Author Interviews Featured Authors

An Interview with Colleen Oakley

If you could escape into one of the worlds you’ve created in your books, what character would you become and why?

It would be a toss-up between the remote and quaint Frick Island (from The Invisible Husband of Frick Island) and Jubilee’s house in Close Enough to Touch because she lives in a gorgeous old Victorian with teetering stacks of books everywhere (dream come true!). I don’t know that I would necessarily want to be Jubilee, though—not being able to touch anyone would not be a fun way to live! 

Can you describe for us a typical writing day?

After shooing all my children out the door for their school day, I walk my dog Baxter, while listening to an Italian podcast (we’re going next summer, so I’m trying to get at least a minimal grasp on the language!). Then I come home, pour my second cup of coffee, make a smoothie and get to work. I generally write about 3-4 hours, take a break at lunch to squeeze in some time at the gym, and then write another hour or so before I meet my kids at the bus stop. When I’m on deadline, I’ll get up earlier, before the kids wake up to get some extra writing time in, and I’ll often go on a 3-day writing retreat by myself to pound out words.

When you’re writing an emotionally draining (or sexy, or sad, etc) scene, how do you get in the mood?

Music! I generally pick tunes that fit the scene I’m working on. For Before I Go and You Were There Too, it was a lot of James Bay and Leon Bridges and Sam Smith—these soulful, emotional tunes that kept me in that headspace. For Close Enough to Touch and Frick Island, which both had a lot more fun, quirky scenes, I listened to music like the Beatles’ lighter songs, as well as Lake Street Dive, a band that’s upbeat and has a lot of character.

Which of your books were the most enjoyable to write?

I would have to say Frick Island because I had so much fun making myself laugh with the cast of quirky characters and their laugh-out-loud quips. I really needed something a little more light-hearted and happy after writing You Were There Too—and I think readers needed something light and happy too, considering all we’ve been through (and are still going through!) these past few years. 

If you could ask one successful author three questions about their writing, writing process, or books, what would they be?

Ooh! This is a fun question. I would love to sit down with Ann Patchett and just find out how her mind works—her story ideas are so unique and involved and so fully realized. Reading her work is like witnessing magic.

What’s next for you? Are you working on a new project? If so, can you give us a teaser and/or an expected release date? 

Yes! I’m super excited to share that my next book, The Mostly True Story of Tanner and Louise, will be released in February 2023. It’s about Louise, an 84-year-old woman who may or may not be an international jewelry thief, and her 21-year-old college-dropout caretaker, Tanner. The two end up on the lam from the police—while Tanner is trying to figure out who Louise actually is.

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