Thanks to Abbi Glines, that is. The Alabama writer who set her fictional romance in Rosemary Beach, is seeing women young and, well, not-so-young fall in love with Blaire, Rush and a cast of characters she dreamed up during a 30A vacation, propelling her to the top of Amazon, iTunes and Barnes & Noble top seller lists, even earning a placement on the New York Times best seller list. Fans are even petitioning for a TV show to be produced about the books. Could this be the next Gossip Girl or Pretty Little Liars?
We recently chatted with Abbi to get the scoop.
What is your educational background? Did you always plan to be an author or how did you find yourself in this career?
I’ve known since I was nine years old that I would write books one day. It was my dream and main goal in life I filled notebooks full of stories for years. Then life got in the way
I graduated high school in 1995 from a private Christian school in North Alabama. One year after graduation I transferred to Faulkner State so I could live near my fiancé. I managed to complete two years of college before we started our family. Kids changed everything.
I did freelance for several parenting and family magazines and the Mobile Press Register. When my youngest started kindergarten I decided it was time for me to write that book. So I did. That was four years ago.
This stretch of beach town is often considered a best kept secret. How did you first make the acquaintance of 30A and Rosemary Beach specifically?
We have always loved 30A. Typically we would find ourselves staying in Seaside when we visited. However, in the spring of 2012 we went with friends to Rosemary Beach for Spring Break. They assured us we would love it, which of course we did.
While staying in one of the quaint little beach cottages along the water, I outlined the idea for the first book in the series. I never imagined it would be more than one book. I just liked the setting of Rosemary Beach and decided I would take my own fictional liberties with the town. Fallen Too Far became my first New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller. I never in a million years expected that kind of reaction from the book. Because of the reader response, I wrote a sequel and when that book soared to number one on the New York Times list, I decided this would be a series. Readers loved the characters and storyline.
You’ve said you wrote the book while vacationing in Rosemary Beach. Can you paint the picture of what that vacation like to inspire such idyllic romance?
The cottage we had rented for the week overlooked the water. I sat out on the patio and brainstormed while watching the people on the beach. When I needed a break from the outlining, I would walk down to the Sugar Shak and get an ice-cream. I loved soaking in the area and the way of life in the town. Rosemary Beach isn’t a typical tourist location and it’s a more luxurious experience than most coastal spots. I liked the upscale feel and the idea of a famous rocker’s son living among this laid back lifestyle intrigued me. The idea grew from there.
What gave you the initial ideas about the Rush and Blaire, their personalities and character development? Inspired by real life experiences?
I wanted to throw a southern country girl into the world of the wealthy and privileged. She would be tough but she’d have to be desperate to even consider staying among this people who lived so differently than she did. Writing Blaire was easy. I knew her. I knew several “Blaires” actually. I grew up in the area Blaire called home. Sumit, Alabama isn’t a city but Sumiton, Alabama is. Sumiton is not only my hometown but also the inspiration for Sumit.
Writing Rush was more difficult. He was jaded and hard. He’d lived a life I wasn’t familiar with and I had my work cut out for me with research. I didn’t want him to fall hard and fast for the girl so completely different from him. I wanted it to be something that was a slow burn. He had too many walls she’d have to break down first.
What was it like to find your name on the NYT Bestseller list and #1 on Amazon? What are some of the accolades you are most proud of?
I write a “Goals List” every New Years Day. In 2012 I had written several goals down and on December 26 I read them and realized I’d accomplished them all but one. I hadn’t made the New York Times bestseller list I knew the next day that my agent would get the list and she’d know if I made it or not. The call never came.
I won’t lie, I was devastated. I was so sure after hitting #1 on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iTunes that I would have made the New York Times.
That Saturday morning I was woken up by my Twitter going crazy and sending my iPhone into a frenzy. I grabbed it to see what the fuss was about and that’s when I saw all the congratulations for hitting the New York Times list at #7. I think I cried for two entire days. I couldn’t stop crying. It was monumental for me and my writing career.
On a side note my agent felt awful about this. She was in Australia visiting her son that week and didn’t know that no one called me from her office. I’m glad I didn’t get that call early. It was two days before the new year when I found out I’d met every goal on my list
Since then I’ve been interviewed by USA Today, The New York Times and I’ve had over eight New York Times and Wall Street Journal best sellers. I’ve had over thirteen USA Today bestsellers. My books have been translated in over twenty different countries and still weekly I get a call from my agent about new foreign offers. I am humbled and amazed daily by the success of my books.
When you started the book, did you plan for a series or did the story just turn into one that needed more pages to tell the story?
When I began Fallen Too Far it was supposed to be a standalone book that was a break for me before I went back to my established series Sea Breeze. However, as I made my way to the end of the story an idea hit me and I decided I was going to end this book with a heartbreaking scene because no one expected that of me. Then I would write a sequel with this other idea I had for the couple. With the second book readers fell in love with a side character named Woods Kerrington. So I gave him a book then I gave him two. Then readers wanted a book for Grant Carter. The list is endless now and I honestly don’t know when I will be done writing about these characters in Rosemary Beach.
There has been an overwhelming response on social media with fan sites, apparel and more already dedicated to the characters you dreamed up. What is it like to have fans take such ownership and interest over something you created?
It completely blows my mind. I never intended to have things like tee shirts made up for characters in my books but readers asked me to so I decided I would try it at an event last June. I only took twenty shirts that said “I have a Rush Crush” and they sold out in five minutes. People were then begging me for more. This led to having to build a store online for the shirts. I actually see people wearing my shirts. I saw someone in Disneyland when I visited with one of my “ I Love Woods” shirts on and then while in Atlanta, Georgia I saw someone wearing one of my “Cage Groupie” shirts. My store sells hundreds of shirts a month. This kind of thing isn’t what I imagined when I started writing. I love it but it isn’t at all how I thought it would be.
We’ve seen so many requests by fans for the series to be turned into a movie or TV show with fans putting together countless Youtube videos of their dream cast with everyone from Liam Hemsworth, Emma Roberts, Gabriella Wilde and Hayden Panettiere on the list. What do you think about these ideas and who is on your dream list (budgets and availability aside!)?
I don’t have a dream list as far as characters go. I would want new fresh faces. I wouldn’t want to associate my characters with someone else because of the actors. However, I don’t want a movie for this series. There is too much story with these characters. It needs a television series. I’m holding out for that. Movie options aren’t something I am entertaining right now. I want that television show!
Which character throughout the series do you most identify with?
Blaire simply because she doesn’t appear tough until she needs to be, then everyone better run for cover.
You’ve said you write things your grandmother can’t read. How do you describe your style of writing and including those real-life details that add to the story?
My writing is realistic. I don’t sugar coat things. When I decided to write in alternating point of views I knew being in a man’s head was tricky. Men do not think like women. I was terrified to write the sexier scenes when I first started because I was sure I’d get kicked out of my church and possibly Fairhope, Alabama where I live. But I sucked it up and did it. I wrote it exactly like I thought it should be described without pretty words just real ones. It worked. It worked really well. Much better than I imagined. My mother on the other hand was appalled but has managed to get over it. My books have a storyline that has nothing to do with sex. They have real life issues and there are twists you don’t see coming.
Turning to fashion, can you describe the go-to spring/summer outfits for some of the main female characters?
Blaire – Sundresses. Above the knee and spaghetti straps. Floral and light.
Bethy – Very short shorts and tank tops. Possibly with a pair of heels.
Nan – Chanel’s newest spring fashion with a vintage Hermes bag then of course a pair of Jimmy Choo sandals
What books are on your must-read list this season?
Breakable by Tammara Webber
Beautiful Oblivion by Jamie McGuire
Fall From India Place by Samantha Young
Any advice to aspiring writers?
Write everyday. Even when it isn’t good because you can delete it tomorrow. Listen to critique. Don’t be too proud to accept someone’s advice. Know that if you love your words someone else will too. If they bore you… they will bore others. Don’t write stuff just for filler space. If it isn’t interesting write something else that is.
Anything else you want to add?
I’ve often wondered over the past year if anyone in Rosemary Beach even realized I existed. I wasn’t sure if this series had reached their ears. I’m honored to have a chance to talk about how this series came to be and the inspiration behind it. So, thank you. It was fun.
For those just discovering the series, do you have a preferred order for reading through?
Yes. The Rosemary Beach series is like watching a television series. You don’t just follow the couple in the book you are reading but their friends also have things happen around them that leads to future books. They need to be read in order.
Fallen Too Far –> Never Too Far –> Twisted Perfection –> Forever Too Far –> Simple Perfection –> Take A Chance –> One More Chance (releases September 2). Also, Rush Too Far releases May 6 and it is Fallen Too Far told in Rush’s point of view. It can be read after Fallen or after Forever Too Far.