Wednesday, February 20th, 2013
Did you like Gone Girl? Are you into suspense-thrillers? Here’s a great one for you, The K Street Affair, which was a recent Barnes & Noble Book Club Pick of the Month. I asked author Mari Passananti to tell me more about motherhood and writing. Kudos to Mari for breaking into this male-dominated book genre!
KK: What’s your book about?
MP: The K Street Affair follows one young lawyer who risks everything, including her life and the lives of those closest to her, to try to stop her law firm’s clients from financing and executing a series of large scale terror attacks.
KK: How excited were you to be a BN Pick of the Month?
MP: It’s very exciting to have my second novel singled out for recognition by the country’s largest bookstore chain, especially since I worried, prior to publication, that The K Street Affair might be viewed by some in the book business as too quirky. The novel doesn’t fit into any neat pigeon hole. It’s women’s fiction, by virtue of having a female protagonist, Lena Mancuso. It’s a thriller, since Lena spends most of the book trying to stay alive and one step ahead of the villains. And it’s a political suspense novel, because those villains include a prominent politician, a lobbyist, and several investors in a massive multinational corporation. The K Street Affair poses big questions about the nexus of power and money and about how Washington, D.C. works—not the most customary contemporary women’s fiction fare. But, as bestselling thriller author Joseph Finder said recently, “The world could use more women thriller writers.” I wholeheartedly agree.
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KK: How do you juggle writing and motherhood?
MP: My son is three years old, and he goes to preschool four days a week. For now, I do most of my writing during school hours and find myself wishing for a slightly longer work week (though it’s probably not p.c. to say that). When my son was younger, I had a wonderful regular part time sitter, because I could not imagine trying to write anything more complicated than an email while watching him. I think it’s really important to be frank about the work/life juggling question. I know so many women who beat themselves up because they think they should be able to work from home while minding their toddlers. And unfortunately, I know a few who claim to work while watching their kids, when they are actually paying a babysitter. I see no shame in paying for child care as an investment in your career, and I don’t think it’s something we women should hide from one another. I should add that I also know author moms who work while their kids are home, or they write from the sidelines at soccer practice, or in their parked minivans. Their kids are older and out of permanent self-destruct mode.
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Fiction, Mom Must Read, Popular Books, Q&A With Authors
Thursday, January 17th, 2013
Last night I went to a rockin’ book party at my local book store–my cozy and indispensable second home. I was happy to celebrate my friend Jenny Milchman‘s debut suspense novel called Cover of Snow. Jenny is just an all-around cool person. She’s the mom who started the nationally popular Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day. She’s also a mom who has struggled for 11 years to get one of her books published. She finally hit the jackpot with Cover of Snow that came out this week. This thriller is about a couple in Upstate New York. Mysteries abound when the wife wakes up to find that her husband, a cop, has hanged himself. But was this really a suicide? Publisher’s Weekly loves the book, writing that “Milchman expertly conveys Nora’s grief in a way that will warm hearts even in the dead of a Wedeskyull winter.” I’m anxious to crack open my copy.
And checkout Jenny Milchman’s guest post below. Find out what she read–and wrote–when she was pregnant. Her love for the suspenseful thriller genrea makes total sense.”
“When I was pregnant, I didn’t read any pregnancy books. As a suspense writer, I have the worst case of medical student’s syndrome ever, and if you so much as breathed the word pre-eclampsia in my direction, I would start actually seeing protein in the little cup they give you at the midwife’s office. No microscope needed here.
So what did I read while I was pregnant? I know this is going to sound weird. Probably even weirder than my extreme suggestibility. I read Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin. Yes, during my very first pregnancy, when every gas bubble could’ve been a kick, and every kick could’ve been a sign I was going into labor, I read a book about a woman who didn’t realize she was gestating the devil’s spawn.
Books have meant different things to me from the time I was able to read, but when I started the process of becoming a mother, they morphed into something else entirely, and I think this morphing is part of what compelled me to read the classic blueprint for paranoia in pregnancy. (Yes, Rosemary, there really is a coven in the next apartment).
As a pregnant woman, things were becoming very, very real. No more fooling around, this wasn’t just playing house. I was about to become responsible for another human being. Forever. Until I wasn’t on this earth anymore, but a part of the earth.
In fiction, I found respite. Nothing real there. I mean, despite my extreme medical studentitis, I pretty much knew that my husband hadn’t traded my womb for a good role on stage. (He isn’t even an actor). Rosemary’s problems were tantalizingly…unreal.
In addition to being a reader, I’m also a writer, although while I was pregnant, I was an unpublished writer. But I was trying awfully hard to get published by the time I became pregnant.
I’d been trying for about three or four years. To get published, not to conceive; lightning struck pretty fast with the latter, thank goodness. I’d written four novels, and they had all gotten close. I had an agent and editors who wanted to buy my work. In fact, I’d even postponed pregnancy for a while, assuming I would be published soon, and then who would have time for a baby?
But it didn’t happen, and before I get all metaphysical about why, and start writing about the child I feel I was meant to have, let me just get on with things and tell you that I bit the bullet, jumped off the cliff, and while pregnant, also wrote my fifth novel.”
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