The Secret Sisters Club by Monique Bucheger – Interview

Author Monique Bucheger:

Monique Bucheger was born in Landstuhl, Germany to active duty Air Force parents. After watching her creative writing teacher’s astronaut son lift off in the Space Shuttle Endeavor, she recalled a promise to her teacher to write the books only she could write. In January of 2011, her first book made it through the first 3 tiers of Amazon’s National BreakThrough Novel Award Contest to the top 5%. In November of 2012 Mrs. Bucheger was offered a 3 book contract for her Ginnie West series. Book one: THE SECRET SISTERS CLUB: A Ginnie West Adventure was published March 8, 2012. Her second book: TROUBLE BLOWS WEST: A Ginnie West Adventure was published April 14, 2012.

Mrs. Bucheger has championed the cause of children as a foster parent to over 120 children and her books embrace and empower people on all sides of the child abuse issue.

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? 
Mint chocolate chip, unless I want it covered in Reese’s chocolate shell, then I prefer something chocolate based like rocky road, or chocolate peanut butter.

Any other books in the works?  
Yes, I have another series: Ryding Through Troubled Waters. Here is my quick pitch: When his parents return from their second honeymoon in matching mahogany caskets, nineteen year-old Cale Ryder not only inherits the family ranch, but his three teenage brothers and kid sister, Brandi. Thrust into sudden fatherhood, Cale doesn’t have time for a lot of nonsense and quickly lets everyone know there’s only room for one alpha dog in the fight to keep the family together. While battling a busybody aunt, child protective services, and the rigors of ranch living to provide for his siblings, he tries not to wonder what life would be like if he could do what he wanted, instead of what everyone else needs. 

Goals for future projects? 
The novella to introduce the first book is all but done. Book 1 is a third finished and Book 2 is mostly complete. It needs a final edit after I finish writing Book 1. My fourth Ginnie book will have Cale’s kid sister, Brandi, and Ginnie be frenemies. Well, that’s the plan. Both Ginnie and Brandi are very opinionated people, I probably shouldn’t set anything in stone … at least until I’ve written it. J

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published. 
A woman who had been horribly abused as a child messaged me one day that she was a ‘lurker’ on our crit site and that she had read all of my books. She went on to tell me about her horrific family life and said she liked my books, because even though her own family life was a train wreck, she liked the idea of other people actually living in close-knit families that looked out for others as well as their own. She said that when she read my books, she felt peace and belonging and that visiting with the Wests was like visiting good friends. It really touched me deeply that my story could bring healing to her.

If you could jump in to a book and live in that world, which would it be? 
Honestly, I would jump into mine. I’m a country girl at heart and “The Heart of the Wests” farm is a real place. A place I spent every minute I could as a teen. The “real” family that lives there now are not the Wests, but they embrace to close-knit feel of the family. Only they don’t have any horses … I would have to buy one … and I would probably name her “Calliope.” J

What is your dream cast for your book? 
I always imagine Uncle Ben as Bruce Boxlietner. I can see his real life wife, Melissa Gilbert (who was half-pint on Little House on the Prairie) as Aunt Sadie. Ginnie has been called a modern day Laura Ingalls, though anymore, I tend to see her more as the blonde version of Merida from Disney’s Brave. My first choice for Ginnie would be one of the little girls who lives on the “real’ West farm. My youngest son would make a perfect Toran in a few years.

What is your favorite Quote?
You can’t out give God … but it doesn’t hurt to try. J Treating people well can’t be wrong, and I think the world could use a little more kindness.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you “grew up”? A mother. As a teen that turned to a mom and a writer.

Favorite Food? Homemade bread with real butter.

Favorite Candy? Good chocolate: 
Ghiradelli squares, Lindor truffles, Russell Stover creams. Though I am partial to Reese’s peanut butter cups as well. J

What do you do in your free time? 
Who has free time? J I have 12 kids and I’m a writer. That pretty much covers my whole day. J 

Who or what inspired you to become an author? 
My high school creative writing teacher created a “Young Author’s Program” and encouraged all of her students to embrace their imaginations.

Finish the sentence- one book I wish I had written is….

Bridge to Terabithia

Favorite music?
Country and Christmas

If you had 24 hours alone how would you spend it? 

Writing, snacking on good chocolate and homemade bread with real butter. I did that once—for two whole days … bliss! J

If you could take over the world, would you? 
Probably not. But I do like to be in charge of my own corner of it.

Do you prefer to write in silence or with music? 
I prefer silence, though some songs really help me focus when I am in a place where I can’t control the noise level. McDonald’s Play Place comes to mind so I can write while my youngest kids play.

What is your favorite scene in the book?  

In Simply West of Heaven, I like the chapter where Ginnie’s dad’s secret is revealed. I also liked the denouement. I still both laugh and cry when I read it. It came out far better than I had imagined it … mostly because quiet Tillie pushed me out of the way and took over the scene.

Which scene or characters were the most difficult for you to write and why?

Tillie (Ginnie’s best friend and future sister) is a tender-hearted soul who has pinned her hopes on certain things happening. When that situation is threatened, she can’t cope and goes to a dark place in her mind. It took me a few days to write those chapters and I had a constant headache from crying.

My toughest critiquer encouraged me to really explore Tillie’s devastation. Tillie embodies three abused girls I knew as a tween/teen, one of which found me on Facebook shortly before that and asked me some hard questions as to why our classmates had treated her badly. Her home life was tragic and yet, she was shown little compassion at school. I have carried a lot of guilt for years knowing she needed help, but being 12, I simply didn’t know how to help her. I’m sure that was a catalyst for my becoming a foster parent. As it turns out, she considered me one of 2 friends she had from that time, simply because I had stood up for her a few times when our classmates teased her. That made me feel better, but I wished I had offered her more invitations to play at recess or on a sleepover or something more meaningful.  

What’s your favorite word? 
I have two: Skittered and Twitterpated, both used in Simply West of Heaven, my third book. “Skittered” is a word my illustrator, Gary “Scoot” Rasmussen used to improve a short story I wrote and brings to mind the day we became friends. “Twitterpated” is just fun. J

Do you write as you go or do you have the book all planned out from page 1? 
I am a pantser who benefits from a little plotting.

If you could leave this world for your “book world,” would you? 
Without hesitation … if I could take my family with me. My illustrator is an author, artist, and horse-whisperer, along with a zillion other things and calls me “a cowgirl-in training” I want to be a “for real’ cowgirl.” J

What book do you love that doesn’t get a lot of hype? 
Crux—a fun read by the awesome Julie Reece.

What makes your novel standout from the crowd? 
It is a slice of life family drama with heart. I love fantasy along with everyone else, but I think there is still a place for an up-lifting story dealing with real-life tragedies in a meaningful way.

How do you overcome writer’s block? 
I don’t often have ‘writer’s block”. What I do have quite often is a serious lack of time and quiet to figure things out.

140 Characters or less Tweet about your book. 
The Ginnie West Adventure series is a slice of life family drama with a whole lotta heart!

What is your favorite part of the writing/publishing process? 
When my characters hijack my story and make it better. I’m writing the last chapter of a novella for my second series, and even I still don’t know how it ends. I know where I think it will go, but every time I sit down to write it, my characters tweak it. On a side note, I do believe that for the most part, it is better to write the ending long before you get there. However, that advice isn’t working for this story. So I’m still wondering. I hope to find out soon. J

THE SECRET SISTERS CLUB: A Ginnie West Adventure (BOOK 1)

Twelve-year-old BFF’s Ginnie and Tillie, want to be sisters. Ginnie’s widowed dad plus Tillie’s divorced mom could equal a lifetime of round-the-clock girl talk and slumber parties. Too bad Dad vowed to never marry again. Ginnie and Tillie form a secret club and come up with the perfect mission to change his mind: ‘Operation Secret Sisters’.

Before long, Tillie seems happier about gaining a dad than a sister. Ginnie suspects that Tillie has turned ‘Operation Secret Sisters’ into a scam called ‘Operation Steal My Dad.’  Things get more complicated when Ginnie stumbles across her real mom’s hidden journals. Ginnie can finally get to know the mother she doesn’t remember and Dad doesn’t talk about.

When Dad discovers she has the journals, he takes them away. Ginnie needs to figure out what the big mystery is before her relationship with her father and her best friend are ruined forever.

TROUBLE BLOWS WEST: A Ginnie West Adventure (BOOK 2)

Putting her body in motion before her brain is in gear creates a mountain of problems for 12 year-old Ginnie West. She is certain that defending her twin brother, Toran, from the biggest bully in sixth grade was the right thing to do. But Ginnie couldn’t be more wrong.

She quickly figures out that Toran doesn’t appreciate being rescued by a girl any better than Charlie likes being knocked down by one. When Charlie seeks revenge on Ginnie, Toran sets aside his anger and helps her plot a playback prank at Charlie’s house.

Sadly, Ginnie learns that Charlie has a reason for being a bully when she sees his dad drop him to the floor like a ragdoll with one awful blow to the chest. Realizing he’s a boy in big trouble, Ginnie switches gears and decides to be his ally, even if he won’t let her be his friend.

I loved this book! I didn’t know a book without zombies could be good! 15 yr-old Amanda

SIMPLY WEST OF HEAVEN: A Ginnie West Adventure: (BOOK 3)

Twelve year-old Ginnie and her BFF, Tillie, schemed to get Ginnie’s widowed dad to fall in love with Tillie’s divorced mom. It worked. But before they could become ‘for real’ sisters, Ginnie stumbled across her dead mom’s journals. Which was totally awesome sauce… until her dad took them away and won’t tell her why. Now all their plans are starting to unravel.

If that’s not bad enough, Ginnie’s favorite uncle drops the mother of all bombshells and leaves her in a maze of uncertainty. While her head is still spinning from that news,  a blast from her late mother’s past shows up and makes Tillie goes nutburgers. Ginnie realizes her best friend has her own agenda and Tillie’s plans to merge their families may not be so innocent.
SIMPLY WEST OF HEAVEN is a contemporary MG novel that follows Ginnie West as she tries to make sense of one too many curve balls tossed her way in the most pivotal summer of her life.