's Tales. Below is a bit about Rochelle's life and then she's on the hot seat! She also talks about her book, "The Thin Person Inside"!
Rochelle Weber is a Navy veteran and holds a BA in Communications from Columbia College in Chicago with an emphasis on Creative Writing. “Would you like fries with that?” Her novels Rock Bound and Rock Crazy are available in both e-book and print. You can get The Thin Person Inside e-book is at MuseItUp Publishing, Inc. She edits for Jupiter Gardens Press, and is the Publisher of the Marketing for Romance Writers Newsletter, winner of the 2013 Preditors & Editors Readers’ Poll for Best Writers’ Resource.
Rochelle battles demons including bi-polar disorder and obesity, quipping, “You haven’t lived until you’ve been the only woman on the locked ward at the VA.” Her song, “It’s Not My Fault,” won a gold medal in the National Veterans Creative Arts Competition. She’s lost over a hundred pounds and kept it off for over three years. She lives in Round Lake Beach, Illinois. She has two married daughters, four grandchildren, three step-grandkids, and one step-great-grandkid. Two cats allow her to live with them and cater to their every whim.
PENNY: Why did you decide to write romance novels?
ROCHELLE: I’m lazy. Romance is easier to write than sci-fi or mystery. Besides, I’m a sucker for H-E-A endings.
PENNY: When did you first think about writing and what prompted you to submit your first ms? What genre is it?
ROCHELLE: I got bored when I had chicken pox, and wrote a very short story and then practiced ways of writing my author name. My mother kept the notebook it’s in. I wrote stories in high school and showed them to my friends, but never to any adults. Through a fluke (Fate!) I found myself working at an NPR station in Charleston, SC, and one of our producers read a letter I was writing home during lunch after a major arts festival. She said, “My God, Rochelle! You can write! I feel like I’m there, and I missed that event.” She encouraged me after that, but it was another twenty-some years before I finished Rock Bound and submitted it. A pagan friend introduced me to an editor who knew a woman who was starting an e-pub, and she grabbed it.
PENNY: Would you like to write a different genre or sub-genre than you do now?
ROCHELLE: My first two books are sci-fi romance. I started writing Rock Crazy and decided to just write a couple paragraphs of back-story for some of the people on the Moon who help Katie. Next thing I knew, I had Rock Bound. They just kind of took over and wrote their own book. The Thin Person Inside, however, is contemporary. I hope by 2051 science will have figured out a way to turn off whatever it is that causes cravings, or to turn up the metabolism of people like me who feel we “just look at food and may as well apply it directly to our hips.” And my work-in-progress, Full Circle, is considered an historical book, because it’s about a Corpswave and a Marine who dated as civilians during the Viet Nam era and then meet again after he’s been to Nam. It kind of boggles my mind, because that’s when I was in the Navy, so it doesn’t seem like history to me. So, I guess I’m all over the map. Even though I’m pagan, I don’t see myself doing paranormal or fantasy. I’d like to go back to Rockton in the Moon, but everyone up there seems to be just fine. No angst, no drama, nothing to write home about.
PENNY: Tell us about your latest book. What motivated the story? Where did the idea come from?
ROCHELLE: The Thin Person Inside: Kristen Jensen never expected to fall in love when she got help for her morbid obesity—let alone with a rock star. I started to write a book about a secretary who meets a rock star. Originally they met at an AA meeting, but I just couldn’t get the conflict there. First he relapsed. Then she did. Then I decided a story about a person in recovery relapsing was just too trite. Then I decided to put it in the future and have them meet in Rockton. Maybe the conflict could be that he lived on Earth. Then they were going to honeymoon up there. Nothing worked. Then someone said, “You should write about your weight loss.” Bingo! I changed Kristen from an alcoholic to a food addict, described my experience in treatment, even copied my homework from treatment, and the whole thing just flowed. I decided Sean should lose his hand because I already had a hero with crushed legs in another book. I’m not a heavy metal fan, so I didn’t know there was a drummer out there who lost an arm and came back to the band. I met a veteran who lost his hand in a farm accident and played piano, and that’s where I got the idea Sean could manage keyboards with one hand.
PENNY: Do you feel humor is important in fiction and why?
ROCHELLE: I love humor in fiction. I’m not all that great at writing it. There are a few humorous moments in my books. There’s a discussion about cats and Star Trek in Rock Bound that I hope gives people a chuckle, and there’s a teenager in Rock Crazy who provides a light moment here and there, and a discussion of Kristen’s driving with her daughters in The Thin Person Inside that my publisher said made her laugh. But for really good belly laughs, I suggest my colleague, Elle Druskin’s Liberty Heights series. I love those books. They have funny animals as well as funny people. Elle’s a master at romantic comedy.
PENNY: What about your family? Do they know not to bother you when you are writing, or are there constant interruptions?
ROCHELLE: I live with two cats who are fairly oblivious to my work schedule. Tink pretty much leaves me alone unless I’m in my recliner, but Acey tends to nudge me, climb up on the desk and loll on the keyboard until I banish him. Then he sneaks back onto the desk and hides behind my monitor. Once he settles back there, he’s okay for awhile.
PENNY: Bubble baths or steamy showers? Ocean or mountains? Puppies or kittens? Chocolate or caramel?
ROCHELLE: I love bubble baths, but I now have problems getting out of the tub due to arthritis. As for the rest—do I have to choose? Can’t I gaze at the mountains from the beach? Snuggle with both puppies and kittens? Eat chocolate-covered or flavored caramels (provided they’re gluten & sugar-free, of course).
PENNY: A biography has been written about you. What do you think the title would be in six words or less?
ROCHELLE: Crazy, but What a Writer!
(A girl can dream, right?)
Kristen Jensen, a Navy veteran, tips the scale at a crippling three hundred pounds. In desperation she asks her VA therapist if she can go into addictions treatment with the guys where she meets Sean. With black hair, blue eyes, and a perfect body she figures the reason he’s speaking to her is that she’s the only other person in the room.
The Haystack told their lead singer, Sean Wesley, to get clean or get out. But none of the big-name clinics worked. Sean’s a Desert Storm vet, so they send him to a VA in the middle of nowhere. When he meets Kristen the first day, he thinks it’s tragic such a pretty girl’s trapped in a huge body. And her honesty, intelligence, and bravery are even more impressing. Sean’s drawn to Kristen, but she’s had decades to build layers of defense.
Sean Wesley went into the snack room to help himself to coffee and a roll. He’d probably gain weight while he was here without his personal trainer and weight room. He’d been a fat kid—always the last to be chosen for games, and stuck in right field when he did play. He’d been saved from a life of obesity by a growth spurt in his late teens, a judge who gave him a choice between jail and the Marines, and switching addictions from food to booze and then cocaine.
By rights, Sean shouldn’t be at a VA facility. Celebrities like him usually got sober at places like the Betty Ford clinic or Hazelden. Actually, he’d come from Betty Ford, but he’d still felt shaky so his manager, Don Nelson, had done his homework. Danville, Illinois, was in the middle of nowhere. The program was different, based on Rational Emotive Therapy, and Sean was a veteran. While he made too much money to be treated at the VA, there’s money and then there’s money. Sean had money—the kind that opens doors and breaks down barriers. The kind that makes even the Federal Government say, “We’ll see what we can do,” and then do it.
So here he was in the middle of a cornfield in bum-fuck Illinois at a shabby old VA hospital. An enormously obese woman came into the snack room interrupting his reverie, and Sean thought, That could’ve been me. What a shame—she’s so pretty.”
* * * *
Kristen noticed the table of goodies and the drop-dead-gorgeous man perusing them in the break room when she went in there to put her lunch in the refrigerator.
“Want one? I heard they send ’em over every morning. I guess they’re yesterday’s leftovers.”
That’s right. Offer sweets to the fat lady. She managed a tight grimace. “Thanks, but I’m here because I’m a food addict.” She held up her orange.
“I’m Sean.” He prob’ly wouldn’t give a fat chick like me a second look anywhere else. Still, what is it about men with black hair and blue eyes that makes me go all mushy?
“I’ve heard of food addicts, but what makes ya call yourself that?”
“When my kids were little, I left them without a babysitter while I went to the store and wrote a rubber check for ice cream and M&Ms. I’d say I’ve been about as desperate for my fix as any addict or alcoholic.”
“Wow! Yeah, I guess so.” He held the door for her as they exited and then followed her into the Day Room.
Kristen sat on a love seat, taking up the whole thing, while Sean sat in the chair on the other side of the end table next to her. They were the only two people in there since there were classes going on. She was sure the minute other people came out he’d find someone else to talk to. She pulled out her crocheting. She was fairly certain Eric would propose to Viki at Christmas and had already begun work on a tablecloth for them. She worked on it a minute and then decided to be polite. “So, what’s your drug of choice?”
“Cocaine. I’ve been clean a coupla months, but it’s hard ta stay clean.”
“I’ve heard that. I was at a halfway house fundraiser and they said it takes something like over a year for cocaine to completely leave the body, and during that time a person can still have random cravings. They were raising money for an extended treatment program.”
“That explains why I’ve been having such a hard time. I hope this treatment helps.”
People started coming into the Day Room from classrooms just down the hallways. Several of them gave Sean and Kristen curious looks. Yeah, what’s a great looking guy doing sitting with a fat chick?
Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/Rochelle.Weber.Author
Amazon Author Page: http://amazon.com/author/rochelleweber