Please welcome Eve Marie Mont, author of a new novel, Free to a Good Home!

Eve Marie Mont lives with her husband, Ken, and her shelter dog, Maggie, in suburban Philadelphia, where she teaches high school English and creative writing. Free to a Good Home is her first novel. She is currently revising her next book, a YA novel inspired by Jane Eyre.

by Eve Marie Mont

First of all, thanks so much to Vera for inviting me to guest post on Luxury Reading. And what a great title for a blog for book lovers! To me, both reading and writing are luxuries. I teach high school English full-time, so much of my year is devoted to planning lessons and grading papers. Writing, while still work for me, is a luxury and a gift. I agree with Gloria Steinem who said, “Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.”

When I asked Vera for suggestions for what to write about for my guest post, she mentioned perhaps something about my writing process. Free to a Good Home is my debut novel, but it’s my second book (my first did not get picked up). I am currently revising my third book, so at this point, I’ve completed three manuscripts, and they’ve all followed a similar trajectory in terms of my writing process. So far, I have started writing every one of my books over winter vacation, although the idea for the book may have first entered my head months, if not years, before. Over the winter and spring, I usually outline the plot and develop the characters, sometimes writing a messy first draft.

But summer is the time when my mind clears itself of all the clutter from the school year and opens itself up to new ideas, character motivations, and plot twists. Ideas come to me in the shower. A notebook sits by my bedside for those nights when the characters wake me up and demand that I write a scene in the dark. I can sit on my laptop for hours, unaware of the time passing. My husband claims that when I’m writing, he can have entire conversations with me that I will later have no recollection of having.

It helps that I had two really clear inspirations for Free to a Good Home: one was my adorable shelter dog, Maggie, now thirteen years old but still a puppy to me; and the second and more important was my mother-in-law, Anne Mont, who just passed away this May after a courageous battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease. The book centers around Noelle, aveterinary technician whose most steadfast relationship in her life is with her Great Dane, Zeke. In my real life, I am fortunate enough to have the most loving and supportive husband, but when I was writing the book, I asked myself, what if I suddenly didn’t? What if my husband left me? How would I cope? And the answer was, in part, through the unconditional love of my dog.

Then I asked myself, what if Noelle was still so in love with her ex-husband that she would do almost any favor he asked? What if, for example, he asked her to take care of his ailing mother? Again, fiction diverges from truth because my mother-in-law, Anne, was the sweetest and most selfless person I have ever met; as someone described her at her funeral, she was “grace personified.” But her fictional counterpart, Margaret, is bitter and ornery, and she’s never liked Noelle. And once Noelle is chosen as her caretaker, Margaret resents her even more.

After I had these “What if?” questions in mind, the rest of the story fell into place. A new love interest entered the picture to complicate Noelle’s life, and along the way, Noelle got fed up with her constant doormat status and began to take charge of her life. When the book was finished, I revised and revised, then sent my query out to at least fifty agents, and crossed my fingers. Six months later, I had found an agent, the amazingly savvy and supportive April Eberhardt at Kimberley Cameron and Associates. I feel so lucky to be a part of this wonderful community of writers and readers now—it truly is a luxury. Thanks so much for having me, Vera!

I hope you’ll check out the contest on my website for a chance to win a book club package of eight signed copies and a Skype call-in. Also, if you’d like to read a sneak preview, click here.