What’s up Write Voicers!
It’s that time of year when we all have something to be thankful for, and I don’t know about ya’ll, but family is everything to me. If you feel the same way, then I’ve got something special for you: an interview with Renee Beauregard Lute, the author of The Exceptional Maggie Chowder! So, let’s see what she’s got to share with us. Aannnnd, don’t forget to check out my review of her book by clicking here.
Fun Facts Interview
Jaleesa: Hi Renee! It’s so good to have you on my blog. Thanks for agreeing to this!
Renee: Hi Jaleesa! Thanks so much for having me!
Jaleesa: Of course! I’m honored to have this chance. That said, let’s dive in. You gave me some pretty awesome facts in your email. But, since Halloween was last month, and this month is more about family, the first one that I want to tackle is your feelings about scary movies.
Renee: I love scary movies, but I read the “Parents Guide” on IMDB before I watch them, because I don’t like the truly scary parts to take me by surprise.
Jaleesa: Okay, two questions about that. First, doesn’t that take the fun out of it sometimes? Second, what do you consider to be a “scary” movie?
Renee: My husband definitely thinks so, but oddly, I think knowing if there’s a really gross or particularly horrifying part ahead of time means I can relax and enjoy the movie! The twists are hidden behind a “spoilers” banner, so I just don’t click on those. I love the Scream movies and am so excited about the upcoming fifth film. I thought Midsommar was phenomenal—genuinely a work of art—and definitely scary. I love the original Candyman, and Nia DaCosta’s Candyman is exceptional! But the scariest movie I’ve seen recently is Hereditary. I mean. It’s terrifying. I saw it months ago, and still think about it.
Candyman: Dare you to say his name five times in a mirror.
Jaleesa: Our definitions of scary are definitely different—I’m inclined to think that “scary” movies are actually just thrillers with jump scares—but I’m glad to know that you’re able to enjoy them regardless. Moving on, let’s discuss phobias. Mine is ladders. Not the objects themselves, but being on top of them. Like, I’m great with heights, but put me on a ladder and my hands start sweating. What’s the one thing that you’re most afraid of?
Renee: I am newly terrified (TERRIFIED) of driving over bridges. (I had no idea a phobia could just erupt like that, but apparently it happens! Unfortunately, I found out while driving over the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.)
Jaleesa: That must have been an experience. Do you mind describing it? The moment you knew you were terrified, I mean.
Renee: I was driving up to Sequim, WA with all three of my kids in the car, and I saw a sign that said “no lane change on bridge,” or something like that. So I was like, “okay, I guess there’s a bridge ahead.” I was totally fine with it. And then I actually got on the bridge, and my stomach immediately felt like it dropped out of my butt. That is the exact sensation I experienced. I started having trouble breathing, and my vision got really narrow and gray, the way it does right before I pass out. (I’m a fainter, and unfortunately the symptoms of a panic attack and the symptoms of being close to fainting are really similar for me.) I got through it without passing out, but I think that feeling of “oh my God, I cannot faint while I am driving all of my kids in this car on this bridge!” has me kind of terrified to do any bridges now. I started seeing a therapist to get through the phobia, because living in Washington State, bridges are just kind of a fact of life, and I really need to be able to drive on them.
Jaleesa: That sounds rough. I’ve had panic attacks, and while I don’t have kids, the thought of having one while anyone is in the car—especially my younger nieces—is enough for me to empathize with how that must have felt. Let’s move on to something a bit more fun!
Renee: Sure! Let’s do it.
Jaleesa: I’m really interested in the one about your feelings on pizza.
Renee: Yeah, I don’t really like pizza. I wish I did — it’s like the go-to food in every social situation. I wish soup could be that food instead. I love soup.
Jaleesa: See, I love soup too, but it’s like a seasonal thing for me. It’s a go to food for rainy days, cold days, and—of course—whenever I catch a cold. So, I get loving soup. But tell me, what is it about pizza that you don’t like? Because you’re the first person I’ve ever met who says that it’s not for them. Is it, like, a texture thing or the combination? I gotta know.
Renee: I think it’s the texture and the combination! I like a little bit of cheese (like in a charcuterie or sprinkled over soup), but cheese on pizza overwhelms everything else, and there’s the sauce that makes the bread kind of squishy and slimy. I’m not repulsed by it, but it’s definitely one of my least favorite foods.
Jaleesa: I’ve found that sometimes you can change up the ingredients. Have you tried a cheese-less pizza? Maybe that would help?
Renee: I grew up with cheese-less pizza, because my brother was allergic to milk. The real issue for me might be the bread and sauce combo.
Jaleesa: [Laughs] Well, I definitely get that! Pizza and soup aside, let’s talk about the other surprising fact that you gave me about your college days.
Renee: Oh, yes! So, when I was in college, I performed with Kenny Rogers.
Jaleesa: He’s a country singer, correct? I had to look it up on Google, and I’m still not 100 percent sure.
Renee: He is! He’s famous for The Gambler. He used to do these Christmas tours, and he’d audition local singers to perform with him in those concerts. It was a neat experience!
Jaleesa: I bet! I hope that I get a chance to perform with a singer that admire sometime. But I’m curious, do you have plans of writing about the experience in your next book or WIP? I think it would be a cool thing to do.
Renee: Interestingly, I was about to say “no,” and then I realized that my current WIP involves a character who likes to tell the story about how he performed with Bruce Springsteen when he was a kid, so that very well might have been subconscious!
Jaleesa: You gotta love those unplanned moments when your life meshes with your WIP’s! Speaking of life meshing with work, you told me that your most recent book came out during the pandemic. How has Miss Rona affected your book sales, and what advice would you give to others who have books coming out toward the (supposed) tail end of it?
Renee: Oh man. Well, because The Exceptional Maggie Chowder is a middle grade novel, sales were definitely impacted by school buildings being closed. Teachers and school libraries are really a big, awesome part of sales for children’s books, so having a middle grade novel come out in 2020 wasn’t awesome. For others with books coming out now, I think (and hope) that because school buildings are open, they won’t be impacted in quite the same way, though I know there’s a supply chain issue right now, with Covid and a paper shortage.
Jaleesa: Yeah, I heard about that. Though it seems like there are still a lot of YA and Middle Grades debut authors who have books coming out between now and 2022, so maybe the issue will resolve itself soon.
Renee: I sure hope so!
Jaleesa: Me too! Well, thank you so much for your time! I’m glad we were able to do this. Is there anything else that you would like to add before ending the interview?
Renee: Thanks so much for this great interview, Jaleesa!
Renee Beauregard Lute is the author of The Exceptional Maggie Chowder and The Winicker Wallace series. Her books are available in bookstores and at the library.
To learn more about her, or to contact her or schedule a library visit, visit her website.