COVER ME—the story of a single mom, a single man, and a health insurance plan…
Single mom Sunny Montgomery survived a lousy childhood with hippie parents as well as a terrible marriage with the cheating Kirk Stanley (AKA Kirk the Jerk), so she figured she could deal with whatever life threw at her. In short order, however, Sunny loses her job, car, health insurance, and life’s savings.
What’s a single mother to do? Get married, of course—though not for love.
Sunny accepts a marriage-of-convenience offer from her landlord, Ben Hart, so that she and Libbie, her asthmatic daughter, will have health insurance. The only problem is, she’s falling in love with him—despite the fact she thinks he’s gay. And, while she sometimes craves more distance from the temptation known as Ben, heaven knows that good, affordable apartments in Boston are as rare as winters without snow.
Through it all, Sunny perseveres. Whether beset by estranged hippie parents, money troubles, a creepy new boss, an is-he-or-isn’t-he faux husband, or the Boston mob, Sunny sustains herself with her inner strength, her best friend Dulcie, odd-duck neighbor Ray, and lots of mac-and-cheese, hot dogs, and ice cream. Oddly enough, what Sunny’s daughter, Libbie, wants—comfort food and plenty of SpongeBob SquarePants on the tube—aren’t fundamentally different from what Sunny wants—happiness and love.
Sunny’s struggles teach us that making lemonade from life’s abundant supply of lemons isn’t too difficult, as long as we follow our hearts…
So Sharona – With which character do you identify most closely?
I partially identify with the heroine, Sunny, but also equally identify with her nutty hippie mother, Daphne (“Daffy”). Because both characters have elements of me in them, COVER ME was a pure hoot to write. I was very much a hippie chick for many, many years, and still hold a lot of the same political values. I also have a grown daughter, so I know how the mother would feel about the estrangement with her daughter. But, because I’ve also dealt with difficult parental relationships in my own life, I perfectly understand why Sunny might want to keep her mother and father at arms’ length, and why she might feel pissed off at them.
Where did you get the idea for your latest book?
A long time ago, I was living with the man who’s now my husband. We’d never felt any special impulse to tie the knot, but when my ex said he planned to remarry, that meant I’d lose my health insurance. So, my live-in of nearly ten years and I got married. Though we do love each other, we had some fun with the wedding, including putting the initials of the health plan on the arch over the bride and groom atop the ice cream cake (ice cream cake because my daughter doesn’t like regular cake.)
I told the complete story of my wedding to someone once, and they said, “You should write a story about someone who gets married for health insurance.” The idea appealed to me, and the inspiration for COVER ME was born.
I spent most of my adult life in the Boston area, so setting the story there was a no-brainer. By the way, the information about health insurance options for the unemployed was accurate when the book went to press. But now Massachusetts has a completely different system. (Just wanted Massachusetts readers to know that yes, I do the research, but the Commonwealth changed the game on me when it was too late to revise the manuscript!)
Do you have a favorite comfort food?
Like my heroine, Sunny, and her daughter, Libbie, I love most all comfort food: old-fashioned macaroni and cheese (not some low-fat imitation), ice cream, homemade soups, rice pudding with lots of cinnamon and raisins. I love pretty much anything chocolate, though peanut butter’s a close second, and I’ve been known to go ga-ga over a rich, cinnamon-y coffee cake, too.
And coffee—I love coffee (any anything mocha). I would drink it 24 hours a day if it didn’t destroy my sleep. Starbucks is on my speed dial.
What advice would you give to aspiring romance writers?
Write what you love, because if you become a hit, readers are going to want more books in the same subgenre. That’s one of the best reasons not to write to market in some genre you don’t enjoy—you might end up with a career in it.
I also suggest you take the time to school yourself on the basics of grammar and story construction. It’s rare for an editor to buy a story whose mechanics aren’t the best.
Also—as they say in “Galaxy Quest” (and what a wonderful, silly movie that is)—Never give up! Never surrender!
Don’t quit trying, no matter what.
Thanks Sharona…and on that note, I’m off to write!