After a fluke lottery win, Karen Donaldson - the ward charity case - is determined to use her millions to pay back all the kindness she's received. But the future holds a few more surprises for Karen, her neighbors, and someone she thought was gone forever. Sweet, funny, and full of heart, this off-beat comedy is perfect for anyone who's ever dreamed of making it big.
I really loved Lucky Change. This was a unique story of a down on your luck, divorced women, who strikes it rich. Karen, the main character, is a lively and good hearted woman. She is not like the other women in her ward, who at times have not been too kind to her. This does not stop Karen from wanting to help others and shower them with kindness and money. You can not help but love Karen and her humor. Her outlook on life can't help but bring a smile to your face.
Bishop Parley doesn't always know what to say, in guiding Karen in using her new wealth. Bishop Parley tells Karen to be careful about who she tells about her winning the lottery. Karen let's him know that she already gave her notice at Smiths that she won't be working there anymore. This is what she told her co-workers, "I told them I struck it rich and was gonna sit around the rest of my life eatin' cookie dough. Everybody just laughed. Nobody believed me, even though I had a whole shopping cart full." You can see just a little of her humor from that, but you have to read the whole story to really get to know her. When you finish the book, you wish that you really did have a good friend like Karen; and not because of the money that she could give you.
I wanted you to know more about how this fantastic book was written. I had the pleasure of interviewing author Susan Law Corpany. She is such a delightful person! Enjoy reading the fun answers that she gave me.
1-When did you get the idea to write "Lucky Change"?
I got the idea for Lucky Change (which I originally called Heaven Help Us!) back in the late nineties when I had a cheap boss in Florida. I was in the sales department, and whenever we had a good month, he would go across the street and buy ten lottery tickets and give one to each member of the team. I would just toss them into my purse and never even check to see if I had won anything. One day I was sitting in church and was looking for a pen and saw all these lottery tickets in the bottom of my purse and I thought about how embarrassing it would be if I actually won big. Then I said to myself, "Lots of 'poor person with a heart of gold wins the lottery' stories have been done, but I haven't ever read a story of an LDS person winning big, someone who isn't supposed to be buying lottery tickets in the first place." So there I was, sitting in church, mentally writing that first chapter. Also not good, but that's how it happened.
Then I remembered Karen, a rather minor character I had created for Unfinished Business, mostly as an example of a poor housekeeper. I remember how I had thought she was an interesting character and that someday she should have her own book. A match was made!
2-I love the main character Karen. She is so humble, funny kind, caring and without guile. Is she based on a real-life person? Was she your favorite character to write?
Karen started out very loosely based on a woman who was a challenge for me as a RS president twenty years ago, but she soon emerged as her own character. I share her dislike of housework. I have had the unique experience of having been on both ends of the financial teeter-totter, although not quite in the extremes that Karen has, so I knew how to write for Karen as well as for Toni.
When I was growing up, my father was a country boy transplanted to the city, so when he got a chance to manage a dairy herd for the stake welfare farm, that was as close as he could come to being a farmer in Salt Lake City. Because he worked for the Church, part of his pay came in the form of "commodities," so we did our grocery shopping at the church storehouse. As a teen-ager, it always bothered me that my mother would not keep those Deseret Brand cans out of sight of my friends, making us appear as if we were long-term recipients of Church welfare. After we could drive, sometimes she would send my me and my older brother to Welfare Square to pick up the groceries. I absolutely hated doing that! One time one of the cool girls from my high school was there doing a service project and saw me shopping. Another time an employee lectured me and my brother on the failure rates of teen-age marriage and told us how abhorrentt it was for us to be on Church welfare at such an early age.
There are lots of bits and pieces of myself in Karen, but there are bits and pieces of other people, too. On the rare occasion that we fly First Class, my husband always tells me that I get too excited about the hot towels and that I need to act like I belong in First Class. So I would joke that when I was in coach, I was a fledgling author of several self-published novels and everything from the booking agent to the cleaning lady of our vacation rental house on the Big Island. In first class I was the best-selling author of Hilo's largest publishing house and the owner/manager of an exclusive resort on Kealakekua Bay.
I wanted to make Karen guileless but believable. That humility is often found in those without means, so I gave her a humble job and lifestyle. Still, I didn't want to portray things in black and white, as in poor = humble, rich = haughty. I tried not to paint either those struggling financially or those well-off with a broad brush.
If I look around, I fear I may see more signs of Karen in my surroundings, including the chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream I bought to celebrate being a Whitney finalist. My once-nice green leather sofas, which at least one of my stepsons has asked for in the will because they are so comfortable, are now patched with green duct tape, because we might as well just wear them the rest of the way out because we are planning to move back to the mainland when my husband retires in the next few years. (The nice furniture is all at the vacation house.) I would rather have a handprint from a kindergartner hanging on the wall than an expensive oil painting. When I got a job as a legal secretary at 22, I worked for two attorneys and the semi-retired senior partner, S.J. Quinney. There are buildings at universities all over Utah named after Mr. Quinney. One of the words he used that I wasn't sure how to write in shorthand was "erudite," so I sent Karen on a quest to become erudite.
The more I think about it, Karen is probably me with exaggerated faults and a few virtues I don't quite possess. I weigh less. I vacuum more often. Our cats don't come in the house. I don't forgive as easily, but if I write enough characters who are good at that, maybe I'll become better at it myself. I am in charge of the meetings-formerly-known-as-Enrichment, so I don't have a Karen to contend with, but I've thought of doing how-to-avoid-housework tips for the ladies. While I doubt I would be quite as selfless as Karen--I would probably have bought Toni's house because I wanted it--this book did give me a fun opportunity to explore things I might do if I struck it rich. There were a lot of parts I had to cut, in the interest of getting the book to the desired length for the publisher, lots of other fun service projects Karen did.
I think a lot of people relate to Karen, because at some time or another, we've almost all been in that "don't quite fit" situation. I have always loved the line in "Away in a Manger" where it says "fit us for heaven to live with Thee there." We all, whoever we are, whatever our circumstances, need the help of the Master Tailor for that perfect fit.
3-When I finished "Lucky Change" I was left with that wonderful feel- good inside feeling. Was this your hope while writing this book? What other messages did you want to leave with your readers?
Thank you for saying it left you with a good feeling. My first novel was loosely based on my experience of losing my first husband, and since I was dealing with such a serious topic, and also because it is my nature, it is also laced with humor. I would find that it was the humor that people would comment on most often, even though I thought the book was more sad than funny. Sometimes because of the humor I wonder if my more serious messages get through. I don't start a book with a goal of sharing a specific message, because for me books with a heavy-handed didactic message are annoying. I remember my stake president asking me what was the message of one of my books, that it needed to have a message. I told him the message was whatever anyone took away from it. What I hope people will take away from Lucky Change is a desire to better love their fellow man, to be less envious and/or prideful, to be more accepting and inclusive and forgiving. That and not to take themselves so seriously, to eat more cookie dough and not to worry about cleaning the oven.
Another message I want to leave with my readers is that if they buy lots of copies of this book, I too, will be able to be generous and benevolent like Karen.
Seriously, the older I get, the more I try to let go of old hurts and embrace the joys of the here and now. I love when Karen told Dee to shoo her bad feelings away instead of carrying around a bag of bird seed and feeding them. My husband is a family therapist, as well as a professor at the university, and he has helped me to realize when I talk of an old hurt that the moment I can feel or hear emotion creep into my heart or voice, I am reliving it in an unhealthy way. I have learned to be able to speak of difficulties from the past without the anger or hurt feelings surfacing. For me, that is huge, because it is something I can measure. It is a way I can gauge my progress.
4-Congratulations on "Lucky Change" being a finalist for a Whitney Award in the General category. How did you feel when you heard that you were a finalist?
When I found out I was a Whitney finalist, it was kind of like Karen and her lottery winning ticket. "Let's make sure I wrote these numbers down right." I had already picked two books that I thought for sure would be finalists. I began scrolling through the list, and the first one I saw was Annette's book, which I had pegged as sure to be one of the finalists. I scrolled through three more and figured the last one would be the other author I had expected as a finalist. But then I saw the orange cover and the flying money. I was surprised and excited, but I was home alone, so I didn't do the game show dance or anything. At first I couldn't get my husband or any of our kids on the phone, so I just went out and bought some celebratory chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream and told the cashier at Safeway.
5.Will you write a sequel to "Lucky Change"?
I have envisioned a sequel called "Going for Broke" where Karen and Ray go all over the world doing service in order to spend all the money and just get back to being regular folks. People seem to want to know if anything unfolds between Austin and Camille, and I'm sure they would like to see Dee have a better future than she has had a past, so I will follow their stories as well. I am imagining how much fun I could have taking Karen to foreign countries where she can mangle the language and yet somehow transcend the communication barriers with love. I have friends willing to share some of their global travel service experiences with me and we've done quite a bit of travel ourselves, so I am sure I can take Karen and Ray on some interesting adventures. I'll just do like I did with this book and follow Karen around and write about what she does.
Right now, however, I am working on "Packing for Heaven," which is a parallel novel about Toni and her family and her daughter's battle with cancer and Toni's battle with her pride. There will be some overlapping scenes from Lucky Change, told from a little different vantage point. I'm trying to get that done in the next few months. Anyone who wants to sign on as a nagger, let me know.
Thanks for the interview!
If you want to read something fun after reading the book, you need to go to Susan's blog. Here is where she interviews the characters from her book. I read the interviews and they are a lot of fun to read. It was like a continuation of the book. Here is the link...
Susan also wanted me to share this with my readers...
On this one, I am hopeful that eventually people who have my good deed pass along cards will post. In the meantime, I post my own experiences, which is good, because it makes me mindful of acts of service done for me, and it makes me look for opportunities to be of service to others.
About the Author
- Susan Law Corpany
- Susan is an LDS writer of fiction that is touching without being sappy, uplifting without being preachy, humorous without being contrived and true to life without being too depressing. She lives on the Big Island of Hawaii and is married to Thom Curtis, a Sociology professor at the University of Hawaii. Thom and Susan have a blended family of six, a daughter and five sons. They are adding new adorable grandchildren regularly. She loves to travel and see the world, and loves to stay home and enjoy the paradise in which she lives.
FYC- I received a free copy of this book, which in no way influenced my review.