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?!!