I decided to write about a woman who recognized this was not the path for her and tell the story of how she rebooted her life. I see fiction as a vehicle to not only entertain but provide inspiration for the reader.
Catherine Drake – 10 May 2022
The Back Flap
A young, determined woman figures out life and love while staying true to herself in this whip-smart and genuinely witty debut.
Twenty-eight-year-old Hannah Spencer wants nothing more than to change everything about her life. After ten years of living in cities, Nathan Wild has just moved back home to Vermont and doesn’t want to change anything about his.
Recently laid off from her depressing job in Boston and ready for a challenge, Hannah heads to Vermont for the summer to take care of her sister’s kids and do some serious soul searching. There, against the stunning landscape of the Green Mountains, she embarks on an ambitious project: building a treehouse for her niece and nephew. As she hammers away, she formulates a plan to jump-start her life with a new job out West. But will Nathan-next-door complicate her desire to change course? A witty, romantic, and inspiring story of a young woman taking control and making tough choices about love and work to build the life she wants, The Treehouse on Dog River Road will have you rooting for Hannah every step of the way.
About the book
What is the book about?
At 28, Hannah Spencer is disillusioned with her current life. After college she had followed her friends to Boston and ended up living a life that she never imagined for herself. She makes an abrupt decision to leave her well-paying job and take some time to reconsider what she wants to do and where she wants to live. This respite takes the form of a move to Vermont to take care of her niece and nephew for the summer. There, while building them a treehouse, she falls for Nathan who complicates her desire to embark on a new life out West. The book explores a young woman putting her life on hold to take stock and uncovers what is truly important to her in her quest to create her best life.
When did you start writing the book?
The idea for the story came to me about 10 years ago, but I didn’t get serious with the writing until 2017.
How long did it take you to write it?
I finished the first draft in about a year. I did not share it with anyone until it was complete and then hired a professional developmental editor. After several full edits, I then submitted it for publication and signed the contract in late 2020 for a May 2022 pub date.
Where did you get the idea from?
The main reason I chose this theme of pausing and taking stock of your life was to inspire others, especially young women, to do the same. I had been witnessing smart, energetic, creative young people heading to cities across the country after college with their friends and then ending up unhappy yet paralyzed with indecision about what to do next. I decided to write about a woman who recognized this was not the path for her and tell the story of how she rebooted her life. I see fiction as a vehicle to not only entertain but provide inspiration for the reader.
Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?
I wanted to get the construction aspects of building a treehouse accurate, but not provide so much detail that it would drag down the story. This was not a struggle, but took some extra effort.
What came easily?
Dialogue. I love writing dialogue.
Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?
They are all fictitious but some of them are an amalgamation of people I know. The dog is 100% the personality of a dog in our family.
We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?
Jana Casale. Her book, The Girl Who Never Read Noam Chomsky is wonderful. The main character in the story is so familiar and relatable, and Casale writes with love, warmth, and humor. She has another book coming out this year and I can’t wait to read it.
Do you have a target reader?
My book resonates with millennials, mostly women, but many men have also enjoyed the story because of the construction aspect and the action scenes. Dog lovers are big fans.
Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?
Yes. I wake in the morning and my brain is on fire with a million ideas for everything in my life, not just writing. I write down any thoughts on scraps of paper, leave them scattered about the house, and later consolidate them in my notebook. I even have a waterproof notepad in the shower. Eventually it all gets on to the computer.
Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?
My outline for this book was an excel spreadsheet with rough scenes – just a few sentences.
Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?
I revised a little bit while writing but did an extensive edit after working with my developmental editor.
Did you hire a professional editor?
See above about a developmental editor
Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?
No music. I like it quiet, but with people around to engage with when I take breaks.
Did you submit your work to Agents?
No. Understanding the statistics of agent response to debut authors, I thought querying would be a frustrating and time-consuming effort.
What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?
When I completed my book, I asked my writing coach if she felt it could be published. I had written the book as a personal challenge and knew nothing about publishing. She told me about an author who published with a hybrid indie with a direct manuscript submission process. That was a perfect fit for my personality. I was happy to have been selected by She Writes Press.
Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?
My publisher works with designers to create the cover. It is a collaborative process, and they provide us with a few choices. I love my cover!
Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?
I have a publicist and my publisher provides a lot of guidance on marketing. I also enjoy a tight community with other She Writes Press authors and we share marketing strategies.
Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?
Do it because you love writing and want to share your work but be aware of the extremely competitive book market. Play the long game. Build a platform as soon as possible and learn about publishing and have realistic expectations.
Where did you grow up?
Where do you live now?
What are you working on now?
I am currently outlining the book that I have been longing to write. It is a contemporary story of a grandmother, mother and 16-year-old daughter, each experiencing transitions in their life, who, due to unexpected circumstances, end up together on a road trip to a most unexpected place.
End of Interview:
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