Today, I thought we’d do something a little different. I had the pleasure of meeting Mika Jolie, the author of The Scale, during a few beta reads and I asked her if she’d let me borrow one of her main characters, Minka Greene, from the book. We’ll get a chance to talk to Mika in a bit, but now we have on the stage…Minka Greene!
Marie Lavender: Hello, Minka. Please have a seat.
Minka Greene: Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Marie: We’re going to start out with some simple questions, okay?
Character Minka: Sure.
Marie: So, Minka, what is your occupation? Are you any good at it? Do you like it?
Minka: I’m an elementary teacher. I teach third grade. I love my job and I think I’m good at it. The kids seem to love having me around.
Marie: That’s great! So, what is your family like?
Minka: (Chuckles.) We are an interesting bunch. I have a fraternal twin that used to be a model and now a designer. My father played basketball in college and my mother is a former model. (Pause.) For a while I used to feel I didn’t belong there, you know.
Marie: I can definitely relate to not belonging. What did your childhood home look like?
Minka: I live on a teacher salary now, but my childhood was pretty privileged. The big house and the private school.
Marie: Do you have any hobbies? What do you enjoy doing?
Minka: I recently took up Bikram Yoga. I have to say I love it. I also love to play with my camera. I’ve taken some great shots on the island since moving to Martha’s Vineyard.
Marie: What is your greatest dream, Minka?
Minka: (Smiles.) To have a family with Jason. I can’t wait to see a combination of the two of us running around. One thing is for sure; they will have a lot of hair. (Laughs.)
Marie: (Laughs.) So, what kind of person do you wish you could be? What is stopping you?
Minka: Wow! I love this question. For a very long time I wanted to be Keely. That’s my fraternal twin sister. I always felt she was the more beautiful one. The one everyone loved. Then I realized I was my own worst enemy. I needed to embrace the person that I am. (Lets out a deep breath.) A caring, honest and loving person. (Smiles.) It took some harsh lessons, but I’m there now. And the only person who stopped me from being that person before was, sadly, myself.
Marie: It’s true we are our worst critics. I’m going to throw another random question at you now. Who was your first love?
Minka: Truthfully it’s Jason.
Marie: I think I was expecting a different answer based on the book, but readers, you’ll just have to wait until you get your hands on it. I can’t wait to read it again!
So, Minka, what’s the most terrible thing that ever happened to you?
Minka: Without getting too much into it, I’d have to say losing my virginity to the wrong person. I wasn’t abused or anything like that. But shortly after, I overheard him telling our classmates that he couldn’t be held accountable for sleeping with the fat girl.
Marie: Oh, no! That’s horrible. What a jerk! I just want to tell you, girl, I am totally on your side. Sometimes men suck! Okay, before I get all feminist on everyone, let’s move on to something a bit lighter.
What was your dream growing up? Did you achieve that dream? If so, in what ways was it not what you expected? If you never achieved the dream, why not?
Minka: To be happy. (Smiles.) I’m definitely there now.
Marie: Who is your role model?
Marie: Hmm…I can’t wait to find out more. What about you, readers? Minka, you’ll probably think I’m digging for dirt on the next question…Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?
Minka: (Laughs.) No, not anymore. But it used to be my sister. (Laughs again.)
Marie: What is your deepest desire?
Minka: To be more outspoken. I’m still working on that. I’ve gotten so much better though.
Marie: I hear ya on that. It’s hard for quiet people to open up. And what is your greatest fear?
Minka: To have never loved.
Marie: A girl after my own heart. We could be sisters in spirit, hon! I love romance!
Well, our time is growing short. Thank you for visiting us today, Minka. I wish you luck with Jason. (Waves goodbye to Minka.)
Now, let’s shift over and get the author’s perspective. We have Mika Jolie on the stage today. Hi, Mika!
Author Mika Jolie: Hello.
We just got to talk to the heroine of your story, Minka. Quite an interesting character. Can you tell us a little about her?
Mika: Minka is very interesting. She struggles with accepting herself as she is. She has gotten better, but it’s definitely still a work in progress.
Marie: What are your character’s greatest strengths?
Mika: Minka is pretty stubborn. I find that to be a strength. Also, even though she had a hard time accepting who she was, it never stopped her from exploring new things. In her own way, she’s quite brave.
Marie: Oh, I agree. What, do you feel, are her greatest weaknesses?
Mika: Really, I think it’s one. But it’s major. Self-acceptance.
Marie: What are some of her favorite foods?
Mika: I would say a vegetable omelet and let’s not forget a good chocolate soufflé.
Marie: Ooh! You said the evil word. Chocolate. I love chocolate!
Marie: What’s a positive quality that your character is unaware that he or she has?
Mika: She would probably disagree, but Minka is pretty adventurous. She takes risks and is willing to try new experiences.
Marie: Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?
Mika: I think people will relate to Minka. They will not always like her because she can be pretty self-absorbed, which she doesn’t see at all. But her struggles are things that we all can identify with. And that’s what makes her such an interesting character.
Well, now that we have a real taste of Minka Greene, we have a few questions for you as well as the author.
Marie: What first gave you the idea for The Scale?
Mika Jolie: (Smiles.) Two things really. My first inspiration is my best friend who struggled with her weight for most of her life. The second is my own experience with my pregnancies, my weight gain during my pregnancy and how my body has changed.
Marie: What is your writing style like? Are you a pantster or a plotter?
Mika: (Laughs.) I wish I was a plotter. I plot but very little. I don’t have sticky yellow notes hanging all over my desk. I do a very small outline of the characters, and I write down three things:
- What SHOULD happen
- What COULD happen
- What MUST happen
At times, I deviate from those but for the most part they help me stay true to course.
(Chuckles.) I guess you can say I’m a minimalist plotter.
Marie: Huh. I find that approach VERY interesting! Well, whatever keeps us organized, right?
So, I’m throwing this one in for our aspiring writers. Did you come across any specific challenges in writing The Scale or getting it published? What would you do differently the next time?
Mika: First, an editor suggested that I change the name to fit in the Romance genre. I said no thanks. I was asked to change the opening scene. I also said no to that because while it is not typical for Romance, I needed to establish Minka and all of her idiosyncrasies.
Writing The Scale was fairly smooth. I had it so well thought out. (Laughs.) Perhaps a little too much because I did a lot of trimming.
Publication was not difficult. I received several offers. It was very tough to choose one.
Next time, I don’t think I would do much differently. I had a great beta reader, and I intend to use her again. (Smiles.) I have a contract for all the books for the series with Secret Cravings Publishing. They have a great team there. But, you know, I’m still going to edit the daylights out of it before I send it over. Well, because I’m a bit of a perfectionist.
Marie: I hear ya on that one! It’s hard not to edit something to death. Eventually, we have to tie our own hands and say, “Enough! It’s ready!” LOL.
Well, it was a such a pleasure having you here on the I Love Romance Blog. And how apropos is that, considering what a great love story The Scale is. Readers, you will just have to pick up a copy of this awesome book that is quickly becoming a bestseller!
Here is the blurb for The Scale:
Twenty-seven year old, African-American, Minka Greene has to endure watching her twin sister marry the man she loves. Her weight is up, and her confidence is down. Not exactly the ideal time to meet the real man of her dreams.
The Scale opens in Martha’s Vineyard with Minka attending Keely and Blake’s engagement party at Martha’s Way, the beautiful inn owned and operated by the tall, blond, tattooed man with the piercing blue eyes. It just so happens Jason Montgomery is also Blake’s childhood friend and the best man. Dealing with a whirl of emotions, Minka faints in Jason’s arms.
When she wakes up naked in Jason’s bed after a night of passion, the Vineyard confirmed bachelor struggling with his own demons and the woman filled with self-doubt and pining for another man are joined in an experience that will change their lives.
Secret Cravings Publisher: http://store.secretcravingspublishing.com/index.php?main_page=book_info&products_id=913
About Mika Jolie
Author of Women’s Fiction, Contemporary Romance, and Chick lit, Wife, and Mommy to two energizer bunnies. Member of Secret Cravings Publishing. When I do have time to breathe, I like to run, hike with my camera at hand, and work on my gardening and knitting skills. Join me in my journey.
And, if you want to know how to connect with the amazing Mika Jolie, here are some of her author links:
Once again, I want to thank both of our guests, Minka Greene, the female main character of The Scale, and Mika Jolie, the brilliant author of the novel, for stopping by! It was so fun to have you here! 🙂