In Your Next Beach Read, we want to introduce you to a new author every day in June in the hopes that you’ll find the next book you want to take with you to the beach, the pool, or the comforts of air conditioning.
Today’s author is Arielle Haughee, author of How I Met My Other.
What’s your name (or pen name) and where are you from?
My name is Arielle Haughee and my last name is pronounced “hoy.” I used to teach and at one school they gave each teacher a name plaque for their door. They decided on first initial of the first name followed by the last name. I was A. Haughee…pirate jokes abounded that year.
How long have you been writing? How did you start?
After having my first son, I started to go a bit crazy at home. How many times can you say “not in your mouth” a day before you start climbing the walls? My favorite escape was reading but I kept having this problem—the characters were deviating from their story lines in my head. Then the setting would completely change and everything that happened was different. My brain couldn’t keep all this in, so I started filling notebooks with these story ideas. After a failed novel attempt and a quick realization that I had no idea what I was doing, I threw myself into learning craft. I joined writing organizations, went to local events, entered contests…anything I could think of. That was almost six years ago and now I have my own publishing company, Orange Blossom Publishing. I’ve also won three Royal Palm Literary Awards for my work.
Who are some of your influences?
For memoir, I love Maya Angelou’s book Mom & Me & Mom. The development of their relationship is so real and layered with struggles and challenges. The flowering of their bond is beautiful and gripping. I also love Chelsea Handler’s memoir, Are You There Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea. Her humor and bluntness make her family stories true fun to read. Both of these books are wonderful memoirs even though their tones are completely different.
What is your book about?
How I Met My Other is a collection of true love stories from all different kinds of couples. Some are laugh-out-loud funny while others are sweet and romantic. You’ll be cheering on each couple as you dive into the how, when, and why. Some of my favorites include a breathtaking love story in a town in Antarctica, a hilarious Valentine’s Day dinner gone horribly wrong with hot sauce, and a step into the past with a wounded soldier and the sassy nurse who cared for him.
Where did you get the idea?
I was often
dragged invited to networking events with my husband. Whenever I met a new couple, I would ask them how they met. It was always fun to see how people lit up telling their stories and how different and interesting each story was. How-we-met stories became my favorite to hear and one day I decided to collect a bunch of good ones and put them in a book.
How long did it take you to finish it?
I have two stories in this collection. One, The Gift of Gossamer, is the story of how my grandparents got together. Grammy was engaged to another man and went on a revenge date when her fiancé overseas asked to dance with other girls. That story was incredibly challenging because my grandfather died before I was born but I had to get his personality right for the story. There were lots of phone calls to Grammy. It took four months for me to get the final version. The other story, Out of the Park, I co-wrote with my husband about our bad first date and our second chance years later. We had fun reliving our beginnings and that story only took about a month with only some minor arguments over little details (that’s not how it happened, yes it is..). The entire collection took a little over a year to put together.
Is this your first book, or have you written more than one?
I have two other books that released this year in completely different genres. My children’s picture book Grumbler received a great review from Kirkus and was featured in their May publication. It’s about a grumpy creature who lives in the dump and keeps trying to get rid of love he is given. The only problem is when you give away love, you get it right back. Grumbler is a sweet story that will also make kids laugh. My second book, The Complete Revision Workbook for Writers: Tools for a Polished Novel, is a book on writing craft that is meant to help authors of any level on any novel project. I’ve really enjoyed the feedback from writers who’ve told me how helpful it is with their manuscripts.
We all like to write about people we know, even if we never name them. Who are some people who inspired characters or situations?
One of the joys of writing nonfiction is that I do get to include real people in my stories. My great aunt Marge passed away last year and she was a fun, goofy, wonderful person. “Purple isn’t my favorite color, it’s the only color.” She has an important role in The Gift of Gossamer and writing her character was a fun way to reconnect with her. In Out of the Park, I included one of my dearest friends Katie who has always been an amazing support in my life. She’s always been a wonderful cheerleader and talked me through a lot—including first date nerves.
What’s your favorite scene in the book?
Oh wow. There are so many, it’s hard to choose. I begged one of my talented author friends, Paige Lavoie, to send in her story that is famous in our friend group. I was not disappointed. Her voice in Cute Hat Boy and the Weird Girl is so hilariously spot on and the opening scene is fabulously awkward. She and a friend are in a coffee shop / bar late at night that featured live music. It was a full house so she sat in what seemed to be the only available spot, a guitar case. Well, she overestimated the case’s weight limit and crushed the case with her butt. She looked up only to see in mortified disbelief that the owner of the case—the cute singer on stage—was coming towards her. And that’s only the beginning. It’s such a fun story and I am so grateful she gave it to me to share.
What’s the best piece of writing advice you ever got?
Progress, not perfection. Another wonderful author friend, Racquel Henry, runs a writing studio, Writer’s Atelier, that focuses not just on craft classes but also mental mindset and building an uplifting community. She preaches this dictum. Focus on making improvements with everything you write, from one draft to another, from one book to the next. If you focus on absolute perfection, you’ll never get the project done. It’s helped me to stop being so critical of my work and to put more of my stories out into the world.
What’s the worst?
Release three books all at once (or in a very short time span). This is popular advice for series writers, particularly those who write to genre standards in speculative fiction and romance. The idea is that you have a whole series out together and people will read all three and you will build your fandom faster. Can you do it? Sure. But I accidentally did it this spring—three books released in two months—and it was one of the most stressful times of my life. I worked nonstop from November through May, getting up very early and staying up very late, working in all my spare time, skipping meals…you get the picture. It was not fun. In fact, I had a major burnout and it took quite a while to get myself going again. Don’t do that to yourself if you don’t have to.
Where can we buy your book?
How I Met My Other is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Signed copies are available on my website, www.orangeblossombooks.com. You can also see pictures of the couples and get updates on the Orange Blossom website, too!
Previously an elementary teacher, Arielle Haughee (Hoy) is a three-time RPLA-winning multi-genre author and the owner of Orange Blossom Publishing. She is the Contest Coordinator and a writing coach at Writer’s Atelier writing studio, as well as a judge for the Royal Palm Literary Awards. Arielle is the author of The Complete Revision Workbook for Writers as well as the picture books Grumbler and Joyride (2020) and the editor of the How I Met My Other anthology series. Learn more about Arielle at www.ariellehaughee.com or follow her on Facebook or Instagram @orange_blossom_books.