The Girlfriends Cyber Circuit is zipping through the Blogosphere with a new book tour, and I'm pleased to have fellow member Samantha Wilde visiting today to talk about her debut novel. Her book introduces a character named Joy McGuire, who has gone from being skinny and able to speak in complete sentences to someone who hasn’t changed her sweatpants in weeks. But now with a new baby to care for, she feels like a woman on the brink and as she scrambles to recapture the person she used to be she takes another look at the woman she is: a stay-at-home mom in love with her son, if a bit addled about everything else. As a new mom herself, Samantha, a graduate of Yale Divinity School, wrote THIS LITTLE MOMMY STAYED HOME (Bantam trade, June 2009) after the birth of her son when she was experiencing the ups and downs of new motherhood.
Could you tell us a little more about your book? Joy , a seemingly normal person with a seemingly normal marriage, has a baby, after which point, nothing is normal again. Not her breasts or her belly or her heart or her marriage. It’s a rueful, postpartum tale about the grueling work of the first nine months of the first baby when change is an urgent necessity that you wish you could run away from.
Do you have a muse, good luck charm, writing vice? I do tend to eat chocolate while writing, which is very museful. [Oh, I agree!] I also work well under pressure, so it helps that my real job is being with my kids around the clock. My writing is squeezed in. Very motivational.
Have you had a "rock star" moment regarding your writing career? If so, what was it? I think I’m too new to feel like a rock star. I’m waiting for Oprah to call. Or, actually, the other day, after a Borders book signing, a woman came over and picked up my novel and looked at it. She read the back. Flipped through the pages. Stared at the cover. I was by the bathrooms with my mother. Then she put it down and walked away. Isn’t that what happens with real books?
Name three songs that would be perfect for the soundtrack of your book. How about “The Eensy Weensy Spider,” “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,” and “Twinkle, Twinkle.” Oh, wait. You mean there’s other music out there? I haven’t heard any in a LONG time.
What was the inspiration behind the writing of your novel? I started THIS LITTLE MOMMY STAYED HOME when my son was about nine months out of some desperate creative drive. I wrote during his nap times. Twice a day, one hour each time.
What is one thing you’ve learned about the publishing industry since getting your first book deal? It’s an industry. Not a cozy writing club.
What are you reading now? THE YEAR OF LIVING BIBLICALLY. It’s hilarious. Since I moonlight as a minister and spent some years in divinity school, I lap up religious stuff when it’s true, witty and liberal. [I read and loved this book, too!]
Is writing your main job? If not, what do you do for your real source of income and how does it impact your writing? The “real source” of my income is my husband. What do I do with him? Send him to work! He’s a professor of chemical engineering. I “stay home” with the kids, which includes a great deal of being elsewhere. I adore being with my children--even if it is honestly the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. By training I’m a yoga teacher and an ordained minister. I do keep up with both of those occupations, teaching a weekly yoga class, and “free lancing” by officaitng at weddings and blessing babies. My real job is mothering.
Do you have show and tell with your first draft? Who do you trust for honest reaction, or is so fragile you show it to one you love who you know will be kind? My mother, Nancy Thayer, is almost always my first reader. She’s just published her 19th novel and as a bestselling writer who’s been in the industry for thirty years I trust her opinion. She’s a good critic for me, not too soft or too hard, and I always know she has my best interests in mind.
What is your advice for those who looking to get their novel published? Ask yourself WHY. Do you want to write? Or do you want all that comes with being published? They are not necessarily the same. And some things (many things) can be got without publishing. Like a sense of personal satisfaction and joy.
What was the one thing you learned in getting your book published that you were really surprised to find out? You never get to the top of the mountain. Getting published is not a lighting bolt. Life does not change in any substantive way. You never arrive at the place you long to be from outward things. The inward changes are cool, though. I feel like, impossibly, I am learning to be more gracious.
Thanks so much for being here, Samantha, and congrats on the release of your debut novel!!
**Thanks again to everyone who took part in the AustenFest! A couple of people have yet to claim their book prizes, so please check the prior post to see if you're a winner and email me (marilynbrant AT gmail DOT com) if you are! Also--ATTENTION COFFEE LOVERS!!--I now have the details I've been waiting for and, let me tell you, this next event (a taste test!!) is gonna be really fun! I'm in the process of writing the post about it and will have it up before next week gets rolling...**