Florence Osmund spent most of her thirty-year career working in corporate America. Her favorite task was always writing, which eventually led to writing fiction. Her first novel, The Coach House, was released this year.
Please tell everyone a little about yourself, Florence.
Florence: I grew up in Libertyville, Illinois, in an old Victorian home complete with a coach house, the same house I used as inspiration for my first two books. I earned my master’s degree from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management and obtained more than three decades of administrative management experience during my career before becoming an author. I currently reside in Chicago where I am working on the sequel to The Coach House.
When did the writing bug bite, and in what genre(s)?
Florence: During my career working in corporate America, my favorite task was always writing–correspondence, reports, newsletters, RFPs, proposals, appraisals, announcements, recommendations, handbooks–you name it. But there were always rules, guidelines and restrictions to appease, not to mention exercising utmost diplomacy and political correctness. Not much room for creativity. Not much fun. Writing fiction is delightfully different.
When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish? Is there a message you want readers to grasp?
Florence: My main goal was to just tell a good story, but there is an ethnic thread that runs through The Coach House, and consequently there’s also a message. Without giving away too much of the plot, I will say I want readers to walk away with the sentiment that outward appearances don’t matter, and I hope the protagonist is a shining example of that.
Briefly tell us about your latest book. Is it part of a series or stand-alone?
Florence: My latest book, Daughters, is a sequel to The Coach House and is currently in production. It picks up where the first one left off—where the twenty-four-year-old protagonist, Marie, is getting ready to meet her newfound family for the first time.
What’s the hook for the book?
Florence: What I hope draws readers in and compels them to read further is in the first chapter when the protagonist is uneasy about the slick-looking man who comes to her door looking for her husband, Richard. And then when she catches Richard talking to the creepy Russian guy next door and his late night secretive phone calls increase, she becomes more than just a little uneasy. But she justifies not confronting him head-on at this point because in all other aspects, Richard is a loving and generous husband, and she desperately wants to start a family with him.
How do you develop characters?
Florence: I find one of the most challenging aspects of writing good fiction is effective character development. You really need to get inside the characters’ heads (especially the protagonist’s) in order for the reader to connect with them. I use physical descriptions along with dialogue, actions and internal thoughts to portray characters. Depicting their emotional state in certain scenes, showing their strengths and weaknesses and how they relate to others are also good ways to develop characters. A tool I use is the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicators which categorize a person’s behaviors into sixteen different types. Once I determine a character’s M-B personality type, I further develop him/her using other traits typically found for that type of personality.
Who’s the most likeable character?
Florence: I’ve received substantial feedback on the protagonist, Marie. Readers like her and want very much for her to succeed in getting her life back on track after fleeing from her husband who she eventually discovers is mixed up with an array of Chicago mobsters, corrupt politicians and dirty cops. I’ve had readers tell me they feel like they’ve been through Marie’s conflicts right along with her and are on the edge of their seats until the tension subsides and the conflict is resolved.
Do you have specific techniques to help you maintain the course of the plot?
Florence: This was my first novel, and it went through many re-writes. Half-way through the re-write process, I discovered that establishing plot points for each chapter helped guide me through the storyline.
How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?
Florence: While I didn’t consciously embody myself or people I know into any of the characters, I’m certain there are instances of this occuring throughout the book. I’m not sure how that can be avoided. After all, you can only write about what you know. What is certain, I named the book The Coach House because I wanted the protagonist to find a suitable refuge after fleeing from her husband, and the somewhat remote coach house situated behind an old Victorian house in Atchoson, Kansas seemed like the perfect place. Did I mention that I grew up in an old Victorian house with a coach house in back?
Share the best review (or a portion) that you’ve ever had.
“The Coach House is an engrossing story that brings you into the life of a young woman in the late 1940’s. As I read, I became more and more involved with Marie and her life. She is a complex person, and just when you think you know much about her, a new fact merges that takes you deeper into the story. When I find myself wishing I had more time to read a book, I know it’s good, and The Coach House fits the bill. And when I want the story not to end, it’s a very good book. Thankfully there is a sequel due out. I’ll definitely be reading that book too.”
Where can folks learn more about your books and events?
Florence: Here are links to my writing world:
Book purtchase: http://www.amazon.com/The-Coach-House-ebook/dp/B0082OKDJO/
Thanks for joining us today, Florence.
Florence: Thank you for allowing me to participate in this on-line interview.