Monday, October 29, 2012


My guest today on Books by Banister is Women's Fiction author Francine LaSala. As she is also a professional editor and has written many non-fiction pieces, Francine wears many hats! Her first novel, the humorous and quirky Rita Hayworth's Shoes, was such a hit that it caught the eye of publisher Diversion Books (more on that below.) And now she's back with the very clever and engaging The Girl, the Gold Tooth, and Everything. Read on to find out more about this interesting, multi-talented lady and be sure to add The Girl, the Gold Tooth, and Everything to your TBR pile!   

1) Can you give us a brief overview of The Girl, the Gold Tooth, and Everything?

You bet! Mina Clark feels out of place and somewhat frustrated in her upscale community, but there’s more going on than typical suburban angst. Mina’s struggling with a terrible case of amnesia sparked by an event most everyone believes is best she forget. Plagued by confusion, Mina does not quite have her feet on the ground, and gets steamrolled by life--mountains of debt, nasty creditors, her daughter in the throes of the “terrible threes,” her busy-body homeowner’s association, the “judgey” other mothers in her development and the pre-school. On top of that, her husband travels for work constantly and she’s worried he’s having an affair. Then a trip to an unusual dental practice leaves her (unwittingly) with a gold dental crown and everything changes. She makes an empowering new friend and starts taking back the reins in her life. She also re-connects with a significant figure from her past, and things start to look up as her memories slowly begin to return. Except she’s also kind of crazy so everything may not be as it seems...

2) What's your favorite quality about your heroine?

Hard to say without giving things away about the story as my favorite quality in her doesn’t surface right away. So I’ll just say between you and me that my favorite quality of Mina’s is that she is blond! ;-)

3) What made you want to write The Girl, the Gold Tooth, and Everything?

I like to write books about objects that become catalysts for change in people’s lives. In Rita Hayworth’s Shoes, a woman feeling down on herself and down on life decides she’s worth the purchase of a fabulous--and fabulously expensive--pair of shoes, and her whole life turns around. She makes the decision to feel good about herself, and good things follow. The Girl, the Gold Tooth, and Everything first sparked in my head when I, too, (unwittingly) was implanted with a gold dental crown. I didn’t want it, I insisted it be removed, but the fit is so exact, it’s never coming out (it isn’t even cemented in). Anyway, I thought what if a woman being steamrolled by life got a sassy new attitude and empowered outlook on life after getting a gold crown implanted. That could make for fun story! The rest of the crazy mess pretty much just spilled out of that.

4) How long did it take you to write The Girl, the Gold Tooth, and Everything? What is your writing process like?

From inception to publication, I’m going to say about a year. My writing process is nothing like it was when I was younger. It used to be that in order to write anything, I needed absolute quiet. A full bottle of wine and a pack of smokes. The right music playing at just the right volume. If everything wasn’t “just so,” no words could come out of me. Once I had kids, I kind of had to “relax” my standards. I gave up smoking a long time ago, and while I still love my wine, I don’t ever drink and write. The most significant change to my routine, however, is the “absolute quiet” part of it. You can find me scribbling away in a notebook while waiting for the school bus, tapping on my keyboard while making dinner...generally writing for me now is all about sitting in the middle of a typhoon with a laptop, umbrella optional. Interestingly enough, I never finished writing anything within my old parameters, but since the “crazy” came into my life, I’ve published two novels, completed drafts for two others, and written three screenplays, all while juggling a pretty insane load of freelance work. I guess I’m one of those people that craves crazy, which is probably why I like Mina so much!

5) If Hollywood comes calling and asks you to sign over the movie rights for The Girl, the Gold Tooth, and Everything, who would you like to see play Mina on the big screen?

Christina Applegate is my top choice for sure. I didn’t write Mina with Christina in mind, but I just saw her the other night on Up All Night and I was floored. It was like somewhere in my mind, she was always lurking. Now is it because her character had amnesia on Samantha Who? Who knows. All I know is that when I see her, I’m like yep. That’s Mina.

6) What are you working on now?

Marketing! Also finishing some other books. Oh, and looking for a new job, if anyone knows anyone who could use a snappy copywriter, or a seasoned book editor. (Call me. Maybe?)

7) How do you think of titles?

I actually can’t write a book properly unless I know what it’s called because I can’t connect to what I’m trying to accomplish in a story without a title, but I can’t say I ever “think” of my titles. It’s more that they reveal themselves to me. Rita Hayworth’s Shoes came from a pair of shoes I fell in love with in an Ann Taylor store. They were called “Hayworth” and they were not in my budget, but they were so lovely I couldn’t resist! The Girl, the Gold Tooth & Everything is kind of an unintentional homage to an early ‘80s movie I loved growing up called The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything. It starred Pam Dawber and Robert Hayes and was about a guy who gained possession of a watch that could stop time. It has nothing to do with my book, but I love the musicality of that title, like Douglas Adams’ Life, the Universe & Everything, and I felt the elements of my story just fit so nicely into the framework.

8) Tell us about your cover art design. How did you come up with the concept or did you leave that to your publisher's art department?

I am absolutely blessed to have a close friend who is a phenomenal designer. She also did Rita Hayworth’s Shoes. The Girl, the Gold Tooth & Everything is such a complicated story, with a mouthful of a title, no one had any idea what the cover should look like. The publisher was also really worried about the title and how it would show on the cover. So I gave Trish my vision!

She graciously considered it without laughing, and gently fought me every step of the way to get to the cover we have now. She’s brilliant and highly recommended. And on Facebook! Go on over and “like” her here: Tricia McGoey

9) Your first novel, Rita Hayworth's Shoes, was originally self-published, then it was picked up and re-released by Diversion Books. Can you tell us more about your journey with this book and do you have any advice for indie authors who'd like to hook up with a publisher?

As Dory says in Finding Nemo, “Just keep swimming!” It really isn’t easy--the past two to three years especially, with agents and publishers not taking chances on new novelists. The real eye-opener for me is that I have been in the business for almost twenty years and there was still so much “swimming upstream” for me! The old rules no longer apply. So definitely try and build a following for yourself and your work, but also keep track of what publishers are putting out there--and not just the big houses. There are many exciting start-ups cropping up who understand the new landscape of book publishing in some ways better than the big guys, like my publisher, Diversion Books. Do your homework and only approach publishers whose lists reflect what you have to offer! And if you have your heart set on a big publisher, go get yourself an agent because you won’t get in any other way.

10) The fiction market is so competitive now. How did you find an audience for your work? What do you think are the most effective ways an author can promote herself?

Finding a market is tough but an important thing to remember is “Strength in numbers.” My advice is to get involved with other authors who do similar work and do a bunch of blogging, blog hops, interviews. Follow on Twitter and get followed. Retweet! Just REACH OUT! My other advice would be to try and promote in non-book areas. How can you cross promote your book? For example, when I first published Rita Hayworth’s Shoes, I approached shoe websites to offer some giveaways. And in June, for Book Expo, a friend of mine made 200 “red shoe” cookies for me, with tags that featured the book jacket and contact and ordering information, which I handed out to people on lines. See cookie picture here.  It doesn’t always work, but thinking outside the box can get you noticed. 

11) What are your thoughts on love scenes in books? Do you prefer to read/write sweet/romantic encounters between your hero and heroine or spicy ones?

Well I think this really depends on my mood!

12) Who are the authors who inspire you?

I love New York Times bestselling authors because they are wealthy! Just kidding! (Sort of.) I mean, I am inspired by J.K. Rowling, but more important to me is that an author delivers without selling out. When an author is true to her or his story, and doesn’t just write for the sake of “pandering to the masses,” even if their work never tops the bestseller lists, that’s the kind of author who inspires me. Mary Doria Russell flips genres with every book. I totally dig that! And getting back to Rowling, she could have done a spin-off Harry Potter series, but she had another story in her that had nothing to do with wizards and such, and she went ahead and told it. To me, that’s inspiring. 

13) What genres do you like to read? Do you stick to one or are you eclectic in your reading tastes?

I’m pretty eclectic. While I don’t read a lot of westerns or sci-fi or war stories (or anything in those genres, if we’re being honest), I like to laugh and cry in equal measure. I really do need to make more time for reading though. Between writing fiction and trying to make a living (for me not one in the same yet) and raising small children, there isn’t a lot of brainspace left at the end of the day for reading. (Though your In Need of Therapy is high on the list of must reads right now.) <Thank you, Francine!>

14) What was the last book you read that really WOWed you?

Mary Doria Russell’s Dreamers Of The Day really charmed and overwhelmed me, in a good way. I read it over the course of a few days and loved every minute.

15) If you could be plopped down in the middle of any book, which one would it be?

Would I have to stay there? Could I magically escape before things took a bad turn? Because I’m pretty sure Alice In Wonderland is the book I’d most want to visit but I’ve had to deal with way too many evil “Queens of Hearts” in my life to stick around and endure that game of croquet and the panic of possibly losing my head!

16) If you could invite any five people (living or dead) over for a dinner party, who would they be and why?

Oooo, I like this game! Voltaire because Candide is my favorite book. Dorothy Parker because no one quips better. Woody Allen because despite his questionable personal choices, Midnight in Paris, The Purple Rose of Cairo, and Annie Hall are all on my list of top-ten favorite films. Steve from Blues Clues because I’ve always had a weird fixation on that guy (don’t ask). And Barack Obama, just because.

Fast and Flirty 

Favorite scent?  I’ve been partial to Burberry Brit for a while. Wait--you meant from a bottle, right?
Favorite color?  Fuchsia, obnoxious but true.
Favorite food?  Sushi (well, truthfully fried chicken, but I try to ignore that)
Favorite word?  My real favorite word starts with an F and ends with a K and it isn’t frock. I know it’s naughty, but it’s such a powerful, versatile word. So maybe we’ll just say “luscious.”
Favorite article of clothing?  My husband just got me a baseball cap that reads “Got Wine” in the “Got Milk” font on the front. Yep. That’s at the top of the list right now.
Dream vacation spot?  The Caribbean for sure. St. Anywhere.
Favorite time period in history?  Never thought about it but as I’m kind of a party girl at heart, let’s go with the 1920s!
Favorite girl's night out drink?  Vodka martini, extra dry, extra olives.
Favorite date night activity?  TALKING to my husband! I know, seems crazy, but our lives are nuts and we barely get any time to just sit and talk like adult human beings!
Favorite song?  I’m partial to show tunes so I don’t think I could answer this question without humiliating myself.
Celebrity hottie on your laminated list?  Hmmm... John Cusack... Jon Hamm... No! Jon Stewart, for sure!
Novel hero crush?  I know this is awful to admit, but I’ve never gotten over Rhett Butler from Gone With The Wind. I just can’t seem to shake him and I read that book about twenty-five years ago! <You'll have to fight me for Rhett, Francine! I fell in love with him when I was just 11 years old and remain a diehard fan to this day!>

Thanks, Tracie, for having me on Books By Banister! Here’s how to find me out in the world:

About Francine's books:


A fast-paced, richly layered, and darkly humorous satire filled with quirky characters and unforgettable moments of humanity! 

Mina Clark is losing her mind-or maybe it's already gone. She isn't quite sure. Feeling displaced in her over-priced McMansion-dotted suburban world, she is grappling not only with deep debt, a mostly absent husband, and her playground-terrorizer 3-year-old Emma, but also with a significant amnesia she can't shake-a "temporary" condition now going on several years, brought on by a traumatic event she cannot remember, and which everyone around her feels is best forgotten.

When a trip to the dentist leaves Mina with a new gold crown, her whole life changes. Slowly her memory and her mojo return. But when everything begins to crash down around her, she's not sure if what's happening is real, of if she's just now fully losing her mind... especially when she realizes the only person she can trust is the one she fears the most. What's it all going to cost her in the end?

Buy The Girl, the Gold Tooth & Everything:  Amazon


Amy Miller gets dumped on her wedding day and everyone knows it's for the best her relationship with David had eaten away at her for years. Except for Amy... When her best friend, Jane Austen-Rabinowitz, and Jane's sagacious six-year-old daughter, Zoe, convince Amy to treat herself to an extravagantly priced, super-cute pair of shoes, which purportedly once belonged to a siren of the silver screen, she balks at first, but their allure soon wears her down.

Once they are hers, her life turns around. She gets refocused on her career and meets a true kindred spirit, the also-jilted English professor, Decklin Thomas. She's not attracted to Deck at first. But when circumstances lead to them spending more time together, they bond, and Amy starts to believe she may have found her soul mate. But when Deck's former wife goes missing, again, the perfect romance may not be what it seems... Sparkly and witty as a 1940s screwball comedy, and filled with quirky characters and lots of delightful surprises, Rita Hayworth's Shoes is a story of bouncing back, a heartwarming and potentially heartbreaking romance, and even a mystery rolled into one fun, hilarious page-turner.

Buy Rita Hayworth’s Shoes:  Amazon


  1. Great and tremendously candid interview. I loved The Girl, The Gold Tooth and Everything, and will review it on Amazon shortly. I have also recently added Rita Hayworth's Shoes to my TBR. I loved the shoe candy pic! Well done for thinking outside the box.

  2. I, too, have never forgotten The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything! Don't know what it was about that movie--guess it hit a sweet, pre-teen spot between a budding interest in romance and the power that time-stopping watch might give me to stop time and read longer instead of having to clean my room :-) Enjoyed your interview--looking forward to reading the book!

  3. What a fantastic interview, Tracie and Francine. And fabulous advice for all of us indie authors out there. I am excited to read both of your books, Francine, and I agree--Jon Stewart all the way!

  4. Great interview, ladies! The books sound fun. Love the covers.