Frances Metzman's runaway novel "The Cha-Cha babes of Pelican Way" takes readers on a thrilling and yes humorous ride - one you will find yourself wishing wouldn't end. Metzman has created a captivating world where murder and mayhem are the order of the day for Celia Ewing, the book's protagonist. Due to circumstances beyond her control, she is forced to dig deep, and become an amateur sleuth, so she can keep herself and her friends out of jail and maybe just maybe stop a murderer. Besides weaving the story for this must-read novel she also takes on some intriguing topics in her blog "The Age of Reasonable Doubt," and teaches writing at a variety of colleges and universities. "The Cha-Cha babes of Pelican Way" is filled with descriptiveness and filled raw grit that only a seasoned pro can pull off.
"The Cha-Cha Babes of Pelican Way" is a compelling story that brings together murder, mystery, and friendships. How did you come up with the idea for this book and then decide to sit down and write it?
Actually, I started the book as a women's friendship book all with dysfunctional backgrounds who have all come to Florida to start a new life but not really knowing how to go about it. As I progressed, I got deeper into their life and wanted a formidable incident to test their new found inner strengths. With Marcy's personality, it followed that her rather rotund boyfriend would drop dead in the midst of lovemaking. Therein started me off and running. Merely calling 911 would in essence end the book. There had to be more intrigue, and I knew I had to put these women in jeopardy. I got stuck on the ending and cannibalized the plot of another book I had written that lay in a drawer gathering dust. The two fit so well together that I kept on that track till the end.
While you're busy writing your next book, you are also teaching writing at a variety of local colleges and universities. What do you love about teaching, and does teaching help you when it's time to sit down and write your own books?
Teaching creative writing/memoir has led me into so many different lives. I've been astounded at how so many people have traversed hurdles through life, become professionals and have come through adversity with dignity. I marvel at their tenacity and hard work to present their intelligent writing to our group. By teaching what I already know about writing, the reiteration helps me refresh my own writing. There is also a wonderful camaraderie that has developed in my class of adults. Even new students feel it and quickly adapt, adding their own personalities to enhance the group.
Writing a novel can be very challenging on a variety of levels. What challenges did you face while writing "The Cha-Cha Babes of Pelican Way"?
I can write a draft and enjoy that creative process. When it's done, then comes the really hard work of editing. That involves practically going through every word to see if it forwards the story and that can take anywhere between 15 or 30 full edits of 99,000 to 190,000 words. I got my novel down to about 135,000 words. The hardest is to decide what to take out. They say the best pages you've ever written should be taken out. They probably don't fit into the plot.
What is your favorite thing to do to treat yourself after you finish a novel?
Chill out and do nothing except stare into space. I even do a little dance. It's like a ton of bricks have been taken off my back. It might last for a week, but then I start to think about the sequel. Then comes the next phase of publicity and the bricks come tumbling down again. But I love the challenge and creating worlds that follow an arduous path and have some resolution, something that often eludes me in real life.
I've heard through the grapevine that you have another book in the works. Can you tell me about the new book you are working on?
Answer: The sequel turns a little darker. It concerns the sex trade and how the two main characters from The Cha-Cha Babes of Pelican Way, Celia, and Marcy, get snared into that brutal world even though they aren't the right age. Then they must escape because what they are asked to do is totally immoral and against their code of decency. Escaping puts their lives in danger as well as their families. How they attempt to protect their loved ones, where they hide and their battle against the syndicates is something I can't tell you in detail - yet. Keep an eye out for it.
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