Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Susan McBride: COUGAR Awesomeness + a Giveaway!

I've been hearing great buzz about The Cougar Club for months and seeing its cute cover pop up in unexpected but delightful places. I couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy and find out more about its author. And then--because the writing world is so small and full of fabulous surprises--I ended up having a wonderful email conversation with the super-cool chica in question and my sneaky plan to lure Susan McBride here as my blog guest was realized!!

Here's the official premise of the novel. I think you'll see right away what a fun book this is:

If you think that life—and romance—end at forty…think again!

Meet three women who aren’t about to run and hide, just because the world says they should be on the shelf and out of circulation:

Kat Maguire: her life seems perfect until she loses her high-powered advertising job and catches her live-in lover in a compromising position—with his computer!

Carla Moss: this sexy TV news anchor is in danger of being replaced by a twenty-something blond bimbo. Wasn’t it just yesterday that she was the up and coming star?

Elise Randolph: a married dermatologist, Elise thinks her plastic surgeon husband is playing doctor with someone else.

Kat firmly believes that aging gracefully isn’t about giving up; it’s about living life with your engine on overdrive. So this unofficial “Cougar Club” quickly learns three things about survival of the fittest in today’s youth-obsessed society: true friendship never dies, the only way to live is real, and you’re never too old to follow your heart.

Today is the release day--finally!--for The Cougar Club, and I couldn't have been happier when Amazon sent me one of their "your order has been shipped" emails ;-). Susan, I know this is a crazy-busy day for you (she's got a live morning interview on "Great Day St. Louis" as well as a big Susan G. Komen fundraiser!), but thank you for making time for us, too. Welcome to Brant Flakes!

What inspired you to write THE COUGAR CLUB? After writing my Debutante Dropout Mysteries, which feature a 30-year-old deb ball refugee and her 60-something mother, and then doing a young adult series with four 17-year-old protagonists, I was dying to write about women my own age. I turned 45 last October, and two years ago, I married a guy who's nine years younger. Since I met Ed, a few people have called me a Cougar, even though I'm more of an Accidental Cougar, since I hadn't set out to date younger men. The media seems bent on depicting women over forty as either desperate and Botoxed to death or wrinkled old hags, so I wanted to show that life doesn't end after forty. In fact, for a lot of us, it truly begins. Most of my real triumphs--like with my books and meeting my husband--didn't happen until I turned 40. So THE COUGAR CLUB is dedicated to all the women out there who have achieved their greatest success and found their truest love after forty. We rock!

You've also written several terrific YA and mystery novels (The Debs are great!), how did you get started in fiction? I knew from early on that I wanted to write, but I didn't realize I could make that my career. I wrote three books during grade school, which I still have in a box in the basement. One is a mystery, similar to Nancy Drew, and mysteries kind of dominated my reading for a long time. (Marilyn adds enthusiastically: I *loved* Nancy Drew mysteries as a kid and read 48 of them one year...) Although the first adult novel I wrote was an historical romance when I was 19. It didn't sell, but the encouraging letters from editors and agents made me realize this was something I could do if I worked hard and got a little lucky. I ended up writing 10 manuscripts after college (one a year) until I won a novel contest sponsored by a small Illinois press. They published my first two books before I signed with an agent who snagged me the deal with Avon for BLUE BLOOD, THE GOOD GIRL'S GUIDE TO MURDER, and THE LONE STAR LONELY HEARTS CLUB. The Debs young adult series came about while I was doing the mysteries, so for awhile it felt like I had deadlines around every corner. When I look back, I realize every book I've written somehow prepared me to write THE COUGAR CLUB. I just lovedlovedloved working on that book and can't wait to start another!

What's your favorite and/or least favorite thing about being a writer? Hmm, my favorite is probably when I've finished revisions and I think, "Wow, I love this book! I hope my editor likes it half as much." ;-) My least favorite is seeing criticism of a novel that I've poured my blood, sweat, and tears into. THE COUGAR CLUB will be my 10th published book, but negative reviews don't get any easier to stomach. (M: Sigh.)

Are there any other art forms (painting, music, dance, etc.) you enjoy as much as writing? I love music, and I'm crazy about '80s rock (Marilyn, I saw on your web site that you're a fan, too!). I still heart Def Leppard like a teenager. (M: YES!! We bonded over our adoration of Joe Elliott!) I am not afraid to karaoke in the car, grocery store, or at Blues hockey games when I hear a favorite song, which my husband lovingly refers to as "Sing along with Susan." I also love to paint and draw, and someday I'd kill to take lessons. I'm famous for drawing flowers and cats on the paper tablecloth at Macaroni Grill.

If you could ask your readers one question (or two!) about your novels, what would you want to know? Let's see, how about: Did I take you away from your real-life for awhile? Did I make you laugh out loud at least once?

Any tips for aspiring writers? Practice your craft. No one gets good--or great--at anything without doing it a lot. Don't expect to sell the first (or even second or third) manuscript you write. If you believe in yourself, it will happen at the right time. Also, read, read, read. And don't limit yourself to one genre or what's on the best-sellers list. Discover new authors or pick up books you normally wouldn't. I think it broadens us as writers to go outside our box, both in reading and writing.

What novel is next for you? A new Debs book? Do you have another women's fiction project in the works? I've got another YA book due to Random House, and I have a new editor there so we're discussing ideas right now and finding the perfect fit. I'm also working on a proposal for my next women's fiction project, which is taking me a wee bit longer than I'd hoped! But by the time you read this, I swear, I'll have turned it in! Or else, please feel free to smack me.

Marilyn, thanks for doing this!!! I had fun answering your questions.

Oh, Susan, I had a blast having you visit! Thank you so much for taking time to stop by... Also, because Susan's a sweetie, she's giving away a copy of The Cougar Club to one of today's commenters. (The drawing will be on Friday morning!)

So, a question for the ladies: Ever been interested in a man younger than you?? A guy from your regular life (you don't have to name names, if you don't want to!) or a famous person (like, say, Jensen Ackles, perhaps)? Hmm?!!


MicheleKS said...

Congratulations on your book, Susan. It sounds great. And I guess I'm entering the Cougar phase of my life (I'll turn 36 in May) so yeah, if I meet a hot guy and he's younger, more power to me. :)

My young guy crush would be Shia LeBoef (the kid from the 'Transformers' movies). I think he's a real cutie and he's got a wicked sense of humor in the interviews I've read with him.

Pamela Cayne said...

What a fun book, Susan. I am cheering at your view that women over 40 are not just botoxed or wrinkled! Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to Amazon!

Thanks for another great interview, Marilyn!

Kwana said...

This sounds like such a fun book. Congrats on the release!

Hmm younger man? That Robert Pattinson sure is good looking but I can count him as older can't I? Nah, not really.

Edie Ramer said...

Sounds like a great book, Susan. I like reading books with women over 40.

When I was a teen, I thought my friend's younger brother was cute. My friend told me he thought the same of me. But at the time, I was going out with older guys. Now dating a younger man wouldn't bother me. But it might bother my husband, so I guess I won't.

Marilyn Brant said...

Michele~Thanks so much for stopping by. And, hey, I say, more power to you if you meet someone you like and think is hot (!!)regardless of age ;). Shia LeBoef is definitely a cutie, too!

Pamela~You're most welcome, my friend. Thank you so much--as always--for visiting and adding some sunshine to my day!

Kwana~LOL!! I'm SURE you can count Pattinson as older...he's got hundreds of years on all of us, right?!

Edie~Ha! Yeah, I doubt my husband would cheer if I showed my age openmindedness *now* after all our years of marriage...but there were a couple of heartbreaker younger guys I knew when I was in h.s. and college, too. Sigh... :)

Susan McBride said...

Hey, y'all! Thanks so much for your great comments, Michele, Pamela, Kwana, and Edie! And thanks to the marvelous Marilyn for having me guest! I just made it through "Great Day St. Louis"--whew!--which was a hoot. About half the show was talking about Cougars and aging gracefully. I don't think women should ever give up on finding love, no matter the age. And why not with a younger guy? Phooey to double standards! Okay, now I have to go eat something. I was so nervous this morning that I skipped breakfast and now my stomach is growling kind of like an angry Cougar. ;-)


Marlyn said...

Susan, I love the Deb series, and I hope there will be more. As for younger men...well, I've always thought Neil Patrick Harris was pretty adorable. Yes, I know he's gay, but then, I'm happily married.

Pamala Knight said...

What a great book! Thanks for the great interview Susan and Marilyn. I'm going to have to add this to my TBR pile.

Susan McBride said...

Marlyn, I think NPH is adorable, too. I still remember when he was Doogie Howser! Wow, time flies, eh?

Pamala, I hope you enjoy THE COUGAR CLUB. It just felt so good to write about grown-up women who are friends and support each other as they all deal with careers and families and romance. Sometimes things happen at the right time, and writing Cougar was one of those things for me. :-)


Marilyn Brant said...

Susan~I *just* saw a segment from the show you were on and you were fabulous!!

Marlyn~So nice of you to pop by! I agree, Neil was always fun younger man to watch... Loved him as Doogie!

Pamala~Thanks so much for visiting, my dear! (I wore my lovely new ring today. ;)

Amethyst Willow said...

Am I allowed to comment if I'm 21? Heehee. I have a super crush on Taylor Lautner - the guy who plays the werewolf in twilight for all you Team Edward fangirls :P And he's a whopping four years younger so that totally counts right?

Robin said...

Congratulations on your many successes, Susan! ALL of your books sound terrific, and I'm so happy for the introduction - thanks Marilyn!

Loved this interview and uh, Marilyn, how can we choose between Sam and Dean?

beth said...

Love reading about friendship among women. Friends are so important no matter what age you are! My cougar crush was on the new young Principal at my kid's school. He was tall, blonde and handsome, and I felt like a giddy school girl around him. I ended up quitting my part-tim job in the lunchroom because I had such a strong attraction to him. (In no way did he know or feel the same). I sometimes still see him in the community and boy those feelings can still surface!:)

Marilyn Brant said...

Amethyst!! Hey, young lady--yeah, I'd count a 4-year age difference as cougarish for a youngster like yourself (hee ;) and, after seeing a few shirtless pictures of him from the movie stills, I can definitely see why you'd like this Taylor guy...

Robin~SO nice to share my "Supernatural" addiction with a fellow fangirl! You're right, of course--choosing between Sam and Dean is difficult (both of them being so hot and so very capable at warding off demons and all...), BUT Dean listens to great '80s rock! So, you see how that pushes things over the edge for me?!

Beth, thank you for visiting--and I loved reading about the good-looking principal! I used to be a school teacher and, while the principals I knew in the past were frequently very good guys, there weren't any I was attracted to...until this ONE year. This guy had the room full of mostly female teachers twittering with excitement when we first met him. Unfortunately, we soon discovered his personality and his ethics were not nearly as delightful as his appearance, and we were clinking coffee mugs in the staff lounge when the school board fired him midway through the year. A handsome AND honorable principal, however, would be an awesome thing, though!!

Susan McBride said...

Amethyst, younger guy crushes are okay at any age! And I agree with you and Marilyn, Taylor is a cutie!

Thanks, Robin! :-)

Oh, Beth, it was so great writing about a really strong friendship between the three women in The Cougar Club. That's the core of the story (and the fabric of our lives, to steal the phrase from the cotton industry!). ;-) As for your crush story...oh, girl! I think someone needs to turn that into a Lifetime movie! I would watch it and root for her to get the handsome principal...unless he turned out to be like the principal at Marilyn's school who was sweet on the outside and slimy on the inside!

Thanks again for letting me drop in, Marilyn! Loved everyone's comments!

Nancy J. Parra said...

Awesome interview. Thanks for introducing me to another great author! Cheers~