Hi, Abbey! Thanks for inviting me on over to this whimsical and delightful Miss Bookworm site! I am so looking forward to this chat.
Why did you choose GVR Corcillo as your pen name?
GVR Corcillo is how I choose to represent myself on my books, but it is not really a pen name – it is my complete name. And I decided that since when I write, I draw upon every aspect of who I am, my name should represent who I am. GVR Corcillo stands for Geralyn Vivian Ruane Corcillo. My given name is Geralyn Ruane. Then, when I was in 7th grade, I lied to a priest in order to snag Vivian as my middle name. For Confirmation, I was supposed to choose a saint's name, but I had just seen Gone With the Wind, so I told the priest Vivian was my grandmother's name, and he let me take it. It isn't, but do I feel guilty about lying? Hardly. What does the Church expect, letting 7th grade girls choose their own names? Many years later, I married Ron Corcillo and chose to change my last name to Corcillo. Many of my friends were surprised by my decision, but I don't see what's so empowering about keeping my Dad's name. Thus, I became Geralyn Vivian Ruane Corcillo – a name that represents all of me - the laughter, the pain, the triumph, the tears, the elation, the disappointments, the hope, the emptiness, the kindness - and everything else that comprises a life. But 4 names is quite a mouthful, so...GVR Corcillo!
Now, how did you decide on the name for your book? Do some people get it wrong and think the book is erotica?
Some people do, yes! Every once in a while I will get an angry one star review, and if I look to see what else the reader has rated, I will discover mostly erotica books among that reviewer's favorites. But I am not trying to fool anyone. I specifically chose a goofy illustrated cover in order to get across the humor of the book. My next book, Queen of the Universe, generates no such titular confusion. (Okay, pun intended.) The title She Likes It Rough is meant to make you look twice, for sure, but it is also tongue-in-cheek – the heroine Lisa is ALWAYS making life hard on herself, and throughout the book, during her adventures, she is quite literally choosing the rougher path!
The inciting incident of Lisa's quest to change herself – the freak fast-food accident – is bizarre and hilarious. How did you come up with idea of having a fast-food drive thru crush and nearly kill your heroine?
First I came up with the idea of Lisa getting so depressed by NOT fitting into wedding gowns that she responds by completely pigging out at a fast-food restaurant – totally emblematic of how Lisa makes decisions that make her life less and less satisfying. From there, I knew something had to happen with the fast food to shake Lisa up. Why the fast-food? Because one of the themes of the book is that Lisa must learn to stop avoiding her life's wishes and goals, always relying on crutches to get her through the day. So it was crucial that one such crutch – comfort food – is what almost does her in.
What genre does your book come under?
When my book was free for five days on Amazon, it was in the Top 5 all five days in the Humor category. It was also in the Top 5 all five days in the Romantic Comedy category. So it fits nicely into either of those genres. And of course – don't look now! - I am about to call my book...Chick Lit!!! The genre Chick Lit has been reviled and declared dead practically since it's inception, but just look at Meg Cabot's books and Sophie Kinsella's books and Helen Fielding's books. Chick Lit is anything but dead!! She Likes It Rough has also so far advanced to the Quarter Finals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards in the Romance category, so the book can slide into the Romance genre as well. All this being said, I must admit, I am not a big fan of pigeon-holing books into categories. I often wonder what would happen if J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye were released today. Would it be labelled Young Adult and dismissed by “serious” literary critics the world over? Would it make it to the reading list in almost every high school in America? Maybe not.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones's Diary. The playful irreverence of the story as a woman tries to become the hero of her own life echoes throughout my book. With one big difference. My heroine Lisa's goal is never to get a guy or get married. Her prime directive is to make her life count for something, to become more significant. Her interaction with the hero Jack is a big part of that journey, but Lisa never focuses on her 'single' status as something she needs to remedy. Because of this shift, She Likes It Rough reminds me of Lisa Lutz's Izzy Spellman Series. Though my book is not a mystery, it uses wacky situations to explore not only romance, but relationships with family, career angst, and ways and means of getting along with the rest of the populated world.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I can easily see She Likes It Rough as a major motion picture starring Scarlett Johansson and James Franco. In The Avengers and in Captain America, as Black Widow, Scarlett Johansson has shown that she can play tough and bold and adventurous. And her turn in The Nanny Diaries shows how well she can play a more tentative character – making her so easy to picture as the perfect Lisa. And James Franco – no matter what I have seen him in - including Veronica Mars, where he pokes fun at himself! - he exudes confidence and a complete comfort with who he is – and that is Jack to a T.
I notice She Likes It Rough won Best Indie Book 2013. Congratulations!
How or why did you decide to indie publish this novel?
It's all because of Leonard Wang Kingsley! I went to school with him, and we met up again a few years ago at a class reunion. So, we began emailing each other. (We live on opposite coasts.) I talked a lot about my writing goals and aspirations. Last spring, he sent me an email suggesting I self-publish my novel. Really? I thought. Could I be so bold? He sent me a list of everything I would need to do, and ever since that email, I have been working on everything on that list! Also Debra Holland, a wonderfully generous and phenomenally successful author that I have known for years, has been another inspiration. She self-published several of her novels two years ago and has blasted a beacon of light and guidance across the world of publishing.
Often you hear about the “bells and whistles” aspect of a book – the exciting hook that's going to make people pick up the book. What are the “bells and whistles” of She Likes It Rough?
Kick-ass Jack and and clutzy Lisa'a adventures out in the wild! Their derring-do in the great outdoors was so much fun to research and write! Lisa is so scared, but she steps up and jumps when Jack coaches her to jump - into the middle of the ocean, off a cliff, out of a plane. Lisa leaps completely out of her own world, which is dominated by pop culture references to the movies, TV shows, songs, books, and commercials she's been surrounded by all her life. How she melds what happens in the wild with what goes on in her everyday life is the essence of the story.
Why did you start writing?
Because I had nothing to lose. It took me a long time to figure that out. I have wanted to “BE A WRITER” since eighth grade when I stated my intentions to my English teacher, Mrs. Sheehan. And she said, “That's good. You have a flair for writing.” And for the next twenty years, I dreamed about “BEING A WRITER.” But I didn't act on this dream because I was petrified that if I actually tried to be a writer, I might not become the world's most amazing best-selling powerhouse that I wanted to be. So, I graduated from college but did not seriously pursue writing as a career. But you know what? I didn't pursue anything else seriously either, because truly, I was saving my heart and soul for writing. By the time I was in my mid-thirties and tired of paycheck to paycheck jobs, I finally decided, “What the hell? I may as well write – I'm not really doing anything else anyway! What have I got to lose?” I had finally come to understand that for me, getting immediately rich and famous, while that would be great and is by no means off the table, isn't as important as simply loving the work I do every day. So now I spend every waking minute I can spare, and many minutes when I should be sleeping, working hard on my writing career.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Years! This book has gone through so many incarnations. Very little is left from the first 'first' draft except the hero's name and the scene in his office that involves the wetsuit. Over those years, not only the story, but also my writing style was evolving as I became more and more comfortable with and confident about my own voice.
What kind of advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Find that balance between your vision and what critique partners and beta readers say about your writing. If people critiquing your work understand your story, characters, and goals, and they give you advice on how to more effectively convey your narrative - great! But beware of beta readers who simply want your story to go a different way because that is how THEY would have written it. Stick to your vision, but be willing to consider advice on how to better convey that vision.
Tell us something interesting about yourself that not many people know..
I can no longer give blood because I am a possible carrier of Mad Cow Disease. What can I say? It happens.
Thanks, Abbey! This was fun. I look forward to lots of comments from your followers and fans – I love to connect with fellow bookworms! So, everyone, if you have a question of your own, or just want to shoot the breeze, I'll be here all day :)