Friday, May 17, 2013

Blog Book Tour: The Repeat Year by Andrea Lochen -- Author Interview and Book Review

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book by the publisher in order to write up an honest review.  The views shared are mine and mine alone.

Title: The Repeat Year
Author: Andrea Lochen
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: May 7, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-425-26313-6
Page Count: 400
Price: $16.00 US/$17.00 CAN
Why You Should Read It:  

"Imagine if you could do over one moment; the worst moment of your life.  Better yet, what if you could do over the worst year of your life? For readers of Emily Giffin and Sophie Kinsella, The Repeat Year, a story of second chances and forgiveness, is one that you are going to want to repeat.

About the Book:  

Everyone has days, weeks, even months they wish they could do over—but what about an entire year? After living through the worst twelve months of her life, intensive care nurse Olive Watson is given a second chance to relive her past and attempt to discover where she went wrong.

After a year of hardships including a messy breakup with her longtime boyfriend Phil, the prospect of her mother’s remarriage, and heartbreaking patient losses at the hospital, Olive is ready to start fresh. But when she wakes up in her ex-boyfriend’s bed on New Year’s Day 2011—a day she has already lived—Olive’s world is turned upside down.

Shouldering a year of memories that no one else can recall, even Olive begins to question herself—until she discovers that she is not alone. Crossing paths with Sherry Witan, an experienced “repeater,” Olive learns that she has the chance to rewrite her future. Given the opportunity of a lifetime, Olive has to decide what she really wants. Should she make different choices, or accept her life as she knows it, flaws and all?
About the Author: Andrea Lochen earned her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan.  While there, she won a Hopwood Novel Award for a draft of The Repeat Year.  She currently lives in suburban Milwaukee with her husband and teaches Creative Writing at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha."


One of the perks of writing a blog is getting to interview some amazing people -- from mom and dad entrepreneurs to authors.  It is a bonus when I can read an author's book, and then interview them to learn more about their love of writing, how they came up with their book ideas, and even ask a few fun questions.  With that being said, I would love to share my interview with Andrea Lochen, author of The Repeat Year, which was recently sent to me for review.  My review is included in this, after the author interview. 

Please enjoy my interview with Andrea, and I hope you go and pick up her new book, as it really is a great book, and one I know you will enjoy. :-)

-- Author Interview --

Tell me about your book. How did you come up with that (story, angle, idea)?

The Repeat Year is the story of Olive Watson, a young intensive care nurse who wakes up on New Year’s Day to find herself reliving the previous year.  With this unique insight, she must navigate the prior year’s challenges and mistakes—lost patients, an affair that ended a committed relationship, the remarriage of her mother.  Olive’s path intersects with Sherry Witan, a fifty-eight-year-old eccentric, who turns out to be an experienced “repeater” and an unlikely mentor with her own demons to face.

As a writer, I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of the paths not taken, of the choices we could have made and the alternate lives we could have lived.  I think this is one of the delights of reading: that we get to experience other realities without leaving the safety of our cozy chairs!  The idea of reliving an entire year is one I tucked away for a long time until I had the right character for the premise.  I knew I wanted Olive to be an everyday heroine, someone people could relate to, and once I realized she was an ICU nurse, everything kind of clicked into place for me. 

How did you get interested in writing this particular genre?  

I don’t think writers consciously choose our genres; I think our books choose us.  I set out to write a story that I would love to read.  I think The Repeat Year crosses genres and would appeal to many readers: fans of women’s fiction, magical realism, literary fiction, humor, romance, etc.     

Do you have any favorite authors or favorite books? 

Oh, yes!  So many!  I love Jane Austen, Edith Wharton, J.K. Rowling, Kathryn Stockett, Joshilyn Jackson, Juliette Fay, Kate Morton, Marisa de los Santos, and Lorrie Moore, to name a few.   

What's a typical working day like for you? When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal? 

I write drafts fast and feverishly (in only a few months, barely coming up for air) and revise slowly and painfully (over the course of a year, a piece at a time).  I write in my home office during typical work hours (9-5), allowing myself a lunch break.    

What is the hardest part of writing for you?  

Definitely the revision, although I’m getting better at it.  Revisiting a draft-in-progress time and time again can be challenging for me, especially trying to see it with fresh eyes, but I also know it’s the only way to make the book the strongest it can be.  So I persevere!

What’s the best thing about being an author?  

Since this is my debut novel, I was beside myself with joy seeing my words printed and bound in book format.  Like a real book!  I know it seems so obvious, but after seeing it as a Word document for so long, it’s a surreal experience to hold your book in your hand, page through it to skim your scenes and glimpse your characters’ names, and feel how substantial it really is.

What are you working on now?  

My second novel also has a magical premise in an otherwise realistic setting.  A young single mother’s world is turned upside down when she starts to see her son’s imaginary friends.

What advice would you give aspiring writers?  

The main difference between the amateur writers and the professionals is not talent, but hard work and persistence.  So hang in there!  If you revise and develop your craft and refuse to be defeated by the rejection you will inevitably face, you’ll get there one day, so don’t lose heart.

What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer that question?  

When did you know you wanted to become an author?  I’ve known since I was in the third  
grade.  My third grade teacher, Mrs. Murphy, taught a unit on writing and “publishing” stories 
and I fell in love!  Parent volunteers typed up the stories, we bound them with contact-paper 
covers, and they were displayed on “library shelves” in the classroom where our classmates 
could check them out.  I knew from then on that I wanted to be a published author one day.     

---My Thoughts---

Have you ever found yourself wishing you could do things over in life? If you were given the opportunity to repeat a year in your life would you, knowing that you would also have to relive tough things that you would rather forget?  With all the different movies that have released over the years with this theme, like "Groundhog's Day" and "A Christmas Carol," I don't think I would want to.  What about you?  To me, events that happen in our lives help shape the people we are.  They make us stronger and wiser.  I know for my, my cancer diagnosis and treatment in early 2008 is one event in my life I never want to relive again.  But, it did put a new perspective on my life, and show me how precious our time on Earth really is.

In Andrea Lochen's new book, "The Repeat Year" we meet Olive Watson, who will have to relive a year of her life, she really wishes she didn't have to.  And knowing the mistakes that she had made during that year, only makes having to relive each moment, that much more difficult.  Olive ends up going to bed and waking up on January 1, 2011 -- even though it should be Jan. 1, 2012.  This is the year she broke up with longtime boyfriend, saw her widowed mother marry a man she dislikes and say goodbye to a friend.

As the story progresses, Olive meets a woman named Sherry, who is a friend of her mother's, who helps her navigate her repeat year, and guides and supports her through the changes she needs to make to turn a bad year into one that she can move on from, and start fresh in 2012.

The characters in this book are well developed, and make the story a page turner.  You hope that Olive can make it through her repeat year, and makes the necessary changes to mend her broken heart.  Will she be able to do, and finally wake up in 2012?  I am not going to spoil the ending for you.  You will just have to pick up a copy of the book to find out for yourself.  It really is a page turner, and can be read in a weekend (as you will not want to put it down once you begin reading.  I can't wait to see what other book Andrea Lochen comes up with next.  I will definitely be keeping an eye out, and following her from now on! :-)

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book by the publisher in order to write up an honest review.  The views shared are mine and mine alone.

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