Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Q&A with Molly Fader


Photo by Jenny Blaauw



Molly Fader is the author of the new novel The Sunshine Girls. Her many other books include The Bitter and Sweet of Cherry Season. She lives in Toronto.


Q: What inspired you to write The Sunshine Girls, and how did you create your cast of characters?


A: The opening scene of two estranged sisters at their mother’s funeral, where a Hollywood legend walks in and tells them they don’t know the truth about their mother – it came to me fully formed. 


And then I had to wonder how a nurse in Iowa would meet a future Hollywood legend – and the nursing school part of the story was created. I used a lot of my mother’s stories from her own experience in nursing school in the 1960s and BettyKay was slowly created.


Kitty was harder -- I knew she was running from something and I knew she’d do anything to get a chance at a better life. I liked the idea that fame was an accident. That she didn’t dream of being an actress but rather a seamstress.


I also loved the idea that Kitty and BettyKay had nothing in common but circumstances force them to find common ground and that common ground proves fertile for a beautiful friendship.


Clara and Abbie, the sisters, were a little simpler. The dynamic between the sibling who stays in the town where they’re born and the sibling who leaves is delicious to me. Ripe for resentment and misunderstanding. I also gave each of them big secrets they needed to work through to find each other again.


Q: The novel takes place primarily in the late 1960s/early 1970s and in 2019. Did you focus more on one time period before turning to the other?


A: Writing a two time period book is such a puzzle. You want to create questions in one time period that get answered in the other, so that both time periods stay relevant and interesting. I knew I had big scenes and big secrets in both time periods. But the scenes in the nursing school and the scenes in Hollywood were my favorite to write.

Q: Can you say more about the dynamic between BettyKay and Kitty, and also between Abbie and Clara?


A: I feel like BettyKay and Kitty are friends who become sisters. And Abbie and Clara are sisters who become friends. Abbie and Clara at the beginning of the book are in danger of drifting apart and the mystery of BettyKay and Kitty bring them back together.


Q: Did you know how the novel would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?


A: The ends of books are so interesting. It doesn’t matter how much you plan, if your characters are fully formed and three-dimensional there is always going to be a surprise.  I knew, obviously I would have a happy ending and that questions would be answered, but the last chunk of the book kept changing as the characters were revealed to me.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: Oh, I’ve had another idea come to me like a lightning bolt. I’m still working on the details. In the present there are two sisters looking for the truth and in the past - NYC in the 1970s and early ‘80s with the glamor and hedonism of Studio 54 - there are two friends looking for revenge.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I host a podcast called Day Drinking with Authors – I pick a book, the author picks a drink, and we discuss both. My new season has just started with Deanna Raybourn talking about Killers of A Certain Age. 


Check it out:







--Interview with Deborah Kalb


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