For the last fifteen years, Rose “Manny” Mankowski has been a very good girl. Now, at the age of 45, she’s questioning her choices and feeling more and more disconnected from her own life. When she’s passed over for promotion and her much younger new boss implies Manny’s life will never change, something snaps. In the blink of an eye, she’s quit her job, sold her house, cashed in her pension, and she’s leaving town on a six month road trip.After placing an ad for a travelling companion, she’s joined in her mid-life crisis by Zeke Powell, the cynical, satirical, most read – and most controversial – blogger for the e-zine, What Women Want. Zeke’s true goal is to expose Manny’s journey as a pitiful and desperate attempt to reclaim her lost youth – and increase his readership at the same time.Now, armed with a bagful of destinations, a fistful of maps, and an out-spoken imaginary friend named Harvey, Manny’s on a quest to rediscover herself – and taking Zeke along for the ride.
Hi Victoria, thank you for stopping by today. My first question is one I got from looking at your website. Victoria Bernadine is a pseudonym. How did you come up with it?Hi Kim; thanks for having me!‘Victoria Bernadine’ is my mother’s first and middle names…in reverse order. When I was trying to think of a pseudonym, I remembered that in my (*cough*much*cough*) younger days I had always intended to use this name if I ever had a daughter. I never had any kids, so the name was still available. I thought it would be perfect for my pseudonym, and be a nice tribute to my mom as well.I like that. You started writing, after several years of having writer’s block in 2008. How long did you take you to write A Life Less Ordinary?The book began as (unfinished) scripts for a thirteen-episode miniseries, which I wrote for the now-defunct ScriptFrenzy writing challenge in April 2011. I began the novelization of the scripts around August 2011, I think, and finished the next-to-final-draft in September 2012. Final edits took until December 2012. So, all told, about 20 months, off and on (in my defense, I was writing other things at the same time - LOL).I love the concept of A Life Less Ordinary. I’m gathering that Rose/Manny basically has a mid-life crisis and decides to find herself and possibly love along the way. Where did the idea for the book come from?It was pure wish fulfillment. When I started the story, I was 45 and looking at my life, thinking “where am I and how the *bleep* did I get here?!” The desire to run away was very strong. I couldn’t do it myself, so I had Manny do it instead.Please tell us about your characters, Rose “Manny” Mankowski and Zeke Powell. And what about this Harvey guy?Well, let’s see…Manny feels very disconnected from her life and from herself. She lives in a world of monotonous greys, and her “mid-life crisis” is all about trying to put some colour and warmth back into her world. She’s not beautiful; she’s not slim; she’s not exciting – she’s just a woman who wants to recapture some of the joy of life only she doesn’t quite know how to do that.Zeke is arrogant and a bit of a jerk, but he’s also very loyal. He can be rather sweet, too. He has his own issues with relationships, and in his own way, he’s as disconnected from life as Manny (although I doubt he’d see it that way – LOL). He’s straight out of a romance novel: tall, dark and handsome, and very, very appealing to the ladies.As for Harvey…ah, Harvey! Harvey is Manny’s imaginary friend who is an anthropomorphic personification (™Terry Pratchett) of Manny’s loneliness. He’s snarky, and that outrageous friend who says what he really thinks in any situation. Thankfully, Manny’s the only one who sees/hears him! He’s that part of (hopefully) all of us that stands on the sidelines and makes observations on the events of our lives, and says the things we’d love to say out loud; I guess you could say he’s also the embodiment of Manny’s inside voice.What do you love about Manny and Zeke?I love their loyalty to the people they love. I love that they’re good people just trying to muddle their way through life. I love that they can laugh at themselves and at each other. I love the fact that they change because of each other, but not for each other.Since A Life Less Ordinary was FINALLY the book you thought was good enough to see the light of day, what is the one scene you loved the most?Oh, man. I have so many scenes I love, and it’s really difficult to say I love one “the most”. I really enjoy when Zeke and Manny are stranded on the side of the road for the night after their van breaks down. It’s a long sequence of scenes, really, and it just shows how comfortable they’ve become with each other. It makes me smile every time.The book seems to resonate well with women in the age range of forty to say fifty or so. Is that your core audience, or do you think this book is actually for anyone and everyone feeling they are living a “less than ordinary life”?I think it will resonate with anyone who has ever questioned their life and their choices, and has ever felt bewildered by the unanticipated results of those choices, regardless of age. I think women in their forties and fifties may identify with it more closely or more personally only because it can sometimes feel like your opportunities to change your situation become more limited the older you get.~VICTORIA’S TIDBITS~Coffee or tea?Co-o-f-f-fee (read this in a gravelly morning-voice).Favorite TV show?Currently, it’s Haven, a little show from the SyFy network based on Stephen King’s Colorado Kid. It’s awesome!Favorite food?Potato chips.What’s your comfort read?Oh, man…I have so many because it depends on why I feel the need for the comfort read…*ponders*…okay:Any Harlequin Romance by Betty Neels. The stories are very gentle, very old-fashioned, very sweet, and the characters are basically the same in every book. They’re just adorable and incredibly soothing.I have to also include Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. I read it about once a year, and it’s hilarious and scary and touching and beautiful. I wouldn’t call it soothing but I’ve read it so many times now, it’s like visiting old friends.Are you right handed or left handed?Right handed.Thank you again Victoria. Is there anything else you would like to add about your book or yourself?When I was writing A Life Less Ordinary, I really wanted the women to love and support each other and I didn’t want the men to be the women’s “saviors”. I’m not sure I completely managed that, but I think it’s still an entertaining ride. I hope others will agree!
Victoria Bernadine (a pseudonym) is, as the saying goes, a “woman of a certain age”. After twenty-something years of writer’s block, she began writing again in 2008. She began with fanfiction about a (now-cancelled) TV show called Jericho and particularly about the characters of Heather Lisinski and Edward Beck. From there, she expanded into writing original fic and she hasn’t stopped since.Victoria enjoys reading all genres and particularly loves writing romantic comedy and post-apocalyptic science fiction. What those two have in common is anybody’s guess.She lives in Edmonton with her two cats (The Grunt and The Runt). A Life Less Ordinary is the first novel she felt was good enough to be released into the wild.Victoria can be contacted through Love of Words Publishing Inc. (firstname.lastname@example.org) or through her brand new blog at http://victoriabernadine.wordpress.com/.
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