What was your motivation in becoming an author and writer?
I’m fortunate to be related to people who share an interest in reading and writing, so I grew up hearing about and/or watching people involved in those two pursuits. My father aspired to be a published author. Writing was his primary hobby. He died when I was relatively young, but I knew of his interests especially in his desire to write about civil rights. My mother is a voracious reader and eventually taught writing research papers on a college level. They were both English majors. My brother is a producer for television and writes. Other close relatives do or did work in copywriting. Additionally, I’ve always loved reading, which encouraged me to write.
What did you do before you were a writer?
I worked in marketing and public relations for two years before I began working in journalism as a reporter at age twenty-two while I was going to graduate school to study journalism. Reporting involved research and fact-checking. As I got more experience, I began working as an editor and eventually as a writer. All of the skills I acquired in the various jobs in journalism were excellent training for novel writing. In addition to the basic writing and research skills necessary, working as a journalist teaches discipline and focus, how to work on deadline, and interviewing skills. Equally important is the development of a so-called thick skin, which is necessary when dealing with edits and feedback.
As a journalist, I specialized in writing about interior design and architecture, and I currently work as a real estate agent and interior designer as well as a writer. (I also have a degree in interior design that I began when I decide to focus on it in writing.) The three professions are a merging of what interests me, and they offer flexibility in terms of work schedules between them. I never do all three at once. When I’m busy with one, I cut back on at least one of the other two.
Like journalism, real estate and interior design offer excellent training for a novelist. You need to understand people’s wants, needs and motivations to properly help them.
- What motivated or inspired you to write?
My initial intention when wanting to become a journalist was a desire to help people through the dissemination of information, and writing appealed to me as a way to do it. Concerning writing books, it’s the same drive. My first book is a how-to interior design book that features the work of prominent designers but offers the information in a way that allows readers to understand and duplicate the work on any budget. My motivation to write novels came later. I didn’t plan it. I thought I would continue to write non-fiction design books and articles while running an interior design business. It arose as a desire to reflect the social environment in Connecticut that I returned to as a new parent. I grew up in the state and left for college and returned about fifteen years later. As a mother involved in organizations in my town and other local towns, I was surprised by some of the sophomoric and cruel behavior I witnessed especially among the women, and I thought writing a satire of it would help me process it and potentially help others experiencing the same thing. I have friends who live in other areas of the country, and when we spoke, I realized they were all going through a form of the same thing. It’s universal.
I enjoy novel writing. It’s fun to take basic observances and attempt to formulate entertaining fictional stories.
- How did you go about researching for your book?
I watch, listen and ask questions primarily to formulate the basic outline of my novels, and then I research to enrich them. The research involves a lot of Google searches. If I didn’t use the information I look up on Google to write books, I would be considered a sexual deviant. I read related-books, and watch documentaries, YouTube videos and fictionalized works about the subject (s). I study aspects of social media.
- What are your goals for readers to take away after reading?
I hope readers will be so entertained by the story that they don’t realize its a social critique with a larger message. I want the readers to have a better understanding of the ridiculousness and manipulation of the institutions and/or social climates presented in my novels and if they are subject to similar circumstances that it will help them process their feeling concerning them and perhaps choose alternative ways to think and live.
- What is a typical day of your life?
During the work/school week, my husband and I get up with our youngest daughter and send her off to school. Our oldest daughter is away at school, so if I haven’t already checked in with her, I do. Then I try to write for several hours before tackling whatever housekeeping the day demands: grocery shopping, meal preparation, laundry … If I have real estate, interior design or volunteer work to do, I do it at the designated time. Throughout the day, I touch base with family and/or friends and make plans to meet or just check in. I try to take a few hours to work on the other aspects related to being a writer, which involves book publicity, being an active part of writing community, working on a book review or a blog, reading others work for personal interest or to review, reading up on current events, and listening to a book or maybe a podcast. At some point every day, I try to do yoga, run or go to the gym to clear my mind and realign a body that has been sitting at a desk or in bed working on a computer. For me, it’s an essential part of the day because it fuels my creativity and allows me to come back to my life and my writing refreshed. Once my youngest daughter is home from school, then I hang out with her and help her with homework, and either my husband or I get her to her extracurricular activities. I check in with our oldest daughter again. Then it’s dinner and our youngest daughter’s bedtime. She still lets me read with her at bedtime, and she has a great sense of humor, so we tend to critique the books we read together as we are reading them. Our dogs are always on the bed with us subtly fighting for more space from each other. It’s a highlight of my day. Sometimes I fall asleep during it and wander to my bed half asleep but, if not, I either go back to my computer or watch a program on television with my husband. If I didn’t already do it with our youngest daughter, he and I then say goodnight to our oldest daughter by phone. And then I read until I fall asleep. That’s a typical day today, but it can be quickly upended if one of my kids is sick or something else goes amiss.
- What are your hobbies or things you do in your downtime?
I like to spend time with my family, our dogs, and my friends. I like to do yoga and exercise. I enjoy reading for pleasure, keeping up on current events, and watching movies, documentaries, and programming on HBO and channels like it. I just finished watching the third series of Nic Pizzolatto’s True Detective, which aired on HBO. It’s great! My volunteer work includes reading to elementary school age children, which is so much fun. I bake ridiculously fattening desserts a lot! …
- What can you tell us of any new writing projects that you might have?
I’m working on a few projects, including a series of cozy mysteries that take place in Fairfield County, a collection of humorous personal essays, and novel about a family that focuses on the impact of mental illness in its various forms over several generations. When humor is appropriate, I like to use it to tackle difficult issues and make them more palatable for an audience. I’m trying to master that in my writing.
- What are your favorite genres of books that you like to read?
I read mostly fiction. I’m drawn to Upmarket fiction, which is a broad category that blends the line between commercial and literary. Michael Cunningham’s The Hours, Jennifer Egan’s Manhattan Beach and Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections are some examples. I also enjoy women’s fiction, mysteries, and thrillers such as Laine Moriarty and Wendy Walker’s novels. Lastly, I read satires such as David Sedaris and Gary Shteyngart’s work. I like to combine elements of all of these genres in the books I write, and that’s why I’m drawn to them as reading material.
- What advice can you give to someone that wants to be a writer?
Read. Write. Find your voice. Either read a book about or take a class on the basics of writing a novel. You don’t have to adhere to all aspects of what you learn, but it helps as a guide and saves time. Determine how best to work: outlines or not. Develop a thick skin. Learn how to take criticism as well as to defend your work. Make a few friends who share your passion for writing and reading. Attend book talks and events like it.
- If your book were adapted to the screen, what actors, actresses could you envision for the main characters?
Fun to dream … When Sunday Bestis adapted, the following is my wish list of actors to play the characters. (I supply a few actors names for each character because I know it will be a challenge to enlist all of my first choices.) 😉
Walter Bloom: Will Ferrell or Danny McBride
Charles Bloom: Alec Baldwin or Mahershala Ali
Mercer Wood: Matthew McConaughey or Hugh Grant or Jude Law
Eleanor Powers: Catherine O’Hara or Laurie Metcalf or Glenn Close
Lauren: Julianna Moore or Kate Blanchet or Gretchen Mol
Brooke: Amy Andrews or Halle Berry or Jessica Chastain
Jackie: Amy Poehler or Renee Zellweger or Melissa McCarthy
Darren: Matt Damon or Chadwick Boseman or Ethan Hawk
Jay Festa: Chadwick Boseman or John O’Reilly
Monica Diaz: Marisa Tomei or Mira Sorvino
11.How would you like the readers to connect with you?