Q&A: Maureen Joyce Connolly, Author of Little Lovely Things

by Heather Caliendo
Maureen Joyce Connolly interview - book club chat
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Maureen Joyce Connolly is the author of Little Lovely Things.

Maureen is a former owner of a consulting firm that helped specialty drug companies to develop medications for ultra-rare diseases. Maureen received her Bachelor’s degree in physiology from Michigan State University and her Master’s degree in Liberal Studies from Wesleyan University. Her background in science and love of the natural world informs and inspires her writing. Little Lovely Things is her debut as a novelist. She is also an award-winning poet, published in diverse outlets such as Emory University’s Lullwater Review and Yankee Magazine.

Here’s the synopsis for Little Lovely Things:

It is the wrong time to get sick. Speeding down the highway on the way to work, her two little girls sleeping in the back seat, medical resident Claire Rawlings doesn’t have time for the nausea overtaking her. But as the world tilts sideways, she pulls into a gas station, runs to the bathroom, and passes out. When she wakes up minutes later, her car—and her daughters—are gone.

The police have no leads, and the weight of guilt presses down on Claire as each hour passes with no trace of her girls. All she has to hold on to are her strained marriage, a potentially unreliable witness who emerges days later, and the desperate but unquenchable belief that her daughters are out there somewhere.

That sounds so good – can’t wait to read it!

Let’s get to know Maureen with the following Q&A where she talks favorite novels, the inspiration behind Little Lovely Things; what makes a well-crafted novel and much more!

What are some of your favorite novels?

Oh gosh – I have so many!!! And they range across genres – I love anything by Louise Erdrich, Elizabeth Strout, Gillian Flynn. I just finished My Dark Vanessa, by Kate Elizabeth Russell, and was completely blown away. I am drawn to stories that include deeper themes that I can take away and think about after the book is done.

When did you know you wanted to become an author?

Forever and ever! I think I just thought like an author, in other words I was always constructing stories since I was a little kid. I was also, however, deeply drawn to science and so that was what I pursued in college and my career. It took me a long time to embrace the notion that I could, in fact, be successful as a writer and so here I am, a bit later in life, a living example of following ones dream.

What inspired you to write Little Lovely Things?

I had two children and then a gap and my last baby at forty. Essentially, I was a new mom all over again, only I knew more and had greater depth of experience, which of course meant I also had more fears. When I brought my baby home it seems as though I was surrounded with stories on the news about abduction. This of course is not true – I was just more sensitized to it! I kept imaging what it would be like once the story subsided form the forefront in the media – and asked the question how does one restructure their lives after extreme tragedy?  Once the idea was born it basically wouldn’t leave me alone until I wrote about it.

What do you think are some of the key elements for a well-crafted story?

The story must be compelling. It must capture a reader’s imagination from the very beginning and make them want to turn page after page. I think the most important element for this is well-developed characters. I am far less interested as to how the plot resolves than I am as to how characters change over time based on their experiences throughout the narrative.

Book Club Chat is all about the book clubs – what’s the best way for book clubs to reach out to you to arrange a visit via in person or Skype?

I love to visit book clubs either in person or on Skype! Please don’t be shy, feel free to reach out to me at [email protected]com or DM me through Instagram https://www.instagram.com/maureenjconnollyauthor – I have done plenty both ways (even face time works) – and enjoy it immensely. What is better than chatting about books and drinking wine virtually?

What are you working on next?

I am close to having a first draft of my second novel which will not be like my first novel so that is very exciting and scary! I’ll take every good wish and happy vibe you can send my way!

What are you currently reading and what’s on your TBR (to be read)?

I have the longest TBR list on the planet! I am an omnivorous and hungry reader, so the this list of mine seems to grows exponentially all the time. In addition to other authors asking me to review their upcoming novels and editors requesting blurbs, I have my own list of books I feel I can’t live without until I read. I also try to keep genres other than fiction in play, which means I have at least one of each book of non-fiction, memoir, poetry (I have a background in poetry and several poems of mine are publication-pending!) and short story, in play at any given time. Here is an example of authors/titles I am in the midst of reading or wanting to read: Review copies include; Wendy Walker, Samantha Downing, Megan Collins, August Norman, Christina McDonald, R.L. Maizes. I’m also currently reading is Lidia Yuknavitch’s memoir, The Chronology of Water. For poetry it is hands down, Tishani Doshi. My current short story read is Lauren Goff’s, Edible Birds, and for non-fiction I’m dabbling in Barry Lopez’s Arctic Dreams.

Thank you to Maureen for participating in the Q&A!

Click here to order Little Lovely Things on Amazon.

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