Thursday, October 1, 2015

Getting to Know: Tori Madison - author, mother, breast cancer survivor

October is Breast Cancer Month.  It's important to me.  Several women in my family have been stricken with this awful disease. You know about this illness.  You are inundated with information  each October.  However, very few books, especially romance genre, deal with the main character having breast cancer.   There is one romance book series that is on my "YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK" list.   If you friend me on Facebook, you know it is the Beneath Series by Tori Madison.  The main character is dealing with the journey from initial diagnosis to treatment of breast cancer.  It is everything you want in a book that evokes all sorts of emotions.

How about you get to know Tori- the author - first.  You can read about her bio on Amazon and Goodreads, but let's share now:

Happily married and the mother of two, Tori Madison is active in the world of philanthropy and finds joy in making a difference in lives of others. She is an avid reader, lover of life and a breast cancer survivor. Currently residing with her family in Minnesota, she can often be found at Caribou Coffee or at the dance studio with her kids. With a well-known weakness for dark chocolate with sea salt and cheesecake, she also has a fondness for chips and fresh salsa.

Writing a book was never on her radar. After a challenge from a friend to write 1,500 words the story came to life and a new opportunity to make a difference was born.   

I had the honor of interviewing Tori for a book readers group, Darlene & Dexter's Book Nook, for Author Spotlight on October 1st.  If you don't belong to this group, please consider joining this awesome bunch of fellow bookworms.  There is a lot of posting of book love there.  I need to make finding the interview easy to find, so here is the author spotlight with Tori: 

Author Interview
1.  Most often in this genre, the reader will identify with the Heroine. Many women associate part of their sexuality with their breasts.  They can’t imagine being without them.  Victoria’s story could have still unfolded but had a secondary character have breast cancer.  Maybe a parent, sister or friend.  Why was it important to have Victoria be the one with the diagnosis?  What considerations did you take when crafting the intimate scenes? 

When I was considering writing a book, I felt it was important to tell the story of a woman with breast cancer directly and for me writing in the first person was the easiest. Ten years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer, but it still feels like yesterday. It was necessary to write Victoria while going through it because I wanted to give people the emotions of being in her shoes. I applaud authors who write a character with breast cancer, but most of the time it is a secondary character or a family member of that secondary person. It was time for the woman battling breast cancer to tell her story. The intimate scenes were a challenge for me. I needed to make their physical relationship hot at the beginning to allow the reader to see and feel the changes that occurred throughout the process of losing her breasts. When a woman loses her breasts it affects her physically, but often the mental aspect isn’t seen by those around her. It was important to share those moments of doubt when she was naked and vulnerable. 

2. Secondary characters always bring a catalyst for the main characters to react.  Maybe a push in the right way, a ‘stern’ conversation, needed interference, etc.   Although Jillian has a small part, her character has a lingering value in the storyline. Jillian is definitely gives Victoria a push in the right direction.  This could have been Bobbie Jo, Jen or Dana that did the ‘push’. Why Jillian? What is her importance to you in telling Victoria’s story? 

Jillian wasn’t on my radar when I finished Beneath it All. I was about 25,000 words into Beneath, You’re Beautiful when she made an appearance and wanted to share her story, within the story. In hindsight, Jillian gave me another platform to tell the story as a person supporting someone diagnosed with breast cancer. It allowed me to build a really strong character whose presence spoke volumes in a small amount of time. I had a Jillian in my life and I feel like she was speaking to me to tell this part. I couldn’t have Bobbie Jo, Jen or Dana do it, it needed to be her.

3. Has your family read the series?  If yes, which ones and did they learn anything maybe they didn’t know before? Do you hope someday your daughters will read the series? 

Yes. My mother-in-law actually did some proofreading for me. She was a language arts teacher in Minneapolis for years, and I knew she would do a good job. I made it clear that it was fictional and that I wouldn’t discuss the intimate scenes with her. She actually told me she loved the books and was proud of me. 
My husband read Beneath it All while we were on spring break.  
“Hello?” he fumed when I walked back to our beach chairs with our daughters.                
“Huh?” I asked unsure what he was talking about.                
“You ended it with Hello. Who does that?”                
I began laughing, it was his first fictional romance novel and he wasn’t used to cliffhangers. 
I told them they can read it when they are 18, I’ve got four years. They were four when I was diagnosed so they don’t remember much, other than eating chocolate cake in my bed and coloring on my bald head.

4. You’ve given the reader two stories:  #one- Romantic HEA and #two- Solid Friendships.  Are there any plans to give any HEA’s to Bobbie Jo, Jen or Dana? 

Yes. I’m slowly working on The Martini Series. The girls will each get a book of their own, with Victoria sprinkled in there. Bobbie Jo is first and I’m about 12,000 words into her story. My goal is to have it finished in early 2016.

5. You’re a daughter, mom, wife, work-life refrigerator monitor, and author.  How do you balance it all? Twin teenage daughters would run me ragged.  When do you find time to write?

Between working full time, raising teenage girls and helping care for my mom who has terminal cancer, my writing time has been limited lately. I hope to hit it hard soon. Writing, like reading, is a nice escape from real life and I enjoy disappearing into another world for a few hours.

6. Favorite beach you want to have the Cabana Boys service you is? Tell us if you’ve been there or would like to someday. 

Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman. It is my home away from home as I’ve been traveling there since the early 90’s and we have many friends there. We haven’t been for a few years, but hope to go back for our 20th anniversary next year…if I can sell a few more books! ;)

7. How many cups of coffee before we can coherently have a conversation in the morning? 

I need at least one 16 oz. cup of French vanilla coffee with sugar-free Italian Cream or Peppermint Mocha creamer. 

8. You compose an email campaign to right a wrong.  The CEO of Cheesecake Factory has discontinued the following cheesecake.  Which cheesecake is it? 

Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake. It would be a travesty! I eat half of it right away and save the other half to eat in the morning with my coffee. However… I did try the new Salted Caramel Cheesecake on Saturday night and it was Ahhhhhhhhhmazing. 
How did I find Tori?  That's an interesting story.  We met thru another author's webpage through mutual admiration society.  As Tori got to know me, she asked through another mutual friend PM'ing if I would consider giving her book a read.  I click on the link and stared.  You see, Amazon had put this book on my "Recommended for You" several times.  I scrolled on by.  I had read the synopsis. Breast. Cancer.  I lived it, breathed it, and had heartache over it.  Why oh why would I subject my precious escape time to such a rotten disease?  What if the author brought back more painful memories by mimicking my own experiences?  I pulled on my big girl panties and said yes, I'll try to give it a read.  I figured at most, if it was too much, it would be my first DNF.  Not only did I finish, but pretty much had the same reaction as her husband at the end of book one.  If you want my entire reviews,  please hop on over to Goodreads for Beneath It All and Beneath, You're Beautiful. 

Now through October 31st, Tori is offering the Beneath series in a boxed set on Amazon.  

For every boxed set that is sold, Tori will donate $1 to a local breast cancer charity, Hope Chest for Breast Cancer. Their mission is to provide the quickest access to help for the most urgent emergency needs of local financially challenged breast cancer patients. Programs include providing emergency funds, such as rent, utilities, transportation, and deliver nutritious meals for individuals during their breast cancer experience.

Want a chance to get the box set and not spend a dime? There will be the donation of $1 per set.  Each Friday on myownbookshelves Facebook page, there will be one lucky winner via chosen during the month of October.  You just need to find the post with **GIVEAWAY** with the above picture and comment.  Just once.  If you don't get picked that first Friday you have entered, all previous unpicked commenters go into the pool for re-draw.  That means a total of four chances of you comment by October 9th. 

Does a book on Breast Cancer scare you?  Do you think you can put the fear aside to give it a chance? If you've read this series, give me your comments below.  Please join in the conversation. 

Author Tori Madison, Facebook, Google or Amazon are not responsible for this giveaway.