Sunday, July 8, 2018

Summer Stories: Make Me Over

Interview with Jacqueline Gillam Fairchild, author of Make Me Over:

Alexis: What was the inspiration behind your story’s title “Make Me Over”?

Jackie: It has a double meaning. Hallie makes over client’s homes and yet to be on The Bachelorette TV show, she had to be made over. And don’t we all want a bit of a makeover?

Alexis: Who is Hallie Great? Describe her looks, personality, motivation, and role in this story.

Jackie: Hallie could be any number of people you know. Somewhere in her 40’s and someone who has devoted her life to her career. Her classic business suits she wore as a young interior designer at Greats Department store are still her uniform today. Still severe, conservative, and usually black. But now they are a little bigger and it goes without saying her heels are a lot lower and wider. Her looks are secondary to her career so her hair is basic and often tied back. When she is made over, her hair goes from dull to highlighted and styled. And as she is forced to join weight watchers her lumps slowly melt away. And there is actually a very soft girl that had been hiding in a rather hard woman’s body. As she becomes prettier she becomes vulnerable. She also learns that dressing herself in wonderful clothes is almost as much fun as decorating a room. And that when she wears lovely garments she feels better.

How did Hallie become a megastar interior designer?

Jackie: Work, work and then more work. She started early and never stopped. She learned the retail business inside and out through the family megastore and when she was ready to pick her specialty she knew it would be the design world.

And she slowly worked her way up. And, like anything you do, the more you do it, the better you become. Of course, she had the eye and the desire to stick with it and work long hard hours. She was a star designer at Great’s Department store.

When they went under she literally got in her car and started to go west to find a spot to open her own business. She stopped in the middle of the middle of nowhere in one of those magazine perfect little towns and found an old shop front for sale, fell in love and bought it.

And when the next store went on the market, she bought that one too. On and on until she owned the entire block. She knew if she offered a lovely mousetrap...people would come because people everywhere want wonderful things in their homes.

They want homes that look like the magazines or the movies. And yet they can never seem to pull this together on their own. So of course, she would be a success. She was in an area with less shopping than most and offering a wonderful service: the ability to have your dream house or dream room. And that is the designer’s ticket to success. 

Alexis: What does Hallie love about making over homes for her clients?

Jackie: Your home is an extension of you. Your happiest place, your most secure place, and your most secret place. It is where you can be who you truly are. And Hallie loves the privilege of helping people express their personality where they live.

She loves showing them the most beautiful and outrageous or classic items and fabrics and all bits and pieces of décor that they would never ever find on their own. These are the resources designers have available to them.

And she loves showing people the different floor plans every room has and how the right one will work for their lifestyle. And sometimes this is the hardest part for someone to do. They can find items they love but they can’t put them all together. Each room has many good options but really only one great one. Hallie gives this to people.

She thrives on taking what you already own and want to keep regardless the reason, and adding to it in such a way that the new room, or rooms, are very dear to you, not to mention breathtaking. And with the addition of whatever it is you have kept, the right out of the showroom look never happens. The rooms are simply an expression of their owners, only usually with a bit of the wow factor.

Alexis: Why did Hallie’s friend sign her up to be the next Bachelorette?

Jackie: Jinx tends to meddle in all the best ways. But she also realizes Hallie has it all—almost.

Hallie is lonely. And Jinx also knows Hallie will never do a thing about it. Hallie has a hard time admitting there is a piece of the puzzle missing. As a matter of fact, Hallie and Amy are both resigned to their single status. They both know it is the price they paid to be on the top of their game.

The long hours spent working didn’t seem to include going out and socializing. And as the years slid by, it is harder and harder to meet someone. The opportunities just aren’t there, and there is also that herd of young lovely’s right behind you.

In my new series, Greater Expectations, I explore this further. Four women all stunning and all semi-happy chip in to join a very pricey dating agency. Their plan is to pool their best qualities and come up with a composite person and then divvy up the men. Of course, dating agencies have their problems and this new series addresses them all.

Alexis: Is this the same real-life TV show that airs on the ABC network in real-life? If so, what about that reality dating show inspired you to write this fiction story?

Jackie: I love the Bachelor and Bachelorette shows and watch them faithfully, but I also have wondered what if the bachelorette was a little bit older?

Maybe not quite so picky, and certainly past her first blush. And lonely. What would she do? So many of the drop-dead bachelorettes on the show are so gorgeous and young etc. that finding a companion should be relatively easy. And when it isn’t, I just say if they think this is hard, wait until they are older.

Alexis: Why doesn’t Hallie watch TV? How does being The Bachelorette change that?

Jackie: How many people do you know who not only are workaholics but love their work? I know many, maybe because I started in the interior design business.

These are the people who live and breathe their work and their spare time is spent on subjects that are related to their beloved work. For example, when my husband and I plan a trip to escape, it is usually a trade show for our business Her Majesty’s English Tea Room and Fairchild’s. It is rare we say let’s just go somewhere that does not tie in with work.

When I was in the design business I read all the trade magazines and all the shelter magazines like Arc Digest. It never dawned on me to read the local newspaper. As a result, I was out of the loop on what was going on in the real world. But I could tell you the design details of a new Brunschwig fabric or the new stain finishes from some obtuse furniture maker. Well, that is how Hallie is when it comes to TV—it never dawns on her to even turn it on. At first, she thinks Amy is teasing her when she says she is a TV producer.

Amy lives and breathes her business and is not only shocked but a little hurt that Hallie has no clue what the Bachelorette show is or what she does.

And there is the point of the day when one finally gives in to sleep. For some people TV is a lovely white noise, for others, they never even think to turn it on. Hallie fits into that category. And as Hallie’s life changes I believe she will remain the same, working round the clock and not turning on her TV, only she will have someone in her life to share all the details…

Alexis: Who is Amy and what role does she play in this story? Describe her motivation.

Jackie: Amy is a producer and like Hallie has devoted her life to her art. She has clawed her way up in a male-oriented business and is on the top of her game.

But her show needs a hit season. Because you are only as good as your last hit. And she finds her viewers want the glamour and the glitz on the Bachelorette show and the tears and the thrills, but they also want the happily ever after and her shows had been falling short of that. So she feels they need a special candidate to be their star. And when she reads Jinx’s application about Hallie she stops, and subconsciously can relate to someone who has sacrificed all to get ahead and is now lonely.

Alexis: Why are Amy and Hallie lonely? How does the crossing of their paths help?

Jackie: We all have lonely friends in all age groups, that is not new.

But Hallie and Amy are at the top of their game. It truly is lonely at the top. The other people at work really never ask the higher-ups to have lunch or stop off for a drink.

Amy and Hallie have worked themselves into a bit of isolation. Call it intimidation (in Hallie’s case) or job fear (Amy’s case) but it just isn’t done.

They do not have that network of friends that is so crucial to all of us. They never had time for them when they were younger, possibly even road right over them to get where they were going. And the more they worked, the more that became their world.

Amy and Hallie see themselves in each other. The good, and the tough, and the overworked. So they immediately become sympathetic friends. Initially, Hallie likes having someone at her beck and call, helping her get ready for the show. For Hallie, this is a luxury in itself.

It is tough when Hallie realizes this friendship is partially work for Amy. But they bond because they are so similar. And lonely. And the whole show becomes very personal for both of them. Amy labors over the men who will be the candidates. And she watches all of this from the sidelines. At the point the show is filming, Amy understands Hallie very well and watches closely, and sometimes a little enviously, as Hallie goes on her journey.

Alexis: What do you want readers to remember most about Make Me Over?

Jackie: Any day, any time, you can make yourself over. You can look at people and places and events that are all around you in a new light. You can put yourself on the list and become your own priority without sacrificing your career or the needs of those around you. And that yes, hard work is actually very rewarding and not hard at all if you are in a field you love. And if you are not, well, it is one step to making that change. And of course, taking time to take care of your self is its own reward. And relationships that work have a common theme, love, or devotion to a cause.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Jacqueline! Do you have closing comments?

Jackie: Thank you for allowing me to talk about Make Me Over. I hope everyone who enjoys it will email me at

Email me with your design questions and your own dreams. When I left the design business it was to open my own business with my husband: Her Majesty’s English Tea Room and our Brit shop Fairchild’s. And I found I love doing this even more than the design business.

I am here to encourage anyone to take that leap and start their own business. It is rewarding, exciting, and well, yes, it is hard work. But sometimes you just need that nudge and I am here to supply that. You can reach out to me any time!

Author Bio:
Jacqueline Gillam Fairchild writes cozy fiction that is escapism to the countryside, and Nantucket. She writes of women who are ready to take the leap into starting their own business, or who just want to start over. At the heart of her writing is the belief we all want a life that is just a little bit prettier and maybe a little bit magical.

Jacqueline owns and operates Her Majesty’s English Tea Room, and her British store Fairchild’s, in the middle of the middle with her Scottish husband, and their Pekingese, Piewacket. A former Interior Designer, she also studied at Le Cordon Bleu, Paris.

Her business was a finalist for gift and decorating Accessories Magazine’s Retailer of the Year award for two years. Her business won the prestigious Icon Award for branding in 2017 from Americasmart, Atlanta.

She is a scriptwriter and a cast member of the Grand Hotel Murder Mystery Troupe, Mackinac Island, Michigan.

She guest writes for Present Magazine and her letters have appeared in the British magazine Lady and Victoria Magazine. Articles about her business have appeared in Gift and Decorative Accessories Magazine and Souvenir and Gift Magazine. 

She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and has been interviewed by them. She gives cooking classes for AGA, the British cookers (ovens) which she represents as a dealer. She speaks to groups on finding the writer in you, starting your dream business, the U.K., gardening, baking and pastry making, and the Royal family. She speaks to groups about her novels and the inspiration they have on women to follow their dreams. She has a book club of writers who meet once a month at her tea room and has sponsored writers sale day events.

Enjoy her daily blog at

Book Blurb for Make Me Over:

Welcome to Make Me Over

Megastar interior designer Hallie Great constantly hears clients demand she makeover their homes. Yet her own personal life is nonexistent until her meddling friend Jinx enters her to be the next Bachelorette. Not that Hallie watches TV or even knows what this means. But the coveted slot of bachelorette includes a serious personal makeover…

Paths cross for two women with entirely different careers. Both realize they have devoted every waking moment to their jobs—and find just one complaint: they are lonely. Amy is a reality TV producer for the Bachelorette Show; Hallie owns an interior design mega business. The producer and designer both understand what it took the other to claw their way to the top of their fields—and that is enough to form a friendship.

Can the failing reality show be saved with a new twist--an older, bit more desperate bachelorette? A not quite so picky bachelorette, even if she is there by force? Bachelors are professional men, older; it goes without saying, and hopefully willing to relocate to the home of the interior design maven. There are no rollerblading dates. Dates are at trade shows so the interior designer can not only keep working, but the men get a true feeling for what they may be in for.

One of the bachelors is a disgruntled employee of the bachelorette—so out of sight in her empire, she doesn’t even recognize him. This is his chance to get back at her for all her demanding ways—but what if he starts falling for her?

And the producer is cheering for one mystery author—maybe because she has taken a liking to him …

Dating is always difficult, but the older one gets the rougher the whole dating machine becomes, with or without the help of reality TV.

From a gorgeous Edwardian Mansion, being made over for the Junior League, to sunny California and the Bachelorette Mansion.

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  1. I would love a makeover especially for my wardrobe! I work in health care so most of my clothes are scrubs. I have some comfy clothes for around the house but would love a colorful couple of outfits. Especially for church or going out with my husband!

  2. I wouldn't mind a makeover, but at my age, there's not much you can do. Vivian Furbay jtandviv(at)q(dot)com


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