Welcome to CentreStage!
CentreStage showcases fantastic authors from around the world. These authors might share with you stories about their books, their lives, their writing or anything else that takes their fancy. We’ve had picture posts and music posts, interviews, guest posts and all manner of exciting things. So sit back and enjoy today’s rocking feature as I welcome my good friend and American novelist extraordinaire, Tracie Banister.
Tracie and I met quite randomly on Twitter, as you do. We got chatting and liking and haven’t looked back.
Welcome, Tracie! **Waves frantically across several thousand miles of Atlantic Ocean**
Introducing: Tracie Banister and her BFF heroine, Sara Reade
It’s a pleasure to be featured on CentreStage today. Thanks so much for having me, Nicky! I thought it might be fun if I shared the spotlight with one of the characters in my recently released Chick Lit novel, In Need of Therapy.
Model-turned-swimsuit designer Sara Reade is the best friend of my heroine, Latina psychologist Pilar Alvarez, and I’ve been told that she’s a pretty entertaining character in her own right. Unlike Pilar, who’s always diplomatic and sensitive of other people’s feelings, Sara is a no-b.s., calls ’em like she sees ’em kind of gal. She is fiercely loyal to Pilar and doesn’t like to see other people take advantage of her, which she thinks everyone from jobless Izzy (Pilar‘s younger sister) to the perpetually-cheating Victor (Pilar‘s ex) does. As Sara is on the verge of debuting her first swimsuit collection and was too busy to leave work for our interview, I agreed to meet her late in the evening at her “office” aka a small warehouse in the Miami fashion district.
Tracie: I appreciate you taking time out of your hectic schedule to chat with me about Pilar.
Sara: *Distractedly examines swatches of fabric* Anything for my best friend. Who knows her better than me, right?
Tracie: Right. Can you tell me how the two of you met and became friends?
Sara: Sure, yeah. Are you a Summer? *reaches across the table and holds a green-colored swatch up to my face* Ew, no, this shade makes you look ill. You must be a Spring. *flips to a swatch that’s a brighter green and places it next to my cheek* Better. Definitely better. *scribbles some notes on a pad of paper*
Tracie: You were going to tell me how you and Pilar met . . .
Sara: Huh? Oh, yeah. My friendship with Pilar – how it all started. Freshman year, UM, that’s the University of Miami for anyone who’s not a Hurricane. Pilar and I sat next to each other in the world’s most boring Anthropology class. To keep ourselves entertained while the professor droned on and on about evolution and cultural dynamics, we would pass notes and drawings back and forth. Pilar would make observations about the other students (Who had the hots for who, why the guy in the third row was acting twitchy, which girl had obsessive-compulsive tendencies.) and I would sketch out new wardrobes for everyone (Most of our classmates were in dire need of a fashion makeover!) Pilar and I had so much fun together that we started to hang out after class and soon we were inseparable. Sophomore year we became roommates at the dorm, and the rest is history!
Tracie: So, the two of you have been besties for over 10 years now. Have you ever had a fight?
Sara: *guffaws* Pilar get into a fight with someone? No way! She’s all about managing problems and avoiding crises. If there’s an issue, she’ll want to sit down and have a calm, rational discussion about it, then find a mutually satisfying resolution.
Tracie: So, she knows how to keep a cool head in difficult or emotionally charged situations?
Sara: Yeah, well, she got good practice growing up in the Alvarez household. There are some strong personalities in that family. I, personally, get a big kick out of Pilar’s mother, Luisa, but growing up with her had to be exhausting for Pilar. Luisa acts like she’s starring in her own telenovela 24/7. It’s high drama all the time with that woman. Dios mio, we’re out of milk! What did I ever do to deserve this? Why am I being punished? If I don’t have my daily glass of milk, my bones will get brittle. What if I fall? I could break a hip! Not that anyone would care! I could be lying on the floor of this condo all day, writhing in agony, and none of my daughters would even think to call or stop by to check on me! So ungrateful, so lacking in sympathy for their poor mamá, and after all I’ve done for them, all the sacrifices I’ve made!
Tracie: *snickers* Your Luisa impression is spot on! Hysteria laced with a not-so-healthy amount of passive-aggressiveness.
Sara: Thanks. I can do Pilar’s sisters, too, but I’m going to need to grab something to eat first. I skipped dinner and I am starving! You hungry? *I shake my head ‘no’ before Sara hops off her stool and sashays over to a table that has a grocery bag sitting on top of it. She pulls out a can of Betty Crocker frosting and a Toblerone bar, then returns to her seat. I watch in fascination as she dips the candy bar into the dark chocolate frosting and takes a bite.*
Tracie: That’s your dinner?
Sara: *shrugs* Chocolate’s made from dairy, which is one of the four basic food groups, and you’re supposed to have 3 servings of dairy a day, right?
Tracie: Well, that’s one interpretation of the FDA’s dietary guidelines. Now, about Ana and Izzy?
Sara: *digging the frosting out of the can with her fingers now* Worthless, both of them. They clash as badly as chartreuse and tangerine, and Pilar’s always stuck in the middle of their petty squabbles. Ana’s totally uptight, which is what happens when you get married young and set up camp in the ‘burbs. And Izzy is a major brat who thinks the world owes her. For what, I have no idea. She’s just been spoiled by her family her whole life and now she expects to be handed everything. Izzy plays Pilar like a conga drum, always making her feel guilty and responsible for her. I keep telling Pilar to cut the apron strings, but she’s too damn nice.
Tracie: And you see Pilar’s niceness as a flaw?
Sara: Mmmm, not a flaw per se, but it definitely blinds her to the faults in others. That’s why she needs me to clue her in sometimes.
Tracie: Do you give her advice on her love life?
Sara: Of course! That’s one of my duties as her best friend. Not that she always listens to me. I warned her about that creep Victor repeatedly. I knew he was bad news the moment I met him and that feeling was validated a few weeks later when he cornered me at a party and tried to put the moves on me.
Tracie: What?!?!?!? Victor hit on you when he was with Pilar?
Sara: Yeah, and I shut him down so fast that I probably set a Guinness record for the world’s speediest and most emphatic rejection. He tried to play it off like he was drunk and had just been kidding about his fondness for threesomes, but I knew better. Ugh, such a sleazebag! I debated telling Pilar the truth about what happened that night, but I thought it might be best for her to come to the conclusion that he was a cheating jerk on her own, which she did not too long afterwards. She might trust too easily, but in the end, my girl is a smart cookie. Mmmmm, cookies. I wonder if I still have that box of Girl Scout cookies around? I could go for some Thin Mints.
Tracie: Do you think there’s any chance that Victor has changed? He’s been trying to convince Pilar that he has, that he really loves her and wants her back.
Sara: *snorts* And I’ve got some gator-infested swampland in the Everglades to sell anyone who believes a word of that.
Tracie: So, if Victor’s not the one for Pilar, who is?
Sara: Your guess is as good as mine. It seems like there’s something wrong with every potential soul mate she meets. I tried to hook her up with a friend of the guy I’ve been seeing . . .
Tracie: And how’d that go?
Sara: One word – disaster. I can’t bear to relive that evening again, so you’ll have to read the book if you want all the gruesome de– <her phone beeps> Sorry, let me check this . . . Uh oh, 911 from Pilar. Izzy’s pulled another one of her crazy stunts, and Pilar needs help with damage control ASAP. Where’s my purse? *looks around frantically*
Tracie: Hanging on the end of that clothing rack. *I point to the other side of the warehouse.*
Sara: Oh, you’re a lifesaver! *grabs her purse and one of the swimsuits off the rack* I hate to chat and run, but hopefully, you got everything you need for your interview. Here. *tosses a leopard print bikini in my direction as she races past me towards the door* That’ll look fab on that petite bod of yours. Help yourself to the rest of that Toblerone if you want it. Ciao!
Nicky says: A-mazing! I’ve listened with open-mouthed fascination in between bouts of belly laughs, but now I’ve got to say something. I LOVE Sara. Where can I get a best friend like her? I totally adore her sense of humor and her pragmatic outlook on … uhm.. well, men. Awesome. *And* she dispenses glorious dietary advice and gives out free clothes!
Thank you, Tracie, for bringing Sara along today, I had the best time!
Many thanks to the lovely Nicky Wells for letting me (and Sara) drop by her site today! If you’d like to take a fun, romantic trip to the sunny beaches of Miami this fall, I invite you to pick up a copy of my novel, In Need of Therapy. It’s now available in e-book and paperback ~ links below. Happy reading!
In Need of Therapy
Lending a sympathetic ear and dispensing sage words of advice is all part of the job for psychologist Pilar Alvarez, and she’s everything a good therapist should be: warm, compassionate, supportive. She listens, she cares, and she has all the answers, but how’s the woman everyone turns to in their hour of need supposed to cope when her own life starts to fall apart?
While working hard to make a success of her recently-opened practice in trendy South Beach, Pilar must also find time to cater to the demands of her boisterous Cuban family, which includes younger sister Izzy, an unemployed, navel-pierced wild child who can’t stay out of trouble, and their mother, a beauty queen turned drama queen who’s equally obsessed with her fading looks and getting Pilar married before it’s “too late.” Although she’d like to oblige her mother and make a permanent love connection, Pilar’s romantic prospects look grim. Her cheating ex, who swears that he’s reformed, is stalking her. A hunky, but strictly off-limits, patient with bad-boy appeal and intimacy issues is making passes. And the sexy shrink in the suite across the hall has a gold band on his left ring finger.
When a series of personal and professional disasters lead Pilar into the arms of one of her unsuitable suitors, she’s left shaken, confused, and full of self-doubt. With time running out, she must make sense of her feelings and learn to trust herself again so that she can save her business, her family, and most importantly, her heart.
About Tracie Banister
An avid reader and writer, Tracie Banister has been scribbling stories since she was a child, most of them featuring feisty heroines with complicated love lives like her favorite fictional protagonist, Scarlett O’Hara. Her work was first seen on the stage of her elementary school, where her 4th grade class performed an original holiday play that she penned (Like all good divas-in-the-making, she, also, starred in and tried to direct the production.) Her dreams of authorial success were put on the backburner when she reached adulthood and discovered that she needed a “real” job in order to pay her bills. Her career as personal assistant to a local entrepreneur lasted for 12 years. When it ended, Tracie decided to follow her bliss and dedicate herself to writing full-time. Her debut novel, the Hollywood-themed Blame It on the Fame, was released in January, 2012. And she’s following that up with the Miami-set Romantic Comedy, In Need of Therapy.
Where you can find Tracie…
Wow. Isn’t Sara an astounding character? Everyone should have a Sara in her life. She would get on famously with Sophie’s best friend Rachel, she of the acerbic tongue and the wicked sense of humour.
Thinking back to all the novels you’ve read or written, and taking Sara and Rachel as incumbent number 1 chart toppers here, who is YOUR favourite BFF?