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Elyse Douglas is the pen name for the married writing team Elyse Parmentier and Douglas Pennington. Elyse grew up near the sea, roaming the beaches, reading and writing stories and poetry, receiving a Master’s Degree in English Literature from Columbia University. She has enjoyed careers as an English teacher, an actress and a speech-language pathologist. She and her husband, Douglas Pennington, have completed three novels: The Astrologer’s Daughter, Wanting Rita and a Christmas novel to be released later this year.
Douglas grew up in a family where music and astrology were second and third languages. He attended the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music and played the piano professionally for many years. With his wife, Elyse, he has helped to pen The Astrologer’s Daughter and Wanting Rita.
When asked how they write a novel together, Doug often answers, “Well… If Elyse is dismissive and quietly pacing, then I know something’s not working. If I’m defensive, dramatic and defiant, then I know Elyse will soon be scowling and quietly pacing. We remind ourselves of Rita and Alan James in our novel, Wanting Rita. How the books get finished, I don’t know.”
Elyse Douglas live in New York City.To learn more about Elyse Douglas, go to their website: www.elysedouglas.com
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We like to say that WANTING RITA descended from the ether: plot, emotion, characters and setting. The idea came in one night – actually, early one morning. The story was like an anxious friend, who kept saying “stop messin’ around here, and finish this thing. Here it is, take it down.”
What was the experience like writing Wanting Rita?
The book seemed to be waiting for us every morning; we worked on the first draft 6 days a week, 6 hours a day. We worked on subsequent drafts for several years. We are extremely proud of the final product.
How did you come up with the title?
The title was a natural outcome of Alan’s passionate and persistent love for Rita. After we decided on the title, we realized that one of the paintings which hangs in our living room would be the perfect visual complement for the title. It is an oil painting by Elyse’s mother, Monique Parmentier. It depicts a scene in the last part of Section One, when Alan James is watching Rita, painfully aware that he has lost her and she is going to marry someone else. Since we self-published, we were able to choose the title and cover design.
Can you tell us more about your main character, Dr. Alan Lincoln?
Alan James Lincoln is a highly intelligent snob, who falls for Rita in their senior year in high school. She excites him and baffles him. Her beauty awakens a young passion that engulfs him. Through his persistent and loyal love for her, he grows both as a boy and a man.
What are his strengths and what are his weaknesses?
Alan is thoughtful and smart. He contemplates the big issues in life. His weakness is that he is haughty, insecure and, at times, indecisive. Because of his insecurity, he fails to tell Rita a secret which threatens to destroy their relationship when they re-unite 15 years later for a passionate summer.
What about Rita? Can you tell us more about her?
Rita Fitzgerald is a beautiful, impulsive and intelligent young woman who shoots to small-town stardom after winning a local beauty contest. Her family is poor and her father has a dark past. Rita carries emotional scars from that past. She falls in love with Alan, a smart rich kid, but believes that nothing will ever come of it. So, she marries someone else. That marriage ends tragically 15 years later, and that’s when she and Alan reconnect.
Are there any other supporting characters we need to know about?
Frank Fitzgerald, the antagonist, is Rita’s father. He’s a very dark character: bitter, abusive, controlling and manipulative. Alan’s wife, Nicole, also plays a supporting role. There is a very funny and poignant section of the book, when Alan is at a party held to celebrate Nicole becoming a partner at the law firm where she works. He slowly realizes that his wife is sleeping with her boss.
Can you open to page 25 and tell us what’s happening?
It’s a flashback. Alan and Rita are seniors in high school. Alan has come up with a way to ask Rita to go out with him, but he is afraid of rejection and ridicule.
What about page 65?
Another flashback. Alan and Rita are on their first “night-time” date, at a secluded spot overlooking a lake. They are dancing to music from the car radio and suddenly Rita does something that angers and disappoints Alan.
Now that Wanting Rita has been published, what’s your next project?
We are currently completing two novels with Christmas themes, which we plan to publish in the fall. They are called The Christmas Diary and Christmas Ever After.
Thanks, Elyse and Douglas, for this wonderful interview. Do you have
anything you’d like to tell our readers that haven’t been discussed?
We would love to hear our readers’ responses to Wanting Rita. Comments can be left on our website, or through reviews on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.