Becky Doughty is the author of the best-selling Elderberry Croft series, The Gustafson Girls series, Waters Fall, and more. She’s also the voice behind BraveHeart Audiobooks. She writes Women’s Fiction with strong elements of romance, as well as Young Adult and New Adult Fiction. Becky’s favorite people are edge-dwellers, those who live on that fine line where hope and despair meet, where love is the only answer and grace becomes truly amazing. Becky is married to her champion of more than 25 years. They have three children, two of whom are grown and starting families of their own, and they all live within a few miles of each other in Southern California. They share their lives with too many animals, a large vegetable garden, and a strange underground concrete room they’re certain was built for dark and sinister purposes….
Author Interview: Becky Doughty
Q: Your new book, All the Way to Heaven, takes place in Italy, and in particular, the city of Lucca in the heart of Tuscany. What made you choose Lucca for your location?
A: Several years ago, I visited Italy with a friend, and we opted to “take the road less traveled.” By that, I mean we were on a slightly restrictive budget. So we spent most of our time in youth hostels, guest houses, and bed and breakfasts rather than hotels and resorts. And we looked for cities that were highly rated by tourists, but that weren’t necessarily highly populated by them. Lucca was our first stop on our trip, and I fell in love with the city. There is a sense of being “out of time and place” in Lucca. The core of the city is completely encircled by a Renaissance period wall wide enough to race cars on—and at one time, people did! Nowadays, it’s carefully preserved, and limited to only pedestrians and cyclists. It’s essentially one huge park that hugs the heart of Lucca, as though protecting it from the ravages of the real world. A daily promenade on the wall is essential to experience life in Lucca. In fact, in Italy, there is a custom, passeggiata, a term which means “evening stroll,” and it’s a national tradition for people to take a walk after work hours and before dinner. If you live in Lucca, the wall is the place to experience passeggiata at its finest. What better place to fall in love?
Q: You reference opera quite a bit in All the Way to Heaven. Are you an opera buff?
A: I’m pretty much a fake fan. I love listening to the arias (that would be like saying I’m a Van Halen fan but I only listen to their ballads) really, really loudly when I clean house. It kinda drowns out my bad attitude—I hate, loathe, despise, etc., cleaning—and turns my chores into something dramatic and otherworldly. But I do think the stories told in operas are some of the wildest and craziest ever, and originally, I intended to write a whole series of modern retellings of various operas. Unfortunately, my fake fandom started showing while doing my research, and I realized I didn’t know enough about opera to base a whole series on it. So I kept the opera elements in All the Way to Heaven because they worked, but moved toward other themes in the rest of the series. Music, however, remains a key player in all three (maybe four) books!
Q: Are there cliffhangers in The Fallout Series?
A: In every book there are some loose threads that will lead into the next book, but no real cliffhangers. I’m not a huge fan of cliffhangers, mainly because I’m the kind of reader who needs closure. I love books that leave a few loose ends to tie into the next book(s) in the series, but I need to be able to close the book and spend some time looking back on the story and reveling in what I’ve just read, rather than feeling like I need to charge ahead into the next one. For instance, I loved The Hunger Games books. Even though there were many threads left loose, and even some cliffhanger elements, the premise of each individual book was brought to resolution. As much as I enjoyed Kiera Cass’ The Selection series (don’t get me wrong – I gave it 5 stars!), it actually became frustrating to me as I closed the cover on each book and still had no closure on some of the relationship issues. I kept thinking to myself, “So choose already, and let’s get on to saving the kingdom!”
Q: Speaking of other authors, do you have a favorite author or authors?
A: I’m an avid reader, and I don’t have any major genre preferences or hang-ups, so I tend to have a flavor-of-the-month thing when it comes to authors. Right now, I can’t get enough of Amy Harmon. Her novels have a depth to them that many NA/contemporary romances don’t. She writes about ordinary people with extraordinary circumstances or gifts or curses in a way that’s believable and culturally timely, and her ability to thread spiritual elements through her stories is so refreshing. I have yet to read one of hers where I don’t turn the last page with bittersweet relish. John Green always wins with me, Rachel Marks, Jessica Parks, and I’m looking forward to seeing what they do with the TV show “Shadowhunters” based on Cassandra Clare’s The Immortal Instruments… It would seem my flavor of the month is YA/NA at the moment. I’ve also been a fan of Diana Gabaldon for most of my adult life, some Stephen King I love (and some I hate), and many, many others.
Q: I notice you call The Fallout Series “Sweet New Adult Fiction.” Can you tell us a little more about that?
A: Nothing like saving the tough stuff ‘til last. Okay. I have this unquenchable belief that “coming of age” is not synonymous with “testing all boundaries.” I love, love, love the New Adult category, but I think it’s kind of gotten a bad rap since its debut on the market. I’ve asked many NA authors what they consider is criteria for NA, and the answer across the board is character age. That transitional period between living at home and living independently. So they’re typically set on college campuses or at new jobs, or around new experiences (such as traveling alone, like Ani in All the Way to Heaven). So often, the expectation is that the characters in these novels will indulge in extreme sexual exploration (the covers alone do much to propel this conception), among other things, but many of these books are about so much more than that. And in fact, many of these books include very little of it, dealing more with how their characters handle new seasons in their lives, and sometimes get bypassed because they’re lumped in with what is often considered “erotica.” Rumor has it there’s a growing demand for “sweet” fiction about this particular transitional period – by “sweet” I mean relatively mild in regards to violence, language, and sex, even if the storyline deals with some of these very real issues--and I want to be a part of that new subcategory of New Adult fiction.
Q: One last question. Is this why you’re publishing through Clean Teen Publishing?
A: In a roundabout way, I suppose it is. I submitted to Clean Teen Publishing NOT because my books are clean, but because Clean Teen is known for the content analyses they do on all their books. They do not believe in censorship, but in full disclosure. Movies and television are rated for content, so why not book ratings?
Q: Thank you for being here today, Becky.
A: Thank you for having me. I appreciate the opportunity to share a little about me and my books with you, and I hope you’ll find something in my stories that resonates with you! I’d be happy to answer any other questions you might have!
Ten Trivial Truths About Becky Doughty
- I’m part chameleon. Not because I can change colors on demand (which would be AWESOME!), but because I can move my eyes independently of each other. It gives me a serious eye-strain headache, but it’s entertaining. I may post a video one day….
- I live in Southern California, but I can’t stand the sun. It burns my eyes and makes my skin turn glittery–er, I mean, red. I should live somewhere like Ireland or Scotland where it rains a lot. Or Forks.
- Speaking of Ireland, I ran The Dublin Marathon in Dublin, Ireland, in the year 2000. That was my “epic millennial triumph” for the turn of the millennium. It rained the whole 26.2 miles. Chafing and blisters commenced.
- I am adopted. It’s pretty cool. I come from nowhere, anywhere, and everywhere. I’m pretty much a superhero.
- Speaking of being adopted, one of my favorite pastimes is people-watching. In airports, and waiting rooms, etc., I pretend to read, but really, I look for people who might be my long-lost birth relatives, then I write reunion scenes in my head. Someday, I might publish those reunion stories.
- I still read aloud to our 20-something year-old married children after dinner during our weekly Family Night. We like all things Middle Earth, Otherworld, Time-travel, and non-Muggle. We keep it real, baby.
- I have a secret that I can’t tell you.
- My children have some incredible tattoos.
- Book stuff: I love to read historical and dystopian fiction, but I usually write contemporary fiction. I keep threatening to put out a nonfiction book…but I kinda like the whole…ahem… ‘creative license’ thing with fiction. Baby, I was BORN TO LIE! (Bumper sticker, anyone?)
- I grew up in the boonies, so we had no television. But a supporter sent a shipment of all the Nancy Drew books ever published to us for Christmas one year. No, I wasn’t Nancy. I was George.
When in Italy… Learn Some Italian!
I love to travel. I grew up in the South Pacific on the island of Papua New Guinea, in the area now known as West Papua. My father was a jungle pilot and mechanic and we lived among the indigenous tribes there. My siblings and I made unchaperoned two day, 3000 mile, flights to and from a boarding school in the Philippines for high school, coming home for two and a half months in the summer and about two weeks over the holidays. Every couple years, our family would pack up and come back to the United States for a couple months. In other words, traveling has simply been a way of my life, and I love it.
What I don’t love, though, is the fact that I have a major mental block when it comes to learning new languages. Which seems odd to me, since I make my living with words. But for whatever reason, I’ve always struggled to learn new languages. Even though I spent most of my childhood in countries where my English was not even a second language, I bumbled and blundered my way through on the bare bones of the native tongues, not because I was lazy, but because it was the best I could do. In fact, I often taught my friends to speak English so we could communicate, as it always came much easier to them than it did to me.
The thing is, one of the most effective ways to endear yourself to people in another country is to learn something about them, and in particular, to at least attempt to learn enough of their language to show you’re not coming to them with an entitled attitude.
So with every trip I take, I make a point to learn a few catch-phrases and carry around a pocket English-to-Italian (or whatever language is spoken) dictionary, like the one Rick Steves puts out. (Rick Steves’ pocket travel guides, by the way, are BRILLIANT! Packed full of useful info; not just the dictionary!) The following list is never quite adequate, especially not when you’re slightly accident-and-blunder-prone like I am, but when I show that I’m trying, it never fails that someone will notice and take pity on me and offer to help.
Hi/Goodbye! (Informal) - Ciao/Salve!
Goodbye! (Formal) – Arrivederci!
Hello/Good morning! – Buon giorno!
Good afternoon/evening! – Buona sera!
Good night! - Buona note!
Welcome! – Benvenuti!
What is your name? - Como se chiama?
My name is Becky. - Mi chiamo Becky
It’s a pleasure (to meet you). – Piacere.
How are you? - Come va?
Fine, thank you! - Bene, grazie!
So-so – cosi-cosi
Please - Per favore
Thank you - Grazie
You’re welcome (Everything is fine. It’s all good. Etc.) – Prego!
Nothing/It’s nothing/Never mind - Niente
Excuse me - Mi scusi.
I’m sorry - Mi dispiace
I don’t understand - Non capisco
I don’t speak Italian - Non parlo Italiano.
Do you speak English? - Parla inglese?
How do you say “___” in Italian? - Come si dice in Italiano “__”?
Repeat that, please. - Ripeta, per favore.
Speak slowly, please. - Parli piano, per favore.
You are very kind. - Lei è molto gentile
“Hello” when answering the phone – Pronto!
My goodness!/Wow!/etc - Ai vello!
How much does it cost? - Quanto costa/costano?
Is the tip included? - Il servizio è incluso?
Can you help me? - Mi può aiutare?
Wait! – Aspetta!
Where is Fillunga Street? – Dove è via Fillunga?
Where it the train station? - Dove è trova la stazione?
Where is the bus stop? – Dove è la fermata dell’autobus?
Where is the public bathroom? – Dove è la toilette?
What is in this entrée? – Ciò che è nel antipasto?
There were several fun Italian terms, endearments, and phrases used in All the Way to Heaven. Here are a few of the yummy ones:
Tesora – My darling (literally: treasure – a term of endearment)
Un altro glorioso giorno! – It’s a glorious day!
Caffé y colazione – Coffee and breakfast
Alla Dolce Vita – The sweet life (This is the name of the guest house where Ani stays)
damigella in pericolo - damsel in distress
passerotta - sparrow (a term of endearment)
Vorrei baciarti. - I would like to kiss you.
Voglio baciarti! – (more urgent or informal) I want to/I must kiss you!
Brindiamo alla vita, all’amore, alla felicità. Salute! - We toast to life, to love, and to happiness. Cheers!
Cin cin! – Hear, hear! (informal response to a toast)
Sei ubriaco - You are drunk
Buonanotti e dormire bene - Goodnight and pleasant dreams
Cucciola - puppy (a term of endearment)
Invaiatura – The changing of the color of fruit as it turns from green to ripe.
Mi lasci senza fiato! - You leave me breathless!
Va con Dio – Go with God.
How I wish I could say I have these all stored on the memory files of my mind, but I’d be lying. There is one phrase I do know by heart; one I used often as I traveled from place to place during my stay in Italy. I leave you with this:
Mi sono divertita! (I had a wonderful time!)
Thanks for having me today!