Monday, February 15, 2010

Author Interview: CJ Omololu

Today, I have CJ Omololu with me to answer some questions over her debut novel Dirty Little Secrets. I personally loved this book, from the unique idea to the plot to Lucy's struggle.

AGA: How much research did you end up doing for this novel?

CJ: I had to do a lot to really get it right. I contacted some people from a website called the Children of Hoarders ( and they were great. I couldn’t have done it without their stories and their reading bits and pieces of the book as I finished it. Since last fall, A&E has been running a show called Hoarders which really gives a glimpse into what life with a hoarder is like. In a way, I wish it had been on when I was writing, but it another way, I’m glad it wasn’t because there is so much in that show that is in the book that I’m sure I’d be accused of stealing ideas.

AGA: How much preparation did you have to do in order to get into the mindset required to write a character like Lucy in that situation?

CJ: I usually don’t have too much trouble putting on a character – in a lot of ways, writing is like internal acting. For Lucy, I watched a documentary over and over called My Mother’s Garden by Cynthia Lester. That really helped to bring out some of the emotion involved. I keep photos of hoarding situations on my laptop so that I could refer to them as I needed to. My agent also sent me an album by Priscilla Ahn which is great mood music for this book. As I wrote, I got to know Lucy better and better so the character ended up fairly well-rounded.

AGA: What sort of time frame did this book take you to complete, from start to finish?

CJ: Three months for the first draft. I started in November, which was a little crazy (come to think of it, I tend to start new projects in November) what with all the holidays, and I finished in February. My agent and I went through a couple of rounds of edits and then sent it out into the world.

AGA: Given the subject of this book, I personally believe it will open up the eyes of many readers to this condition and its underlying effects and reasons. Do you feel you've experienced any big changes in the course of writing this book?

CJ: I’ve become much more sympathetic to people with mental disorders like these. Even though the book is written from Lucy’s point of view, all of my research helped me to understand the psychology behind hoarding. Not that I’m making any excuses for hoarders, particularly with small children in the home, but without treatment, they really can’t do it alone. The other big change is that people are always apologizing for the mess in their houses when they come to visit. It’s getting embarrassing. One of these days I’m going to post a photo of my messy garage just to make everyone feel better.

AGA: Do you have a favorite character from this book?

CJ: Since I lived with Lucy for so long, of course I love her. I have to say though, that Josh is sort of my idea of the perfect guy back when I was in high school. I think you have to have a little bit of a crush on the love interest in your book in order for it to be realistic. He’s cute, smart, sympathetic and he plays the guitar. What’s not to like? Just don’t tell my husband.

AGA: If you could pair Lucy up with any character from any book, who would it be and why? (Ignoring her charming boy in this book who is a sexy band guy....)

CJ: Ooh, good question. I really like the love interest in the new book that I’m working on, but that’s not really fair. Looking over my bookshelves I’d have to say Katniss from Suzanne Collin’s The Hunger Games. Not in a romantic way, but that girl could teach Lucy a few things about survival and about being a bad a**.

AGA: Is there anything else you'd like to say?

CJ: I’ve been so thrilled with the great response the book has gotten so far. There have been a few people who have had trouble with the ending, but I hope that whether you agree with Lucy’s choice or not, that it provokes discussion.

Today, I have CJ Omololu with me to answer some questions over her debut novel Dirty Little Secrets. I personally loved this book, from the unique idea to the plot to Lucy's struggle.


  1. Great interview, I really wanna read this book :P

  2. Hi :)
    Thank you for the interview with CJ & Thank you to CJ for sharing. I enjoyed learning more about her & her writing. I didn't know she & her agent edited it before sending it to publishers.
    All the best,
    PS - The purple print is very hard to read.

  3. Neato interview. I want to read this. Nice of her to do an interview