What would be your ideal first meeting with your love interest? I guess somewhere at a club, or a cafe, or maybe a bookstore. However, author Irene Woodbury changed the basic ideas we have to something as outrageous as an attempted porch theft in her recent romantic comedy, Porch Pirate Love. It is an unconventional love story that started off from a porch, sails through a plethora of feelings and problems, and wraps up as one of the most heartwarming stories we have read in a long time.
After the release of her book, Porch Pirate Love; we, at Vowelor, had an interesting conversation with Irene about her writing. But, before we continue with her interview, let us know a little more about the author.
About the Author: Irene Woodbury
Irene Woodbury has recently published her novel, Porch Pirate Love, the highlight of which is Kit, a young mom; and her unconventional love story with Danny, a UPS driver turned porch pirate. She is a successful travel writer based in Denver, Colorado.
Further, Irene shared about her childhood, her writing journey, her inspirations, and more interesting things about herself. Here are all of her interesting answers:
Tell us about your parents and family.
I grew up in Pittsburgh in a beautiful Victorian house on a tree-lined street. Other houses inhabited by families of all types and sizes were on our block. My parents were lovely people dedicated to giving my brother, sister, and me a better life than they’d had, and that’s what they did. It was fun to have so many kids to play with and go to school with. My mother taught me to read when I was 5, I had a dog and a garden, and I daydreamed a lot. It was a very enjoyable time.
What were you like at school? Any childhood memory you would like to share?
At school, I was a bit disruptive and somewhat of a class clown. I would write funny things on scraps of paper and do stand-up comedy in the hall when we were supposed to be in class. The nuns hated it, the kids loved it.
What are your educational qualifications?
I went to grade and high school in Pittsburgh, and to college at the University of Houston. I got to read great books and learn about writers and their novels. Women’s lit classes were my favorite. I would take the same ones over and over and just sit there and listen. The campus was beautiful, the professors excellent, and the students interesting.
What is your biggest achievement till today?
Probably writing six novels. It took 20 years, more or less. There were good times, confusing times, and times of struggle. Writing a book is like going on a journey by yourself. Nobody, including you, knows where you’re going, how, or why. At least that’s the way it’s been for me.
Which writers inspire you?
Edith Wharton, Henry James, Truman Capote, and people who write humorous books or essays, like Joan Rivers, Erma Bombeck, and Nora Ephron. Writing something funny can be very challenging. Humor writers don’t get the credit they deserve.
Writing is stressful at times. How do you relax your mind?
I listen to music, read, exercise, travel, or chat with friends.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
You’re further along today than you were yesterday. And tomorrow you’ll be further along than you are today. Keep going!
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Believe in yourself, always. Believe in your talent, your decisions, your instincts. Listen to criticism and other peoples’ opinions, but take it all with a grain of salt. Ultimately, your opinion is the one that matters.
What books do you like to read personally? What are you reading currently?
I’m reading a biography of Truman Capote. Also, an autobiography of British writer Elizabeth Jane Howard called Slipstream. I’m also reading The Age of Innocence and Ethan Frome, both by Edith Wharton. I like to read the same books over and over and discover something new each time.
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
Probably something by Edith Wharton, like The House of Mirth or Ethan Frome. The writing is beautiful, the images vivid, and the characters strong. It’s the ultimate literary experience.
What made you decide to sit down and actually start writing?
It was an instinct I always had. I had been a travel writer for newspapers, and there were times when I had to add something fictional to the story. I loved it—and wanted to do more. So I finally sat down one day and started my first novel, A Slot Machine Ate My Midlife Crisis. It took 5 years to write, but it was full of fun and laughter, and outrageousness, so those 5 years were pretty great but also filled with challenges and uncertainty. The next novel was dark and dramatic. I’ve always wanted to challenge myself, and that drove me from one novel to the next.
Do you have a special time to write, or how is your day structured?
I write in the mornings and afternoons, usually. But anytime something pops into my head, I run to the computer and hope for the best!
What is the reason you write? Is it for the readers, yourself, or something else altogether?
Oh, definitely for myself and the readers. When I write, I think about their lives and experiences, and how they might relate to what’s going on in the book. The readers are part of the process. And there’s a kind of closure when you hear from them, and realize you’re connecting with them.
About the Book: Porch Pirate Love
The book follows Kit, a mom-to-be blackjack dealer, and Danny, a porch pirate. Danny attempts a theft on Kit’s porch while she’s eight months pregnant. She runs behind him, slips down the steps, and goes into labor. And guess who rushes her to the hospital?
What genre is your book? What draws you to this genre?
I think Porch Pirate Love is a dark humor rom-com. I’m drawn to this genre because the scenes and dialogue are funny but also dramatic. So you’re getting all of those emotions and reactions at the same time, and that’s complex and enjoyable for me as a writer and reader.
Kit and Danny’s story is more unconventional than anything I’ve read in a long time. Was there something specific that made you choose this backdrop for your story?
Living through the pandemic, and seeing all the chaos and agony people were experiencing, affected me and made me want to write a novel that’s romantic and hopeful. A book with troubled but appealing characters who change and evolve and become better and happier by the end. Porch Pirate Love is about two lost people who find each other in a strange, disturbing way–and learn that life is better with love than without it. Despite all the craziness and chaos in the world, there is love, and that’s what keeps us going.
What makes ‘Porch Pirate Love’ stand out in this genre?
It’s a love story, but also outrageous. There are details about the bizarre adventures of Danny and Cruz as they roam the streets of Las Vegas, stealing things from people’s porches. That’s a bit strange and funny, but also common, and something we hear about all the time. Porch Pirate Love is a quirky, eccentric book that’s warm, romantic, and sweet, but also edgy and funny. It’s a humor novel with substance, and characters we grow to love.
Why do you think a reader should pick this book over anything else?
It’s warm and funny, with great characters that grow and change and become better human beings. So it’s an inspirational book. Plus it’s a satirical look at “package culture,” and hoarding. We’re all obsessed with our packages: what’s coming, what’s going, and how and when. It’s what we’ve evolved into over recent years. But at the end of the day, Porch Pirate Love is about love. Mother-child love, friendship love, family love, romantic love. And there are plenty of shocks and laughs along the way, so it touches all the bases. There’s something for everyone.
The book has aspects like having a child out of wedlock, giving love a chance after becoming a mom, and backing off from crime for the sake of family and the struggles that come with it. What were the hardest and the easiest ideas to incorporate?
Writing about the porch pirate escapades and the people running out of their houses to chase the pirates and attack them was challenging. I didn’t want to glorify porch pirating, but I wanted a sympathetic look at Danny and Cruz. So that was hard to pull off. The opening scene, where Danny steals Kit’s baby’s crib and she falls while trying to stop him, was difficult. I wanted them to have compassion and understanding for each other, but also a degree of hostility. They argue as they drive to the hospital. Kit is angry, scared, and overwrought; Danny’s frustrated and frazzled. It was hard to conjure up what they would actually say to each other during that car ride. The easiest scenes in the novel were the ones involving the baby—for some reason, those came naturally even though I don’t have any kids.
Is there any special experience throughout the writing process of ‘Porch Pirate Love’ that you’d like to share?
The idea of an unwed mother as the lead character was a bold choice. Kit’s mother was 18 when Kit was born. Her parents and Kit’s father’s parents goaded them into a marriage they did not want. Kit ended up being raised by her grandparents. Then she became an unwed mother at 22. I think that’s kind of poignant, that history repeated itself. But Kit’s mother left her behind and started a new life. Kit’s a devoted mom who enjoys motherhood, and the father of her baby is helping financially. So there’s a nice contrast that shows progress from one generation to the next. Also, this book ends in April 2019, and Covid came along in December. I sometimes think of Danny and Kit in Reno and wonder how they’ve coped during the pandemic. Then I have to remind myself this book is fiction. I love thinking of Porch Pirate Love as a pre-pandemic love story.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
To write more novels, and continue challenging myself creatively.
Are you working on your new project? What will your next book be about?
I have a new idea, and book, perking along, but I’m superstitious and never talk about anything till it’s finished.
What does success mean to you as an Author?
Success means my novels are being read and enjoyed by many, including other writers. Success also means I’m able to come up with an idea, create a book, and then be satisfied with the results. Sometimes that happens, sometimes not so much.
Do you prefer self-publishing or traditional publishing and Why?
I prefer self-publishing because I can make most of the creative decisions.
One lesson that you’d like to pass on to young debut authors.
Writing a novel is exhausting, Create the final chapters early in the process — when you have more energy. Also, the beginnings and endings of books get the most attention – make sure you don’t neglect the middle chapters! Avoid that sagging sensation that sometimes occurs in the middle of a novel.
Your opinion about Vowelor.
Vowelor gets the word out on your book and shines the light on your talent. This is extremely helpful and important for writers. Marketing a book is an important part of the publishing process, and Vowelor can assist you in this.
A note to the readers:
A big thank you to them. Without the readers, my efforts would be pointless, and all this craziness and creativity would cease. The book industry carries on and thrives because people read, and that’s a good thing!