I was born and raised in Northeast Los Angeles and come from a family of seven, not including the two dogs we grew up with. We first lived in Lincoln Heights, where I remember watching Richard Dreyfuss shoot scenes for a movie on the corner. In the 80s, we moved to Cypress Park, where they filmed "Secretary" and "Chasing Amy", a block down, just to name two of the projects that took over the neighborhood. Even with such exposure, the idea of Hollywood was not a constant in our lives. My parents expected us to finish high school and get jobs. I was lucky and stubborn enough to continue onto Glendale Community College, where I joined the campus paper and then transferred to San Francisco State University to earn a degree in journalism. I’ve pretty much structured my life since then to involve some type of writing. I wrote for magazines or websites after college, and fiction has become my sole focus these last few years. I’m proud to say I’m a full-time writer, but I’m smart enough to admit I wish I had a steady day job.
Q: Tell us about the book. Did your story begin with a character or a theme? What was it about Hollywood, office politics and family dramas that compelled you to write this story?
I started and ended GOOD-BYE TO ALL THAT with weather knowing it was kind of risky. (There’s that cliché of “It was a dark and stormy night…”) But it fit the mood of the novel and I like to bookend things which is a quirk I picked up in journalism school. I wanted to write a novel about work and how a young woman lets her job take over her life. Setting GOOD-BYE TO ALL THAT in Hollywood opened up lots of opportunities for me to put a different spin on her situation. Raquel Azorian, the main character, knows she’s just a cog in a shiny movie production machine, but she’s determined to shine the brightest. All my books have delved into family relationships, but the Azorians are a less than ideal family. They’re a high maintenance bunch and it falls on Raquel to try to manage them and her career at the same time. I wanted to figure out how she would deal with two important competing interests and have some fun with it as a writer.
I read chick lit so I have no problem with the label. I do refer to what I write as mainstream commercial women’s fiction when I’m feeling fancy, but I leave it up to my editor and the marketing department to decide what to call my books. What influences what to label a book as is not only the subject matter, but the tone. I use a lot of humor in my books, but I can be serious, too. What I write stays essentially the same, though. I write about women (and men) who are looking to establish their own place in the world, who are trying to balance their families expectations and their own need to be themselves and live their own lives.
Q: Your books are set in L.A. and San Francisco. Is it because it's your "backyard" and what you know best?
I would never attempt to write a book set in Minneapolis without actually living there; it would come off as fake. I’ve been lucky enough to split my years between two great cities and they’ve become like characters in my books. I really miss San Francisco and would love to go back, but Los Angeles is my hometown and where my family is. That being said, I wouldn’t mind writing a book set in Paris or Marrakesh. I’m more than willing to put in the resident time to be able to write about those places convincingly.
Q: What is your writing routine?
I treat what I do as a job. I put my in hours and then turn my computer off when I know I’ve done what I need to do. When I’m writing a book, I work off of an outline and set word count goals for myself so I always know where I’m supposed to be. Some might think it a constrained way to write, but it works for me. I need to think things through first, plan out chapters so I know where I’m going and haven an end date or I’d go crazy. I’m very logical and pragmatic about the process of writing a novel and this allows me to have fun with what I’m actually doing. My characters are the ones who have the crazy lives and get themselves involved in dicey situations. In the end, I have a completed manuscript with minimal time spent at a therapist’s office.
Q: Who are the authors/books that have inspired you?
I’m a huge fan of anything Anne Tyler. I admire her as a reader and writer. I discovered her books as a teen and knew from the first pages that I was reading something special. I also admire Delia Ephron and Steve Martin, who both have such crisp, sly styles. I can only hope to one day mature into that kind of writer. It might never happen, but I can try.
Q: What are you writing now? What is that story about?
Currently, I’m in limbo between two ideas. Both are set in Los Angeles and deal with women on the periphery of the entertainment business, but are completely different in tone—one’s more chick lit and the other women’s fiction. I’m going to give myself a few weeks to noodle on which to go with. Whichever I do end up committing to, I know it’s going to be a fun journey and I look forward to getting it started.
Q: Are you on the internet? Facebook? Twitter?
I’m all over the internet. You can friend me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/margocandela, follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/margo_candela and keep up with what I’m reading at Goodreads, http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/497784.Margo_Candela. I also have a blog, My Brain. My Blog, that I post to regularly to, http://margocandela.blogspot.com// and I have a contact page on my site, http://www.margocandela.com//, for anyone who wants to get in touch with me. Hearing from readers is a real treat because I know people lead busy lives and I appreciate their support. ♥
COMMENT: Do leave a comment and let us know which of Margo's books have you read and liked best. And visit her blog and follow her on Facebook and Twitter; links are above.