Monday, July 27, 2009

HAPPINESS KEY: Interview and Giveaway



Meet four women who think they have nothing in common except the oyster-shell road that runs between their ramshackle beach cottages on a spit of land called Happiness Key.

When her husband is sent to prison, pampered Tracy Deloche is left with twenty-five acres of Florida Gulf Coast sand, five tumbledown beach houses and no idea how to start over. An exile in a strange country, Janya Kapur has left her wealthy, close-knit Indian family for an arranged marriage to a man she barely knows. Plainspoken Wanda Gray is tired of watching her marriage fail, so she takes a job guaranteed to destroy it-if her husband cares enough to discover what she's doing. Since her daughter's death, widow Alice Brooks has grown forgetful and confused. Her son-in-law and granddaughter have come to stay, but Alice isn't sure she's grateful.

When the only other resident of Happiness Key dies alone in his cottage, the four women warily join forces to find his family. Together, they discover difficult truths about their own lives and the men they love and uncover the treasure of an unlikely friendship. Meet four women who think they have nothing in common except the oyster-shell road that runs between their ramshackle beach cottages on a spit of land called Happiness Key.


Hello, Emilie. Thank you for agreeing to do an interview for my book blog, BOOKIN’ WITH BINGO. That is where I will share all the good news about you and your writing. Is there any personal information you’d like to start out with…like a picture or website?

Website is

1. What is the next or current book you are working on?

FORTUNATE HARBOR, the sequel to HAPPINESS KEY from MIRA in 2009, is what I am working on. MIRA and I were so happy with the outcome of HAPPINESS KEY that a sequel just made sense although I hadn’t intended one when I was writing it. I’ve found, though, having done this before, that I always leave tantalizing threads in the original novel I can follow up on. Stories mentioned but not yet embroidered characters from the past who suddenly reappear, themes I didn’t have time to explore. So there was a wealth of material to work on, and I was delighted to have another rendezvous with these characters, whom I so thoroughly fell in love with.

2. What have you just finished reading?

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. I’m listening to Storm of Swords by George Martin and I’m nearly finished with that as well. On my nightstand is Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.

3. What books would you say have made the biggest impression on you, especially starting out?

As a child I read everything I could get my hands on. I basically swept through our small public library and read indiscriminately. I loved Jane Eyre and Gone with the Wind and other popular novels about strong women overcoming incredible obstacles. I think it’s clear that theme left an indelible impression on my work.

4. What gets you started on a new book? A character or story idea or….?

Yes to both and almost anything else. Titles are often a catalyst for me. Although I knew from the onset that Happiness Key was going to be a friendship novel, something I’d wanted to write for a very long time, the actual story was suggested by the title, which I came up with first and loved. In fact I loved it so passionately that if my publisher had said no to it, I would have written a different book for them and kept this one for another time. I’ve actually done that. Titles are very evocative for me.

5. What is something about you that you would want people to know about you that we probably

don’t know?

Yikes, without boring you to death? Hmmm…well, if you read my blog, you’ll see I bake all my own bread and love to share recipes. I’m cultivating a sourdough culture that runs my life but makes great bread and pancakes. I do this as much for the sentimental connection to all those people who’ve used it in the past as for the great bread I can make. Anyone who reads my books knows that connections to the past are one of my indelible themes.

6. What is your best advice to anyone, including young people, who want to be writers?

First, congratulations to you on such an important job. And what a joy it must be to read their work (referring to my teaching job of 37 years that I just retired from). I have two things to say, actually. One, never let anybody tell you it’s not practical to pursue writing or any of the arts. Maybe you will need another job to supplement, at least at first, but you should always follow your heart and do what you love. Always. Two, pay attention to your own rhythms and find the best time of day to practice your craft. Set aside time and a quiet place and let the muse have its way. Invite it in, and listen to what it teaches you.

7. What did this book mean to you? Did it change your life? If so, how?

From the moment I began writing Happiness Key I began to think about all the keys to happiness. Happiness Key wasn’t just a title, but a question, too. Exactly what does make people happy? Not “fleeting smile” happy, but bone deep, all’s-right-with-world happy? I don’t think this is a question anyone can answer quickly or lightly. And it’s not an answer we can parrot, based on teachings we follow or other people’s experiences. The answer is individual, emotional, vital.

One of the answers my characters come up with is friendship. And thinking about that made me realize how little time I spend with my own. We’re all so busy, and if we’re lucky, we shoot off the occasional email or less often, indulge in a quick phone call. Now that I’ve thought this through, I’m trying harder to make time for friends, as well as the other things that make me happy, like more time to read and quilt and bake bread, more uninterrupted time with my husband, becoming a better listener when my children want to talk. Enjoying my walks with our crazy beagle instead of resenting the time they take.

Happiness is something we too often take for granted but maybe we always need to be thinking about it and making adjustments in our life with happiness as the final goal. Is that selfish? Because I can hear women, in particular, wondering the very thing? I don’t think so. Because when we’re happy with our lives, then we make other people happy, too.

Something my characters learned. Something I learned. Something I’m still learning.

Thanks for this interview, Karen. It’s always a pleasure to talk about my books. Actually, it makes me happy.



I have one copy of this exciting book to give away.
Please follow the simple rules and the book
could be yours very soon!

--U.S. Residents Only
--No P.O. Boxes, Please
--Email address must be in your comment
--ALL comments must be separate to count
or they will count as one instead of possibly two.

+1 ENTRY: Comment and tell if you have read any other book by Emilie Richards or about Florida, and which one; OR why you want to read this one!

+1 MORE ENTRY: Blog or Tweet about this giveaway and leave link in your comment!



Cindy said...

I have not read any books by this author but would love to! This book sounds like an interesting book and I would love to win it. I live in a coastal area and love to read books about coastal areas. My family made several vacation trips to Florida when I was a child. I love Florida and would to visit the Florida coastal areas again.


Cindy said...

I am a follower on Twitter. Username is Soccermom213

I tweet about your blog and giveaways often and will do so again today.


Unknown said...

I have not read nay of her books. I have visited Florida when I was child of about ten years old. lol


Unknown said...

Book - Happiness Key @bookinwithbingo

twtd - gahome2mom

I couldn't find your twitter name.


scottsgal said...

I've never read this author. This would be a great summer read. I finished a month back a book set in Florida called Sanibel Scribbles which I enjoyed.

msboatgal at

Debbie F said...

I've read alot of her books! the Shenandoah Series is Great! so want this!
Debbie F
dcf_beth at verizon dot net

Debbie F said...

I'm a follower!
Debbie F
dcf_beth at verizon dot net

kalea_kane said...

First, the intro to the book pulled me in. I could use a staycation with my head in a book. :) I haven't read anything by Emilie Richards before.

I think the description of the oyster-shell road just clinched it for me. :) Please enter me in your giveaway!

Libby's Library said...

I haven't read any books by this author, but I lived in Florida for 51 years, and miss it very much. I would love to win this book, so that I can have a little "taste of home".

Thanks for another great interview and giveaway.


Libby's Library said...

I'm a follower - thanks so much.


bermudaonion said...

I haven't read any of Emilie Richards books. I'm sure I've read some books about Florida, but nothing is coming to mind right now. I'm so impressed that she bakes her own bread.

Misusedinnocence said...

I haven't had the opportunity yet to read any of her books, but I would love to read this one. It sounds amazing.

Unknown said...

I haven't read any of the author's books but this one sounds great because I love to read about women who, even though it's hard, make the right decision to stand on their own two feet.


Unknown said...

Blogged about giveaway


holdenj said...

I don't think I've read any books by Emilie Richards. I have, however, read a number of Carl Hiaasen books over the years, which take place in Florida. I think it would be great to read Happiness Key, a book about strong women, and maybe not so many of the quirkly folk that inhabit Hiaasen.

JHolden955 (at) gmail (dot) com

Valorie said...

I want to read this one because I love reading about people who deal with hard situations. It is very emotional.


Valorie said...



Beth (BBRB) said...

This would be my first by the author and my first set in Florida, as far as I can remember!

BethsBookReviewBlog AT gmail DOT com

DarcyO said...

I have not read any of her books. Since I won't be vacationing in Florida I'd love to at least read about it! Count me in!

dlodden at frontiernet dot net

DarcyO said...

I follow your blog.

dlodden at frontiernet dot net

Gwendolyn B. said...

Emilie Richards is a new-to-me author. I'd like to read this book because I like the idea that the women are older (yes, like me!)and it sounds like it is ultimately upbeat. I read a lot of heavy, dark, and depressing books and I need to lighten things up once in awhile. Thanks for the chance to win a copy!
geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

wheresmyrain said...

I always enjoy fiction hailing from florida, it is such a good scene to have books take place. Looks like an intriguing read, and would love to have a chance to experience a new(to me) author.
wheresmyrain at yahoo dot com

cpullum said...

This book sounds like a book I would love to read!

Commchick said...

This author is new to me. I was born and raised in Florida, and would love to read a novel based in that area.

throuthehaze said...

I have not read any of her books before. I would like this because it seems like a nice summer read
throuthehaze at gmail dot com

Bingo said...

I know the perfect persona that would love this book! = ) I do not know the author but sounds like a very interesting book :)

Tammy's Bookshelf said...

I have not read any of her books before. I would like to read it because I know that I would love it, she sounds like a great author..


nfmgirl said...

Thanks for the interview. No, I haven't read any of her books. I also don't know whether I've read any books that took place in Florida-- I can't think of any. But since I live in Florida, I am particularly interested in this one!

nfmgirl AT gmail DoT com

nfmgirl said...

I blogged it:

dag888888 said...

Haven't read any books by Emilie Richards and honestly can't remember any books set in Florida that I recently read... but I watch Burn Notice! I love discovering new authors -- please count me in!


DCMetroreader said...

I have not read anything, by this author, but it looks like a great summer read. Also I vacation every year in FL (the panhandle not the Keys, but I've been to the Keys) so I would enjoy reading about the area.

Thanks for the giveaway!

DCMetroreader said...

Posted on my blog under current giveaways.

Shawna L. said...

Shawna Lewis

I have never read anything this author has written but that is going to change thanks for the wonderful interview & giveaway!!!

Jo-Jo said...

I haven't read anything by this author yet but I would certainly love to, I just love books that are set on the ocean area. I did read Cutting Loose by Nadine Dajani, which took place in Florida.

joannelong74 AT gmail DOT com

Jo-Jo said...

I'm also a follower.

joannelong74 AT gmail DOT com

amanda said...

I have never read a book by this author before.
oheeyore at hotmail dot com

Unknown said...

I have never read a book by this author, Emilie Richards. I'd like to read this book because one of the themes is happiness and the ideas behind it about attaining happiness in our lives, how we do that, what it requires of us and how and why it's so important. This book sounds like an interesting read but also carries a message I know I definitely need to learn better!

Thank you!

ChristyJan said...

I haven't read any of Emilie's books yet.
A few years ago I read THE ISLAND by Heather Graham and it was set in Florida.
HAPPINESS KEY sounds like a wonderful book! I've visited Florida 3 times and loved the area.


Anita Yancey said...

I haven't read any of her books yet, but I would love to read this one because it sounds so interesting. Please enter me. thanks!


Jo-Jo said...

I blogged about your contest here.
joannelong74 AT gmail DOT com

Anonymous said...

Please enter me!

stacybooks at yahoo

Victoria said...

I've never read her books and I'd really like to read this one!

Thank you!

Gwendolyn B. said...

Here's my blog post:

geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

Esme said...

I have not read any other books by this author. I like that it is set in a coastal setting-I live by the beach and always enjoy this setting.

chocolateandcroissants at yahoo dot com

Unknown said...

I have not yet read anything by Emilie Richards but based on your interview here she looks an author I'd like to read from.

This looks like a good book, please enter me into this drawing.

Thanks for hosting this giveaway.

Unknown said...

I've also blogged about this giveaway here.


Debs Desk said...

I have never read any book by Emilie Richards. but I have read some great reviews so please include me in your giveaway.

Unknown said...

I've listed this giveaway in my blog in the margin at
in the right-hand margin


Rebecca N. said...

I haven't read any books by this author and can't think of any other book in particular that I've read about Florida, but I would love to read this! I really enjoy books about people who surprise themselves by having something unexpected in common that turns into friendship. After I read this book, it's nice knowing that there is a sequel. I won't be as sad when I finish the last page :) Thanks for the chance to win! Great interview too!

janetfaye said...

I would like to read this because it sounds like a good book.

janetfaye (at) gmail (dot) com

janetfaye said...

I blogged:

janetfaye (at) gmail (dot) com

Jessica ( frellathon ) said...

I've not read anything by Ms. Richards but I'm always on the lookout for new authors. My go to author for books set in Florida is Carl Hiaasen. I love his books.

Sue said...

Skinny Dip by Carl Hiaasen is the first Florida book I've read that comes to mind. I didn't love that one, though. Thanks for sharing this. she's new to me and I'd love to read this.

s.mickelson at gmail dot com

Sara said...

I haven't read any books by her, but I did just finish Sweet Mary that was set in Miami. Thanks!

skkmiller (at) live (dot) com