Molly O’Keefe won the RITA this year for her contemporary novel Crazy Thing Called Love. Her latest romance, Indecent Proposal, comes out at the end of this month. I have had the great fortune to talk with Molly several times–she is one of the funniest women I’ve ever met–and I am pleased to be interviewing her today.
Molly will be giving three lucky AAR readers each a copy of Indecent Proposal. To be entered in that drawing, just leave a comment below.
Dabney: Hi Molly, thank for talking with AAR.
Your third book in your Boys of Bishop series, Between the Sheets, came out in July and the next, Indecent Proposal, comes out at the end of this month. Let’s start by talking about the series itself. Do you see all the heroes as Bad Boys? And why Bishop, Arkansas?
Molly: I wish I’d called the series The Bad Boys of Bishop – that’s a fun hook. Why didn’t I think of THAT!!! I think Brody the former Marine turn bodyguard in Never Been Kissed is a Bad Boy and Ty the biker/single father in Between the Sheets totally looks the part and has a pretty dark past. But I would have a hard time called Harrison my hero in Indecent Proposal a bad boy. He’s driven, rich and for a while there he’s pretty cruel to the heroine, but he comes around pretty fast.
I wanted to set the series in a small town that had agricultural industry but had been hit hard by the recession because in Wild Child my hero Jackson enters into a crazy reality TV contest in order to bring industry back to the town. I also had this weird fascination with okra at the time… so it all sort of landed in Arkansas.
Dabney: The latest book, Indecent Proposal, doesn’t take place in Bishop at all. It’s primarily set in Georgia where the hero, Harrison Montgomery, is running for Congress. I live in the South–my sister actually lives in Georgia–and I thought you nailed the modern South. But aren’t you a Mid-Western girl? And a Canadian?
Molly: Oh my gosh – that’s a fantastic compliment!! I’m so glad that worked. My Aunt and Uncle live in Arkansas and they answered lots of questions and for Indecent Proposal I actually spent quite a bit of time talking to friends who are activists in Atlanta – so, I got some great insight from them.
I am a mid-west girl! I grew up in a cornfield way outside of Chicago and I met my husband (a Canadian) while we were both at school in St. Louis. We dated long-distance for a number of years until we decided to get married and I moved to Toronto.
Dabney: Harrison comes from a political family that has a Kennedy like feel, complete with a Chappaquiddick-esque scandal. Harrison, however, is trying to be a better man than his political forebearers. What inspired you to write a politically based plot?
Molly: I really wanted to write a Marriage of Convenience book and it’s hard – in contemporary – to make that trope work. Why would someone in this day and age have to get married and then stay married? So, I needed a hero with a lot at stake should word of a one-night hook up resulting in a pregnancy get out in the world. I also am fascinated by politics and how good people with great intentions can get lost in the machine.
Dabney: The book paints a pretty grim picture of American politics even as it showcases the idealism of those who work for Harrison. Have you ever worked on a political campaign? How did you do your research for that part of your story?
Molly: No, I’ve never worked on a political campaign. I would love to! Frankly, a lot of the research for the campaign was watching old episodes of The West Wing. Harrison is part idealist, part cynic which makes him a mix of Sam Seaborn mixed with Josh Lyman – for those of you who are West Wing addicts like myself!!
Dabney: A theme that runs through the series is the way media coverage can wreak havoc in innocent people’s lives. What interests you about that?
Molly: I love the push/pull of public personas and reality. Even when the person isn’t famous. I love writing about characters who have secrets and worrying about the press finding out, or the public, adds a layer of conflict and often gives me a chance to blend internal and external conflict. Harrison, in particular has been living his life trying to be something that he’s not – a version of himself that’s nearly impossible to maintain. When the secrets come out it’s almost a relief.
Dabney: I’ve read all four books in the series and feel they’ve just gotten better and better. Is Indecent Proposal the last of the Boys of Bishop books?
Molly: I’m so glad you liked the books – I agree, each of them got better. My favorite is Between The Sheets (I love romances with kids) but the first half of Indecent Proposal was about the most fun I’ve ever had writing a book. Every scene just seemed to be so loaded with drama. Indecent Proposal is the last of the Bishop books – but I really want to do a series with Ryan’s brother Wes and sister, Nora.
Dabney: You write about people who have been deeply wounded by life. Most of them don’t know how to love themselves, let alone some one else. Do you feel your characters have to learn to love themselves before they can truly love another?
Molly: I do write some pretty damaged people, don’t I!? I think, yes, there’s a certain amount of loving one’s self that’s required, but I really like the idea that characters have to clear the way to fall in love. They have to get rid of those secrets, and that damage and the hate and anger. And meeting the hero or the heroine is usually what makes them want to start doing that kind of work or makes them realize they need to do the work.
Dabney: Crazy Thing Called Love won the RITA last year for Best Contemporary Romance. (Congrats!) What were you thinking when you were announced as the winner?
Molly: No one NO ONE expected that. So much did I not expect that – my shoes were off under the table. Even my editor, when the other amazing finalists were being listed, gave me this look like – yikes! Those are some serious names. It was a total thrill and totally unexpected.
Dabney: Will you write more–oh please write more–about Wallace and Noelle from Indecent Proposal?
Molly: Oh, Wallace – I love him so much! He was an absolute dream to write. Smart and sarcastic. Giant heart – all those bad ties. I have no plans to work on another project with them – but it would be fun!!
Dabney: There is a scene in Indecent Proposal that involves butchering a deer. It’s hilarious and a little crazy. Have you ever seen anyone butcher a deer? Or, like the neighbors in the book, been to a butchering party?
Molly: I knew a lot of hunters growing up and everyone had freezers full of venison. I spent one weekend with a friend at a hunting cabin and we drove back with a deep strapped to the top of the truck – but that was the closest I’ve ever gotten. I did watch several fairly gruesome You Tube videos on how to butcher a deer. Not something I want to ever do in reality. It was bad enough having poor Harrison have to do it.
Dabney: What’s next for you?
Molly: Well, I’m taking a quick departure from the next series to write a two-book series about a woman on the run who finds a cell phone and starts a compelling, dangerous and sexy relationship with the man on the other end. I’m about halfway done with the first one (tentatively called Do You Trust Me?) and I’m loving it. It’s dark and sexy and really exciting. I am not sure when that’s going to come out. But stop by my website and sign up for my newsletter and I’ll let you know.
Thank you so much Dabney!! It’s always awesome chatting with you!